Residential garages all across America are often used for something other than merely parking cars. In fact, out of all the two-car garages in the United States, only 15% have two cars parked inside. That's not a bad thing, though, as garages make great multi-purpose rooms for games, woodworking, and countless other pursuits.
However, to make your garage really ideal for comfortable work or play, then you will need to make a few modifications. Here are a three tips on how to turn a car storage facility into a more livable part of your home.
Enhance the floor
If you are going to spend any amount of time walking or standing in your garage, you will need to add some type of covering to the cold, hard concrete floor. Concrete contributes to back, hip, leg and feet strain since it doesn't allow for any "give" in its surface. In addition, it becomes dangerously slippery when wet. Here are a couple of choices that can serve a variety of roles.
1. Foam tile—One option for a garage floor is to install interlocking foam tile. Foam tile consists of durable rubber square sections measuring two feet by two feet in most instances. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and its ability to resist stains and still provide a cushioned surface make it ideal for garage floors.
The tiles are assembled similarly to a jigsaw puzzle by placing them on the floor and "locking" adjacent tiles in-place. By interconnecting tiles of different colors, you can create a custom look in your garage that will be functional and attractive.
2. Rubber-impregnated paint—Painting your garage floor is another possibility. You can easily apply paint that contains small pieces of rubber to the concrete. The rubber adds a no-slip coating, and it will also make the floor neater in appearance and prettier, too.
If you decide to paint your garage floor, just be sure to thoroughly clean it first with trisodium phosphate (TSP), a nontoxic degreaser that is highly effective at removing all kinds of gunk and filth. Also, you will want to add cushioned floor mats in strategic locations where you do a lot of standing or walking.
Seal the gaps
The inside of your home is probably insulated at the point where your wall meets the floor; in many cases, caulk is applied along the joint. However, garages often lack this extra touch since they are usually not climate-controlled.
You can greatly enhance the weather resistance of your garage by sealing the joint between the wall and the concrete floor. All you need to do is use a caulk gun to insert a good, all-purpose acrylic caulk into the gaps. If you have difficulty getting the caulk all the way into the gaps, a putty knife is helpful for pushing into further down.
In addition, the installation of quarter-round will also help provide an added measure of protection against cold and heat. As a bonus, it will also help prevent spider and insect intrusions into your garage. Quarter-found is inexpensive, and you can buy it pre-painted or in its natural wood finish that is suitable for staining or painting if you wish to do that.
Insulate the door
Contemporary garage doors are constructed like a sandwich; thin metal panels surround a solid foam core that provides some insulation. However, the insulating characteristics of doors are mediocre and provide little protection against severe cold or heat. In addition, substantial gaps around, above and under doors leave a lot of room for intrusion of outside air.
If you want to increase the livability of your garage, you must correct these weak points. The first thing you can do is add foam board panels to the interior side of your garage door. Foam board panels are made with the same type of foam that's inside garage doors, but it also has foil lining both sides of the foam.
Adding foam board increases the insulating power of your door significantly. It's easy to add, too; simply measure the garage door sections, and cut the foam board pieces to size with a utility knife. Attach them to the garage door with a foam-safe, construction adhesive.
As for the gaps around the door, you can close them with rubber weatherstripping along each side. These pieces are sold expressly for use with garage doors; check with your local home improvement or hardware store to find the proper sizes for your door. Weatherstripping can be attached with screws or double-sided tape, but just be sure that the pieces don't catch in your door when it opens and closes.
You can talk to garage door repair specialists to ensure that your garage door is insulated enough to keep the warmth in.
Add LED lighting
Another way to greatly increase the livability of your garage is by adding additional lighting. Much of the time, lighting in garages consists of garage door opener bulbs and maybe an additional fixture or two. This is acceptable for getting in and out of a car, but it is usually not suitable for work or play. With the advent of LED lighting, you can easily add fixtures that are energy efficient, long-lived, and will contribute little ambient heat to your garage in the summer.