Dear James: I am recently divorced. Now, with my husband gone, I can finally clean up the garage and get things arranged properly. What suggestions do you have to free up space and jazz it up a bit? — Steve W.
Dear Steve: Cleaning and jazzing up the garage area is becoming a very popular home improvement project. With the attached garage door typically opening up to the kitchen or family room, the garage is often considered an extension of these rooms. If you do the job properly, it can become an activity area for your children.
Your budget will determine how many improvements you can make. If you have several thousand dollars to invest in this garage makeover, consider hiring a professional contractor. He or she can analyze everything you need to store and the activities you wish to perform there and then develop a remodeling plan for you.
When doing the design and work yourself, the first improvement most people make is trying to get commonly used items off the floor. These may include garden tools, lawn chairs, children's toys and bikes, pet food, fertilizer, etc.
Dark brown pegboard was the standard for many years. It still works well, but it cannot hold heavy items without bulging, and it certainly is not attractive. Also, it is often difficult to get the hooks into the holes and to readjust them as your needs change.
A better option for lightweight items is installing wire grids on the wall. Matching plastic hooks are designed to easily snap into the wire grid. These range in price from about $3 to $6 per square foot and are very easy to install on the wall. If the existing wall surface is in good condition, these grids will look quite nice.
For about double the cost, solid slotted walls made of PVC are available. These panels attach securely to the garage wall and can support a substantial amount of weight. They are rustproof and will completely hide a garage wall in bad condition. You will have to use special hooks and hardware designed to fit into the slots.
Cabinets and shelving are the next items to consider. Shelving is much less expensive than cabinets, and it gives you instant access to frequently used items. Although good-quality shelving can be acceptable, it does not look as clean as cabinets with doors.
You will find a huge range of quality and prices among garage cabinetry. Always select ones raised up a couple of inches from the concrete floor. This will allow you to hose out the garage occasionally to keep the floor clean. Also, during warm humid weather, moisture will condense on a concrete garage floor and make everything damp. Powder-coated steel cabinets are some of the most durable.
Properly cleaning and finishing the garage floor can make the greatest improvement in its appearance and function. One of the least expensive options and the simplest to install is roll vinyl flooring. It comes in 12-foot-wide rolls and can handle the weight of a car.
Another option is to interlock 1-square-foot plastic tiles. These are strong and colorful, allowing you to create interesting patterns. They are easy to replace if they get damaged. The most expensive option — but the best option — is a professionally installed epoxy coating. It has many layers and is very durable.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.