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March 01, 2010

Hang time

Realize the vast potential of your garage with some organization and a little imagination

Pepper Rodriguez

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Too many times, the garage has become a kind of graveyard for unused things. A space of vast, unused or misused potential where nobody ever wants to go, and many times it ends up storing everything but the car it was intended for.

But not many realize the enormous possibility the garage has in becoming an integral part of a home’s living space, a place for creativity and mechanical ingenuity — especially for those with an aptitude for cars and carpentry — and even a place for family fun.

But the first step is to clear the clutter.

“A lot of times you see people parking their cars on their driveway and never inside the garage, because the garage is too full of other stuff,” says Lift King’s Ross Cameron. “They never realize what a little organization can do to free up this vital space.”

Cameron and other garage renovation experts interviewed for this article have one simple advice: keep stuff off the floor. Resist the temptation to dump stuff in the garage and, if you must, keep them in an orderly fashion.

“Hang it, hook it, or store it overhead, just keep the floor as clear of clutter as you can,” says Travis Revitt of Ultimate Garage. “Vehicles take up enough room of any garage without adding boxes, bins and assorted tools and accessories lying on the floor.”

There are a variety of systems in the market to maximize space in your car port, including slot walls, hoists, workbenches and even lifts for the car that can transform your garage from grubby to gnarly almost overnight.

Fixing up the garage can also be a money saver in the long run. “I know a lot of people rent storage space to stow their things, but what they don’t realize is that if you have the right system in your garage, you can fully maximize the space and save an average of $200 a month in storage fees,” says Cameron.

Maximum space
The garage is the biggest room in any house and it just makes sense to maximize all the space it has. A 20x20 double car garage (attached or detached) is common in most single-family homes, but even condo and townhome owners with a single car garage or parking stall can benefit from a little forethought on how to maximize this space.

In most single-family homes, the garage is where garbage bins, gardening tools, bicycles, and seasonal stuff (Christmas décor, snow blowers, hockey equipment and golf bags) end up.

Essential as they may be, some are only used for a few months — or weeks — in a year. Putting them away neatly is therefore a must.

“No two garages are the same, each homeowner has their own needs and should customize to best accommodate their needs,” Revitt says. “Some have snowboards and skiing equipment, some have bikes and kayaks, often enough the garage has room enough to store these, but you just need the proper system to make them fit.”

The slot wall is one solution. Bordz-Up is an innovative racking system available at Ultimate Garage that can store and display snow, skate and surfboards and skiing equipment. Their unique mounting system allows boarders not only to store their equipment efficiently, but display them with pride as well. “Getting a system of slot walls and pegs and mounting racks allows you to hang up your boards like the art pieces they usually are,” says Revitt.

Floor friendly
The garage floor takes a lot of abuse and it would do well to pay attention to not just protecting it but turning it into an easy-to-maintain space. Both Ultimate Garage and Lift King offer garage flooring products that can turn your dungeon into a showroom in no time.

Calgary gets a lot of salt on its roads and you track that in the garage, which can erode concrete over time. There are several options available for garage flooring depending on your budget, including an acrylic floor tile from Lift King at $6 per foot, or a $4 linoleum type, floating floor. They are both easy to maintain and easy to look at.

Ultimate Garage has the SRS flooring system, a reactive acrylic coating and overlay applied by roller or trowel (depending on thickness) over concrete for protection and repair purposes. “It is a non-porous material that’s easy to apply and easy to maintain and available in a wide range of colours. You can drive over it an hour after application, and you just need a floor squeegee to clean it out,” Revitt says.

Hang ‘em high
Can’t hang it? Hoist it. Usually, only the lower part of the garage is used and many don’t realize all the space above. There’s lots of room on top and hoist systems are an incredibly smart way to utilize this available area.

The Harken Hoister storage system can use a patented block-and-tackle system for easy one-hand operation to lift, store or lower a variety of equipment that otherwise will take up a lot of room on the garage floor. Kayaks, bikes, wheelbarrows, ladders and more can be stored efficiently overhead. “It makes it even easier to load the roof racks of your car,” Revitt points out.

But the most revolutionary thing to come out for the garage is Lift King’s automotive lift system. Cameron says his patented hydraulic lift design works in almost any garage, from underground parking stalls in downtown condominiums, to single- and double-car garages with a minimum eight-foot height.

His Calgary-based company has grown beyond his wildest dreams and now sells his brand of residential and commercial automobile lifts to as far away as Australia.

His Pro King 8 can lift a maximum of 8,000 pounds, sells for $2,995, and can instantly turn your single-car parking stall into a double. It’s like a bunk bed for cars. Originally built with the car buff in mind, as Cameron himself is, this lift system has evolved to handle various duties.

“You can put your snow blowers, lawn mowers, even shelves and cabinets on top and have your car underneath, it’s a great space saver and money saver,” he adds. “It’s not exactly the cheapest one out there, nor is it the most expensive, but it is the sturdiest, versatile and safest around.”

Cameron says Lift King can outfit the garage with the Pro King 8, workbenches and new flooring for under $10,000. “You can really turn your garage space into a fun part of the home where the whole family can hang out, as mine does.”

For more information on these products, visit their websites:, or

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