When you first buy a house, you may not give the garage much thought. While it may be easy to think that all garages are the same, designing a great garage can increase the utility and value of your property. A garage can be much more than just a place to park your car — it can provide a work or storage space and can add to the aesthetic appeal of your property. So how can you get the most out of your garage? Read on for tips for designing a garage that is perfect for you and your home.
Before building a new garage or adding a garage to an existing home, you must consider how you plan to use it. There are many possible uses for a garage, including parking vehicles, storing outdoor equipment or tools, providing a workspace or even creating an extra living space. Your garage may serve one or many of these purposes, and the way you plan to use your garage will help you determine how large it needs to be and what features it should include. Here are a few common reasons to build a garage and what to keep in mind when planning for each use:
- Parking Vehicles: If your primary purpose for building a garage is to store vehicles, your main concern in planning will be the size. Depending on the number of cars your family owns, a two-car garage may be large enough, or you may want a garage that can accommodate three or more vehicles. If you own a large vehicle like a van, SUV or truck, you will want to design a garage with larger bays. If you own a boat or motorcycle that you want to store indoors, be sure to include this in your size estimates.
- Extra Storage Space: A garage can be a great place for storing outdoor gear, tools, lawn mowers, bicycles or holiday decorations. You may want to use your garage for extra food storage or to hold paper products, especially if you prefer to buy groceries in bulk. Planning for storage space ahead of time will allow you to incorporate shelves or cabinets into the design of your garage. You can also build a loft above your garage for additional storage. Depending on what you plan to store in your garage, you may want to consider installing climate control. Avoid having food products get moldy or stale in a humid garage by installing a cooling unit. You can also insulate your garage for warmth in the winter.
- Workspace: No matter what your hobby is — from woodworking to painting to working on cars — your garage can provide an awesome workspace. Consider building a solid workbench or table and allowing enough space to get your projects done. Knowing what kind of work you may want to do in your garage will also help you determine how much extra storage you will need. If you plan to use your garage as a workspace you will probably want to install lights. You may also want to plan for enough outlets to power electrical tools. Heating and cooling units will also be important so you can enjoy the time you spend working in your garage. If your crafts will involve painting or other activities that produce fumes, be sure to install proper ventilation.
- Just Hanging Out: While it may not be your primary purpose for building a garage, your garage can become a space for you or your kids to hang out — playing video games, practicing musical instruments and more. Also, because garages usually have cement floors, they can be a great space for messy school projects, so glue and paint do not end up on your living room carpet. If you want your garage to be mess-proof, consider sealing the floors for extra protection.
If you are building a garage from the ground up, there are two main types of garages to consider: an attached or detached garage. Each type of garage has distinct advantages and disadvantages that can help you determine which type is right for your needs:
1. Attached Garages
Attached garages offer the most convenience. If you live in an area with a lot of rain or snow, an attached garage will keep you and your car dry. An attached garage also provides easy access to anything you store in your garage. If you plan to heat your garage or add electrical outlets, this can often be easier with an attached garage. One disadvantage of an attached garage is that you are limited as to where you can build it. Your design options will also be limited, especially if you want your garage to blend into the design of your home. Garages can also be very large, which will greatly alter the overall look of your property.
2. Detached Garages
Detached garages are a great solution if you want to build a garage but do not have space directly next to your home. Some people do not like the look of a large attached garage, so a detached garage can allow you to maintain the aesthetic of your home, while still providing the benefits of having a garage. Detached garages have more design potential and make it easier to add additional living space above the garage.
If you want to use your garage as a space for work or play, having a detached garage keeps any noise or odors away from your home. When storing extra vehicles or items you do not use frequently, the close proximity that an attached garage offers may not be your highest priority. If you are using your detached garage to park your car, the downfall is that you do not have direct access to your home. If you like the idea of a detached garage and want protection from rain and snow, however, you may want to consider building a breezeway. Detached garages may also pose problems with adding electricity, heating or cooling depending on the layout of your property.
No matter what type of garage you choose, building your own garage is a large task. We recommend hiring a professional who knows how to build a new garage, but you can also build your own garage if you are confident in your construction skills and willing to invest the time. Whichever route you take, here are a few important things to keep in mind as you prepare to build a garage:
- Know the Zoning and Code Restrictions: The first step to building a new garage is to check with your local planning department to find out where you can legally build a garage on your property. There may be local requirements for the height of walls or roofs, the design of the driveway and how much of your land can be covered by the roof or pavement. Other special restrictions may also apply, such as setbacks for sides with doors. Local architects, builders and lumberyard salespeople can help guide you with the most current information.
- Choose the Right Location: If you’re building an attached garage, make sure it connects to a reasonable part of your house, like your kitchen or laundry room. When planning for a detached garage, you have more flexibility. You may conceal your garage behind trees or position it away from your house if you prefer.
- Determine the Relationship to the House: A large attached garage can dwarf a house, but there are strategies you can use to minimize this effect. Setting the garage farther back from the street than the front door, for example, will make the garage have less of a visual impact. Adding roof overhangs to your garage to match the house will also create more visual flow. Having two separate doors on a two-car garage can also make your garage seem less visually dominant than one large garage door.
- Plan for Access and Traffic Flow: When planning the location for your garage, be sure to consider access to the road. If you do not already have a driveway, you will likely need to add one. Adding a turnaround point may be useful when backing out of your garage, too. You may also want to pave additional space for cars to park in your driveway without blocking your garage doors.
- Choose the Right Building Materials: A garage requires a strong foundation, which may mean laying concrete. Be sure to choose strong materials for the frame and walls of your garage that are rot-resistant. Your local building codes may also have specific requirements for what materials you can and cannot use.
- Adjust for Your Climate: If you live in a cold or hot region, you may want to add insulation to the walls of your garage. Insulation will keep your garage warm in the winter, as well as trapping cool air in the summer if your garage has a cooling system. Adding insulation to your garage can also make it more energy efficient, which saves you money in the long-run.
Your garage door is the final touch to your finished garage. While the structure of most garages looks the same, the door is one way you can show your design style and make your garage stand out. Even if you are satisfied with a plain garage door, it is still important to consider all of your garage door options as different materials and styles can make your garage more secure, increase the value of your home or provide easier maintenance.
Here are a few of the main types of garage door materials to consider:
- Steel: Steel garage doors are an affordable option and are very easy to maintain. Depending on the thickness of garage door you choose, steel doors can be very durable, but thinner steel garage doors may be prone to denting. If you live in a climate where insulation is a concern, steel doors are available in single, double or triple layers to offer varying levels of protection from the elements. While steel doors generally do not have the same visual appeal as wood garage doors, steel doors can be painted or coated to mimic the look of more expensive garage doors.
- Wood: Wood garage doors are prized for their natural beauty and style. Available in a variety of woods, finishes and designs, a wooden garage door can increase the curb appeal and value of your home. Wooden doors are often much more expensive than steel doors, however, and also require regular maintenance. To keep your garage door in excellent condition, the wood will need to be refinished periodically to protect against rot and wear.
- Composite: Composite garage doors are a great option for someone who wants the look of a wooden door without the maintenance. Typically composite garage doors have a steel interior with a wood finish. This gives them the look of natural wood with the durability and easy maintenance of steel doors.
- Other Materials: While steel and wood doors make up the majority of the garage door market, you can also find garage doors available in other materials, such as aluminum or fiberglass. Generally, these garage doors can also be found in a variety of colors and finishes. Aluminum doors share many characteristics with steel doors, but they are more lightweight and less expensive. The downfall of aluminum doors is that they dent very easily. Fiberglass doors are another lightweight option but are often more resistant to dents than steel or aluminum. The downside to fiberglass garage doors is that they do not provide strong insulation and can also be prone to fading with weather exposure. Fiberglass doors may be a great choice for coastal locations, however, as they are resistant to corrosion from saltwater.
Choosing the style of your garage door is also important, especially when it comes to increasing the value of your home. Here are a few common design styles for garage doors:
- Carriage: Carriage garage doors offer a classic appeal from a time when garages housed horse-drawn carriages. These vintage doors resemble barn doors but open upward for convenience. Carriage style garage doors look great in wood or faux wood styles and add a rustic look to your home.
- Modern: Modern garage doors are characterized by sleek lines and clean finishes. Typically made of steel or aluminum, modern garage doors can have custom glass panels that add a unique feature to your home.
- Standard: Sometimes a classic garage door with simple panels is the right choice for your home. Standard garage doors can be purchased with a color or finish that matches your home’s decor while allowing your house to remain the central focus.
Depending on how much you want to invest, you can purchase a stock garage door or customize your garage door with windows, handles or other features to make it truly unique.
As you begin to plan your garage, you have a lot of decisions to make — you must decide how you want to use your garage, what type of garage you want to build and what kind of garage doors will be the perfect finishing touch. Luckily, Aaron’s Garage Doors is here to help. We have been serving the Nashville, Tennessee area since 1997, providing services in garage door installation, replacement and repair. Our online store offers a wide variety of garage doors to choose from, as well as garage door openers to suit your needs. Our skilled technicians specialize in the tough jobs and will come to your home with no fuel surcharges or trip fees.
Looking for a something unique for your garage door? Aaron’s offers thousands of garage doors in different sizes, colors and grades of insulation, or we can provide custom doors within weeks. Call us at 615-456-6654 or visit us online for a free estimate.