From the July 2013 Issue of Car and Driver The Rules In your garage, as in the projects it is sure to spawn, planning is crucial. Remember that the goal is to make tasks easier and more efficient. Here are a few pointers to get you into the right mind-set. No. 1 Know thyself. A garage is a place where hobbies happen—enable them. Whether you’re into cars, woodworking, kayaking, bikes, motorcycles, model planes, or ATVs, make sure to set aside space for the particulars of the hobby. And plan the storage so you don’t trip over your hobby every day. No. 2 It all begins at ground level with the concrete slab. If renovating, start with a good inspection. A few small cracks or rough spots are okay, but if the surface is deeply pitted, visibly uneven, or has cracks more than a quarter-inch wide, patching or resurfacing is your first task. No. 3 Decide how many cars you plan to park. This will have a big impact on how you design the layout. A basic one-car is 12 feet by 24 feet, and most garages add spaces in 12-foot increments. Figure on a minimum 9-by-18-foot reserve per car so you can open doors. No. 4 You can’t have too many power outlets. Electrical ordinances vary widely—so check the codes before designing circuits—but an outlet box every six feet is a good rule of thumb. Make sure the garage is on a dedicated circuit, free of interference from hair dryers and appliances. You’ll want to set up 30-amp service and include a ground fault circuit interrupter on each breaker. Use four-plug (as opposed to two-plug) outlet boxes to cut down on power strips. A 220-volt circuit is a must for welding and certain heavy shop tools or an EV charging station. No. 5 Let there be light. In terms of bang for the buck, fluorescent light fixtures are still hard to beat. Three well-placed eight-foot fixtures can provide all the light a one-car garage needs. Pay special attention to workbenches and project areas. Remember, too, that the garage door opens and consider how that will impact the available lumens. No. 6 Remember what your mom said and get that stuff off the floor. Hooks, shelves, racks, and bins are your friends. Prioritize what goes where based on how often you’ll use an item, and label or outline everything to help maintain storage discipline. Ready-made modular storage systems can be great, but make sure they suit your purposes, otherwise they’ll just eat up floor space. No. 7 Think in three dimensions, not just two. Cars go on the floor, storage and work space go near the walls, but there’s also the empty space higher up. Storage volume above the cars, workbenches, entries, and the garage door is usually wasted. Unfinished garages also have space between the studs that you can use. How To Lay Out Your Garage Every garage is different, but the bigger the space, the greater the possibilities. Here’s a modular approach to laying out and outfitting one-, two-, and three-car bays. Mix and match as you see fit. 1 2 3 4 Next PageGarage Organizational Help Checklist: Tip 1. Make a list and categorize the things you don’t really use in your garage. Look at things like luggage, sporting gear, camping equipment, automotive junk, holiday decorations, garden stuff and things you hardly use. See whether you can have a garage sale, throw them away or give them away or donate them for charity. Tip 2. Start grouping your items in the center of the garage. Large boxes will help you to group your things. Label the boxes and find an appropriate place for the boxes for storage. Tip 3. Create Piles. Create a “Trash Pile” and a “Donation Pile”. Sort the things accordingly and pitch some things and donate others. Tip 4. Garage layout can be things like the recycling bin being near the entrance and cleaning products should be strategically placed near to the garage to house entrance door. Commonly used items close and things you don’t use often further away. Common sense! Tip 5. Install cabinets and figure out what containers to use in an efficient manner in the cabinets to maximize space. Wall mounted pegboards that hold everything from sports gear and garden items are a great idea. Also consider ceiling mounted storage bins!Don’t get stuck when organizing the garage –instead, design with family organization in mind. A simple redesign of your garage can make all the difference, specifically when you assign organizing “zones” to each section of the garage. Each zone will have its own purpose: outdoor gear, often-used, hobby items, etc. When you organize your garage by zones, don’t be surprised when you find yourself thinking, “Was my garage always this big?!”Tales of bad shops are a woodworker’s war stories. After living in five houses in seven years, I have plenty of them to tell: ladders under closeted trapdoors that descended into windowless basements, ceilings that were only an inch taller than I am when I stand barefoot, abandoned radiators, wasp nests, snow, water—good Lord, the water—and a hole in the middle of one shop floor (about 2 ft. in diameter and 2 ft. deep) just behind the infeed side of my tablesaw. Oh, yes, I could tell you some stories. But that’s not my point. My point is that when I moved into a rented house with a one-car garage—9 ft. wide and 18 ft. long—most of my coworkers wondered how I would fit a shop into such a tight space. But after the shops I’ve endured, I felt like I’d finally arrived. I spent a lot of time planning to condense workspaces and to make sure that machines work efficiently with one another, and I found quick and simple solutions for storage. I think I’ve turned the 160-sq.-ft. garage into a smoothly running shop; it’s just the kind of place where I want to spend a Saturday or unwind after a day at the office. What’s more, when I move, the shop can go with me; everything simply lifts off the walls or rolls out the doors. A garage transformed A few months ago, the garage my shop was to be housed in had bare stud walls and one electrical outlet, stored a motorcycle, and was littered with enough garden tools to dig a new sea. Luckily, my roommate, who owns the house, was amenable to revamping the space, provided that I pitch in with some of the work. He wanted insulated walls, electricity, and wide barn doors on the front—or at least as wide as possible on a 9-ft. run of wall. Renovating the garage would be a hefty task, and I had to do it fast. I had promised my future in-laws a dining set, and if they had to wait much longer, I feared they would take their daughter back.Design a garage layout with organizing zones to keep your garage running smoothly and maximize its storage potential for the whole family. You’ll be amazed at how much space you really have when you use smart organization and stick to it. You’ll be able to kick back, relax, and zone out knowing everything is in its place in your perfectly organized garage. Read This Before You Organize Your Garage IMAGE 9 OF 26 Photo by Courtesy of homedepot.com Read Full Caption Don’t Skimp on Safety Most of us store lawn-mower gas in the garage, so be prepared for a fire. Get a 5- to 10-pound U.L.–listed extinguisher and mount it in an easy-to-access spot. It should carry an ABC rating, certifying that it’s effective against wood, oil, and electrical fires. Though we’re sure you know to open the garage door when your car’s engine is running (right?), installing a carbon monoxide detector will give you added peace of mind. And while you’re at it, check your garage-door opener to make sure it has a U.L.–listed motor and an auto-stop feature that will prevent the door from closing in case a child or pet tries to sneak underneath.Read This Before You Organize Your Garage IMAGE 10 OF 26 Photo by trekandshoot/iStock Read Full Caption Draft a Floor Plan Most manufacturers of garage-organizing systems offer free space planning, so use their services as you research how to store all your gear. Before buying anything, take down your garage’s dimensions and note the size and location of windows, doors, switches, and receptacles, as well as how much space your car takes up. Then use the following rules of thumb as you assign things a home.1. Items you use together, such as gardening tools and lawn chemicals, should be stored close to one another.2. Put bulky equipment, like lawn mowers, in corners, where they won’t get bumped or knocked over by your car.3. Place frequently used items, like bikes, close to the garage door.4. Stash seasonal or rarely used items in the hardest-to-reach spots.Don’t Skimp on Safety View as slideshow Photo by Courtesy of homedepot.com Most of us store lawn-mower gas in the garage, so be prepared for a fire. Get a 5- to 10-pound U.L.–listed extinguisher and mount it in an easy-to-access spot. It should carry an ABC rating, certifying that it’s effective against wood, oil, and electrical fires. Though we’re sure you know to open the garage door when your car’s engine is running (right?), installing a carbon monoxide detector will give you added peace of mind. And while you’re at it, check your garage-door opener to make sure it has a U.L.–listed motor and an auto-stop feature that will prevent the door from closing in case a child or pet tries to sneak underneath.