Five Ways to Go Green This Spring

rechargeable battery powered lawnmower

Spring has finally arrived ushering in warmer weather and a desire for fresh new beginnings. You’ve probably already begun spring cleaning in your home, but what can you do to give your garage a fresh, new feel, too? Let’s look at five simple ways you can be more mindful of the environment as you prepare for spring.

Increase the Fuel Efficiency of Your Vehicle

Just like your home, your car needs a little attention after a long, hard winter. Keep your car tuned up and use the grade of oil recommended by the manufacturer to improve gas mileage. Another, simple way to increase gas mileage is by keeping tires inflated to the optimal pressure. Check the inside of your driver’s side door jamb to see the tire pressure recommended by the manufacturer.

Create a Recycling Station

Recycling prevents reusable resources from ending up in overflowing landfills. It also saves energy and reduces the consumption of raw materials in manufacturing. The convenient Blue Box recycling program in most communities makes it easy for everyone to contribute to cleaning up the environment. Make recycling even easier by creating a recycling station in your home or garage. Ensure that everyone in your home understands the importance of recycling, what items should be placed in the Blue Box and how to prep items before discarding them.

Repurpose Items or Donate Items

As you go through your home and garage during spring cleaning, you’ll probably discover items that you no longer use. Some of those items can be repurposed. For instance, an old, unused kitchen table might make a good craft or workshop table. Old muffin tins in the kitchen could make a great place to store nuts and bolts in the garage.

Other items have lost their usefulness in your home, but would be welcomed in someone else’s. Consider donating items that are in good condition, but just don’t fit your family’s needs anymore.

Reduce Water Usage

Conservation is critical to the environment. One of our most important assets is potable water. Review your family’s water usage and look for ways to cut back. For instance, can you reduce the frequency with which you wash the car? If you wash the car at home, don’t use the hose while washing your car. Instead, use a bucket of soapy water. This switch alone can save hundreds of litres of water each wash.

Water your lawn early or late in the day, rather than when the sun is highest, to avoid water waste through evaporation. Also avoid watering the lawn on a windy day. Deep water your lawn. This helps to establish a deeper root system and will allow moisture to reach the roots, where it’s most needed. Water your lawn only when it is needed. Skip watering on weeks when there is a good, hard rain. Another option is to install a rain barrel and reuse rainwater to water your lawn and wash your car.

rechargeable battery powered lawnmowerEco-friendly Lawn Care

A discussion about environmentally-conscious lawn care wouldn’t be complete without examining your lawn mower. Gas and electric lawn mowers require energy consumption. Your lawn, and the environment, can benefit from less frequent mowing. So only mow the grass when necessary.  When you do cut your lawn, don’t cut it too low. A height of six to eight centimeters will help retain water and establish a deeper root system.

If you’re in the market for a new lawn mower, electric lawn mowers are more environmentally-friendly than their gas-powered counterparts. Electric lawn mowers are cleaner and quieter. They are less polluting to the environment and don’t reek of gasoline. Neither do they require the maintenance necessary with a gas-powered mower. If the thought of navigating with an unwieldy cord in tow makes you hesitant to switch to an electric mower, opt for a battery-powered electric mower instead.

Properly Store & Dispose of Chemicals

In a recent post, we discussed how to properly store chemicals in your garage. Keep chemicals out of the reach of children and small animals. Store them in their proper containers. Make sure all chemicals are properly labeled. When disposing of chemicals, check the label first. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the proper way to dispose of the chemical. Pouring toxic chemicals down the drain is harmful to the environment and can be corrosive to plumbing. Instead, make use of household hazardous waste drop-off depots in your area.

Use No or Low-VOC Products

Whenever possible, choose no or low-VOC (volatile organic compound) products to get household jobs done. Many manufacturers offer lines of zero and low-VOC interior and exterior paints, primers, stains, coatings and sealants. These products are often low or non-toxic, making them safer for the environment and for your family.

Being mindful of the environment as you prepare for spring and summer is a great start to living greener. However, with Earth Day coming on April 22nd, we wanted to examine ways to make your garage greener, too. Check back later this month for seven ways to make your garage greener.

What to Look for in a Professional Garage Designer

what to look for in a professional garage designer

You’ve decided that you’re finally ready to renovate your garage and you don’t want to do it yourself. How do you know which professional garage designer is right for you? Of course, you want to know that the person’s business is licensed and insured. However, there are several other factors that will help you decide whether a garage design professional will meet your needs. Here are a few to consider.

Experience

One of the advantages of hiring a professional garage designer, rather than trying to tackle the project yourself, is the knowledge, wisdom and experience that he or she will bring to the project. Every project is different. However, the more renovation projects the person has under his belt, the more scenarios he has encountered. This adds to the person’s overall knowledgebase, which is invaluable on a design project. Ask your potential designer how many projects he has designed. If he has a strong body of work, he should have a substantial portfolio that he is willing to share. Otherwise, your project could end up being where the designer cuts his teeth. Good for him; potentially disastrous for you.

what to look for in a professional garage designer

Testimonials and References

If the designer has a large body of work, then he should also have several happy customers who have given him glowing testimonials. Look for testimonials on the designer’s website. If there are several, that’s a good start. However, how do you know that all of that glowing praise is from legitimate customers? Ask the design pro for references from past clients who are willing to spend a few minutes talking to you. A good designer with a solid body of work, and lots of happy clients, will likely have several.

Work Style and Reliability

When talking to references, don’t just ask about the design itself. Find out what it was like to work with this designer.

  • Was he prompt?
  • Did he deliver on his promises?
  • Was the owner/manager on site?
  • Was the project on time? On budget?
  • Did he clearly communicate about any problems or issues that arose?
  • Was he respectful of their property and that of their neighbors?
  • Did he follow-up promptly with any requests?
  • Have there been any issues since the completion of the project?
  • Would they hire the designer again in the future?

Detailed Proposal

Within a few days of meeting with you and seeing your space, your potential garage design professional should come up with a proposal. If you’ve wanted to renovate your garage for a long time, the moment you get that proposal can be truly exciting. You begin envisioning your new space. Take a hard look, though, at the proposal itself. Is it a simple sketch with few details? Did the person jot down a few ideas on the back of a napkin? A competent garage design professional will provide you with a detailed proposal that clearly defines the scope, timeline and estimated cost of the project.

Customized Solutions

Look closer at the proposal. Does it reflect that the designer took the time to get to understand your lifestyle and what’s most important to you in your garage renovation? Does the proposal make the most of your unique space? Is the designer simply planning to install “out-of-the-box” cabinets and shelves, or are you getting a space designed to fit your specific needs? An experienced design professional will maximize your space by building custom storage solutions that take advantage of overhead space and other areas of the space you probably hadn’t considered. A good design pro will ensure that the renovated space fits your lifestyle and specialized storage needs. For instance, if your family is active and has bicycles, kayaks and other sporting goods, the space will be specifically designed to house those goods.

Service Follow-up Spelled Out in Contract     

You expect, of course, that everything will turn out well on a project. However, it is important to address what happens when things don’t go exactly as planned. What kind of follow-up does the garage design professional offer? Is a warranty offered on the materials that will be used in the renovation, like slatwall, shelving, cabinetry and flooring treatments? Does he guarantee his work? If so, for how long? While such scenarios aren’t pleasant to consider, the possibility of paying for an expensive renovation and being left with shoddy work or materials, and no recourse, is far worse.

Planning a garage renovation is exciting. A well-designed garage can organize your life and beautify your home. However, it is well worth it to do your homework when it comes to choosing the garage design professional that will transform your space.

Would you like to see what an experienced garage design professional can do for your space? Request a consultation today.

Should I Hire a Professional Garage Designer or Do It Myself?

standard 2 car garage blueprint - Nuvo Garage

Home and garage renovation projects can be fun. For anyone inclined to try his or her hand at it, there’s no shortage of DIY books and television shows to help. Completing a renovation project yourself can offer a potential savings. However, it doesn’t always work out that way.

The Hidden Costs of Doing It Yourself

One of the primary reasons we tend to take on a renovation project ourselves is to save the cost of labor, which can be considerable. We hope to trade a few weekends and a little elbow grease for a renovated space at a fraction of the cost. However, when unexpected issues arise the DIY cost advantage can quickly disappear. Here are four factors we often fail to consider when doing a renovation project:

  • The value of expertise and experience. We can learn a lot from a half-hour television show or a how-to book. However, neither is a substitute for an experienced professional on-site.
  • The project always takes longer than expected. Ever planned a quick weekend project that ended up taking a month of weekends to complete? Time is your most valuable asset; the only one which can never be replaced. Make sure the trade-off is worthwhile.
  • The cost of specialized tools. Many garage renovation projects, like applying polyaspartic flooring, require expensive, specialized tools. Purchasing such an item can wipe out the savings you hoped to achieve while leaving you with a tool you won’t likely use again.
  • The cost of fixing mistakes. Remember those episodes of The Cosby Show where Cliff would try to fix something and inevitably make it worse? He’d eventually have to call a plumber in to fix it. In the end, it cost more than if he’d let the plumber do it in the first place. When flooring, cabinetry and other garage projects go wrong, it can be quite costly.

Renovating the garage yourself seems simple enough, but doing it wrong can cost a lot more time and money than you ever imagined. An experienced, professional garage designer will get the project done right, in less time, and offer exciting new possibilities.

The Professional Garage Designer Advantage

Creating a customized garage design that fits your space and meets your unique needs can be challenging. Here are a few of the advantages of working with a professional garage designer:

standard 2 car garage blueprint - Nuvo GarageKnowledge and Experience

Garage renovations pose unique challenges. While every garage is different, the extensive knowledge and experience that a professional designer brings to the project provides a distinct advantage. A pro designer is current on construction codes, understands how garages are constructed and is familiar with the latest garage storage and décor products and materials. Additionally, the experience of working on a variety of garage design projects gives a pro designer an extensive knowledge base from which to draw when planning and completing your renovation project.   

Innovative Space-saving Solutions

Garages offer limited floor space. Then there are odd spaces that homeowners never quite know how to use. With a growing number of possessions and limited space in which to store them, it can be difficult to envision how to get all of your things in your garage along with your vehicles. However, a professional garage designer can see the potential in your space and offer innovative solutions like slatwall, movable shelving and overhead storage to maximize available space.  

Design and Engineering Skills

Garage design professionals know how to use available space efficiently while also following fundamental design and engineering principles. Therefore, the proposed renovation will fit your lifestyle while resolving perplexing design issues, like what to do with an odd corner space. Custom-designed overhead shelving and other storage structures will be well-made and safely installed. The selection of colours and finishes will truly enhance the space.

Turning a chaotic garage into an organized space that houses your car and all of your belongings can be a challenge. Doing it yourself might seem like the cheapest solution, but DIY garage reno projects can quickly go awry. A knowledgeable, experienced professional garage designer can maximize your space so that it’s organized, functional and safe for many years to come. Interested in what a professional garage designer can do for your space? Request a consultation.

How to Safely Store Chemicals in Your Garage

garage storage - household supplies, shelving, door, house, finished garage walls

Last time we talked about items that should never be stored in your garage. However, care must be exercised with another group of materials that often find a home in our garages—chemicals. Quick, think of all of the chemicals currently stored in your garage. There are probably household chemicals like cleaners; chemicals for the maintenance of your car, like anti-freeze and window washing fluid; and gardening chemicals, like pesticides and fertilizers. If you have a pool, you have a host of additional chemicals stored in your garage.

While all of the chemicals listed above are commonly found in garages, they can be the source of household accidents if not stored properly. Let’s consider a few precautions needed to protect your home and family when storing chemicals.

Keep Hazardous Chemicals Out of Reach

garage storage - household supplies, shelving, door, house, finished garage wallsAnimals and small children are notoriously curious. This can serve a child well in many ways. However, a child or pet’s natural curiosity combined with improper storage of chemicals in a garage can turn deadly. Therefore, all chemicals should be stored well out of reach of children and pets. Consider not only a child’s height, but children’s propensity to climb. Make sure that chemicals aren’t easily accessible if the child climbs on a shelf or nearby crate. This is especially true of chemicals like window washing fluid and antifreeze which resemble colorful drinks.

Keep chemicals off of the ground and well out of reach of children and pets to ensure their safety and prevent accidental poisoning.

Store Chemicals in the Proper Containers

As a general rule, chemicals should always be stored in their original containers. However, there might be an occasion when you need to store a chemical in another container. For instance, you might borrow paint thinner from your next door neighbor. Rather than taking the entire container, you pour a few ounces in an old water bottle or some other discarded food container. When you’re done with the project, you store what’s left of the chemical on a shelf in your garage. Doing so could potentially lead to accidental poisoning if a child mistakes that paint thinner for what’s actually on the label.

Additionally, certain chemicals can only be stored in particular types of containers. For instance some chemicals will corrode a metal container or eat through a thin plastic one. Read the label and store the chemical according the manufacturer’s instructions.

Properly Label Chemicals

Let’s say that you stored a clear liquid chemical in a suitable jar or bottle, but didn’t bother to label it. Now it’s two years later. You’re looking for paint thinner and you happen across the unmarked container. You think it’s paint solvent, but you’re not sure. Maybe it’s something else altogether. While many household chemicals have fairly distinct smells, others do not. Besides, sniffing a noxious chemical isn’t the safest way to determine what it is. Labeling all of the chemicals stored in your garage ensures that you know exactly what you’re dealing with.

Invest in a Lockable Chemical Storage Cabinet

Earlier, we talked about keeping chemicals stored out of the reach of children and pets. A high shelf can work well, but a lockable storage cabinet works better. It doesn’t have to be huge, or take up valuable garage floor space. There are a variety of options available, from cabinets with a small footprint to those that can be installed on a wall.

Poisonous, highly-flammable chemicals are found in most homes and garages. They play a critical role in keeping our homes clean, our cars well-maintained and our gardens lush and green. However, to protect your home and family, you must safely store such chemicals. Keep household and other chemicals out of the reach of children and pets. Store chemicals in appropriate containers, preferably the container in which it came. If the label on the original container loosens, secure it with tape. If you must store the chemical in another container, ensure that it is properly labelled. If possible, invest in a lockable cabinet suitable for storing chemicals.

If the configuration of your garage, or the volume of items you currently have stored in it, makes it difficult for you to properly store chemicals, contact a garage organization specialist who can help.

Five Things You Should Never Store in Your Garage

Do not store propane tanks in the garage

The garage often becomes a dumping ground for everything. Seasonal items, like Christmas lights and snow sleds. Items that have outlived their usefulness, like old tires and bikes children have outgrown. Items you never really wanted in the first place, like the table you inherited from your favorite aunt or materials for a project you always meant to get around to, but probably never will.

Storing the items listed above in your garage might not be aesthetically pleasing, but otherwise poses no problem. However, the garage often becomes home to a number of materials that shouldn’t be stored there. In some cases, it’s because the material poses a danger to your health and safety. In other cases, storing the item in the garage will render it useless. With that in mind, here are five things you should never store in your garage.

1. Propane Tanks

Do not store propane tanks in the garageWho doesn’t love a good barbecue? After all, cooking outdoors with family and friends can be fun. You already know that you should never grill inside your garage—even in the winter.  Maybe you didn’t know that when you store your grill in the garage for winter it’s best to leave that propane tank outside.

Frequently, the valve on a propane tank isn’t completely closed when stored. Occasionally, propane tanks leak. Propane gas leaking in your enclosed garage can cause a fire or explosion. Rather than risk it, consider storing your propane tank outside in a secure, enclosed space, like a backyard shed. 

2. Clothing and Linens

There are many reasons clothing and linens might need to be stored. Sweaters and coats take up too much space in drawers and closets during spring and summer. Bedding, too, is often changed seasonally, requiring storage in off-seasons. However, your garage isn’t the place to store those items.

Especially in the colder months, animals seek cozy places to burrow and make nests. If a raccoon or skunk wanders into your garage, the last thing you want is for him to feel at home and bring his family and friends. A box of sweaters or bedding left on the floor of your garage could easily become home to a family of unwanted guests. Instead, find someplace inside your home to store clothing and linens.

Wherever you decide to keep seasonal clothing and bedding, consider storing it in sealed plastic containers that will keep animals and insects out.

3. Paper Products

A growing number of families are adopting an environmentally-conscious lifestyle, which is to be applauded. For many, going green includes recycling, which is beneficial for the planet and can have a positive impact on your family’s budget. However, if done improperly, recycling can cause headaches and an added expense—pest control.

Store stacks of old newspaper and other paper goods in your garage and you’re extending an invitation to mice and other pests to come on in and get cozy. Discarded newspapers, paper plates and any other paper goods make great building materials for nests or a ready-made, toasty warm spot to sleep and raise a rodent family.

4. Fresh Food

Looking for a cool place to store root vegetables, dog food, bird seed or foods packaged in cardboard boxes? The garage might seem like an ideal and convenient place for these food items. Problem is, animals and insects find it pretty convenient, too. If keeping the two previous items in your garage makes it a potential hotel for mice, stockpiling food there makes it a luxury hotel with a five-star restaurant. Good for pests; not so good for you. Find a place to store food items inside your home instead.

5. Temperature-Sensitive Items

While we’re on the subject of consumable items, wine is another that should never be stored in your garage. Wine is temperature-sensitive. Your garage might seem like the perfect place to store cases of wine. However, the temperature in an unheated garage can fluctuate substantially. Exposure to extreme heat can potentially damage the composition and color of wine stored in your garage, making it unpalatable. This makes for a disappointing and potentially expensive loss.

Wine is best stored in a climate-controlled space. However, it isn’t the only item that’s sensitive to temperature. House paints stored in your garage can also be ruined by extreme temperature fluctuation. The extreme heat and cold to which a typical Canadian garage is subject will cause a marked change in the consistency of the paint, ruining it. Some paints separate, like oil and vinegar in salad dressing. Only in the case of paint, you’ll be left with a curdled, unusable mess.

Leftover paint is best stored in a cool, dry basement. If that isn’t an option, look for another space inside your home that is temperature-controlled and has limited moisture. Before you put those cans of paint away, record the color information somewhere safe, in case you need to have another batch made.

There are a variety of items that can be safely stored in your garage. However, for your health and safety, it’s best not to store your propane tank, clothing and linens, paper goods, food or temperature-sensitive items like wine or paint among them.

Looking to maximize the storage space in your garage for items that do make the cut? Contact a garage renovation specialist to set your garage organizational project in motion.

Make Your New Year’s Resolution a New Year’s Reality

2 car garage willowdale showcase - garage door, clutter, painted garage floor, slatwall organizer, shelving, drywall finished walls, drywall finished ceilings

As the clock strikes twelve, signaling the New Year, our enthusiasm burns bright. We’re excited about the possibilities ahead of us and all of the positive changes we’ve resolved to make.

If you’ve ever been in a gym during the first week of the year, you know that it’s brimming with people eager to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. By the second or third week, the crowd begins to thin. That’s because it doesn’t take long for that glittery excitement to fade.

2 car garage willowdale showcase - garage door, clutter, painted garage floor, slatwall organizer, shelving, drywall finished walls, drywall finished ceilingsMaybe you’ve begun to experience this, too. Your intentions were good, but you no longer feel motivated. Suddenly, those resolutions feel less like an opportunity for growth and more like a burden. One simple change will bring you closer to achieving your goals. Rather than making a broad resolution, like wanting to lose weight, travel more or make more money, create a step-by-step plan for reaching very specific goals. 

The goals mentioned above are indeed worthwhile. However, my expertise lies with another common resolution—the desire to get organized. Let’s look at a few ways to ensure that you realize your intention of getting organized this year.

Get Clear About Your Objective

Start by getting crystal clear about what you want to achieve. Set SMAC goals. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Compatible. A goal like, “I want to get organized,” is admirable, but not specific or measurable. It is therefore less likely to be achieved. So be specific.

“I’m purging my closet of anything I haven’t worn in the past year.”

“I’m donating all of the toys and clothing my children have outgrown to a local shelter.”

“We’re going to organize the garage so that we can finally park the car inside.”

Now you have specific goals that can easily be measured. If the project still seems overwhelming, don’t panic. My three steps to ideal organization will help you simplify the process and achieve your desired results. Let’s apply those three steps to organizing your garage.

Step One:  Get rid of everything you don’t want or need.

This is the step that sometimes hurts. Many of the items stored in your garage have some sentimental value. They represent special memories from your past or optimism about the future. Approach each item logically. Ask yourself if you’ve used it in the past year. If you haven’t, chances are you’ll never use it again. It’s simply clutter, and it’s standing between you and your ultimate objective of organizing your garage.

Don’t be afraid to let go of unused items. If anything is broken, outdated or unsafe, dispose of it. For items that are still in good shape and may be useful to someone else, arrange for a spring garage sale or donate them to a local charity. Don’t hold onto things because maybe one day you’ll need them. Recall the frustration you felt when you made your resolution to get organized. Stay focused and be ruthless. Purge, purge, then purge some more.

Step Two:  Divide your stuff into manageable chunks.

Have you ever tried to do a small house repair only to discover that your hammer, wrench and screwdriver were in three separate places? It makes what might have been a simple job frustrating and time-consuming. That’s why it’s important to group all of your tools in one central location, like a toolbox.

Now, take the same approach when it comes to organizing your garage. Separate items by category. Group holiday decorations, gardening supplies, power tools, sporting goods and automotive products. You’ll save valuable time (and prevent needless aggravation) throughout the year.

Step Three:  Organize your things according to themes, seasons or purpose.

Organize the garage in a way that makes accessing items intuitive. Place items used frequently where they are easily accessible. Seasonal items like Halloween or Christmas decorations don’t need priority placement. Such items are good candidates for high shelves or overhead storage racks. Winter weather equipment like shovels, ice melting products and antifreeze should be placed near the garage door and given a priority space during the winter.

Once you’re done purging and organizing your garage, you may discover that your current storage options don’t accommodate everything you own. However, a well-designed garage, tailored to fit your lifestyle needs, will provide the storage you need. Simply contact a garage organizational expert to find out how quick and affordable a custom garage transformation can be.

Getting organized requires time, effort and a lot of hard work. However, when your space is organized and clutter-free it will be well worth it.

To Insulate or Not to Insulate

garage insulation renovation projects

When planning a garage renovation, customers often ask about adding insulation to the garage. After all, what better time is there to add insulation than while in the midst of a renovation? Yet, there is a more important question to consider.

 

Is insulating your garage a worthwhile investment?

 

Customers are often shocked by this question. The garage is one of the most insidious energy vampires in a home. Insulation, by its very nature, impedes costly heat loss. So how could adding insulation to your garage not be beneficial?

 

Assess the Benefits of Adding Insulation

The short answer is: adding insulation to any room does stem the loss of heat.  Therefore, it is beneficial. However, the cost benefit of insulating a garage is situational. To make an accurate cost benefit analysis of the proposed insulation of a garage, you must first consider:

  • The current state of your garage;
  • What you hope to accomplish; and
  • How the space will be used.

The age of your home and whether it already has some insulation is a primary consideration. Older homes tend not to have any insulation. Installing it requires starting from scratch—a costly prospect. Newer builds usually have some insulation. However, it doesn’t always extend to exterior walls. The effectiveness of the insulation is dependent upon the quality of the product used.

Next, consider what you hope to accomplish by adding insulation. If you anticipate that insulation alone will raise the frigid temperature of your garage to one comparable to the interior of your home, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If, however, you simply want to raise the temperature of the garage interior several degrees, fully insulating the space may be the perfect solution.

Lastly, there is the matter of how you intend to use the space. If you’d like for your garage to be a bit cozier because you’re housing a collection of vintage automobiles, insulation alone may do the trick. If the space will serve as an extension of your home’s current living space, more than insulation alone will be needed.

To get a better sense of whether insulating your garage would be a good investment, let’s consider the three most typical scenarios we encounter during garage renovation projects:

  1. There is a room above the garage that is consistently several degrees cooler the rest of the home.
  2. The homeowner wants to protect a collection of vintage or exotic cars from the harsh winter temperatures.
  3. The customer would like to expand the home’s living space by setting up a workshop in the garage.

Each situation must be assessed on the three criteria listed earlier: the state of the garage; what the homeowner wishes to accomplish; and how the space will be used. Let’s take a moment to break down each scenario.

 

A Cold Bedroom Above the Garage and The Battle of Thermodynamics

Take a moment and think about your garage space.  There are uninsulated exterior walls (including the garage door itself). Additionally, the garage door is opened several times each day, allowing any warmth inside the garage to escape and be replaced by colder air. As a result, the garage is nearly as cold as the outdoors in winter. How does this affect any living space over the garage?

garage insulation renovation projectsThe science of thermodynamics tells us that two spaces which interact will eventually reach thermal equilibrium, or equal temperature. In this case the two spaces interacting are the interior of your garage and the bedroom above it. The heat from the bedroom elevates the temperature of the garage while the chilled garage air lowers the temperature of the bedroom. Seems like an open and shut case for insulation, but is it?

Adding insulation will stem the loss of energy in the bedroom. However, insulation alone will not increase the temperature of the bedroom to the level of the other rooms in your home. The extensive scope of work required to fully insulate the garage must also be considered. This may include insulating all exterior walls; insulating the garage ceiling; replacing the drafty garage door seal; and replacing the garage door with a highly-insulated model. This all comes at considerable cost.

Insulating the garage offers marginal heat benefit to the bedroom above. On the other hand, installing a baseboard heater in the bedroom is typically more cost effective. Investigate other options that will reduce your overall heating bill, like replacing drafty windows in the bedroom and elsewhere in the home. These methods are more efficient and offer a larger heat benefit than insulating the garage.

 

Making Your Garage Habitable—For Your Cars

Frigid temperatures can be tough on your car. The vehicle’s paint is vulnerable in colder temperatures. When oil and other lubricants get extremely cold, the engine and other systems are negatively impacted. A warmer garage not only protects your vehicles, it makes starting them much easier on cold winter mornings.

Not surprisingly, classic car enthusiasts often insulate their garages. The cost of thorough insulation, as described above, can be substantial. However, when you have a considerable investment to protect, the expense is worthwhile.

What if your garage is only used to store lawn furniture, recreational equipment and tools? The expense of insulation may not add up. Whether it makes sense for you depends on the cost, heat benefit and the value that you place on warming your garage.

 

Insulation is Only the First Step in Extending Your Living Space

When you think of a garage renovation do you envision a handy new workshop or a man cave complete with state-of-the-art electronics? Extending your home’s living space not only provides enjoyment for you and your family, it can significantly increase the resale value of your home. However, insulating the garage is just the first step.  

Insulation is designed to retain heat, so the insulated space will be warmer. However, insulation alone won’t transform your frosty garage into a cozy living or work space. If you plan to convert your garage to usable living space during the winter, a more active measure is required. A heat source, such as an electric or gas heater, must also be installed to make the space comfortable year-round.

 

Decide What Works Best for You

The best way to determine whether to insulate or not to insulate is by doing a cost benefit analysis. A garage renovation specialist can help you estimate the cost of insulating and/or heating your garage and any adjacent rooms. An experienced professional will also help you assess other factors, like estimated temperature improvement and heating and cooling costs. Once you fully understand the realities of what insulation can and cannot do for your space, you can confidently make the decision that is best for you.

 

7 Reasons You Need to Organize Your Garage

1 car garage, central toronto - custom attic mezzanine storage area

1.5 car garage, etobicoke - slatwall, overhead platforms, polyaspartic floor coating, shelves, bike racks - afterEveryone is familiar with the chaos and clutter found in a typical home garage.  Sadly, too many people accept a cluttered garage as normal and simply put up with it.  Have you ever stopped to consider how life-changing an organized garage could be?

A good place to understand the benefits of organizing your garage is with a clear definition of organize.  Organize means to transform chaos into order.  Literally, organize can be defined as the process of turning a messy, chaotic or unordered space into a structured coherent layout, often with specific grouping arrangements.  You will see that there are 7 reasons you want to consider in organizing your garage.

 

1. Safety of Your Family

The primary reason to organize your garage is the safety of you and your family.  Especially for families with children, an organized garage keeps dangerous tools and chemicals safely out of harm’s way.  Additionally, by using carefully planned storage solutions you won’t risk the hazard of random objects falling upon you or your kids. 

 

2. Cleanliness

A second reason to properly organize your garage is cleanliness.  Cleanliness shows up in two ways.  First, an organized garage is more visually appealing because it just looks cleaner overall.  One issued related to cleanliness you need to be aware of concerns bare concrete floors.  An unfinished concrete floor is prone to releasing concrete dust, especially as vehicles and heavy equipment like lawn mowers are  moved in and out of the garage.  This concrete dust can be especially bothersome to those who are prone to allergies.  Note that concrete dust is not so much of an issue if there is a floor covering product installed. Secondly, an organized garage is easier to keep clean. 

 

3. Protect Your Vehicle

1 car garage parks bmw plus 7 high end bicycles, portable workshop and all toolsNot surprisingly, the third reason to organize your garage is protection.  By freeing up the clutter in your garage, you can store your vehicles, your sporting equipment and other valuables safely inside the garage where they belong.  Look at it this way, is it better to store a couple hundred dollars worth of various clutter in and around your garage floor or are you better off parking that $45,000 car inside where its protected from the weather, from vandals or even theft?

 

4. Have More Quality Time

You will not be surprised to learn that the fourth reason for organizing your garage is your own time.  There are only twenty four hours available each day.  How much of that time do you want to spend scrounging around looking for stuff in your garage?   It is so easy to discount a few minutes here and a few minutes there.  However, if you ever took a moment and added up all of that extra time you spend desperately searching for something in your garage or worse added up the time you spend going to the store and getting something that you later learn you already owned, you would probably be shocked and dismayed.

 

5. Peace of Mind

Along the same theme, a fifth reason for organizing your garage is your own peace of mind.  You may have heard about or read studies that suggest that clutter creates a low level stress every time you see it.  Consciously or not, each and every time you walk through your cluttered garage you experience a mild level of stress.  You know having an uncluttered space is more appealing yet a quick glance at most garages is enough to cause many people to give up in frustration.  The task just looks too overwhelming to even consider.  Of course, the best solution is to go ahead and make a decision to organize that garage space.  The amazing fact is that once your garage space is organized you may well find yourself organizing other spaces in and around your home.

 

6. Save Money

A sixth and perhaps even more motivating reason to organize your garage is to consider how much money you will end up saving.  For example, have you ever found yourself heading off to one of those big box stores to pick up a lawn tool only to discover later that you already had one of those tools buried under a pile of debris?  Or what about those lawn and garden chemicals that may be scattered around your garage? Have you ever found yourself with more than one container? Have you ever factored in the time and money you spend driving back and forth to end up getting something you already have right there in your garage?  Obviously, you wouldn’t have this expense if everything was stored in a logical organized way. So add up the cost of all those duplicate tools and supplies, add in the cost of the gas to go to the store and back and finally add in your time that you spend either scrounging around looking for your stuff or going back and forth to the store and the point is crystal clear; an organized garage is a huge money saver.

 

7. Gain More Living Space

1 car garage, central toronto - custom attic mezzanine storage areaFinally, the seventh reason you want to organize your garage is that it will free up more space.   It is all about making your space work.  By properly organizing and structuring your garage storage needs you will end up with more available space.  This will allow you to put more stuff in the garage that you may currently have stored in various locations around the home such as your basement.  For example, consider a growing family.  By optimizing the storage space in the garage, this family could free up enough space in the basement to construct another room.  In other words, by taking the simple step of organizing their garage, this growing family actually created more living space.

 

As you can see organizing your garage has many more benefits than you might have considered.  In many cases, setting up an organized garage could be a life changing event.

 

 

Seasonal Tire Storage

tire storage solutions - mounted overhead tire storage

It’s that time of year again; time to move your tires in and out.  Of course some choose to simply store their seasonal tires at an offsite location.  However, a large majority choose to store their tires at home in their garages.  At the same time, there are some homeowners who choose to do both, store the set of tires for one vehicle offsite and the tires for a second or third vehicle at home in the garage. This article is for those who choose to utilize their garage space for seasonal tire storage.

tire storage solutions - custom overhead tire storage platformThere are a few factors to consider when discussing tire storage.  One of the most important issues you want to keep in mind is that of protecting the integrity of your tire. As you probably know, it is never a good idea to store the tire vertically in the same spot over an extended period of time.  Storing a tire on its running surface (with or without rims) tends to leave a flat spot in your tire that may result in damage the tire.

Another factor to consider is the weight of the tire.  Obviously a seasonal tire with rims is significantly heavier than a tire without rims.  Even so, the weight of a tire without rims may be a bit much for some people to hoist up to an overhead platform.  You want to tailor your storage solutions to your situation, especially with bulky or heavy items such as seasonal tire. 

tire storage solutions - mounted overhead tire storageTire storage options can be classified into two main categories: horizontal storage and vertical storage.  Horizontal storage is exactly what it sounds like.  You simply place your tires flat.  The tires are either placed on a platform or they may even be stacked in the corner on the floor. Horizontal storage as an option applies to both tires with rims and tires without rims. Depending on your needs, you may decide you don’t like your tires sitting on the floor all winter and would feel much better if they were on a platform out of the way.  Also remember that whatever tire storage solution you are pondering, at least moving them off of the floor frees up some more floor space for you to use.

tire storage solutions - wall-mounted tire rackOne space-saving solution to examine if it works for your garage is that of vertical tire storage.  Storing tires vertically means they are installed in a rack. The rack is then conveniently mounted in an optimum location to maximize your other storage options while still allowing access to your tires.  Note that vertical storage is available both for tires with rims and for tires without rims.  If you are looking around your garage and want to know if a vertical storage rack would work for you, simply take 4 times the width of your tires, which is the lateral distance or width of the rack (plus hardware needs).  Then, measure the diameter of the tire, that number is the approximate depth you will need for a vertical tire storage rack.  As you can see, the vertical tire storage option gets the tires out of the way in a compact and contained space. 

Whichever option you choose for your seasonal tire storage needs, there is a storage solution that can fit your garage.  When you decide to renovate your garage that is an excellent time to evaluate your tire storage needs and options.

Garage Renovation Obstacles

1.5 car garage, etobicoke - overhead platform storage, garage cabinets, slatwall organization system, camlock camlok hooks, polyaspartic floor, cement block coating - before

With any garage renovation project it is fairly common to encounter situations that require a bit of creativity in order to set up the best storage solutions.  These situations can be broadly classified into two main categories: those that involve movable objects or materials and those situations when it becomes necessary to work around appliances or other fixtures that are for the most part not readily movable.  As you might expect, situations involving movable storage obstacles are fairly straightforward to address.  On the other hand, storage obstacles arising from immovable storage solution obstacles need a bit more creativity and planning.  However, as you will soon see there are options available for both.

There are a few optimized storage obstacles that show up with any garage renovation project.  Each of these must be handled with proper planning and foresight to achieve the optimized storage you desire. 

1.5 car garage, etobicoke - overhead platform storage, garage cabinets, slatwall organization system, camlock camlok hooks, polyaspartic floor, cement block coating - beforeThe most frequently encountered storage solution obstacle is the central vacuum.  You may have noticed the central vacuum is often left hanging there on the wall taking up a lot of space. Most new home builders mount these central vacuums in the middle of a wall, either the back wall or one of the sidewalls.  Also, the central vacuum is typically mounted about half way between the ceiling and the floor. While this position certainly allows you to access the unit for service, it makes storage above and below rather cumbersome. 

All of that being said, the central vacuum is actually an appliance that can be relocated relatively easily.  The vacuum pipes coming to the central vacuum unit are simply common p.v.c plumbing and the electric is typically a standard outlet plug. Relocating the central vacuum merely means choosing an optimum location, mounting the unit and re-piping the vacuum lines as required.  Oftentimes, the best location is found to be mounted in a side corner such that the unit is still accessible but it is mounted a bit higher and out of the way. By relocating your central vacuum, you gain valuable storage space below and of course along the wall where the unit was originally located.  For example, if you relocate a central vacuum stuck there in the middle of your sidewall to the back corner, now you have the option to install slatwall, storage racks or other optimized storage solutions in the newly freed up space.

The next most frequently encountered obstacle to optimized storage is the doors and windows. Obviously, in most cases you aren’t going to be moving a door or window.  On the other hand, there are practical storage solutions that can be installed to optimize the space.

Start with the door into your garage from inside your home.  The most obvious answer is to install an overhead storage rack.  An overhead storage rack above your door will add valuable storage space that is useful, yet still out of the way.  At the same time, you want to be aware of the fact that there is an optimum way to install an overhead storage platform and there is a sub-optimum way. 

The very best solution is to install an over the door storage platform using hardware hung from the ceiling.  However, sometimes eager do-it-yourselfers will instead install this overhead platform and support it with vertical posts. While this is okay and does give you the overhead storage, the vertical posts can be an eyesore, not to mention getting in the way of other things you want to have in the garage. 

One other scenario to consider is when the door is located in the middle of the wall.  In this case, more often than not a customized solution could be the best choice.  For example, you could install a combination of overhead platforms, shelving or platforms on one side and slatwall on the other side.  Of course each garage design is unique so many who chose to renovate their garages end up selecting a custom solution.

Although windows are not really that common in most garages, customers with garage windows often are looking to optimize the space around the window.  The one big issue is often the location of the window.  In other words, if the window is in the middle of a sidewall versus being located towards one side or the other will determine the type of renovation options available. One typical storage solution option is the installation of an overhead platform with a slatwall installation to the sides and beneath the window.  This option maximizes the utility of the space around the window while still allowing the full functionality of the window itself.

garden hose reelA minor situation that sometimes shows up in garage renovation projects is the location of the fresh water hose bibb.  The hose bibb may be installed in a location that means stretching an attached hose along the garage floor and outside.  Some renovation customers may choose to have this hose bibb relocated further along the wall to a more convenient location. 

Alternatively, to save the trouble and expense of relocating the garage water supply, a more optimized hose reel and storage fixture can be installed.  The hose reel can be conveniently mounted on the wall to allow easy access and storage. 

One final situation that might be a factor is the automatic garage door opener.  The garage door opener operates off of the normal household electrical outlets. Unfortunately, there is rarely an outlet mounted in the ceiling in a convenient location for the opener.  Consequently, many homeowners end up draping an extension cord across the top of the garage and down a wall.

 Of course, this is not the best solution and is definitely not recommended.  Keep in mind that an extension cord is only designed for temporary use; it is not supposed to be used as a permanent electrical supply.  The solution is to bring in a electrician to mount an outlet close by the garage door opener.  Absent wanting to install another outlet, the other option is to more permanently affix the extension cord with cable clamps or similar hardware.

Conclusion: as you can see from the above, each and every garage renovation project presents its own challenges and surprises. However, with some simple planning along with a discussion of the best storage solutions for your situation you can have a garage that works for you.

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