Make The Most Of Your Garage Space
By: Mike Simpson
There used to be a joke that “garage” is actually an ancient Chinese word meaning “place of junk”. Many a true word is, indeed, spoken in jest and garages at homes throughout South Africa have long been used in this manner.
The key is to maximise the limited space available by planning carefully and investing in the smartest storage ideas and equipment.
Elevated shelving, pegboards, compatible storage space, careful attention to labelling, and using small bins for nails are all important points when it comes to maximising and organising your garage space, advises Monique Botha of Stevens & Co, the sole distributor of Ryobi products in Southern Africa.
Ryobi caters to many of the needs of DIYers looking to create their own storage options. Products to assist include an impact drill for hanging pegboards and shelving and a jigsaw, sliding mitre saw, and nail gun to help build shelving.
Use vertical space for storage, suggests the team at XtraSpace, a SA-based storage solutions company. “Garages have more wall space than floor space, so look for ways to incorporate vertical storage. Think about installing floating shelves or cabinets, and stacking containers. Install hooks on the walls for hanging tools such as rakes, brooms, shovels and hose pipes.”
Also make the most of overhead space, advises XtraSpace. “If possible, make use of overhead storage in your garage by building a loft area in the rafters, or suspending shelves of pallets from the ceiling. You can also create more storage space by installing ceiling hooks for hanging bicycles, fishing rods, luggage and other items.”
Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of Remax of Southern Africa, believes the trick with roof storage is accessibility. “If the items stored on these shelves need to be accessed regularly, then you should consider installing adjustable shelving units that are easily lowered when the car is outside and can be raised again to park the car inside,” he suggests.
Goslett adds that if your garage doesn’t have the floor space to include a workbench while the car is parked inside, consider a wall-mounted collapsible surface that can be tucked against the wall when not in use. As far as possible, all other storage units and wall-mounted tool organisers should be positioned outside of the normal walking path from the car to the doorway.
Maximise your garage space as a DIY workshop
Rather than simply creating an efficient storage area for all sorts of odds and ends, why not go a step further and turn it into a DIY working space? Craig Hutchison, CEO of real estate company Engel & Völkers Southern Africa, points out that, aside from housing your car, the garage is a useful and valuable part of the home and can be used for a variety of things – among them a DIY workshop.
Easier said than done, perhaps! Digby Wesson, a marketing consultant for some of South Africa’s leading tool brands and a mad-keen DIYer for many years, is one of those who have gone down this route.
He has a larger-than-normal double garage, plus a storeroom and additional workshop at the back. “But it is still too small,” he laments. “I have run out of space and am now considering building on top, which would be perfect.” Wesson’s advice to anyone setting up a garage workshop is to plan your layout carefully. Also, don’t overdo the tools. Buy only what you need and not what you’d like to use sometime in the future. Otherwise, running out of space is a certainty.
Tips for creating a space-efficient garage
The following is a selection of Wesson’s space-saving tips for a garage and, if you’re so inclined, setting up a space-efficient DIY workshop in your garage:
Create additional storage space by putting shelving under your benches.
A mobile workbench lets you work both inside and outside the garage – useful if the confines of the garage are too small for a particular task. Tork Craft, Kreg, Festool and WORX all have workbenches with great features.
Install overhead plug boxes and cables for your power tools, so that cables don’t get in the way of everything else in the garage. You will also need these for recharging cordless power tools.
If you are storing wood for DIY purposes, a wood shelf is a must as it will allow you easy access to the planks/sheets you’re working on. Tork Craft has two storage rack options available.
Mount your toolboxes, tool trolleys and heavy equipment such as sanding equipment on wheels. This way you can easily move them around the garage according to circumstances. Or, as per point 2, move them outside if need be.
General garage workshop tips:
Must-haves in a garage workshop are a wood and steel vice, a two-wheel grindstone and wire brush combo. These are available from Pony and Tork Craft.
Ensure that you have suitable overhead lighting above your bench and key working areas.
A good overhead desk lamp is important for smaller close-up work. Tork Craft has the perfect unit.
You will never regret investing in a good dust extractor: dust can be hazardous in a confined and poorly-ventilated space like a garage. Festool has smaller mobile auto units that can be hooked up to most power tools.
If you intend using air tools in your garage, plan the position of your compressor and air lines/hoses carefully so that you can reach all the spots in your garage workshop. GAV and AirCraft, two brands in the Vermont Sales stable, have a specialised training course on how to set this up. They can also supply all the equipment you will need.
Power your project through power outages
With power outages now a regular feature of South African life, anyone creating a DIY workshop in their garage needs to contemplate whether they’d like to keep operating while the power is out.
Ryobi offers the RG-2100i inverter generator. Compact and quiet enough to be acceptable to most governing bodies in housing estates and townhouse complexes, it can power your tools and lights for up to
3.5 hours. Available through most major chains, it has a recommended retail price of R11 500 (including vat).
Ryobi also offers the One+ range of cordless battery-operated tools and accessories. To keep them charged, use the XB-4000 battery (recommended retail price: R1 437.50) and the XPP-9000 battery charger (recommended retail price: R569.25).
More tips for optimising your garage space
Craig Hutchison of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa shares some of his tips on how to optimise your garage space:
Build cabinets: having a formal storage cabinet prevents items from lying around and getting lost.
Install wall organisers: garages have plenty of wall space, which you should use to your advantage. Install wall organiser units for tools and auto-care products, while hanging larger items on hooks. Wall bins are perfect for sporting goods, kids’ toys or small garden items.
Get magnetic wall boards: having small steel and metal parts magnetised to the board will keep them organised and prevent them from getting lost.
Use food jars: these are great for storing small parts because they are clear, stackable and you can attach their metal lids to the underside of a shelf to create hanging jars with easy access; just twist on and off.
Go mobile: fit wheels on floor cabinets, tool chests and workbenches. Items on wheels can be moved away from the walls to create temporary work areas or even rolled outside for an afternoon and then easily rolled back into place when you’re done.
Install pegboards and hooks: an installed pegboard will let you hang and organise smaller tools that normally get consigned to a drawer or cupboard, as well as allowing you to keep larger items, such as rakes, spades and other tools, in place.
Tie and keep cables in one place: If you have any cables lying around this will add to a cluttered feel. Tie up extension cords and cables with cable ties. Then keep everything together in one drawer so you only have to search for a specific cord or cable at a certain place.
Choose a space-efficient workbench
If your garage doubles as an occasional or regular DIY workshop, you will find that workbenches can take up a lot of space and may be difficult to move around the garage or take outside when necessary. Fortunately, there are several products on the market that are smaller, foldable or less cumbersome.
- The WORX Pegasus folding worktable and sawhorse is a versatile and durable folding worktable that may be used as a sawhorse and portable workbench. It has an integrated clamping system that holds materials firmly and is lightweight for easy transportation and storage.
- Kreg’s Mobile Project Centre provides a portable workspace that can be used for a variety of project tasks. In one mode, it’s a sturdy sawhorse that’s great for supporting long boards as you cut. Flip the large tables into position and it offers the features you’d expect to find in a high-end stationary workbench. Additional tables can be added for longer work pieces
- The Ryobi RWB-100 fold-down workbench is made from heavy-duty box section steel and has a load capacity of 100kg, yet at the same time is lightweight at 5.6kg and, therefore, extremely portable and easy to store. The recommended retail price is R517.50.
- Ryobi’s RWB-1200 isn’t foldable, but it is pre-drilled to fit castors for easy mobility. It has a load capacity of 600kg and weighs 28kg. The recommended retail price is R4 542.50.