Organizing your garage can help you regain a ton of space you never knew you had! Most people wish their garage was larger, and short of making some minor structural changes, people often find this impossible. Luckily there IS a way to make your garage bigger without a major remodel. Just by organizing your garage, you can increase your garage size, efficiency, and curb appeal. Here are some tips and tools to make it happen.
1) Learn the best ways to store that hazardous stuff we all keep in the garage: the chemicals, the paint cans and pesticides. Chemicals are the #1 danger in a garage. A lot of people keep pesticides, paints and auto fluids, often in old food containers, which can leak and cause fumes, burns, respiratory problems and fire hazards. Always store such substances in their original containers and out of reach of children, on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet. Chemicals that are poisonous to pets are also a huge problem. Road salt and ice-melt mixtures can get on the paws of cats and dogs and cause diarrhea and vomiting. Antifreeze, in particular, is highly dangerous and can be fatal. It has a sweet smell that attracts pets; as little as 1 tablespoon can kill a cat; half a cup can kill a dog. Be sure to wipe up any spills immediately, and keep antifreeze out of reach of children too.
2) Gas grills often are stored in the garage, complete with their propane tanks. Propane is highly combustible, and when the propane leaks, it’s a gas. You can’t see it, but it can hover over the garage floor. One spark of static electricity or the flick of a light switch could cause an explosion. Anything with propane should be stored at least 10 feet away from the house.
3) Kids’ toys can be a hazard if they’re not stored properly. First of all, they should be kept well away from chemical clutter, and they should be up off the floor. Not too high, though; you don’t want the kids trying to reach them by standing on wobbly boxes. Use bins for small toys and balls.
4) Ladders can be a hazard just leaning up against a wall. That may seem like the logical way to store a ladder, but it can tip over very easily, damaging your car or injuring a loved one. Lean it against the wall horizontally at floor level, or, even better, store it on hooks.
5) Gardening tools should be stored vertically on secure hooks attached to the walls so they’re easy to get to when you need them and they’re out of the way when you don’t.
6) Extension cords used in the garage should always be rated for outdoor use, even though technically you’re using it indoors. There is just too much chance of moisture on the floor in a garage, so don’t take any chances.
7) Doors and windows in garages usually don’t get the same attention as those in house. However, the door should have a professionally installed deadbolt; the doors and windows should be kept locked.
8) Smoke detectors also need the same attention you give the ones in the house. Be sure to change the batteries twice a year.
9) Unmarked stairs are an accident waiting to happen. Even if you have only one or two steps, put a strip of white or reflective tape on the edges so that people can see them, even in dim light.
10) Rugs or tarps under a car to catch leaking fluids may keep the garage floor clean, but it also becomes a fire hazard. Get rid of it, and soak up the spills with cat litter or sawdust. If the stains have already soaked into the floor, try oven cleaner to remove them. Let it soak for about 15 minutes, then give the floor a good scrubbing.
11) Garage floors need some protection, too. Install matting or rubber tiles. They extend the life of your concrete floors, and they give your garage the look of a showroom.
Now that you’re safe, it’s time to get organized!
It’s easy to control clutter if you remember that the four walls of your garage are actually four more floors. With the right cabinets, shelves and hooks you can actually quadruple your storage space.
1) For those DIY people out there, you could build your own shelving units out of wood. When doing this, take into consideration that wood is considerably more vulnerable to moisture, so it should be treated in order to protect from rotting (even if you plan to paint the wood!) Just be sure that when building the unit, you measure the size of the largest item you plan to put on the shelves, that way you only have to build it once.
2) An alternative to building wooden shelving units is to buy metal or plastic units from a store. There are a variety of selections out there with different weight ratings to hold everything from boxes to totes and heavy tools. Before going shopping, just like when building the wooden shevling, you should measure the largest thing you plan to put on the shelves. This will save you the hassle of having to return an already assembled unit to the store, only to buy the right size, and go through the assembly process all over again!
3) Pegboard is a great idea if you have and abundance of items you need up and out of the way. You can hang small or large items like tools, extension cords, gardening tools, etc. It’s relatively inexpensive and you can get a variety of hooks, pegs and baskets to store watever you like.
4) An alternative to pegboard is slatwall. Slatwall resembles vinyl siding, and is relatively stronger than pegboard, not to mention waterproof. The panels can firmly support hooks, baskets or shelves.
5) Cabinets are great for keeping your gear off the floor and out of sight. They are also great for storing anything toxic or dangerous that you want to keep out of harms way. If you plan on using cabinets to store harmful items, be sure they come with a locking mechanism.
6) Ceiling storage is often something people don’t consider. It’s great for storing bulky and seasonal items. You can build your own simple ceiling storage system or buy a product made specifically for the purpose. Individual ceiling-mounted units are available in assorted sizes and weight capacities. Most systems have an adjustable height, as the distance between the ceiling and an open garage door varies from one garage to another. It is very important that these systems be attached to joists or rafters.
7) If you have kids, then perhaps you might like the idea of your garage doubling as a mud room! Giving the kids their own locker at home may help with the organization of school bags, sports gear, and seasonal clothing.