How to Winterize Your Garage


Ahhh….winter. The number one reason why people move to Florida.

In this article, we’re going to specifically look at what you need to do to winterize your garage. One of the best ways to deal with winter weather is to prepare beforehand.

When I was a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, my parents would watch the weather forecast for the first sign of frost because there was a lot of work to do to prepare for winter.

In hindsight, they should have started much sooner.

So how do you winterize your garage? Preventing cold air from seeping in is one of the biggest factors when getting your garage winter-ready. Such as:

  • Insulating the garage door and walls
  • Caulking around the garage door
  • Install a weather seal
  • Waterproof your garage floor
  • Set up a heater in the garage
  • Lubricating your garage door

We’ll talk about each of those in a little more detail and in some cases, link to detailed how-to articles that I’ve already written. And remember, just because you don’t live in a cold climate doesn’t mean that you don’t have to worry about winter.

It’s a good idea to get your garage ready for the winter no matter where you live. The best way to do that is to figure out how to keep the cold air out.

Duh, right?

There are a couple of different steps that you can take to help winterize your garage, such as insulating the door or installing a weather seal under the door. Thankfully, most are easy enough for the average homeowner to do themselves.

Insulating Your Garage Door

Let’s start with insulation.

The walls of our home are insulated to help keep it (and us) warm in winter.

The same goes for your garage, except your garage door is the single biggest non-insulated surface in most homes.

Without any kind of insulation, your garage could drop down almost to the outdoor temperatures. If it gets down to below 0 °F and stays there, it can be bad news for anything you’re storing in your garage.

One cheap way to add insulation to your garage is installing a garage door insulation kit with foam panels. For a DIY solution, you can buy a big foam board and cut it to size to fit in between the panels of your garage door.

I installed the Matador garage door insulation kit in my garage and it definitely had a big impact. Check out my article to read all about my results and a step-by-step look at the installation process.

Insulation works on a variety of garage door types, such as:

  • Wood-and-panel doors
  • Flat doors
  • Steel doors.

You will know what kind of foam boards are good quality depending on their R-value (its measured capacity to hold in heat) which can be between 3 and 6. The better their R-value, the less heat they let escape when installed.

There is a point where you get diminishing returns. Insulation with an R-value of 6 isn’t twice as good as insulation with an R-value of 3. Nevertheless, try to go for the highest R-value you can within your price range.

My garage door insulation kit cost right around $100 each, so it’s a pretty good bang for your buck.

Weather seal and caulking

Another easy way to protect your garage from the cold is to replace the weather seal under your garage door.

It’s an easy process that only takes about an hour or so. Most garage doors come with some kind of seal on the bottom and weatherstripping on the sides. The ones that come with your door are usually made of cheap rubber that deteriorates quickly. In my case, mine needed to be replaced after only a few years.

You pick up new weather seals at your local big box hardware store like Lowe’s or Home Depot, as well as on Amazon. When the door shuts, the seal helps form a barrier that will keep the heat in the garage instead of letting it seep out from the bottom of the door. It also helps to keep water out of your garage when it rains.

After that, you can caulk around the garage door, both inside and outside of the garage. Simply draw a line with the caulk up and down all sides of the garage door where the door frame meets your walls. This will close up any little holes that heat may be seeping out and moisture seeps in.

It is a simple process that you can do on your own in only a few minutes.

Invest in a space-heater

If your garage gets down below freezing, it’s definitely worth investing in a space heater for your garage.

Not only does this help make your garage more comfortable, especially if you spend a lot of time working in there, but it’ll also help keep your tools, electronics and other machinery in better shape.

Most smart phones and electronics with screens start having issues around 24 °F (-4 °C) . Short term exposure is usually fine, but I would be careful storing sensitive stuff in extreme temperatures for long periods of time.

Your tools don’t like extreme cold either. Lubricating oils made from mineral oil also start breaking down around 24 °F (-4 °C).

A space heater works best if you’ve already insulated your garage door and walls first. Otherwise, that heat will just escape through your garage door and walls.

The kind of heater you buy will depend on how big your garage is and how much money you want to spend on it. Don’t feel obligated to buy the most expensive, since those are generally overkill when smaller ones can be just as effective for less money.

For more info on which heater will work for you, check out my buyers guide to finding the best garage heater.

Remember, if it’s too cold for you, chances are it’s too cold for your stuff too.

Insulating your Garage Walls

One of the best ways to winterize your garage it keep it from freezing in the first place.

Insulating your walls will help keep the heat in from all sides, rather than just from your garage door. While insulating your garage door helps, heat can still escape from the walls.

This isn’t a quick-fix process, but it makes a huge difference!

If you have wood-stud walls, you should buy your insulation depending on the width between studs. Most studs are either 16″ or 24″ inches apart and insulation is sold in those widths.

In my case, this was by far the biggest project I did in my garage because I was trying to insulate over my concrete block walls.

I framed, insulated and drywalled my concrete block garage walls. It took a while, definitely, but it made such a huge impact, not only to the temperatures inside my garage, but to the overall look of my garage as well.

There weren’t a lot of people on the Internet doing the same thing to their garage, so I took lots of pictures to help document the process. Take a look at how I did it:

Protect Your Garage Floor

Winter is especially rough on your garage floor.

When we park our cars inside, all of that snow, ice and road salt drips off and collects in pools on the floor and starts to break it down.

That’s why I recommend some sort of protective epoxy coating on your floor. I’ve written a more detailed article about the pros and cons of epoxy garage floor coatings, so be sure to check it out.

This is another scenario that you want to do earlier rather than later. The colder it gets, the harder it will be for this to dry and seal.

Don’t forget about your garage door

Most of us think that our garage doors will just work whenever we need them to, but it actually takes a bit of maintenance.

It’s a good idea to lubricate your garage door at least once a year no matter where you live, but that’s especially important if you get harsh winters where you live.

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As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’ve written a step-by-step guide about lubricating your garage door too. It’s a quick, five minute process that anyone can do. 🙂

What temperature should I keep my garage in the winter?

Another way to help winterize your garage is by keeping it at a consistent temperature so that it doesn’t freeze from the outside temperature.

The best temperature to keep your garage during the winter depends on where you live, but a general rule of thumb is between 40°F for inland states and around 65°F for coastal states.

If you’re curious wondering why, I go into more depth in my article What Temperature Should You Keep Your Garage in Winter.

Conclusion

We’ve discussed how to winterize your garage for the upcoming cold months. The biggest factor is insulating and keeping the warmth in rather than letting to seep out of your garage.

Be sure to get a head start on this by doing these steps while it’s still warm out. That way, it will be an easy shift into winter without worrying about your garage.

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