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How To Renovate An Unfinished Garage?

In-home renovations are always a good choice for homeowners that want more space without the inconvenience of an addition. They can make use of the space that they already have with a few renovation projects. 

Often, people focus on the basement or attic because it’s already a part of the main living space. However, the garage holds just as much, if not more, the potential for your home renovation projects!

Like most homeowners, you’ve probably got a running list of projects to tackle around the house. Floors, plumbing updates and windows and doors were the most common home improvements. Kitchens and bathrooms are almost always in the top 10, too. But have you ever considered adding a garage renovation to the list?

It might seem like an odd part of the house to spend money on, but there are several reasons to consider finishing the garage a priority project. These include:

  • Thermal protection for energy efficiency
  • Fire protection, especially when the garage is attached to the house
  • Adding usable living or hobby space
  • Organisation—the garage is often a cluttered storage space
  • Moisture control to protect contents
  • Investment—finishing spaces almost always improve the resale value of a home

Whatever your reason, you must tackle a garage renovation properly, just as you would any other space, to ensure you’re safe, efficient and getting the most benefit possible from your effort.

Why It’s Time To Complete Your Unfinished Garage.

Here are a few statistics that illustrate why completing an unfinished garage should be high on any homeowner's remodelling priority list:

  • Only 11% of homeowners say they’re satisfied with their garage and wouldn’t want to improve it. (Wall Street Journal survey)
  • More than 55% of homeowners use the garage as their main entryway.
  • A Garage Living poll found that 20% of homeowners can’t park in their garage because it’s disorganised.
  • 24% of homeowners are embarrassed to leave their garage doors open. 
  • Garages ranked higher as a desirable storage space for homebuyers than basements or attics. 

an unfinished garage

A Finished Garage Is Simply A Better Garage.

These revealing statistics provide us with five key takeaways that should provide all the inspiration we need to finish an unfinished garage:

  • Most homeowners believe there’s room for improvement with their garages.
  • We use our garages a lot (it’s become the new front door for many of us).
  • Many garages aren’t being used for their primary function – parking vehicles.
  • A messy, unfinished garage embarrasses a sizable number of homeowners.
  • Garages are the most valuable storage space in a house.

Finished Garage Basics

No matter how you plan to use your newly finished garage, there are a few parts of the renovation that will be the same because garages are typically basic frames without any of the usual features of the main house.


Typically, an unfinished garage has basic frame walls or wall coverings that may not be ideal for a newly finished living space. If your walls did have an original covering, you’d want to remove it for easier location of studs, vents, and electrical writing.

Drywall is the most popular finished wall option for those looking to convert their garage into a living space. You can add whatever wall treatment you want over top of it, whether paint, wallpaper, or even faux brick.

If you want finished walls but don’t need the extra polish that you get with drywall, plywood panels are a great cost-effective option. You can screw it directly to the frame without having to go through the finishing process that’s necessary for drywall. They also can support additional shelving and can be painted to fit into your ideal design.


Your garage probably features a basic poured concrete floor. Depending on how you plan to use the new space, a concrete floor may be a great option. However, there are plenty of ways to keep the low maintenance concrete floor without the lacklustre finish.

Before you treat or cover your concrete floor, you’ll want to repair any damage over the years. This is especially important if you plan to treat the concrete for your new flooring rather than covering it with carpeting or tiles. 

You can do this with any epoxy based crack fillers. Water or latex-based products won’t accept the stain or paint you plan to use on the finished floor. You want to be sure to clean your concrete floor after repairs and before you apply any finish.

Once it’s repaired, you can paint your poured concrete floor, or you can use epoxy. There are latex-based paints that are made specifically for concrete floors. They come in a large range of colours and can be used in different patterns to create a one of a kind floor.

Epoxy coatings for your garage floor are durable and customisable. Unlike paint, it bonds to your current poured concrete flooring to create a long-lasting flooring solution. You can add different acrylic flecks to your topcoat or even a slip-resistant mixture for a safer garage floor.

For living spaces that require a more specific home flooring option, you can add hardwood, vinyl tiles, and carpeting with the right subflooring. The main concern with these options is the amount of moisture your garage is exposed to compared to your typical living spaces.


The most defining feature of any garage is the large garage door. It’s an added element that you’re not going to find in any other part of your home. There are a few ways to approach the large entryway when going through a garage renovation.

There are some benefits to keeping your garage door as a functional part of your design. If you live in an area with all four seasons or a mild climate year-round, you can open this large door to create an ideal indoor-outdoor room for relaxing at home. This is also a great option if you plan to create an entertaining space in the newly finished garage.

If you want to keep your large garage doors closed, you can paint or panel the inside of the door to create a unique design element. For a bold design, you can replace your traditional garage doors with glass panels to create a full wall of windows. Of course, you can install curtains inside of the newly renovated space to ensure privacy when it’s needed.

Almost all garages have another door already built into their design for regular access to the space. You can keep this door as your access point or choose to install a new one. This is particularly important if you have a second floor to your garage. You can have a separate entrance installed to reach the space above your regular garage. You can access the space using any outdoor deck stair that fits your design.


There are certain aspects of your main house that probably aren’t found in an unfinished garage. While you can renovate either an attached or unattached garage, these steps will differ a little bit when adding amenities and utilities to your space.

Your garage is probably already wired for electricity, but if you plan to use it as a living space, you’ll want additional outlets and a large light fixture. Most garages will already be on the same electric grid as the main house, especially if they are attached.

Depending upon how much power you’re looking to add to the grid, it may make more sense to put it on its power grid. Consult your electrician and power company to find the best solution for your home.

Insulation and temperature control major concerns when finishing your garage. Because it’s not typically used as a living space, proper insulation isn’t always a feature of your original garage design. 

Foam batting is one way to insulate your garage before installing drywall or plywood boards. If your walls are already finished, you can cut a hole and use blown spray foam insulation between the studs. Don’t forget to install insulation panels around your garage door as well!

The last utility to add to your garage is plumbing. This is only necessary for those who plan to finish their garage as an apartment or want a convenient bathroom while spending time in the garage. This project may be for professionals, as it can involve running pipes through your yard and driveway.

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Smart Reasons To Complete Your Unfinished Garage

Having An Unfinished Garage Is So Last Century.

For the vast majority of the time that the home garage has existed (about 100 years), it was a part of the house that was viewed purely as a functional space. How it looked simply didn’t matter.

Over the past couple of decades, that mindset has shifted dramatically.

Merriam Webster defines “unfinished” as “not brought to an end or the desired final state” and “being in a rough state”. That nicely sums up the state of about 90% of the garages out there!

Is a home finished if the garage is unfinished?

Most homes are left with unfinished garages (and sometimes basements) when the builder constructs a house. Calling them “finished homes” isn’t exactly accurate then, is it?

For so many years, it was easy to get used to having an unfinished garage and adapting to how it looked and functioned, even though it was coming up short in both areas. Most garage interiors are not even primed and painted if they’re drywalled!

Even when an effort was made to add some extra functionality to the room, it usually came in ugly brown pegboard for hanging things, a few screwed-in wall hangers, and maybe some long nails for hanging yard tools.

When you think about it, it’s rather amazing that we waited so long to wake up to the fact that having clean garages with a swanky interior design and efficient storage is something we should have been aiming for decades ago!

Why settle for having an unfinished garage?

Most people may have an unfinished garage, but why settle for the status quo and mediocrity with such a large part of your home?

In the 21st century, the value of transforming our garages into a more functional room that complements and extends the rest of our finished living spaces is being realised by more and more homeowners.

Think beyond the type of garage environment you grew up in, prioritising functionality over aesthetics. You can have both!

Most Garages Don’t Pull Their Weight As A Storage Space.

One in seven Americans has a room in their home they can’t use because it’s filled with things they rarely use, according to a ClearVoice Research study. The garage is often that room.

How often have you said, “Just put it in the garage for now”? Before too long, the inside of the garage can start to look like a garage sale that never ends.

Poor usage of our home storage spaces causes us to do wasteful things like rent self-storage units. In most cases, simply making better use of the storage space we have (particularly in the garage) and taking the time to eliminate all of the needless junk we hold onto will significantly boost the usefulness of our homes for storing things.

Not all garage storage systems are created equal.

Garage storage systems don’t all provide the same level of functionality needed to maximise the storage space in the room. These are usually DIY garage storage systems like repurposed kitchen cabinetry and homemade shelving racks.

Using cheap garage storage organisers can be even worse than making them yourself. Cheap products like plastic freestanding tool caddies, flimsy budget-priced storage cabinets that rust quickly, and pegboard panels that are only 1/4" thick don’t last as long as they should. Most DIY and cheap garage storage systems leave a lot to be desired in the looks department, too.

Choose higher-quality storage systems specifically designed to be used in garages, have an attractive design that adds to the room’s appearance, and provide you with a healthy degree of storage flexibility.

Make your wall and ceiling space work harder.

When Garage Living is looking for ways to get the most out of our clients’ garage storage spaces, we always look at the walls and ceiling areas first.

You’d be amazed at the wealth of storage potential just waiting to be tapped in these two areas. PVC Slatwall panels with hanging accessories allow you to hang up a wide range of items to keep the floor free of clutter. Slatwall also gives the garage a stylish finished appearance that looks nicer than painted drywall.

The garage’s “fifth wall” (also known as the ceiling) offers a vast amount of storage space. Having heavy-duty overhead racks installed provides lots of room to store bulky items and things that are only used seasonally.

The other garage storage solution worth investing in is cabinetry. Garage cabinets are a perfect place to store tools and anything that can’t be hung on the walls or stashed high in racking.

Finished Garages Are More Comfortable And Hobby-Friendly

Considering half of the people who own a home use the garage as the primary entry and exit point for their house, creating a nicer-looking, more welcoming space that doesn’t require navigating around clutter every day should be a goal.

You shouldn’t only want a tidier garage because you’re passing through it so often, though. Remodel the garage to fit your lifestyle as well.

With the right design upgrades, your garage can become more accommodating for your family’s hobbies and passions. Here are just a few examples of what we mean:

  • add a garage workshop with lots of storage for your tools
  • set up a home gym
  • create a beautiful car showroom that shows off your luxury vehicles
  • use the garage as a crafting space
  • create a space to relax and read, watch movies and sporting events, or listen to podcasts

Boost your garage’s comfort level

To add to your comfort level in the garage, you can add conveniences like a garage-ready mini-fridge, TV, better WiFi, and a reliable security system. For improved climate control, add insulation and a heating and cooling system so the garage can be used year-round.

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to make your garage more useful. Once you’re done adding some of these quality-of-life upgrades in the garage, you’ll feel like you’ve added an extra room to your house!

Your Vehicles Deserve A Good Home.

Garages were invented to store vehicles, so why do so many homeowners not use them? The fact that so many of us cannot use the garage for parking shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Maybe you’ve never given it much thought but the next time you’re driving through your neighbourhood, keep an eye out for how many vehicles are parked in driveways or on the street.

Getting the garage organised with storage systems that open up the floor for car parking is one of the best things to protect the investment you’ve made in your vehicles. First and foremost, they’ll be far more secure in a locked garage.

Sitting outside 24/7 takes a toll on the body of a vehicle over time, too. Getting them under cover of a roof will result in fewer car washes being needed, plus you won’t have to clear off ice and snow in the winter or wait for them to warm up for as long.

A car lift, which allows you to use your ceiling space to park one vehicle above another, is an additional solution for increasing the amount of parking space in a garage.

It’s a shame when bad garages happen to nice cars.

Parking a luxury car in an unfinished garage is like displaying the Mona Lisa in a run-down art gallery with bad lighting, peeling wall paint, and terrible flooring. They are still things of beauty, but they lose some of their magnificence because the unattractive space they sit in is such a bad fit visually.

Your luxury vehicles should be surrounded by high-end décor worthy of a beautiful car showroom because it’s a shame when bad garages happen to nice cars.

A Garage Should Look As Nice As The Rest Of A Home.

How many home garages have you ever set foot in that left a lasting impression on you because the décor looked stylish and high-end? And of all the garages you’ve seen in an upscale house, how many of them looked as posh as the rest of the home? Very few, we suspect.

A luxury home isn’t truly finished until it has a dream garage. Any home isn’t finished until the garage has gotten the same remodelling attention as every other room in the home has.

Fixing up the more visually unappealing aspects of an unfinished garage will go a long way toward transforming the room’s look from drab to fab. The floor is an ideal part of the room to start with.

Nicer floor, nicer décor

Simply by giving a grey, dusty, and cracked concrete floor surface a refresh with a high-quality decorative floor coating, any unfinished garage instantly starts to shed its outdated look and take a big step into the modern day.

Garage Living uses Floortex™ floor coatings for all of our flooring jobs because of its superior durability, cosmetic benefits and because we can apply it year-round.

Hide the ugliness away

Many homeowners in the process of finishing their garage use plywood as a wall covering, but Slatwall and painted drywall are much better options for both looks and functionality.

Most garages have ugly things like exposed wiring, electrical panels, plumbing and central vac pipes, or ductwork out in the open. Exposed insulation is another eyesore. Have your garage remodel company tailor their design to cover them up with creative usage of cabinetry, Slatwall, and drywall.

FAQs About Garage Renovation

Clever Ways To Organise Your Entire Garage

  • Take Advantage Of Wall Space. If one or more of your walls in the garage happens to be unfinished, take advantage of the space between the studs. 
  • Use Magnets. 
  • Repurpose Cans. 
  • Hang A Bag. 
  • Use Floor Tiles. 
  • Use Ceiling Space. 
  • Make A Tape Dispenser. 
  • Use A Slatwall.


Here's what they recommend.

  • Install A Functional Garage Door. 
  • Insulate And Vent The Space. 
  • Use A Smart Storage Strategy.
  • Install Adequate Lighting. 
  • Put An Easy-To-Clean Finish On The Floor. 
  • Add More Electrical Outlets. 
  • Add A Walk-Through Door. 
  • Let Your Car Own The Space.

Ways To Improve Your Wall Space

  • Add garage wall insulation. 
  • Drywall the garage. 
  • Paint the garage walls. 
  • Have a Slatwall storage system installed. 
  • Add garage wall hooks or track rail storage kits. 
  • Install garage wall shelving. 
  • Add tire racks. 
  • Use pegboard wall storage.

Blend it into the drywall using a joint compound (drywall mud). To protect the bottom of the drywall in your garage, apply a coat or two of waterproof primer to the bottom segment of the drywall. Going high enough to water pooling on the garage floor will not go above the waterproofing level. The higher, the better.

Waterproof paint or epoxy – Apply the paint or epoxy directly onto the walls and floor, and leave it for a couple of days to dry and cure. Waterproof membrane – This is applied to the underside of the concrete slab when the garage is being constructed, preventing any moisture flow at the source.

Transform Your Unfinished Garage

Imagine the satisfaction of living in a home where zero home improvement projects are weighing on your mind.

Bring your garage closer to the higher aesthetic standard the rest of your home has. Talk to Garage Living about transforming your unfinished garage into a space with superior functionality and the kind of “wow factor” any homeowner should want.

Our design pros will listen to your unfinished garage ideas and goals and look forward to collaborating with anyone seeking to reinvent their garage into something great!

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