Whether you own your own detailing business or are just in love with keeping your car in top shape, having a garage is a huge asset for keeping things clean. If you already have a garage, or are in the process of building one, I wanted to share a few ideas to consider incorporating into your overall setup. You can also check out the YouTube video I created below for a complete breakdown.
Your budget obviously has a lot to do with what you will be able to do, but from an organization standpoint there are a bunch of products you can purchase for a couple hundred dollars that will be a great long-term investment. When it comes to detailing, storage and organization is key, which leads me to my first recommendation.
#1 – Shelving Units and Racks
When it comes to storing cleaning products, you really have a bunch of affordable options from wire shelving to more industrial looking shelf designs made specifically for garages.
Wall mounted shelving
The most affordable storage option is to mount a couple of wire shelving units for spray bottles, towels, applicators, etc. These usually range anywhere from around $20 to $100 depending on if you just want a basic wire shelf or something stainless steel.
I’d probably opt for something with a solid bottom (instead of wire shelving), simply because you don’t want to have to worry about your towels and other small objects falling through. They also usually only support around 50 to 60 pounds of weight.
As for solid shelves, this 45-inch Gladiator GearLoft unit I found on Amazon is one of my favorites. It’s a little pricier, but is made of welded steel and has that rugged look that should look great with cabinets or toolboxes.
I have a few of these in my garage, and they do a great job for storing bins, are easy to put together, and overall a quality product. I would opt for plastic storage racks over metal since you may be dealing with moisture.
These you can pick up for usually somewhere around $40-$50 depending on the size and where you purchase them and is a great alternative to cabinets if you are on a budget. I would probably purchase a couple of plastic bins to store towels, pads, and anything else you normally use to keep things organized.
#2 – Cabinets
If you don’t really want your products to be visible, a couple of storage cabinets are a great option that you can pick up for around $100 if you are on a budget. Most of these I see are made of wood, have adjustable shelves, and perfect for storing everything from a wash bucket, to products, to light appliances.
Middle tier cabinets
A middle-tier option that many detailers use are standalone diamondplate cabinets and drawers made specifically for garages. You can find these on Amazon in all shapes and sizes, and really give your garage a professional look and feel.
While some can cost thousands, you can find some tall cabinets like these by Seville for a few hundred dollars on Amazon. I like these because they are heavy duty, come with shelves, and look similar to more expensive units.
An alternative to traditional cabinets to look into are wall cabinets. These are perfect if you don’t have the floor space but still want to keep everything concealed and are great for keeping pads.
High-end garage cabinets
If you are completely remodeling your garage (or in the process of building one), you may want to go with a larger cabinet set. New Age Products makes a pretty affordable line of these on Amazon depending on what size you need.
Painted aluminum garage cabinet sets with stainless steel countertops look the nicest to me, but are definitely the most pricey usually starting at $3-$5,000. If you have the space and don’t want to worry about buying additional storage down the road, these are definitely the way to go.
#3 – Wall Mounts
I’m a big fan of wall mounts for larger items, but depending on your preferences, you may want to purchase a few different ones to fit the equipment you have. Here are a few common mounts I’ve seen used in garages:
Disposable glove mount
If you prefer to wear gloves whenever applying products, having a glove mount is a great idea. You can pick a wire mount up for around $10-$20 but can find some pretty nice gunmetal or stainless steel mounts to match cabinets or shelving for a little more.
For hanging anything from brushes, drills, or screwdrivers, it’s never a bad idea to invest in a pegboard for those items that you need within reach. They’re really affordable, take up virtually no space at all, and a great option for hanging both tools and detailing supplies
As opposed a pegboard (which is great for smaller items), a slatwall is my favorite for hanging larger items like blowers, polishers, vacuum hoses, and other items you handle regularly. They make various sizes of slatwalls and slatwall hooks you can pick up, which I think is a much better alternative to putting a bunch of holes in sheetrock simply for hanging.
#4 – Lighting
Good lighting is one of the most important (and overlooked) upgrades that many people seem to forego. Ideally, you want to go with tube lights configured on all sides of your vehicle, but most people should be able to center them and be okay.
One option to consider is the color accuracy if you plan to spend a lot of time polishing swirls or waxing. For overhead lighting, I would go with some LEDs around 5-6,500K to mimic natural light.
If you’re considering overhead lighting (or other options), check out my post 5 Simple Lighting Setups for Detailing Your Car for a quick breakdown.
Lighting and wall colors
One affordable upgrade that I would highly recommend in combination with tube lights is to paint your walls as light as possible to reflect as much light down to your car as you can. A good semi-gloss white should do the trick.
When it comes to what type of paint, you may want to look into an exterior paint since many times these tend to protect better. Finding a paint that is moisture and mold resistant is ideal especially if you will be driving a wet car in and out of your garage.
#5 Installing a Drain
While most people (like me) will use a garage to clean out the interior, apply wax, or wipe everything down, I have heard of some people actually washing their vehicle inside a garage when it’s colder with a hose, which I wouldn’t really recommend. However, a drain and proper ventilation is a must if you do plan on dealing with water.
Even if you don’t plan on washing inside, it’ still not a bad idea for wringing out a chamois if you like to dry your vehicle indoors.
So can I wash my car in my garage?
The short answer is yes, but it depends on the method that you use.
I would not recommend this for most people unless you have a drain to remove the water, proper ventilation (possibly a dehumidifier), as well as moisture-repellent drywall. A shop vac is also handy to have in order to suck up any moisture left behind, as well as a squeegee.
Not to sound overly protective, but when you spend thousands of dollars in tools, you probably don’t want them rusted out in a couple of years! A better alternative is to use waterless products in the wintertime, like Dri Wash, or Optimum No Rinse (ONR).
This idea I got from the guys over at AMMO NYC. If you are looking to install any kind of epoxy coating, installing resin baseboards around the garage is a great idea for protecting the foundation and creating a tub-like garage surface.
#6 – Mounted Hose or Electrical Reels
If you operate any kind of pressure washer, having a retractable hose reel is a great idea. Cox Reels make some top if the line steel hose reels for detailing that come with mounts that you might want to check out. You can either go with a hand crank or retractable unit depending on your budget.
This can be a huge time saver for washing your vehicle in the driveway as long as your hose is long enough and you keep your reel near the door of the garage.
#7 – Mounting a Vacuum
When it comes to vacuums, you can either install a central vac unit (to use inside your home), or mount an existing car vacuum you may already have. In addition to mounting the vac, you might also want to install a vacuum hose hanger if your vac doesn’t come with one built in.
Another hose-less option to look into if you are building a garage is the Hose Genie. It’s basically a central-vac with a self-retracting hose system that eliminates the need to wind and unwind your hose every time you use it. Check out this YouTube video for more.
Some Shop-Vac brand vacuums are actually designed to be mounted on the wall, and is a good option if you don’t feel like lugging around a portable shop vac.
# 8 – Flooring
When it comes to flooring, you have a couple of different options depending on your budget. Each has their pros and cons, but other than re-tiling, paint or epoxy is going to be the most affordable option you can knock out in a weekend.
If you are just looking to brighten things up but don’t want to tile or epoxy your floor, paint is the way to go.
For a basic level of protection, check out Drylok. This is a latex floor paint specifically meant for concrete garage floors and does a good job for a basic concrete paint. You can pick up Epoxy paint or Latex paint, but epoxy will typically last longer.
Epoxy floor coatings are a great option that is ideal for repelling water and preventing dust, since it is a sealer. Keep in mind that concrete tends to produce dust over time, so epoxy is a great choice for any detailer or car guy looking to keep things clean. It’s also anti-slip, perfect for wet cars.
There are several epoxy coatings you can go with, but the brand Epoxy-coat is probably the best I’ve seen reviewed and used. One bucket on Amazon should be able to coat the average garage.
If you’re planning to spend a considerable amount of time in your garage, tile is ideal. It will provide more cushion if spending a considerable amount of time in your garage as compared to epoxy and comes in a variety of types. You can opt for rubber, plastic, or vinyl usually depending on your preferences or how much padding you desire.
Racedeck is the ‘original’ garage flooring aimed at car enthusiasts, installs in less than one day, and comes with a 20-year warranty. Amazon has a pretty wide selection and color options, from diamondplate to open rib patterns.
Swisstrax is the other main brand of high quality flooring to be aware of, with dozens of different options and configurations. Their product is probably the most high quality (and expensive) product I’ve seen for garage floors, but I think it looks the best.
Most of these tiles are interlocking, which makes it easy to customize the pattern the way you want it to look. Some people even create a perimeter around the vehicle using red tiles to make it easier to park.
#9 Entertainment Center
After all is said and done, mounting a simple flat screen is never a bad idea if you find yourself working on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Maybe add a couple of barstools and a table, and you’ve got a makeshift break area. With even 4K TV’s dropping in price, you can find some really affordable HDTVs for a couple hundred bucks that will do the trick.
Some cabinets you can purchase already have a spot cut out for a TV that I’ve seen if you would like everything to be centered.
If you spend a lot of time in your garage, you may want to go ahead and purchase a sound bar or a couple of speakers (for listening to the game, music, etc.).
I’ve even seen guys install a mini-fridge under larger cabinet units, which isn’t a bad idea for those hot summer afternoons.
#10 – Security
Depending on how much equipment you plan on storing in your garage, you may want to look into a security system. Especially if you plan on putting in a large compressor, vacuum, cabinets (and obviously your car) deterring criminals can save you a lot of money and headaches. You can always have your garage insured (which is a good idea), but it’s nice to have multiple lines of defense in the event something does happen.
If you’re wiring the rest of your house, I would just speak with your security company, but if you want a more affordable solution you do have options.
There are dozens of solutions out there for protecting your garage, but mounting a WiFi camera in one of the easiest and most affordable things to do if you don’t already have one. It’s nice to have real-time monitoring from your smartphone, and most WiFi cameras you can find for under $50 these days if you don’t want to invest in a high-end system.
In terms of alarms for your garage, I’d recommend anything by Ring if you’re looking for a basic security cam ans siren. They make everything from floodlights (with cameras and alarm) to Alexa enabled home security systems.
Most of these systems I’ve found on Amazon for $1-$200.
Overall, you really have a ton of options when it comes to customizing your garage. Although creating a wash bay with TVs, drains, and dehumidifiers is likely overkill for the average joe, hopefully you have at least a couple of affordable ideas for your next weekend project.
Have any tips that you have used to help transform or organize your garage for detailing? Leave us a comment!