15 Garage Remodel Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

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We all know the benefits of remodeling a garage: increased home value, more space, and improved functionality.

However, as with any home improvement project, there are some common garage remodel mistakes that can lead to less-than-ideal results.

To help you create a space you’ll love, let’s dive into some of the most common garage remodeling mistakes and how to avoid them.


#1. Poor Layout Planning

One of the first and most essential steps in any garage remodel is planning the layout of the space. This will determine how you’ll use, organize, and decorate your garage, but it also affects the rest of your home. 

Unfortunately, many homeowners overlook this crucial step, leading to a garage that may initially look good, but isn’t practical to use. 

To avoid this mistake, let’s examine some common layout planning mistakes and learn how to prevent them.

Natural light and ventilation are essential, so avoid blocking windows or doors. Also, consider how the placement of storage units, furniture, or appliances may affect access to your garage or house.

Another common issue in poorly planned garages is wasted space. You want to make the most of your available space, so avoid leaving too many unused areas. Consider utilizing vertical or overhead space for storage, especially if your garage has a high ceiling.

A well-planned garage should have clear pathways for easy access and exit. When placing furniture or storage, make sure they don’t obstruct these paths.

Here are some tips to help you plan a layout that suits your needs and preferences:

  • Sketch a floor plan: Create a rough sketch of your garage, noting its dimensions, shape, and features. Then, add your furniture, appliances, or storage units. Make sure they fit well within your space.
  • Measure everything: Before you start arranging your items, measure the dimensions of your space and your items. This will ensure they fit properly and leave enough room for movement and comfort.

By carefully planning and a little attention to detail will help you avoid these common mistakes so you can have a successful garage remodel. 

Remember, your garage can be more than just a place to park your car or store boxes. Proper planning can transform it into a workshop, home gym, or the perfect place to work on your hobby.

Designing a garage

#2. Trying to DIY Your Garage Remodel When You Shouldn’t

So, you’re considering tackling your garage remodel yourself. I’ve done several aspects of my garage transformation myself, so I get it. 

However, as with any DIY project, it’s easy to get in over your head. 

Even seasoned DIYers can make mistakes. When it comes to garage remodeling, these missteps can be costly and hazardous. 

Here are some common examples:

  • Faulty wiring: Incorrectly installed wiring can lead to electrical shocks, fires, or power outages..
  • Structural damage: Any structural damage could compromise the stability and integrity of your home..
  • Code violations: Non-compliant work can result in fines, penalties, or legal issues.

Before starting your garage remodel, evaluate your skills and how well you understand the scope of the project. 

For example, do you have experience in carpentry, plumbing, or electrical work? Are you confident in your abilities to handle these tasks? If not, consider hiring a professional.

Next, analyze your budget and timeline for the project. Can you afford the necessary materials, tools, and permits? Can you complete the project in a reasonable amount of time without compromising other obligations?

DIY projects often take longer than expected. There’s nothing worse than having your dream garage remodel turn into a never-ending nightmare.

There’s no shame in admitting the project is beyond your skill-level. 

If so, take the time to research different garage remodel companies. Collect quotes, read reviews, and ask for recommendations from friends and family. You might find that hiring a professional is more affordable and less stressful than going it alone.


#3. Using Cheap Materials

The choice of materials can make or break a garage remodel. 

It’s understandable to want to save money by opting for cheaper alternatives. However, you might end up paying more in the long run when your garage starts showing signs of premature wear and tear. 

Why does it matter if you use less expensive materials? Unfortunately, it can lead to unpleasant surprises down the line. 

Here are a few examples of how using inferior materials can backfire:

  • Cheap epoxy coatings: Cheap epoxy coatings are less durable, less resistant and less stable than quality epoxy coatings. That’ll mean you’ll have to replace your garage floor after only a few years. 
  • Non-water-resistant wood or drywall: Regular wood or drywall is more vulnerable to moisture, mold, fire and impact than water-resistant drywall or wood.
  • Plastic cabinets or shelves: Cheap plastic cabinets and shelves are weaker, less reliable and less attractive than steel or aluminum cabinets and shelves, which  are stronger, more durable.

In my experience, saving a few dollars by choosing cheap materials can ultimately cost you more. That doesn’t even include the headache of dealing with constant repairs or even a complete garage remodel redo.

So how do you avoid these pitfalls and select the best materials for your garage remodel? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Do your research

Take the time to research different products and their pros and cons. Consider factors like durability, cost, appearance, and maintenance requirements. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to make an informed decision.

  1. Check warranties and ratings

When looking at potential materials, check their warranties and ratings. This can give you a good idea of its performance and how long it should last. 

  1. Request samples and references

Most companies will be happy to send out samples or references. It’s a great way to see how the materials look and feel in person and understand how it performed in previous garage remodels.

  1. Keep the big picture in mind

Lastly, remember that your garage remodel is an investment in your home. Choosing quality materials that can withstand your space’s demands and conditions will save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.

When it comes to your garage remodel, don’t skimp on materials. 

By doing your research, checking warranties and ratings, and seeking samples and references, you can ensure that your garage transformation will look great and stand the test of time. 


#4. Adding Too Many Features

While it’s tempting to go all out, there’s an old saying that “less is more.” In this section, we’ll talk about how to find the perfect balance between comfort and functionality in your garage remodel.

Cramming in too many elements can lead to a cluttered, inefficient space. Here are some instances of overdoing it:

Too many  windows, skylights, fans, heaters, or speakers: In small doses, these will definitely enhance your garage. However, they can also consume valuable wall or ceiling space and create issues with noise, heat, or glare.

Incorporating a kitchenette, bathroom, or laundry room: These features may need additional plumbing, wiring, or ventilation that can cause costs to skyrocket. 

Adding a gym, office, or studio: Although practical, specialized areas can quickly cause the cost of your garage remodel to skyrocket. This is doubly-true for converting your garage into living space. 

So, how can you include features that enhance your garage remodel without sacrificing functionality and efficiency? 

Consider these tips:

  • Choose features that align with your goals: Go back to your initial plan. Add features that align and enhance that idea, but know when to say “enough is enough.”
  • Work with your garage’s existing structure: Evaluate what’s already in place before adding features. Can you seamlessly integrate plumbing, wiring, or ventilation into your remodel? If not, it’s time to reassess your plans.
  • Be flexible and adaptable: Opt for features that can be easily converted or relocated if needed when designing your space. This is particularly important for gyms, offices, or studios.

Concentrating on what matters most to you and steer clear of feature overload. Remember, the key is finding that sweet spot between comfort and efficiency.


#5. Not Adding Enough Features

On the flip side, another common mistake is not adding enough features during your garage remodel. 

Now is the perfect time to incorporate major design changes. Many homeowners miss the chance to incorporate features that boost the comfort, appeal, and efficiency of their garage. 

Bringing in natural light and ventilation can dramatically enhance your garage remodel. Adding windows or skylights not only illuminates the space but also offers a view of the outdoors. Remember to strategically place them, so they don’t obstruct or interfere with other elements in your garage.

Proper temperature control is essential for any garage, whether you’re dealing with sweltering summer days or chilly winter evenings. Fans and heaters help regulate the temperature, creating a cozy or cool atmosphere depending on the season. 

Want to inject some fun into your garage remodel? Speakers can enhance the mood and ambiance of your garage, whether you’re tackling a DIY project or hosting a game night. 

Remember to match your components to the overall theme. Balance them with existing elements in your garage, and always prioritize proper installation.

An effective garage remodel takes into account many different aspects

#6. Forgetting to Weatherproof Your Garage

One key aspect many homeowners tend to overlook when remodeling their garage is weatherproofing. Trust me, you don’t want to make this mistake. 

Ignoring weatherproofing can lead to a multitude of problems down the line, from water damage to drafts, and even increased energy bills. 

Here are some common weatherproofing problems:

  • Water Leaks: If water can infiltrate your garage, it can wreak havoc on your walls, floors, and stored items. Additionally, it can lead to mold and mildew growth, which is certainly not something you want to contend with.
  • Cracks & Gaps: Cracks in your garage can allow air to escape or enter your garage, leading to lower energy efficiency. Plus, they can let in outside noise, making your garage a less peaceful space.
  • Drafts: Drafts are another prevalent issue in garages that haven’t been adequately weatherproofed. They can cause temperature fluctuations, air quality issues, and even lead to condensation and dust buildup.

Now that we’ve covered some common weatherproofing issues, let’s discuss how to avoid them in your garage remodel. 

Start by assessing your garage doors, windows, and roof. If they’re damaged or not functioning correctly, it’s time to repair or replace them. 

Next, inspect your garage for any gaps or holes that could allow water or air to enter. Common culprits include areas around pipes, vents, and outlets. Seal these up using caulk, foam, or tape.

Finally, consider applying a waterproof coating or paint to your garage walls, floors, or other surfaces. Products like epoxy, polyurethane, or latex can help prevent water and moisture damage, ensuring your garage remodel stands the test of time.


#7. Skipping Insulation & Electrical

Before you start diving into your garage remodel, you should address any potential pitfalls with insulation and electrical wiring. 

Keep an eye out for these insulation and electrical wiring errors during your garage remodel:

  • Inadequate or improper insulation materials or techniques: This can lead to heat loss, moisture issues, or poor soundproofing.
  • Faulty or outdated electrical wiring or devices: Avoid fire hazards, power outages, or electrical shocks.
  • Violating local codes or standards: Steer clear of fines, penalties, or legal troubles by staying up-to-date on local regulations and standards for insulation and electrical wiring.

Now that you’re aware of the potential garage remodel mistakes, let’s delve into how to do things right. 

Follow these tips for proper and safe insulation and wiring during your garage remodel:

1. Choose the Right Insulation

Selecting the right type and amount of insulation is crucial for your garage remodel. 

Fiberglass is a common, cost-effective choice, offering solid thermal and acoustic insulation. Spray foam insulation may be more expensive, but it provides excellent moisture resistance and fills gaps and cracks efficiently. Finally, cellulose is an eco-friendly alternative, made from recycled materials that delivers reliable thermal and acoustic insulation.

2. Adhere to Local Regulations & Standards

As previously mentioned, it’s essential to follow local regulations and standards for insulation and electrical wiring. 

Consult your local building department to determine if a permit is required for your project. Depending on the scope of work, professional inspections of your insulation and electrical work may be necessary to ensure compliance with local codes. 

Finally, depending on where you live, you might need approval from a homeowners association or other governing body before starting your remodel.

3. Work with a Licensed Electrician

Lastly, consider hiring a licensed electrician to install and test your electrical wiring and devices. 

A licensed electrician knows how to install and test wiring properly, reducing the risk of fire hazards, power outages, or electrical shocks. Plus, they will  be familiar with local codes and standards, helping you steer clear of fines, penalties, or legal issues.

Embarking on a garage remodel is exciting, but don’t let common insulation and electrical wiring mistakes hold you back. 


#8. Not Replacing Your Garage Floor

When planning a garage remodel, it’s easy to overlook your garage floor. But since your floor is one of the most visible and exposed parts of the remodel, it significantly impacts your garage’s overall appearance. 

What’s worse, ignoring issues with your garage floor could lead to to damage down the road. 

Here are some common garage floor issues and how to address them:

Stains: Garage floors accumulate stains from oil, grease, dirt, or chemicals that spill or leak onto the surface. Before starting your garage remodel, it’s essential to address these stains promptly.

Cracks: Temperature changes, moisture, or pressure can cause cracks in your concrete floor. Cracks not only look bad, but they can also pose a safety hazard.

Unevenness: An uneven garage floor presents a significant safety risk. Settling, shifting, or erosion can cause unevenness, and addressing this issue is crucial before it becomes a bigger problem.

Regularly cleaning your garage floor is the first step in addressing issues. 

If you notice cracks, holes, or other damage to your garage floor, promptly and correctly repair them. Use a concrete patch, filler, or sealer to fill in cracks or holes, and consider using a grinder, sander, or leveler to smooth out bumps or ridges on your floor.

An uneven garage floor is a bigger problem, but it’s solvable with the right techniques. Use a self-leveling compound, screed, or shim to create a flat and even surface, and measure and mark the level of your floor using a laser level, ruler, or plumb line.

Closeup shot of gray polyaspartic floor coating with paint chips

#9. Choosing the Wrong Floor Coating

Choosing a garage floor coating can be both exciting and daunting. However, making the wrong decision often means you’ll have to redo the process much earlier than you anticipated. 

Here are some of the worst garage floor coatings that you’ll want to steer clear of:

  • Paint: It might be tempting to take the easy route and simply paint your garage floor. However, paint only lasts 1-2 years, so repainting will be a never-ending process. Additionally, paint can peel, chip, or fade due to exposure to sunlight, water, or chemicals.
  • Vinyl: While it may appear attractive at first, vinyl flooring can curl, tear, or bubble as a result of temperature fluctuations, moisture, or pressure. It can also be difficult to clean or repair if damaged.
  • Carpet: This is by far the worst flooring you can put in your garage! Carpet will absorb stains, spills, or odors from oil, grease, dirt, or chemicals and may even harbor mold, mildew, or pests if damp.

Now that we know what to avoid, let’s explore some superior options for your garage floor coating:

  • Epoxy: A popular choice for its abrasion, water, and oil resistance, epoxy provides a smooth, glossy, and colorful finish that can last for years, giving your garage a professional appearance.
  • Polyurea: Ideal for those needing a floor coating that can resist impact, moisture, and chemicals, polyurea offers a flexible, durable, and UV-resistant finish that cures quickly and easily, making it a convenient option for busy homeowners.
  • Polyaspartic: For a floor coating capable of withstanding heat, cold, and stains, polyaspartic is your best bet. It provides a clear, hard, and glossy finish that bonds well with concrete and other coatings, ensuring a long-lasting and attractive result.
  • Interlocking Floor Tiles: PVC interlocking tiles are easy to install, durable and resistant to stains, chemicals and moisture, which makes them ideal for garages. Like epoxy, they come in different patterns and colors, so you can choose the ones that match your style. 

Always consider factors such as your region’s climate, how you use your garage, and your budget. 

By doing so, you’re more likely to select a high-quality floor coating that will save you time, money, and headaches down the line.

I’ve recently published a ranking of several garage floor coatings based on price, durability, ease of application, and maintenance to see which was the best. Check out that article for more info.


#10. Mixing & Matching Styles

Another common mistake for homeowners is to mix and match styles when remodeling their garage. This can result in a garage that clashes with the rest of the property, or elements within the garage that clash with each other. 

For example, you might be tempted to go for a modern, sleek garage design, even if your home is more traditional. Or perhaps you’re considering a rustic garage look for your urban neighborhood. 

It’s tempting to break the mold, but clashing styles will stick out like a sore thumb.  So, how can you avoid this garage remodel mistake?

Start by taking a good, hard look at your house and neighborhood. Stick to a similar theme for your garage remodel to ensure it complements your home’s character and personality.

Colors play a significant role in creating a harmonious space. If your house has an earthy color scheme, a garage with bright, bold colors might stick out like a sore thumb. However, a neutral-colored garage could be a perfect match.

The same goes for colors inside your garage. To avoid clashing colors, choose a color palette that complements the major items in your garage like flooring and cabinets. Whether it’s neutral tones or vibrant shades, make sure your colors work together, not against each other.

Similarly, be careful with the materials and patterns you choose for your garage remodel. A metal garage door on a brick house or a wooden garage roof in a neighborhood full of tile roofs can look out of place.

Be mindful of the existing shapes and textures in your home and neighborhood. Keep it cohesive by choosing elements that coordinate well together.

Remember, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. A designer or appraiser can provide valuable insights and help you avoid costly garage remodel mistakes.


#11. Not Adding Enough Storage

Typically, the main reason homeowners remodel their garages is to create more space and get better organized. Unfortunately, some still end up not having enough storage, leading to even more clutter than before. 

Here’s how to maximize storage in your garage remodel:

Utilize walls and ceilings to add storage without taking up floor space. Cabinets, shelves, hooks, or racks can help you store items vertically or overhead. This keeps your garage organized while leaving valuable floor space open for other activities.

Customize your storage solutions to fit your needs. 

Modular, adjustable, or movable storage units can be tailored to fit your items and space. Using labels, dividers, or containers to organize items by category, frequency, or priority can save time and effort.

Before remodeling, sort through your belongings and declutter. 

Separate them into piles for keeping, donating, selling, or trashing, and eliminate anything unnecessary. Group items by function, season, or theme for a more organized and efficient storage system in your remodeled garage.

Having enough well-organized storage is crucial for a successful garage remodel. By avoiding these common storage mistakes, you’ll be on your way to creating the garage of your dreams.


#12. Still Using Your Old Garage Lighting

When it comes to remodeling your garage, one aspect that’s often overlooked is the lighting. Good lighting can make all the difference in the world, affecting visibility, ambiance, and even safety. 

However, some homeowners ignore their garage lighting, resulting in a dark garage that nobody wants to spend time in.

Let’s dive into some common garage lighting mistakes and how to avoid them. 

  • Not Bright Enough: Using lights that are too dim will strain your eyes and create shadows, miaking your garage appear gloomy and unsafe.
  • Poorly Positioned Lights: Placing lights at incorrect angles or positions results in uneven or inadequate illumination. Lights that are too high, low, or far away leave certain areas overexposed or underexposed. Meanwhile, lights that are too close or direct cause glare and reflection issues.
  • Wrong Color Temperature: The color temperature and style of your lights significantly impact the mood and appearance of your garage. Too warm or cool lights create a yellowish or bluish tint.

To avoid these lighting mistakes, you need to plan out your garage lighting as you would other aspects of your garage remodel. 

Combine ambient, task, and accent lighting to create a balanced and layered effect. 

Ambient lights provide general lighting for your garage, while task lights offer focused lighting for specific activities or areas. Lastly, accent lights add a decorative touch to features or items in your garage.

Tailor your garage lighting to the time of day or the activity you’re doing. 

Use dimmers, timers, or sensors to control brightness, duration, or motion. Also, choose different bulbs such as LED, CFL, or halogen to suit your needs and preferences.

Invest in energy-efficient and durable lights to save money and avoid hassle in the long run. Look for lights with low wattage, high lumens, and a long lifespan. 

Opting for lights with weather-resistant, shock-resistant, or dust-resistant features is also a smart choice.

Improving garage lighting is a key part of a garage remodel

#13. Not Improving Your Garage Ventilation

Another commonly overlooked area in garage renovation is improving ventilation. 

Ensuring your garage has sufficient airflow is vital for maintaining good air quality, controlling humidity, and regulating temperature. Neglect it and you end up with a stuffy, damp, and unpleasant garage.

One common mistake homeowners make is sealing off vents or windows that provide natural ventilation. These openings allow fresh air to enter and stale air to exit, helping to regulate humidity and temperature effectively.

Another issue is using insufficient or faulty fans and vents for mechanical ventilation. This can result in poor air circulation and an inability to effectively remove odors, fumes, and pollutants.

Finally, some homeowners fail to address the sources of odors or fumes that affect their garage’s ventilation. These include vehicles, appliances, chemicals, and activities that generate heat, moisture, or emissions.

To avoid these pitfalls and ensure proper ventilation in your garage remodel, consider the following tips:

  • Incorporate windows or skylights: Opt for windows or skylights that can open and close, providing natural ventilation. Ensure they’re easy to operate, secure, and weatherproof.
  • Select the appropriate fans and vents: Invest in powerful, quiet, and energy-efficient exhaust fans or vents for mechanical ventilation. This will help improve air circulation and remove unwanted odors, fumes, and pollutants.
  • Minimize heat and moisture-generating activities: Refrain from cooking, washing, or painting in your garage. Instead, use a dehumidifier or an air purifier to control humidity and improve air quality.

#14. Forgetting About Garage Security

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of selecting paint colors, flooring options, and innovative storage solutions. But, have you considered the security of your newly transformed garage? 

Sadly, many homeowners overlook this critical aspect, leaving their garages vulnerable to break-ins, fires, and pests. 

First and foremost, make sure all entry points to your garage are secure. This includes not only the main door but also any windows and cabinets. 

Leaving doors and windows unlocked or, worse, open, invites intruders or pests and exposes your garage to heat, moisture, or dust. 

If you’re still relying on the same old locks and alarms that came with your house, it’s time for an upgrade. 

Outdated or faulty hardware won’t prevent or detect intruders and may even cause false alarms. Invest in sturdy, reliable locks, alarms, and cameras that are easy to install and maintain.

No matter how well you’ve secured the perimeter of your garage, it’s essential to store valuable or hazardous items safely. 

Use cabinets, safes, or lockers to protect your expensive tools, sentimental items, and dangerous chemicals. 

Don’t forget to label them clearly and keep an inventory for easy reference. This not only helps with organization but also adds an extra layer of protection for your prized possessions.


#15. Not Maintaining Your Garage Remodel

You’ve finally completed your garage remodel, and it looks amazing. 

But keeping it clean and well-maintained is just as important as the actual renovation? 

Dusting, sweeping, and wiping surfaces, floors, and furniture may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to let these tasks slide when life gets busy. Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate without regular cleaning, causing surfaces to become stained, scratched, or faded.

Harsh chemicals and abrasive materials can damage or discolor surfaces, floors, and furniture. Similarly, ignoring minor issues can lead to bigger, more costly problems down the line. Delaying repairs or replacements can make things worse and more challenging to fix.

Tips for Proper Maintenance

  • Create a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule: Keeping track of your tasks and routines is crucial for maintaining your garage remodel. Use a calendar, planner, or checklist to plan and organize your cleaning and maintenance activities.
  • Use gentle and eco-friendly cleaners and tools: Protect your surfaces, floors, and furniture by using natural or homemade cleaners made from safe and sustainable ingredients. These eco-friendly options won’t cause harm or damage to your garage remodel.
  • Hire a professional service if needed: Sometimes, it’s best to leave the cleaning and maintenance to the experts. Hire a reliable, reputable, and affordable service to ensure your garage remodel stays in top-notch condition.

By avoiding these common maintenance mistakes, you’ll keep your garage remodel feeling like new for as long as possible. Remember, maintaining your garage is just as important as the initial transformation. 


Garage Remodel Mistakes: Wrapping It Up

In this article, we’ve looked at how to avoid common garage remodel mistakes that can lead to wasted time, overspending, and frustration. 

Start by establishing a realistic budget and timeline. Be mindful of the costs and time involved in your project. Be sure to account for all expenses and factor in some flexibility for unforeseen events.

If you’re not going the DIY route, select a reputable contractor with an established track record, relevant expertise, and strong communication skills. Research references, read reviews, and ask for recommendations from friends and family.

Before starting your remodel, consider how you want to use your garage. Whether it’s a workshop, a gym, or a place to park your car, having a clear vision will help guide your design choices.

Remember, transforming your garage doesn’t have to be a daunting task. 

Armed with these tips, some research, and the right team, you’re well on your way to creating the garage of your dreams.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.