17 Affordable Garage Updates You Can Do Yourself

Updated: Mar. 07, 2024

If you've been neglecting your garage, it's time to pay attention and give that hard-working space the garage upgrades it deserves. With these DIY projects and easy garage ideas, you can increase storage capacity, improve the lighting, paint the floor and much, much more.

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Family Handyman

Garage Door Makeover

Many garage doors are unattractive and replacement doors can be crazy expensive. What’s a DIYer to do? With an inexpensive hardboard door, cedar boards, and tongue-and-groove paneling, why not give it a garage door makeover? A custom-made door can provide safety, security, and aesthetic appeal. If you have a door that is making unwanted sounds, check how to fix a noisy garage door.

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HH long handled yard tool pallet organization hack
Family Handyman

Use a Pallet to Store Lawn and Garden Equipment

If you have a yard or a garden, you probably use a lot of long-handled tools. One of the best ways we’ve found to keep tall, awkward tools handy is this nifty pallet garden tool organizer.

You can easily attach a pallet to a fence, shed or to the exposed wall studs in your garage. No matter what you choose, make sure that your screws are long enough to go through your pallet and the wall you’re attaching it to. We drilled two screws into the pallet, one into each exposed wall stud. If you don’t have any pallets lying around, they are easy to get for free. This quick, one-hour project is worth it. After you’re done, your tools will be out of the way but still easy to reach.

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Longer-Lasting Light for Garage Door Openers

Standard lightbulbs can’t take much vibration, so they may not survive long in a garage door opener. This LED bulb was developed specifically for garage door openers. The bulb’s electronics are shielded to prevent receiver interference with the opener’s remote, and the bulb is built to withstand vibration and low temperatures down to -22 degrees F. It’s also rated for damp locations, unlike most LED’s. Genie claims the bulb has a 25,000-hour life span, equivalent to about 17 years of use.

Psst! These garage fans will keep your garage or workshop cool during hot months.

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Epoxy Over Paint

Applying epoxy over garage floor paint or even another coat of epoxy without removing it is a great idea for garage flooring, but you have to prep the surface. Here’s how:

Step One: Rent the Equipment

Rent a floor buffer with a 60-grit sanding screen. Get extra screens and return the unused ones for credit.

Step Two: Remove the Paint and Scuff the Floor

Run the buffer over the floor to remove loose paint and scuff the surface to create a texture so the epoxy sticks.

Step Three: Thoroughly Clean the Floor

Sweep the floor clean. Then, just as important, clean the floor with a cleaner/degreaser, available at home centers. The cleaner/degreaser will break the molecular bond of the grease so it’ll come off the floor. Epoxy won’t stick to oil- or grease-contaminated floors. Let the floor dry for a full day, then apply the coat of epoxy.

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sheet metal magnet board

Sheet Metal Magnet Board

Sheet metal or strips of galvanized flashing make great magnet boards in the workshop. Be sure to level the material on the wall and use self-tapping sheet metal screws to fasten it to studs. Then put several magnets on the message board for hanging project plans, supply lists and even small metal tools such as a paint can opener or scissors. Above the workbench is a perfect place for mounting a magnet board.

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Seal the Holes

If you’re drilling holes through top and bottom plates or running wires through a fire wall in the garage, you must seal those holes with a fire-resistant caulk or foam sealant to comply with fire and energy codes. Most building officials won’t make you bust out large holes in ceilings and walls to access hard-to-reach holes, but check with your local official before you begin your project. Fire-blocking insulated foam sealant is sold at home centers and hardware stores.

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Ceiling Storage Bonanza

If all the stuff in your garage is within easy reach, you’re probably wasting lots of storage space. The high spaces may not be prime real estate for often-used tools, but they’re perfect for long-term storage. A overhead garage storage system, deep shelving or cabinets near the ceiling can accommodate a tremendous amount of seasonal items, such as holiday decorations or camping gear, as well as declutter your wall shelf area and garage floor.

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DIY paint booth
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Build a Quick Set-Up Painting Booth

If you need a quick booth to paint some projects in your shop or garage, a sun canopy with painter’s plastic taped around it works great! Note that there’s no exhaust fan, so this set-up is just for quick finishing. Be sure to wear a respirator while you’re inside!

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Repurposed laundry detergent jugs

Repurpose Containers and Label Everything

No matter if you are working on a small project in your garage or framing a new garage, it is important to keep your fasteners neat and orderly. You can drop a few bills buying storage totes for these supplies like nails, screws and plumbing parts. Or you can make your own with laundry detergent jugs and a utility knife. They’re big, tough and mobile — and they’ll make your workshop smell nice.

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Add Outlets

Most electrical codes require only one outlet in the garage. And that’s just what most builders give you — one measly outlet for all your tools and toys. If you have open studs, you can easily run wire and add outlets as long as you follow a few basic rules.

If you want to wire a finished garage, you don’t need to cut into the walls to run wires. Instead you can mount metal or plastic wiring channels and outlet boxes right on the wall.

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Fishing Rod Organizer pool noodles
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Fishing Rod Organizer

Sick and tired of your fishing rods getting tangled? Here’s how to build an easy fishing rod organizer. All you need is a length of 3-in.-diameter PVC pipe and a foam swimming pool noodle.

Step One: Drill Holes in the PVC

Drill one-inch holes spaced every four inches in the PVC pipe.

Step Two: Cut Slits in the Foam

Use a utility knife to cut slits in the foam noodle, spacing them four inches apart.

Step Three: Attach the Noodle to the Wall

Line up the pool noodle on the wall so that at least two of the slits sit over studs. Pull those slits apart, slide in a fender washer, and screw the noodle to the wall with two-inch screws.

Step Four: Attach the PVC

Then screw the PVC pipe to the wall beneath it at a comfortable height and insert your fishing rods. No more tangles!

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Family Handyman

Neat and Tidy Pet Food Dispenser

Build this pet food dispenser and you can fill the dog dish with the flick of a finger, doing away with that crumpled bag of dog food lying on the garage floor. This bin easily holds two 20-lb. bags of food and allows you to dispense it right into the dish. And you can store two types of food so the cat won’t get jealous.

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compressor creeper

Compressor Creeper

If you don’t do your own car maintenance but have a mechanic’s creeper stowed away in your garage, this is another use for the handy rolling platform. Air compressors can be heavy and cumbersome to haul around your workshop or garage, so putting it on wheels can save you a lot of sore muscles later on! Depending on the size of your compressor, there may be enough room to store your compressor hose on the creeper, too.

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Garage Wall Makeover

If you are considering a garage remodel, there may be no better addition than a customized garage storage wall with French cleats which can be easily assembled in minutes. These systems can hold just about anything. You can quickly move hooks, shelves and bins around to find the most efficient arrangement as your needs change. The entire system is inexpensive and easy to build. You only need two power tools – a circular saw and a drill.

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Garage Door Update

Studies done by garage door manufacturers prove that an energy-efficient R-18 insulated garage door can keep your garage about 12 degrees warmer in winter months and about 25 degrees cooler in summer. That reduces energy loss along the insulated walls and ceiling.

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Space-Saving Sliding Shelves

Rollout shelves and sliding bypass units can make more efficient use of the sidewalls of your garage. The bypass unit adds 50 percent more storage for long-handled tools and all sorts of items that take up too much wall space. You simply slide the shelves to either side to access the stuff behind.

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bungee cord to hold trash can liner

Bungee Cord Trash Bag Holder

Simply overhang the trash bag along the top of the trash can and secure the bungee cord on top of the bag. You can hook two bungee cords together if one isn’t long enough to go around the top of your trash can.