How to Make the Perfect Garage for Your Car

a 2019 Chevy Impala parked in a garage

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Fact: the human male doesn’t fully realize the concept of self-preservation until the age of 26. Also a fact: ownership of a truck, a sports car, a boat, and the dream garage in which they reside is a rung on the ladder of ultimate manliness — a station in life only a select few even aspire to achieve. The ideal vehicle requires a perfect garage to match.

But the journey doesn’t stop at color-flaked flooring, no sir. Any grease monkey worth his timing light knows: stock just won’t cut it. You may not be able to bolt a blower onto your garage (or maybe you are…) but we’ve got a few suggestions that would make Tim the Tool Man Taylor green with envy.

For most of us, our garage serves as a catch-all for everything that won’t fit well in the rest of the house. This room, which we should be using for car storage and maintenance, is full to the brim with everything from old clothes to rusty tools and busted appliances. Well, no longer. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help you restore your garage to its former glory and turn it into the perfect place to store or work on your car.

1. Clean and Organize

The first thing you need to do is make room for your vehicle. This step starts by sorting everything you keep in your garage. Set up four piles — keep, store, sell and junk. Keep it for things you frequently use that happen to live in the garage. Store is for stuff like holiday decorations you only use occasionally, but you don’t want to get rid of. Sell is for things that are still in good shape that you don’t need anymore. Junk is for everything else — and that includes those busted appliances you swore you were going to fix.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the last two piles and stored your seasonal stuff, it’s time to start organizing. Shelves, storage containers, a pegboard with hooks for the tools you use a lot and even overhead storage can all help you keep everything easily accessible while also keeping your floor clear.

No one likes hunting through a pile of tools for a half-inch socket or a 10 mm wrench. When you’re building your dream garage, organization is essential. Invest in toolboxes where you can organize your tools or pegboards where you can hang them on the walls, so they’re easy to find. Working on cars is hard work in and of itself, so don’t make it more difficult by throwing your tools in a pile.

A clean, organized garage wall

2. Inspect Your Space

Once you can finally see the floor, you need to inspect it before you park your cars on it. If your house is old, it’s natural to see the occasional crack in the concrete slab, but if it’s in bad shape, your next step will be to resurface the slab, or in extreme cases, pull it up and pour a new one.

Resurfacing your concrete floor is a task you can often do yourself. If you need to replace the slab, make sure you call a professional. Heated floors — they’re not just for hallways anymore. What could be better when you’re putting long hours in to finish a project on a cold night?

3. Upgrade Your Garage Door

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How old is my garage door?
  • Does it open and close smoothly?
  • Does the door protect my car from the elements?

An old garage door is prone to problems, and won’t protect your car from heat during summer months or cold in the winter. If you’re still using the door that came with your home, it’s time for an upgrade. Choose your material — wood, steel, fiberglass, aluminum or vinyl — and your design. If you live somewhere that trends toward extreme temperatures, you may also want to consider opting for an insulated garage door.

A perfect garage is only as good as its door, and you don’t have to be restricted to traditional garage door designs anymore. Modern garage doors can be a great way to add a bit of sass to your dream garage without reworking the architecture of your home. Pick different colors, windows that let in natural light or even something totally different, like a barn-style garage door that opens outward instead of up.

4. Keep It Secure

Your garage is often your last line of defense, protecting your belongings and the rest of your home from burglars. Make sure your garage door is secure before you park your car in there. One way to do this is with a smart garage door opener. That way, if you drive off to work and forget to shut the garage door, you can use an app on your smartphone and close the door remotely. These devices will also send you an alert when the door opens, making them a perfect addition for any home security system.

Creating the perfect garage

5. Keep It Equipped

If you’re working on cars on a regular basis, lifting and lowering cars on a manual hydraulic jack gets old fast. Make it a point to invest in a lift that will fit in your garage space. Big lifts might raise your car too high for a garage with a low roof clearance, but a low-rise car lift can fit in just about any garage without worrying about putting the roof of your car through the ceiling.

Jack stands are a safety hazard, it’s that simple. If you’re putting some serious muscle into removing a rusted suspension member, what you need is the rock-steady reliability, and safety, of a lift. What job isn’t easier when raising and lowering your project can happen at the push of a button? Hydraulic or electric, take your pick, we’re not here to judge.

6. Make It Yours

If you work on cars, you’ve probably purchased quite a few Haynes manuals or other how-to books to help you with your jobs. Why not create your own personal manual library? Build some shelves, or buy some flat-pack bookshelves that you can keep in your garage. This will give you a place to keep your manuals neat and protected when they’re not in use.

A dry-erase board can be a great place to gather your thoughts and figure out how to approach your latest project, but it also takes up valuable floor space in your garage. Instead, consider painting your garage walls with dry-erase paint. Similar to chalkboard paint, this option simulates the surface of a dry-erase board on any surface that you paint it on. You could put it on a wall or even the inside of your garage door.

You might think you need a fridge in the ultimate garage. Wrong. You want a fridge, but what you need is a kegerator. Let’s face it: there’s no time for solid sustenance when you’re locked in an all-night-long test of endurance to remount your newly machined heads. Beer is the answer. It’s also the answer when the wrenching stops and the garage is on chill-out detail. Be real: you’ve already got room for a sandwich in the indoor fridge, but you haven’t got room for a keg. Do something about it.

Create the Perfect Garage

If you’ve been using your dream garage as a storage shed all these years, 2023 is your year to finally restore this room to its former glory and purpose. Clean out all your junk and give yourself the perfect garage to maintain your car other than the driveway.

Originally published 2/5/2019 — Updated 11/16/2023

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