Finally finishing the garage....lend me your insight/organization tips/pictures/etc (2024)

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Rotaryracer Reader
8/8/18 8:27 a.m.

TL;DR - If you were going to finish a 17' x 22' attached garage, what would you do before insulation/drywall, and how you would setup the "shell" after it was done?

So, after 15 years, I've finally decided to get off my duff and finish off the garage - insulate, drywall, run a gas line for heat, etc. I need some shop space to work, and this is 17' x 22' of basically unused space at the moment, filled with tons of "life debris". There will be an epic purge prior to construction starting, and I will have a finished "shell" when done.

I've been going through pics and threads on Garage Journal, but am also interested in a more "GRM" approach. I'm probably spending as much time looking at the layout around the project cars in build threads as I am the project cars themselves to try to get ideas. For example, irish44jlooks like he has some cool hardware organization and tire racks. I've read through Mazdeuce's "grosh" thread and there's lots of good stuff in there as well. Any other threads and/or tips I should look at? I'm not going to have a ton of square footage, so really need to make every inch count. A few things that will be going in:

  • Ceiling-mounted natural gas heater (gas line is being run and capped off as part of the finishing work)
  • Welder on cart (subpanel with 220V already run to the house-adjoining wall)
  • Floor-standing drill press (don't use this a ton, but it's been nice when I've had to)
  • Probably 2-3 sets of road race tires for the A-Sedan Camaro and 2-3 sets of rally tires for the G2 Civic, plus snows, etc for street cars
  • Aforementioned Civic or Camaro (the other one will hide in the enclosed trailer)
  • MaxJax or scissor lift? This will probably happen at a later date after some financial recovery happens.Finally finishing the garage....lend me your insight/organization tips/pictures/etc (2)
  • Currently have a 25 gallon horizontal LOUD single-stage air compressor...considering moving to a 60-80 gallon two-stage vertical

I haven't made any decisions on cabinets, workbenches, flooring (leaning towards cheap paint which I can touch up), etc. I'm going to try to be as hard-nosed as possible to keep this "car only" and fight any influx of non-car stuff. We'll see how successful I am.

Net-net, I guess I'm looking for "garage pr0n"...any pics of how you've setup your workspace, any killer tips that you've found work well to maximize a small space, etc. I'm going to be spoiled just having a dry, warm space to work, but would love to get as much setup as possible before the snow starts to fly up here.

Thanks!

Jason

93gsxturbo SuperDork
8/8/18 8:54 a.m.

A few things:

  • Excellent choice on a heater, make sure your soffits and ridge are vented so you dont get condensation, it has to be finished off like a house now.
  • Make sure you have a 2" insulated door or you will blow a lot of heat out of even a closed door.
  • Get a ceiling fan. Works great for moving heat around and keeping bugs down if you work with the door open.
  • Get a long extension cord for your welder, look up current draw and gauge table for sizing. I have a 30 foot on the cart and another 25 foot extension which is super handy to wheel the welder out in the driveway for quick things or for stuff too big to fit in or when you already have a car in your main service area.
  • Make sure you have enough amps split out, you will want at least 50A of 220 if you want to run a welder and a lift.
  • Weld yourself up a stable base for your drill press so it can be rolled and pushed into a corner when not needed. I use my drill press rarely but its the only tool for the job when it gets used.
  • Make yourself a nice tire rack out of 2x4 s or L2x2x1/4 angle and mount it to the wall.
  • I think Maxjacksand the Ranger Quickjoke are clownshoes and not a huge fan of midrise lifts. If you can get a proper 2 or 4 post you will be much happier.
  • As mentioned a vertical air compressor will save a lot of room. Its on my "someday" list. I have a 35 gallon oillesshorizontal and it both sucks and blows. Loud, takes up a lot of space, slow recovery.
  • I would polish/seal the concrete and not paint it.
  • Get more LED lights than you think you need, then get 2x the amount. Run the lights on one circuit. run each wall on its own circuit, mount outlets 4' high, double boxes every 8 feet along the wall, with double every 4 feet in your main work area. Goal should be no extension cords.
  • If you plan on welding, sheet the garage in drywall or steel. OSB burns fast and easy.

Robbie GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/8/18 8:56 a.m.

6-8 sets of tires is 30 tires.

You will eat a ton of your space storing those. Can you get a shed or something for them?

Example, I have a rack that stores 8 tires. It has to be installed into studs, so it is exactly 8 feet wide. Bottom is about 30 inches down from the ceiling (8ft ceilings so it is 5.5ft above ground), and tires stick out from the wall 24-28 inches. You'll need 30 or so linear feet of wall space to pull off similar racks, and if you are tall they can interfere with your head space, so they effectively eliminate 2 ft of workable space from the wall.

You'll be making your 17x22 ft space work a lot more like a 15x20 ft space.

John Welsh Mod Squad
8/8/18 8:57 a.m.

I used to have a condo that had a small 2-door garage of 19x19. Floor space was at a premium needing to fit in two small cars but I needed storage too. I went with shelving that started from the top header board. I have no pictures of my old place but here are some inspirational pictures I found...

Finally finishing the garage....lend me your insight/organization tips/pictures/etc (6)

Finally finishing the garage....lend me your insight/organization tips/pictures/etc (7)

In my version, my 2 widest shelveswas at the top and I needed a ladder to get up there. Items were overhead and out of the way. Then shelves that were at my head hight were narrower allowing room the still walk past if a car was parked there. The last two shelves at shoulder/chest height we only wide enough to hold a can or similar.

The pics above show metal shelvesbut my actual shelves were wood with metal hardware. For the shelvingI bought some standardsize mdf shelf planks and for the narrower stuff I ripped them with the help of a table saw. All of this was bought at Menard/Lowes/Depot

Finally finishing the garage....lend me your insight/organization tips/pictures/etc (8)

Here is what I wrote before on GRM about them:

Above is a sample photo but here is something that worked for my in my tiny 19x19garage. Top mounted shelves. These shelf brackets mount the the wall header, no need to be exact with getting them in the stud because the header runs the entire way.

My top shelves are 15" wide and good for using a ladder to place items up there (big igloo cooler)

The next two shelves are 12" (jack stands stored here)

Then two rows of 6" at shoulder height. (great for cans and bottles)

I can walk very close to the wall (6" away) but then have wide storage overhead.

The best part of the whole deal is that it also leaves the floor completely free to hold other items.

I have three 6 foot sections done this way. Two of the sections meet in the back corner to create a nice L-shape. I have about $300 into the system but it is ultra sturdy. The shelves are 3/4" particle board (not OSB) and each 6 foot shelf has 3 brackets which are spaced about 27" from each other.

oldopelguy UberDork
8/8/18 9:03 a.m.

I would consider 22' the bare minimum for length, since most of my trucks and my car hauling trailers are that long or longer. That means right off the bat nothing more than pegboard on the back wall.

With that decision made, workbenches and storage are going to be on the side walls, which pretty much means single car only. That's an important decision because it lets you dictate that you need good lighting on each end for under hood work, electrical and air outlets on either side where wheels would be, etc. You can plan for things like jackstand/ramp/jack storage down low center wall on each side. You know your battery charger should be stored near either the back or front walls. Fluids that go in the engine bay maybe on a shelf above the pegboard. Do an inventory of what you have and think about where you would use it when you plan your storage.

If you have doors or windows on the side walls use them to break up the side workspaces into zones. If you have a door in the middle of a side wall, maybe one side of it has the tool box and some shelving for power tool storage and cordless tool chargers to live. (That would impact how you wire the space.) Maybe the other side gets the workbench and the drill press, and you will need great lighting there.

Organize storage the same way grocery store shelving is organized, with the most important or frequently used stuff between your face and your waist. Heavy infrequent stuff goes lower, lighter stuff higher, with compromises based on how much room you have. Buy a label maker, a cheap wireless printer, or a big box of posterboard tags with strings and put a label on everything. Sure you know that brake caliper is for the honda, but if you need someone to grab it for you....

Set aside a clean storage area too, something sealable and easy to search. GRM decals, business cards,new oil filters (always sharpie what the filter fits on the box), gaskets,electrical parts, bags of specific fasteners; these sort of things get lost or ruined by grinding sparks or sanding dust. Protect them in storage with a cabinet or sealable tubs on shelving.

Edit: that shelving system John is talking about is fantastic. I have installed some in every garage I've had for the last 15 years. I like to put really deep shelving just above my head and taper down to narrow stuff at shoulder height so I don't have to give up a lot of floor space like John as well.

gearheadmb SuperDork
8/8/18 9:04 a.m.

Osb painted light grey instead of drywall. It's tougher and you can put in nails or screws wherever you want to hang not-super-heavy things on the walls.

There is no such thing as too much lighting or too many outlets.

Most of the people I have talked to with painted floors aren't happy with them. It hasn't held up well and becomes super slick when wet. I would skip that.

Ceiling fans are nice if you have enough height. For the size you have you could even air condition it with a window a.c. unit.

WonkoTheSane GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/8/18 9:28 a.m.

On the workbench front, I get a LOT of utility out of the hitch receiver and strut channel workbench idea. Here's a thread from garage journal that is an example of what I have as well. The biggest difference between my bench and his is that I got the local metal shop to get me a sheet of 4x8' sheet of 11 ga steel to top it (it cost $130 2 years ago), so I cut that down and put an apron on the front and back of the bench, and I only have two strut channels installed. I haven't gotten to it yet, but I plan to open 6" slots to the strut channel every 6" or so, so I can still slide things across the top. It's been awesome.

I got the hitch receivers from harbor freight, and the strut channel from Lowes. Pick up some 2" square stock when you're at the metal shop to fab up your own mounts for equipment. I have my bench grinder, vice, roll bar hole saw currently on the mounts, and it's awesome be be able to pull them off when I'm not using it.

SkinnyG SuperDork
8/8/18 9:44 a.m.

My shop is HERE on Garage Journal.

I will confirm everything said above (though, I did drywall over OSB, as the shop is my "creative space" and I like the appearance of finished drywall better than OSB).

The slab is polished concrete, which is (in my opinion) the be-all-end-all finish for concrete. Not cheap, but cheaper than carpet.

I just finished building my compressor shed which has been awesome! Used a Contactor so I can remotely turn the compressor on/off via a switch right by the shop door.

TED_fiestaHP Reader
8/8/18 9:52 a.m.

Paint the floor before you get anything on it. Use LED lights. Ikea has some shelf options that might work and can be set up different ways as needs change.

Rotaryracer Reader
8/8/18 10:12 a.m.

93gsxturbo said:

A few things:

  • Excellent choice on a heater, make sure your soffits and ridge are vented so you dont get condensation, it has to be finished off like a house now.
  • Make sure you have a 2" insulated door or you will blow a lot of heat out of even a closed door.
  • Get a ceiling fan. Works great for moving heat around and keeping bugs down if you work with the door open.
  • Get a long extension cord for your welder, look up current draw and gauge table for sizing. I have a 30 foot on the cart and another 25 foot extension which is super handy to wheel the welder out in the driveway for quick things or for stuff too big to fit in or when you already have a car in your main service area.
  • Make sure you have enough amps split out, you will want at least 50A of 220 if you want to run a welder and a lift.
  • Weld yourself up a stable base for your drill press so it can be rolled and pushed into a corner when not needed. I use my drill press rarely but its the only tool for the job when it gets used.
  • Make yourself a nice tire rack out of 2x4 s or L2x2x1/4 angle and mount it to the wall.
  • I think Maxjacksand the Ranger Quickjoke are clownshoes and not a huge fan of midrise lifts. If you can get a proper 2 or 4 post you will be much happier.
  • As mentioned a vertical air compressor will save a lot of room. Its on my "someday" list. I have a 35 gallon oillesshorizontal and it both sucks and blows. Loud, takes up a lot of space, slow recovery.
  • I would polish/seal the concrete and not paint it.
  • Get more LED lights than you think you need, then get 2x the amount. Run the lights on one circuit. run each wall on its own circuit, mount outlets 4' high, double boxes every 8 feet along the wall, with double every 4 feet in your main work area. Goal should be no extension cords.
  • If you plan on welding, sheet the garage in drywall or steel. OSB burns fast and easy.

Thanks 93gsxturbo! Really good suggestions. A few more points of info:

  • Ridge vent is in place and soffit should be vented (will verify)...planning to insulate/drywall the bottom of the trusses; above that will stay unfinished.
  • Had not considered a ceiling fan, but will now....hopefully they make low profile ones. I've only got about 9' something to the bottom of the trusses.
  • Long extension cord for the welder will be procured...I stupidly sold my old one when I got rid of my last welder.
  • Would love a full lift, but aforementioned height is problematic.
  • Planning on enough LED tube lights to nearly cover the entire ceiling. Basically, when I flick the switch, I want to see purple for 30 seconds from the insane amount of light. I'm tired of working in the shadows with free HF flashlights to find hardware that runs away. LET THERE BE LIGHT!

SkinnyG SuperDork
8/8/18 10:14 a.m.

oldopelguy UberDork
8/8/18 10:15 a.m.

Quick adds:

On Amazon search for Barrinaand pick the biggest packs of lights you can afford. A single8-pack set for $50 would light your space up better than any garage you have ever been in, but two packs would let you put up a 12x20 rectangle of light that would make your space amazing. Add maybe another set for an additional task light over work areas, one attached to the base of each wall for floor lighting, and a spare or two to attach to magnets as amazing drop lights.

Depending on where you live osb might still be expensive and maybe you don't want sheetrock. The inside of my shop is lined with the same ribbed metal sheeting as the outside, but in white. Last I looked it wasn't too different in price for at least the ceiling, and bright white metal goes a long way to brightening up the place.

Rotaryracer Reader
8/8/18 10:17 a.m.

In reply to Robbie :

Yeah, I have a bit of a tire fetish, apparently.Finally finishing the garage....lend me your insight/organization tips/pictures/etc (18)

I do have a 20' container at work where I currently have them stored, and this may end up being the long term solution, even if it costs me some money each month. Each car will have a set on it, but I'll have a spare set plus rains for the Camaro and probably one to two spare sets for the Civic. I do also have two sets of snows for the DD's, as well as a set of 4x100all-seasons as backups for something, so the container looks like a discount tire shop.

Here's a pic shamelessly stolen from irish44j'sbuild thread....looks he's managed to stuff 10-11 tires above the cabinets (barely visible to the left, after the snows). This is along the lines of what I was thinking...

Finally finishing the garage....lend me your insight/organization tips/pictures/etc (19)

mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
8/8/18 10:18 a.m.

1. Paint the floor.
2. Put in more lights/outlets than you think you could ever possibly need.
3. Maxjax. It'll change your life.
4. Adjustable shelves like the ones above. Shelves are good. Shelves that you can move around in depth/height as the world throws different projects at you are even better.

Rotaryracer Reader
8/8/18 10:25 a.m.

In reply to oldopelguy :

Thanks! You made an important point - decision has been made that this will only be a "one bay" shop....pull a car in the center and have space around it to work, versus trying to shoehorn two in there. The Camaro will be the longest car in there at 16', so was planning on having workbenches, toolbox, etcat the non-door end, assuming I would pull in just far enough to sneak between the car and the door. Even with 2-3' of bench/toolbox depth, I should still have about 5' of open space to play with.

I'm digging those shelves in John's pic as well...need to do some research on weight capacity, but am thinking setting those for the black/yellow "super tote" height would work well. I've also kicked around building large wall cabinets with doors to hide the madness behind, but shelves/totes may be a better bet.

I'm not going to touch the wiring and outlets currently in place, but am going to run a metric ton of outlets off the 100A subpanel.

oldopelguy UberDork
8/8/18 10:34 a.m.

In reply to Rotaryracer :

If you pull in far enough to squeeze around the back of the car with the door closed in the winter to keep the heat in you're going to lose a foot to 18 inches in front. Same for rolling it up a set of ramps.

Now find a hallway and try to set down and climb on a creeper to simulate doing it in the space in front of the car between it and a bench. I think you would regret anything across the back wall that couldn't roll out of the way.

stuart in mn UltimaDork
8/8/18 10:37 a.m.

Go to the lighting section over on the Garage Journal forum and read the sticky notes at the top. A member over there who is a lighting expert has generously created a number of lighting layouts to fit various size garages, and provided recommendations on good quality light fixtures. Chances are you can find a layout that is close to your dimensions.

As for workbenches, since you are tight on available space you may want to consider putting them on casters, or if they are mounted to the wall making them so they fold down when not in use. A good inspiration for packing a lot of stuff into a small space is Jack Olsen's 12 Gauge Garage - Jack is a moderator on the Garage Journal forum and has posted here a few times as well; you can find videos of his garage on Youtube.

SVreX MegaDork
8/8/18 10:38 a.m.

These threads always overlook my 2 favorite things (after good lighting).

Cord reels, and hose reels.

I have a ton of outlets everywhere. I never use them, because cord reel.

The reels are ALWAYS where you need them, and force you to put stuff away when you’re done.

mtn MegaDork
8/8/18 10:39 a.m.

My dad bought his place from a very... goofy guy (well, actually it was a foreclosure, but we met the guy before that happened). He had so many outlets that we were pretty sure he was running a grow operation in the shed. Now we've concluded that this was just good thinking on his part, and it probably wasn't a grow operation. Seriously though, there is an outlet every 3 feet. It is wonderful.

mtn MegaDork
8/8/18 10:40 a.m.

Oh, and I wouldn't paint or epoxy the floor. Because then you need to repaint or re-epoxy the floor. If I could, I'd do polished concrete.

Rotaryracer Reader
8/8/18 12:05 p.m.

In reply to oldopelguy :

I'm an idiot and apparently can't do simple math.Finally finishing the garage....lend me your insight/organization tips/pictures/etc (28) That 16' car becomes 17' with "squeeze space" at the rear. Add in 3' of workbench/toolbox at the non-door end, and I'm down to 2' of free space, not 5'. Need to do some rethinking, and potentially go find myself some graph paper and a ruler....

Rotaryracer Reader
8/8/18 3:01 p.m.

In reply to stuart in mn :

Love the 12 Gauge Garage...I need to go spend some more time looking at that thread. I also need to stop drooling when the hydraulic scissor lift comes out of the recessed and tiled floor.Finally finishing the garage....lend me your insight/organization tips/pictures/etc (30)

Rotaryracer Reader
8/8/18 3:07 p.m.

In reply to SVreX :

I really, really like the idea of retractable things. I just checked at HF and they have a few different options for both air and electric. For air, I'm thinking two side wall (or ceiling mounted at the side) 50' air reels should give me more than enough hose to get to all corners of the garage, as well as a decent hike out into the driveway (my F-350 won't fit in the garage).

For electric, I still probably want to splatter the walls with outlets, but 2-3 retractable reels would be sweet. I despise the rat's nest I currently have of air hose and extension cords, and I can certainly use an excuse to clean up when I'm done for the day.

SVreX MegaDork
8/8/18 7:17 p.m.

I have a primary workspace 22’ wide x 40’ long.

I have 3 hose reels, and 3 cord reels. All are in the ceiling,centered in the 22’ span. One at each end of the 40’, and one in the middle.

I can park 2 cars end to end in my shop. That means no matter which way I park them, there is always an air hose and and electric cord at both the front and back of a car.

When there are no cars, there is always a hose and an electric cord within about 3 steps. I set the height so they are above my head so I never walk into them but can reach them easily.

I also do woodworking. My benches roll. Again, the reels are always close. The cords of the tools connect UP to the reels, which means I can walk around the benches and never cross a cord.

Side benefit... I never have an air hose or extension cord on the floor, and never trip onthem.

I have plenty of outlets, but only end up using them for stationary power tools.

SVreX MegaDork
8/8/18 7:20 p.m.

In reply to Rotaryracer :

I wouldn’t mount the reels on the walls or to the sides. That means that you will pull them across the room, and have to trip on them.

Mount them in the middle of the room.

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