Is Your Garage Ready for Winter?

slatwall - wall organizers, grey, hooks, garden toolsWe’ve settled into fall and the air is turning crisp and cool. Though most of us would prefer to reminisce over how we spent the summer, it’s time to give serious thought to preparing for winter.

Remember last winter?

It was the coldest winter Toronto has experienced in twenty years. The harsh winter caught many of us unaware, and left homeowners, businesses and governments reeling from the unexpected impact and costs. Most homeowners realize how essential it is to winterize their homes, but don’t forget about your garage. It needs winter weather prep, too.

What can you do to prepare your garage for the snowy winter ahead? Here are four steps that will help you get your garage ready for winter.

Clean Up Your Act

During the activity of summer it’s easy for the garage to become a family dumping ground. Maybe you’ve even resorted to parking your vehicles outside, rather than vying for space inside the garage. However, with snow and cold weather headed our way in the coming months, now is the time to carve out space for your vehicles and all of your winter weather supplies, like shovels, salt and your trusty snow blower.

Begin your winter weather prep by cleaning out your garage. Sort through all of the items stored in your garage. Honestly assess which items are needed and which should go. Be brutal. Toss broken items, including the ones you’ve been planning to fix for the past five years. Donate items in good condition that are duplicates or that your family no longer uses.

Still having trouble deciding what should stay and what should get the old heave-ho? Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Do I trulyneed this item?
  • How likely is it that we’ll use it again?
  • If I’m not using it, why am I really holding onto this item?
  • Could someone else use it?
  • If it’s broken, is it worth fixing? How likely am I to fix the item (or get it fixed)?
  • Does this item fit with my current lifestyle?
  • Which is more important: holding onto this item or parking inside the garage?

Once you’ve pared down the volume of items stored in the garage, it’s the perfect time to spruce it up. Sweep floors, dust for cobwebs, clean the garage door and give the floor a good scrub.

Create a Plan

Now that you can see how much space you’re working with, it’s time to devise a plan for organizing your items. Ask yourself:

  • What is my objective?
  • What additional items need to go into the garage?
  • Is there room for the snow blower?
  • Which items should be grouped together? (More on this later.)
  • Where should each item be placed for easiest access?

Map out a plan that will allow you to safely store all items while also accommodating any vehicles you’d like to park in the garage.

Floor space is at a premium in the typical garage. Don’t limit yourself to perimeter floor space. Install a wall organizer system, or have one installed by a garage interior design expert. Storing items vertically in baskets, or on shelves and hooks, reserves floor space for larger items and for vehicle parking.

Still need more space? Look up. If your garage has wasted overhead space, as most do, you could add valuable storage space by getting overhead storage platforms installed.Before you give your plan the green light, make sure it includes task-related zones.

Create Task-Oriented Zones

While creating your plan, you considered which items should be grouped together. This question is essential and deserves further discussion. Creating task-oriented zones will help keep your garage organized throughout the year.

Carefully consider all of the activities that take place in your garage. Keep seasonal and related items together. Create a car care zone, one for yard care and another for winter sports gear. Shift winter gear to a prime space and store summer items where they are less accessible.

Ideally, winter yard maintenance equipment and supplies should be stored close to the garage door for easy access to the driveway. However, not all sidewalls can accommodate a snow blower while still allowing room to park vehicles inside. If this is the case in a two-car garage, try storing the snow blower on the back wall near the center of the garage. This will allow you to exit the garage between the vehicles parked inside.

Winterize Your Garage (and Everything in It)

Now that your garage is decluttered and organized, it’s time to make sure that everything is ready for that first icy blast of Arctic air.

  • Replace the batteries in your garage door openers.
  • Check garage door weather stripping and replace, if needed.
  • Check all moving parts of the garage door. Get any missing or broken parts repaired.
  • Lubricate garage door rollersand hinges for smooth operation all winter.
  • Ensure that the safety reverse sensor is functional. If not, adjust sensors or have them repaired.
  • Drain water from hoses, purge sprinkler system and shut off water supply to exterior spigot.

Take advantage of cool, comfortable fall temperatures by preparing your home and garage for the winter ahead. Once you’ve decluttered your garage and created a plan of action that includes task-oriented zones, it’s time to put that plan into action. Store any items that can’t be stored vertically or overhead around the perimeter of your garage. Stack or nest like items, like flower pots or storage bins, to maximize space.

Make Clean Out Your Garage Day a Fun, Family Project

clean out your garage - family project, fun dayThe Saturday after Labour Day is Clean Out Your Garage Day, an unofficial holiday.

Granted, spending Saturday digging through the clutter in your garage probably isn’t your ideal way to spend your hard-earned time off. However, a clean, orderly garage is worth the sacrifice.

Still, when the garage has become a dumping ground for the entire family, just getting started can be the most difficult task. The responsibility of cleaning out the garage often falls to a single family member. This hardly seems fair, since several members of the family are typically responsible for the mess. With that in mind, why not make cleaning out your garage a family project?

Organizing the entire family to tackle what feels like a daunting project can be challenging. However, if the mere thought of doing so makes you break out in a cold sweat, don’t worry. Here are a few tips for making Clean Out Your Garage Day a fun, family project.

Have a Brief Family Meeting

When possible, notify all family members in advance of the plan to clean the garage. If this year’s event doesn’t allow for adequate advance notice, or plans have already been established, select a more agreeable date. Then, set realistic expectations about how long the project will take.

If you’re dreading the project, everyone in your family will, too. Talk enthusiastically about cleaning the garage. Plan a fun day your family will look forward to: play music, order pizza from their favorite pizzeria, create a fun contest, have a celebratory meal when the work is done. Discuss the benefits of cleaning the garage:

  • Adequate space to store the family’s bikes and other outdoor goods
  • Easier access to favorite items like bikes, bats and balls
  • Save time looking for items
  • Reduce the hazards of tripping over items or having things fall on someone
  • Deter pests and vermin that thrive on clutter
  • Help others through the donation of unused items
  • A space the whole family will be proud of

Once the date and time are set, and everyone is excited about the project, it’s time to create a workable plan.

Create a Plan of Attack

Imagine four of five people trying to maneuver in a small, cluttered space. If not planned well, it’s a recipe for disaster that will frustrate everyone and kill any enthusiasm there might have been for the project. To create a workable plan to organize your garage:

  1. Know your priorities. What do you need to store in your garage? Who needs access to it? Whose access should be restricted?
  2. Create zones. Now that you understand how you’ll use the garage, create areas to group similar items. Possible zones include automotive, gardening, sports equipment, tools, etc. This step is essential to creating an organized space where items can be located easily.
  3. Be prepared! A push broom, work gloves (for everyone), heavy duty garbage bags and basic tools are among the items you’ll want to have on hand. Will you be installing shelving or using plastic storage bins? Purchase needed items and have them ready. If possible, assemble shelves beforehand.
  4. Decide how each family member can be most useful. Does one person excel at a certain task, like organizing? Would certain members work better as a team?

Armed with a plan and prepared, with everything you need on hand, you’re already well on your way to a successful Clean Out Your Garage Day. Next, let’s examine a few tips for making your family’s garage cleaning day go as smoothly as possible.

Work as a Team to Avoid Chaos

To keep the project moving, without creating chaos:

o   Provide a brief overview of the day, so everyone knows what to expect.

o   Relocate everything possible from the garage to the driveway.

o   Group similar items together.

o   Discard broken items.

o   Box unused and duplicate items for donation. Avoid “just-in-case” syndrome. Be ruthless; don’t retain items that haven’t been used for a year or more.

o   Clearly define each zone in your garage.

o   Install shelving, hooks, etc. to use as much vertical or overhead space as safely possible.

o   Return each item to the garage in its newly designated space.

o   Arrange for pickup or delivery of donated goods.

o   Celebrate a job well done!

The garage is clean and tidy now, but everyone must do their part to keep it that way. Since the entire family helped clean the garage, they’ll be more invested in keeping it organized. Remind everyone how important it is to put each item back in its proper place.

Cleaning the garage isn’t most people’s idea of fun. Yet, by getting the entire family onboard, creating a workable plan and making Clean Out Your Garage Day an organized event for the entire family, it can be a family day everyone will appreciate.

Create a Gardening or Craft Station in Your Garage

During summer the typical garage is a hub of activity. In addition to being the primary storage space for most outdoor sporting equipment, your garage also houses gardening tools and supplies.

Many homeowners look forward to working in the yard. After all, gardening can be relaxing and enjoyable. However, hunting through a disorganized garage for gardening supplies is exasperating. Doing so leaves one exhausted before the real work has begun.

Has this ever happened to you?

garage cabinets - rolling workbench, chopping block workstation, slatwall wall organizers, garage windowIf so, you know how frustrating it can be. Locating essential tools and supplies is just the first step. Finding a suitable workspace is quite another. Gardening, bike repair, crafts and hobbies all require a flat work surface. Yet, few garages have dedicated workspace for gardening or other tasks.

Such tasks are handled easily and efficiently in a designated workspace. A reserved workspace also eliminates the need to attempt messy gardening jobs, like planting seeds or re-potting plants, indoors.

A dedicated workspace for gardening and other hobbies can be created in your garage, even when space is at a premium. Like landscaping, it’s a project that homeowners can tackle themselves or hire a professional to handle. A garden workspace can be achieved relatively inexpensively by re-purposing old furniture, cabinetry or reclaimed wood. However, if you require a more comprehensive solution, a garage renovation specialist can help you achieve your vision.

Planning Your Gardening Workspace

after - left corner - workbench, workstation, slatwall organizers, shelving, hooksAs with any project, it’s imperative to have a concrete plan before work begins. Start by assessing your specific needs for a gardening or craft workspace. Ask yourself:

  • What tasks will be performed in the workspace?
  • How much flat surface area is required?
  • What tools and supplies are needed? Where and how will they be stored?
  • How much wall space is necessary to house workspace and supplies?
  • Is the current garage lighting adequate? Is special task lighting required?

If this level of planning is more work than you’re willing to take on, consider hiring a professional to create the space for you. A few of the workspaces Nuvo Garage has created for our clients are pictured. However, if you’re thrilled by the idea of creating your own garage workspace, let’s look at some inexpensive options for doing just that.

Create a Gardening Center in Your Garage

Ultimate Garage Workbench - butcher block top, cabinets & drawersWith your plan in hand, you’ll have an idea of how much wall space is required to create your gardening workspace. Reclaiming this space should be part of an overall garage organization strategy which relies on zones for the storage of related items.

To create a workstation for gardening, or your hobby of choice, you’ll need a flat work surface. Here are a few options for creating one:

  • Get a no-cost work surface by reclaiming an old desk or dining room table taking up space in your attic or garage.
  • Acquire a used table or desk from a garage sale or resale shop.
  • Purchase two relatively inexpensive base cabinets (with doors or drawers for storage). Space them apart. Then lay a flat piece of wood, an old door or a purchased countertop across them to create a flat work surface.
  • Buy a modular or pre-made workbench with space for storage underneath.

Your flat work surface will be the foundation of the space. Next, consult your plan to see what additional storage is necessary.

Workbench for One Car GarageThere are a variety of creative ways to address storage needs. Shelves, baskets and hooks can hold everything from flowerpots and gloves to assorted gardening implements. When coupled with a professional garage wall organization system, shelves, baskets and hooks can be easily moved or adjusted to accommodate any season or craft.

Need to store small items that are easily misplaced? Clear plastic boxes or reclaimed jars provide storage that is easily accessible while keeping contents clean and dry.

All you need is a small space, a well-thought out plan and a few pieces of equipment and accessories to create an organized and highly-functional gardening center in your garage. Creating your own gardening workspace in your garage can be a fun, do-it-yourself weekend project. However, such a space can be part of a larger garage organization and renovation project.

Not quite sure how to make heads or tails of the collection of belongings in your garage? Contact your neighborhood garage renovation specialist for a no-cost, no-obligation estimate.

Five Ways to Maximize Garage Storage

There are a few basic steps that will help you create a neat, organized garage. Last time we discussed the first step, creating related zones in your garage. We discovered why it makes sense to create separate zones for auto accessories, household supplies, garden tools, garbage and recycling bins, tools and workstations and sporting equipment. Now let’s discuss how to keep the items in each zone neat and organized by using a variety of tools and accessories designed just for this purpose.

Slatwall – The Key to Getting Everything Off of Your Garage Floor

1_5-car-garage-etobicoke-overhead-platform-storage-garage-cabinets-slatwall-organization-system-camlock-camlok-hooks-polyaspartic-floor-cement-block-coating-afterMaybe you’ve never heard of slatwall, but you’ve probably seen it in your local retail store. It wasn’t the item being sold. However, it was likely used as the base for the baskets and hooks that held merchandise. Slatwall (also called slotwall and slat board) isn’t limited to use by retailers anymore. It is frequently used in garages as a hanging system that enables homeowners to get everything off of the garage floor.

Slatwall comes in panels which are installed on the walls of the garage. The grooves in the slatwall hold hooks, baskets and other organizational products and give the homeowner the freedom to easily move these items as needed.

Your local big-box store might sell a basic slatwall system. However, slatwall sold there is typically composed of MDF. It doesn’t have the durability and weight-bearing capacity of sturdier, PVC-based slatwall available to professional garage renovation specialists and other contractors.

Getting professional-grade slatwall installed provides the base for organization in each zone of your garage.

Baskets and Hooks

Once professional-grade slatwall panels are installed on your garage walls, corresponding baskets and hooks can be inserted into the grooves. These baskets and hooks will provide wall storage for everything ranging from garden tools and sports equipment to snow shovels and bicycles.

Just think of all of the possibilities!

Rather than the garage being a dumping ground for everyone’s in-line skates or softball equipment, each item can be hung neatly in its designated spot. You won’t spend half an hour searching for your snow brush when the first snow of winter hits unexpectedly. Instead, you can walk right over to the automotive zone in your garage and take the snow brush of its hook.

Best of all, since the hooks and baskets can be easily moved, you can adjust the configuration to better accommodate the items you’re storing at various times of the year.

Shelving

Slatwall can also accommodate shelving. Like the corresponding baskets and hooks, the shelving used with slatwall can also be relocated at any time. This provides endless possibilities for storage on your garage walls.

Shelving can be particularly useful when it comes to storing window washing fluid, automotive fluids, household chemicals or flower pots. Create shelves high on the wall to store items that should be kept out of the reach of pets and children. Create low shelves for items that should be easily accessible to children.

Overhead Storage Solutions

One area frequently overlooked for garage storage is the space overhead. However, with a bit of imagination and essential expertise, the overhead space in your garage can safely store household items that aren’t frequently accessed, like seasonal tires, holiday decorations or roof racks used for carrying luggage or sporting equipment. Bicycles, kayaks, leftover wood or siding and other large, bulky items can also be stored overhead with the right custom solutions.

Overhead storage solutions can be tricky to handle on your own. A variety of factors must be considered: height, clearance and weight-bearing capacity, to name a few. If you aren’t completely confident about designing and installing heavy overhead storage solutions, contract a professional garage renovation specialist to handle a job of this magnitude instead.

Custom-built Storage Solutions

You can purchase any number of pre-built storage cabinets, workbenches and overhead shelves for your garage at your local big-box store. However, you’re limited to the sizes and configurations that they have available. If you have unique challenges in your garage, like curved walls or odd spaces, you might find it difficult to incorporate pre-made storage cabinets into your space. However, a garage renovation specialist can assess your space and custom-build cabinetry and workbenches to perfectly fit your lifestyle as well as the unique spaces of your garage.

An organized, functional garage is only a few steps away. Start by creating related storage zones. Then, give everything a specified place within its zone. And finally, be sure to return items to their designated spaces after each use.

Want the gorgeous garage, but don’t quite have the time to make it happen? Contact a professional garage renovation specialist to explore the possibilities.

Organize Your Garage with Dedicated Zones

2 car garage oakville overhead storage platform slatwall organization system hooks camlock baskets tire storage racks afterThis time of year our garages can easily descend into a den of chaos. The kids are digging out the bikes and rollerblades. You’re sifting through sleds, snow shovels and Christmas decorations in search of your garden tools. Meanwhile, one (or both) of your vehicles is stuck outside because there’s never enough room to squeeze it inside the garage.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Creating some level of organization in your garage doesn’t need to be a complicated or costly affair. Optimize the space in your garage by creating related storage zones. Why are dedicated zones essential to a well-organized garage? Let’s reconsider the scenario above.

If your winter tools and sports equipment, holiday decorations and garden tools are all stored in the same area, it makes life difficult, especially when the seasons change. You’ll have to search through the winter items in order to reach the garden tools which are now in the back. This type of system breeds chaos and makes us less inclined to do the yard work.

Now, close your eyes and envision your garage as a well-organized space with separate zones for related items. The effect is similar to what you experience when you go to a hardware store. The shovels and winterization items are in one section. The garden hose and tools are in a separate location. You can easily find either type of item with minimal fuss or confusion. With that in mind, let’s apply that same system to your garage.

Like that hardware store, there are a few basic zones into which the items in a garage can typically be categorized. Let’s examine each zone and what items would best fit there.

Automotive Accessories

Create a small section to store items used to maintain your vehicles. In this zone, organize items like car wax, motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, a bucket and chamois cloths for cleaning the car. Group tools used during winter months, like snow brushes. If you keep an additional set of tires in the garage for the winter weather, these might require a separate tire storage solution.

Household Supplies

Perhaps you keep items like household cleaners and paint thinner (but not paint!) in your garage. First, be sure to safely store household chemicals in your garage. Create a dedicated zone for these items. Use a cabinet or shelf that will keep these items out of the reach of your children and pets.

Garden Tools & Supplies

Homeowners often hire a company to maintain their yard and keep it looking beautiful. Others find great pleasure in maintaining their own yards. Planting flowers and shrubbery requires lots of hard work (and tools). The last thing you want to do before a long day of work in the yard is to spend an hour raking through your garage to find your garden tools.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Instead, create a zone in your garage dedicated to storing your yard essentials: hoes, shovels, trowels, fertilizer, garden gloves, flower pots, potting soil and other yard accessories. Then you’ll be able to put your time and effort into making your yard gorgeous, rather than searching for your gardening tools.

Recycling & Garbage Cans

Garbage cans and recycling bins are frequently stored in the garage. It might be necessary to keep these items in your garage. However, if not stored properly, waste bins are open invitations to vermin. They can also detract from the aesthetics of your garage and cause unpleasant odors.

Keep recycling and garbage cans together in a single zone. Store waste in cans with lids that fit tightly. This discourages smells from escaping and pests and vermin from entering the waste cans.

Tools & Workbenches

The garage is often home to a workbench and a variety of tools. Perhaps you’ve always wanted a workstation in your garage, but don’t believe you have the room for it. Even smaller garages can accommodate a custom-built workbench or workstation. Keeping tools organized is made simple with the right toolbox, pegboard or more sophisticated storage solutions. However, recycled items are also useful. For instance, an old muffin tin makes a good place to store nails, bolts and screws. You’ll be helping the environment and organizing your garage.

Sports Equipment

Most garages are brimming with sports equipment: bikes, skis, kayaks, rollerblades and balls. If you have school-aged children, you know how quickly these items accumulate and overtake the space that was once reserved for your car. When spring comes everyone starts digging out their sports equipment. Any semblance of organization you once had descends into chaos.

That’s why sports equipment requires its own separate zone in the garage. Use hooks, baskets or other organizational tools (which we’ll discuss more next time) to organize sports equipment.

Bicycles are large and bulky, usually requiring a separate storage solution. There are a variety of solutions for bike storage ranging from a traditional school yard-style bike rack to sophisticated overhead pulley systems.

It’s clear why separate zones in your garage make life easier. Now that we’ve reviewed each zone, you might be wondering how to keep the items in each section neatly organized. In the next post we’ll discuss all of the neat solutions that will keep each section of your garage looking its very best.

Do you want an organized garage, but just don’t have the time to do the work yourself? Consider hiring a garage renovation expert to organize your garage.