Project Backyard Shop: Solving Our Storage Problem


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Story and Photos by Tom Suddard

We set a goal, and then we met it: Build a space that we could dedicate to working on cars. Over the past four installments, we’ve gone from bare backyard dirt to a shiny new shop.

We’re still waiting on a few goodies for our workspace to arrive in the mail–namely a lift and a compressor–but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still working. We had one more project to tackle before we could really reach our goal. That project, in a single word: dedicate.

What’s that mean? It sounds simple, but it’s remarkably hard to keep every single thing in life besides your cars out of 720 square feet of covered, climate-controlled storage. If we were going to keep our workshop focused on work, and not on kayaks, the lawn mower, and our daily driver, we’d need to get the rest of our storage organized.

Up Front

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We haven’t mentioned it much, but our house did come with a garage when we bought it. No, it wasn’t much to look at, but the 267-square-foot space did host all of our car repairs for a few years.

Now that we’d moved into a bigger and better workspace, we owed our front garage a little bit of love. After some careful measuring, we figured that we could stuff our camping gear, two kayaks, one bicycle, and a daily driver into the space. That, in turn, would let us fit most of our spare parts and lawn equipment in our backyard shed, meaning we’d hit our goal of having a car-focused workshop out back.

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Our front garage didn't need to be beautiful, but in its previous state we were scared to even open the door. It was a jumbled mess of household junk, sports equipment and general despair. Some organization and a fresh floor from Swisstrax helped us right the wrongs. The goal was to eliminate the clutter and create parking for our daily driver.

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Groundwork

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Before we could organize up front, though, we needed something to organize on. Thanks to our house’s previous owner, our front garage’s concrete floor was coated in uneven, dusty, nasty carpet glue that had once secured the dirtiest indoor/outdoor carpeting we’d ever seen. Besides looking terrible, it trapped crud, meaning we couldn’t even walk to our washer and dryer without putting on sneakers.

We tried scraping up the glue, but the underlying concrete was in even worse shape. Clearing just a one-square-foot patch took us 30 minutes.

We needed a better alternative, so we called Swisstrax. They make durable plastic flooring that installs in a few hours. Unlike most any other kind of coating, it simply sits on top of whatever train wreck of a floor is currently present. Vacuuming is the only necessary prep. Street price? Figure a little more than $1000 to buy and ship enough tiles for a garage like ours.

Installation

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Sorry for the pun, but installing our Swisstrax was literally a snap. Seriously–vacuum the floor, put a tile down, then snap it to its friends. We needed to use a circular saw and a jigsaw to trim the edges of the floor where necessary, but the entire process still took less than two hours from start to finish.

It’s not the least expensive garage floor option in the world, but it’s definitely the easiest to put down. And unlike a coating, it was ready to be driven on immediately.

One last benefit: Thanks to its ribbed design, dirt and fluids run right through it and can then be vacuumed out with a shop vac. “Can I park my heavy car on it?” you’re wondering? Absolutely. Swisstrax claims its tiles can withstand up to 70,000 pounds of rollover weight.

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The Rest

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Once our new floor was down, it was time to organize the rest of the garage. For a more detailed explanation, look back to the last issue where we organized our workshop, as the basic process was the same: Throw away any junk, then use shelves, cabinets and hangers to keep things off the floor.

As the great garage expert Jack Olsen once said, “The floor is not a shelf!” We picked up kayak hangers for $20 each on Amazon, while repurposed shelving that didn’t fit in our workshop now hosts our camping gear.

We’ve always struggled with bicycle storage, as bikes tend to eat up floor space and bang into cars. Fortunately, we found front wheel hooks for a few bucks each at Walmart. Hanging our bicycle gave us the idea to store our folding table vertically, too. Don’t be afraid to (safely) use every inch of space–floor to ceiling–that your garage has to offer. We also kept the white cabinets that had been installed by the house’s previous owner, and use them to store things like house paint and plant fertilizer.

That beige shelf came from a law office that was closing. It previously held legal records. Thanks to its sturdiness (paper is heavy), we now use it as cold storage for parts like brake rotors and oil filters–stuff we want to keep on hand, but won’t be using right away. These parts could technically live in our workshop, but there’s no reason to clutter our workspace with parts we won’t install for years.

Notice the red Solo cups on the ends of the kayak racks and the ball on a string? No, we aren’t bad drivers, but we do want to make it as easy as possible to squeeze our daily driver into the tight garage. Don’t be afraid to use a few visual aids so you can easily park in your storage garage.

Get a Shed

Notice anything missing from our front garage? Yep, lawn equipment. The best thing you can do for your workshop is to buy or build a shed; fortunately our property came with one.

We won’t lie and say that it’s nicely organized, but that doesn’t really matter. Thanks to our shed, we can keep our lawn mower, lawn tools, spare wheels, tires, engines and more separate from the things we use every day–and separate from our workshop. That means we don’t waste time shuffling the weed whacker out of the way every time we use the garage.

Don’t have a shed of your own? Go get one. Most towns don’t require any permits for a small shed, and your local home improvement store has a bunch of them in stock. Cost? Anywhere from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars, but you don’t need anything fancy for storing your edger.

Wrapping Up

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Now that our front garage is clean and our shed is full, we can focus back on our workshop. We’ll do just that in the next installment, when our lift and air compressor arrive.

SOURCES:

Master Garage Builders:
mastergaragebuilders.com
(352) 369-3033
garage kit

Swisstrax:
swisstrax.com
866) 748-7940
garage flooring

Wire & Cable Your Way:
wireandcableyourway.com
(855) 880-8010
wire

Read the Whole Backyard Shop Series:

Project Backyard Shop: Planning the Building

Project Backyard Shop: Building The Building

Project Backyard Shop: Wiring and Interior

Project Backyard Shop: Moving In and Organizing

Project Backyard Shop: Solving Our Storage Problem (This Article)

Project Backyard Shop: Walls of Specialized Storage

Project Backyard Shop: Installing a Lift


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Comments
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Torqued
Torqued New Reader
10/2/18 11:19 p.m.

Glad to see that I'm not the only one who had to battle clutter, but I have a question about that floor.  From the picture it looks like it would be difficult to clean up a liquid spill?

te72
te72 Reader
10/3/18 12:28 a.m.

Torqued, I would imagine that if you wanted to clean up liquid you would either have to hope that a wet vac would be enough or start pulling tiles...

 

As with any space that you want to utilize to the fullest, think vertically! So much space in a garage is often wasted on storing a whole lot of... air... Ceiling hooks, cabinets on the walls, rails, pegboard, any combination of options are available, and the sky (or in most cases, the ceiling) is the limit!

 

Tearing apart some wood crates currently, to scavenge some free 2x4, 2x6, and 4x6 lumber. Building a modest loft so I can get the snow blower (that's a device that clears snow from residential properties, for you sun-belt folks) and the bbq grill off the garage floor. Looking forward to all the space for activities this will make newly available! =)

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