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Most people don’t consider the garage a real part of the house
so much as a storage unit or dumping ground of things they wish to keep out of
sight. Some people fill their garages so full of stuff that they can no longer
fit a car inside. With that in mind, here are some tips to organize and make
the most of your garage real estate.

Clear out the clutter: Though this one goes for the entire home, it is especially important for the
garage since it usually becomes what I call the “black hole” for semi-important
things you’d rather not have in plain sight, things that accumulate over time.
If you need to dedicate an entire or weekend or two to the project, do it so
you can knock it out in one fell swoop. Be sure to separate what you want to
keep from what you want to toss. Once you’ve finished sorting, plan how you
will be organizing where your newly scaled down pile of stuff will reside.

Replace the garage door:
You’ve probably heard this one many times before, but it really cannot be
stressed enough. Replacing your garage door not only improves your home’s curb
appeal, but it also keeps all of the unwanted things (weather, heat/cold,
burglars, etc.) out better and keeps your stuff nice and dry. A nice heavy
steel garage door that rolls up in sections rather than one solid piece gives
your garage good security as well as more head room above your vehicles you can
use for extra storage.
Add vertical storage to
your garage walls:
Why leave your walls bare when you could be making much
more productive use of them. Wall space can be used for tools and medium-sized
things that can be hung. There are two good ways to hang things from your
garage walls: grooved paneling and peg wood boards. Although grooved paneling
is more expensive upfront and requires professional installation, it’s very
durable and allows for customizable arrangements of hooks that can be removed
at any time. Pegwood can be cut into the appropriate size for your walls and
has holes for pegs that are also easily removable.
Install or build
cabinets and shelving:
Now that you have all that stuff you want to keep,
it’s time to organize it in storage units where you can easily access and
maintain it. If you are building cabinets with doors that swing open, be sure
that you will have substantial clearance so as to not hit your own car. If you
are building drawers into your cabinets, make sure they have clearance from
your vehicle as well. Shelves can be built almost anywhere especially if you
build them in conjunction with paneling or pegwood to be easily moved.
Ditch the outdoor
refrigerator:
Having a secondary fridge in the garage was a big thing for
many years before because of the space limitation of old refrigerator models.
These days, you can get an extra large refrigerator that is Energy STAR
certified and uses less power than two smaller fridges should you ever need
more storage space. Secondary fridges in the garage only waste energy and money,
specially in the warmer months, due to lack of temperature control.
Install laser motion
sensors for garage door:
We’ve all heard horror stories about people and
pets getting squished by a garage door coming down, so don’t join those ranks.
Most modern garage doors come with a laser sensor that automatically stops the
door from closing if something stands in the way of the laser beam. If you have
an older garage door, consider getting a sensor if not a new door entirely that
comes with one.
Keep your stuff off the
floor:
When you start piling things onto the floor, they tend to stay
there. By hanging things and placing them on shelves, you may inherently feel
the need to keep them in order. Between the cabinets, shelves, and hooks for
hanging things, you shouldn’t have much reason to put anything besides heavy
equipment like lawn mowers on the floor. Be sure to tuck those heavy items into
corners though so you don’t hit them with your car.
Put your stuff in clear
containers:
Have you ever gone through your stuff wondering where exactly
you put this or that? It’s much easier to find things when you can see them
inside their containers, so clear storage bins and jars are great for keeping
your garage in order. Bins are easily stackable and can be fitted together in a
small space with ease. Creating lists about what’s inside of each bin may also
be helpful when trying to find that snow shovel you packed away months ago.
Create storage above
your vehicles:
Do you have a kayak, a pair of skis, or other large objects
that you rarely use, but don’t have a lot of room for? Install some hanging
hooks in the space above your vehicle(s) to suspend the object until you need
it later. Be sure that the object is very secure so that it does not accidently
fall and hurt you or your car.
Install a stain
resistant floor:
Most people have standard concrete flooring in their
garages, and unfortunately, cleaning up touch stains from oil or other
chemicals can be tricky. If the concrete is cracked, it can be easy for that
stuff to seep down into the foundation and cause other problems. Popular
alternative choices to concrete are epoxy and ribbed tile floors. Epoxy
flooring is shiny and easy to clean and is used for car showrooms. Ribbed tile
flooring is a good anti-skid material that is fitted together over your normal
flooring and is also easy to clean.
Check for, and seal, any
air leaks:
Just like the rest of your home, the garage is susceptible to
have air leaks in certain places. Depending on the season, air from outside can
bring in moisture to develop mold or can let your garage become blisteringly
hot because the cool air leaked out. If you find any leaks, seal smaller cracks
with a caulking gun and use spray foam to cover larger holes. This may also be
a good time to inspect the insulation of your garage walls to better regulate
temperature inside.
Secure all doors: An
attached garage is an easy access point for robbers. Forgetting to lock the
garage door gives intruders the opportunity to discreetly slip into your home.
Consider installing deadbolts on all doors leading to your home for added
security.
Install a rubberized
guard along the bottom of the garage door:
A common major air leak in most
garages is the space between the bottom of the door and the threshold where
leaves, water, and even small critters can find a way inside. You can prevent
this by installing a rubberized guard that will assist your door in being flush
with the floor to keep unwanted elements and creatures from coming in.
 Adapt your garage to
fitting your vehicle while parked:
The garage is, after all, built for your
car, so adding things like a tennis ball on a string to keep your car from hitting
the wall can be very helpful in not damaging your car and maintaining decent
spacing. Ideally you want to have room to walk around the backside of your car
with the main door down and to open any cabinets or drawers without bumping
your vehicle. Also adding pieces of carpeting or soft fabric on the walls near
vehicle doors can prevent scratching if you accidentally hit the wall with a
car door.
Put in energy efficient
lighting:
Light is essential in the garage as it is in all other rooms.
Instead of going the fluorescent route, use energy-efficient bulbs that will
save you money, the environment, and produce less heat in the summer months.
By organizing and maintaining your garage, it will feel like an
extension of your home just as much as a deck, a patio, or even the yard. You
also need to be diligent in keeping things organized in your garage as it is
far too easy to drop things down to begin a new pile of stuff. Make a point to
maintain and organize your garage once a month to toss undesirable things and
make room for new ones. Use your storage wisely and you will be amazed at just
how well things can fit with relatively little space.
About the Author:
Based in Los Angeles, Jonathan Dean has been writing
professionally since 2009. He writes for JustRentToOwn.com and his professional
interests include housing trends, personal finance, and new urban development.