Building a Car Friendly Garage

To an auto buff or a weekend mechanic, the garage is not just a place to park vehicles and store your extra things. If you are one of those people who love the roar of an engine, the garage is a place to tinker and spend time doing what you love. With upgrades that are functional and reflect your personality, you can turn a typical, bare-bones garage into the perfect automotive playroom.

Electrical Power

The average garage is woefully deficient in electrical outlets, and not equipped to handle the power demands of shop tools. You may need to remove existing sheetrock on garage walls to allow for installation of proper wiring that can meet your power needs. 

An outlet box every 6 feet is a good rule-of-thumb. Check the codes first, as electrical ordinances vary. You will want multiple 110 volt receptors at bench height and near the floor. 

Your electrical upgrades may include a dedicated circuit breaker panel to handle heavy usage and a 220-volt circuit to power an arc welder or an air compressor. Electrical work is not generally a do-it-yourself activity. It is always best to hire a professional for electrical upgrades.

Lighting

The limited lighting in a typical garage is inadequate for serious work. You will probably want to upgrade to low-cost overhead fluorescent fixtures. Mount directional lights on the ceiling and walls overlooking your workbench and other work areas.

Plumbing

With sheetrock removed for electrical installation, open walls make it easier to install new plumbing. A good washbasin is a must in well-equipped garage. When your electrical, plumbing, and lighting upgrades are complete, you will need insulation to keep out the cold and sheetrock to finish garage walls. 

Install Indoor Heating

If you spend a lot of time tinkering with vehicles in the garage, you are likely to end up lying on a cold concrete floor. Radiant floor indoor heating can be installed as a DIY project. This heating system carries warm water through the slab, releases heat, and warms the floor and the entire garage. Sheets of rigid insulation board are installed under the tubing and around the slab to insulate the tubing and prevent heat loss. The system can function with either a conventional or on-demand water heater. 

Upgrade the Garage Floor

Most concrete garage floors rank among the grimiest floor surfaces in existence. The first step in a garage flooring upgrade is to sweep up all the dust, dirt, stray debris, and thoroughly remove oil stains and spills. Call COIT for professional concrete floor care and a thorough deep cleaning. Once the floor has been professionally cleaned, it can be coated with paints or sealants specially formulated for garage floors. 

Another option is to use composite products or rubber overlays to top your floor. These products come in a range of colors, in large mats and rolled sheets that can be cut to fit the space. They are easy to clean and generally impervious to antifreeze, cleaning agents, and petrochemicals. 

Interlocking tiles can also be used to upgrade your garage flooring. Tiles 12’ by 12’ and larger snap together in checkerboard patterns and other designs for wall-to-wall installation. Always ensure that the garage floor drainage system is cleared and functioning right to avoid the risk water damage. 

Build Storage to Your Specifications

Where to hide away tools and other items is an issue, particularly for those who own many tools. It’s best to keep everything off the floor. Racks, bins, hooks, and shelves are a weekend mechanic’s friends. With a wealth of options to choose from, you can have storage built to your personal specifications, including heavy-duty tool storage, floor-standing units, wall storage compartments, and work benches. 

A serious upgrade for the truly committed is a four-post lift. The lift serves a dual purpose – it facilitates automotive service and repairs, and it provides storage for two vehicles. Simply drive the first car onto the lift, jack it up, and park the second car underneath. Some lifts designed for residential settings are built to accommodate SUVs and pickups.