Great garages from the door to floor
The garage is no longer just a place to park cars and store golf clubs. Representing a significant portion of the home’s square footage, garages offer excellent storage, activity and customization options. Common upgrades today include painting the floors, replacing the doors and installing racks and cabinets to keep everything in its place.
Durable, stylish floors
Gone are the days of dull, gray garage floors that peel and stain. Today, epoxy coatings are a popular choice for garage floors because they offer a strong and durable surface and the look of natural stone. While water-based epoxy kits are available at paint and home improvement stores, professionally installed 100 percent epoxy-based products are much stronger, says Alan Mishkoff, principal/general manager of Granite Garage Floors, in Atlanta. Plus, homeowners can choose from a range of colors for a unique custom finish. “We have hundreds of designer colors to include the extremely popular neutral tone finishes, like our most popular Cecelia Tan or our Baltic Brown Granite Finish,” Mishkoff says.
Typically, epoxy coatings take a day or two to install based on size and can be walked on within 24 hours. Concerned about slick floors? To prevent falls, Gary Damm, business development director at Amazing Improvements and Garages, in Atlanta often adds slip resistance to epoxy-coated or stained concrete garage floors. Other garage flooring options include paint or polyurea coatings; polished stained concrete; PVC, vinyl or polypropylene tile; and roll-out PVC or vinyl.
“The garage is no longer an afterthought, which has fueled a desire for more stylish and reliable doors,” says Dennis Easter, vice president of sales and marketing at Image Doors, Inc., in Milton. “It used to be that one- and two-car garages were the standard, but now homeowners want three and even four or more car spaces. The extra rooms are more essential.” Increased size and visibility means garage doors play a major role in creating curb appeal.
“Garage doors can be upgraded just like the front door, shutters and siding,” says Chris Collier, sales manager at Metro Garage Door, Inc., in Douglasville. “Many older homes have weathered wood doors with no windows or just large rectangular windows. Today’s doors can be carriage design with numerous window and hardware designs. Carports can be enclosed offering security and privacy.”
Just 10 to 15 years ago, the only garage doors available were standard steel or wood panel doors, but options have evolved significantly during the last several years. Today, the options are almost limitless. “Garage doors are available in steel, composites and various woods that complement (rather than hurt) the curb appeal of a home,” says Al Richburg, president of Doorsmith, Inc., in Atlanta. “The most popular style is the carriage house door, which is designed to look like the Old World, bi-parting hinged doors from the horse-and-buggy days but operate just like a modern garage door and offer the convenience of operating electronically with a push of a button.” Another new entry in the market is the all-glass full-view door, which is great for modern-style homes.
The garage is an extension of the home and is used daily as a primary entry point, particularly for homeowners with side or front-entry garages. For this reason, many homeowners are looking for garage storage solutions to keep clutter at bay, from simple shelving and ready-to-assemble storage kits to professionally installed cabinetry and organizations systems.
“We recommend laying out wall spaces on graph paper or an equivalent computer app,” says Damm. “This way homeowners can play with the layout and see it before they commit to a vendor.”
For a quick fix, Damm recommends Rubbermaid storage solutions available at big box stores. Professional garage improvement companies can offer a range of cabinets not available to the DIY homeowner and often at very competitive pricing. Beyond that, custom cabinetmakers can handle any request, he says.
Besides increasing functionality, garage storage options also can add value to your home. “Realtors tell us that after the kitchen, storage space within the home—particularly the garage—is extremely important to buyers,” says Douglas R. Calvert, owner of Garage Solutions Atlanta.
Today’s garages are equipped with features designed to solve common problems and offer additional protection. No power? No problem. Richburg says modern garage door openers are available with battery backup to allow operation even when the power is out. Plus, “the new Lift-Master line of electric garage door openers offers smartphone operation from anywhere,” he says, meaning homeowners don’t have to worry if they forget to close the garage door when they leave the house.
Manufacturers also have worked to improve the safety of automatic garage doors, enabling them with smart features that help prevent accidents. “All modern motor operators are required to have internal mechanisms and safety eyes that reverse the operation of the garage door if an obstruction is in the way of a closing garage door,” Richburg says.
Options and extras
The versatility of a garage is one of its most attractive features. With the proper equipment, this seemingly one-dimensional space can be transformed to serve a variety of functions such as game room, home gym, playroom, pet zone, man cave, party room, smoking room, craft/hobby room, home office and more without compromising the privacy and security of the primary garage door, says Brian Jones, managing partner, co-owner and co-inventor of Lifestyle Screens, in Winder.
“Our polling of homeowners who have purchased the Lifestyle garage door screen system has found that they are seeking to find ways to use their garages all year-round as an extra room for activities,” he says. “Certain devices such as electric fireplaces and air conditioning units are finding new application in garages.”
But the extras don’t stop there. Mishkoff has a client in Cumming that transformed his garage into a bar, and Richburg says that a couple of his largest projects have a basketball court in the garage. “We are experiencing an interest in indoor work spaces for hobbies,” says Calvert. “People want a work table or area for them to work inside of the garage. We often create custom workbenches for clients.”
Ultimately, the right solutions can liberate your garage, allowing it to be used as a multipurpose space—an extension of the home that brings outdoor living indoors.