February 27, 2018
The days of just using your garage for spare storage or car parking are long gone. With the right planning, you can turn your garage into a featured place in your home as a special zone for creative work and power tools. We’ve got the checklist you need to turn your garage into the workshop of your dreams.
If you’re going through the process of building a brand-new home, you’ve probably already made sure the floorplan has enough space carved out for a workshop. Otherwise, you might need to expand your garage floorplan by adding a garage bump off the side. Fortunately, most standard floor plans now offer some type of garage storage space that can easily be adapted for your workshop needs.
Sometimes this is referred to as “tandem garage space.” From the outside, the tandem garage door makes it look like the space can only hold one car, but the garage is actually twice as deep as a traditional garage and will still fit two vehicles. We only use the tandem garage in a third car garage space. That way homeowners can either park two cars end to end, or keep the space at the back of the garage free for another use—like your workshop!
To get your workspace ready for action day or night, you have to make sure you have the right type of lighting. Ambient lighting is usually overhead, and gives your space the illumination you need to get around safely. Keep the ambient lighting bright in your garage workshop. A general rule is to have 130 or 150 lumens (that’s the brightness measure for energy-efficient bulbs) for every square foot of your work zone.
You’ll also want to make sure your task lighting is strong. Add flexible gooseneck lights to your workbench so you can easily adjust or redirect the beam as needed. Getting some good halogen or LED lighting fixtures will help you stay safe and work with ease.
Make sure to place electrical power outlets near all of your future work stations. This may sound obvious, but your electrical layout is a crucial part of your workshop. Try to avoid the need for extension cords and tripping hazards as best you can by having your garage outlets placed higher on the wall. Outlets that are higher up tend to be easier to plug into—which make them great for your smaller power tools.
It’s also a good idea to have 30-amp circuits on your garage service. When building a new home, these extra outlets can be requested during your selections appointment. They’re a perfect feature for workshop-type garages and your builder can often add this circuit at a minimal price when you tell them early on to include it.
Now for the cornerstone of your garage workshop: The Workbench! You’ll need a tabletop space to get all your projects organized and ready to go. Whether you purchase your ultimate workbench or build it yourself, the main thing to keep in mind is what its primary function will be. Certain bench heights are better suited for different types of work.
Plan on a bench height of 32 to 34 inches for traditional woodworking with hand tools; 36 to 40 inches for light woodworking and light metalworking; and a regular desktop height of 29 types for work that can be done while sitting, like model building. Remember to give yourself plenty of strong task lighting and try to keep your workbench clear—it’s a lot easier to start a task when your tools and supplies are neatly organized.
The last step for your workshop is to get enough storage options so everything in your garage has a “home.” Investing in a quality tool box and adding extra shelving around your workshop will definitely transform your garage space for optimum functionality.
Having adequate storage means you won’t need to rummage through loads of drawers and cabinets to find the right part. Ideally, you’ll arrange everything in a logical manner and put like next to like. Cut down on mess by labeling the bins above your workbench for small parts like nails, screws, and other miscellaneous hardware. Keep your power tools in their protective plastic cases on higher shelves, and install more hooks and bins as needed to hang bikes and keep any sports equipment or toys clear of your workshop zone.
A great builder and a solid plan will help give you the ultimate garage for all of your projects. If you’ve decided to build a new home, be sure to talk with your builder about other garage options that will make your house truly one-of-a-kind.