Cost to Remodel a Garage
Garages in the home can serve many different purposes: they can be used to store cars or belongings, contain workshops and serve as an alternative entry to your home. Garages can be brick, wood or a combination of the two, although the floor is almost always a concrete slab. When you remodel a garage, the costs will greatly depend on your needs as well as the shape the existing garage is in.
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Many garages are made entirely of concrete and brick work, and replacing or repairing concrete can prove to be very costly. In cases where the floor or walls are severely damaged, a concrete mason must be called. If this is necessary, materials come at a low cost, but working with concrete is very time consuming, which can lead to a large labor bill.
If the concrete slab making up the floor of the garage is a problem, there are more cost-effective solutions than a concrete mason. Most cracking, flaking, stains, pitting or wear can be easily fixed by calling a concrete specialist to apply either an inexpensive epoxy or polyurethane-based coating. These strong seals are very long lasting and can make your garage floor look brand new. Some people choose to furnish their garages with very durable carpeting meant for indoor and outdoor purposes. Not subject to the wear and tear of indoor carpet, using this in your garage can be practical as well as visually appealing.
Garage Floor Stains
Garage floor coatings fail for a number of reasons. First, the floor is usually not clean enough to receive a coating. Years of grime have to be removed using solvents and proprietary cleaners. These are sold at paint stores, hardware stores, home centers and industrial supply houses. If the floor is really filthy, consider pressure washing. Rent a machine that produces at least 1,200 to 2,000 psi. Also buy some grease-cutting detergent at the rental store. Along similar lines, you might consider a steam cleaner if a pressure washer is unavailable.
Another problem is moisture vapor. Moisture vapor from the ground works from below to loosen the coating's bond with the concrete. In the case of alkyd paints (also called oil-based paints), the moisture will react with the alkaline materials in the concrete and form a soap. This process is called saponification. The soap loosens the paint's bond with the concrete. Never use alkyd or modified alkyd paints on concrete, no matter what the clerk at the hardware store says.
Finally, a car's tires are hot when it pulls into the garage. In the summer, the tires may be even too hot to touch. The heat can actually melt the paint and, combined with the pressure the car applies on the tires, even peel the paint. This is known, appropriately, as hot-tire pickup. Fortunately, there are ways to beat all these problems.
New Formulas to the Rescue
Paint manufacturers have recognized these problems and have come to the rescue with new formulations. But a word of advice: If your garage floor sees heavy water leakage, if it's badly cracked or if it's damp and slimy all summer, don't apply any coating. In those cases, you're better off simply keeping it as clean as you can and then calling it quits.
But about those new formulations. One is Epoxy Shield garage floor paint. It's a waterborne coating consisting of epoxy and acrylic resins with color chips that you sprinkle over it while the coating is wet. Its manufacturer says it is specifically formulated to withstand hot-tire pickup, moisture vapor and attack by solvents and chemicals that drip from a car or come in on the car's tires. It comes as a kit that consists of a cleaner-degreaser, two paint components that you mix together and nonskid color chips. First clean and degrease the floor, then mix the two-part coating together and roll it on. And finish up by broadcasting the nonskid chips onto the coating while it is still wet. The manufacturer says you can walk on the surface in four hours and drive on it after seven days when it is fully cured. The kit costs about $60 at home centers.
Another Alternative: Stain
Like wood stains, masonry stains are less viscous than paints. They soak into the masonry and don't form a film the way paint does. Unlike film-forming coatings, stains won't make your garage floor feel like the deck of an aircraft carrier. Because of this, stains are somewhat more forgiving and are easier to apply and to reapply as they wear off and become dirty. One of the oldest (perhaps the oldest) masonry stains available is H&C, now owned by Sherwin-Williams and sold at that company's paint stores. This venerable brand has been used in the southern United States for many years, and it's available in a wide range of colors and it can be tinted to any color you prefer. It's available in two formulations: a solvent-base (that is unavailable in California) and a waterborne acrylic available nationwide. The solvent-based formulation, shown on the left, is the tougher one, so if you have both available where you live, choose that unless you're very sensitive to solvent fumes, in which case you should go with the waterborne acrylic. Anyway, homeowners who are used to house paints should have no trouble applying either and cleaning up afterward. First, apply some H&C cleaner degreaser—a mixture of heavy—duty detergent and phosphoric acid. You simply sprinkle the stuff on the garage floor with a watering can, work it in with a broom and let it foam the floor clean. Then rinse the floor and let it dry. The stain is applied with a roller. It's ready for foot traffic in one hour and car traffic in 72 to 96 hours depending on temperature and humidity.
A Friendly Word of Advice
Regardless of what you do with your garage floor, remember that the coating is only as good as its preparation. The surface has to be clean and dry before you do anything. Walls, doors and thresholds have to be protected with masking tape. Take precautions to keep kids and pets off the surface, or you'll have a real mess on your hands—and they'll have one on their feet.
Partially Finished Garage
Moving away from the floors, you also have the option to have a partially finished garage when remodeling. You can frame a concrete garage the same way you would when finishing a basement. Wooden crossbeams are secured to the floor, and the remainder of the framing is built up from there. Walls of either paneling or sheetrock can then be fastened, making your garage look and feel like another room of the house. Sheetrock is very often used for garage ceilings, allowing you to choose a paint color, and the same can be said for the walls. This is a job any general contractor can accomplish for a few thousand dollars. The use of metal studs when framing as opposed to wood can cut down material costs significantly.
Windows and insulation are important when considering the costs of remodeling a garage. Proper insulation can save thousands of dollars in wasted energy costs. If the purpose of your garage is very limited, ensure any interior walls facing the garage are properly insulated. For a more finished garage, make sure all walls are properly insulated to maintain a comfortable temperature. Also consider the cost of an electrician; most garage doors are powered by electricity, in addition to any lights or outlets that may be necessary.
Garage windows should be checked and replaced if necessary during any garage remodeling project. Not only are these windows another place susceptible to the elements, but they also provide intruders another way to access your home. Check not only for drafts but for possible broken window locks, and consider using metal cages in the garage windows for increased safety.
Last updated on Apr 5, 2016
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