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A Guy’s Garage: What You Need

Oh, a “Man Cave,” huh? It’s manly to watch TV and show off your matching barware? On the industrial side of things here at, we haven’t lost sight of the real retreat for gear-headed guys: the garage. It’s easier than ever to outfit an awesome garage, and from it you can perfect projects for all over the house. We’re gonna cover all the gear, furniture, storage, and gadgets you’ll need to make a true man zone.

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The Setup

Gotta start at ground level. Most modern garages start with a concrete floor. It’s alright, and certainly tough enough to take anything you can dish out, but the oils and chemicals from your car and work projects will stain and degrade it over time. There are two routes to take with protective and decorative garage flooring – mats or tiles.

Mats go under where you park your vehicle, catching oil drip and dirt that you drive in. Interlocking tile systems will cover the whole floor, and often feature advance airflow and drainage systems. Many guys, especially those ogle-worthy cars, make a showroom-style black-and-white surface in their ultimate garages.

The centerpiece. A great garage workplace revolves around the workbench, a work surface and storage center in one. You’ll face a lot of options when looking at workbenches, but the most important thing is to find one that you’ll feel comfortable at for long periods of time. The best workbenches feature thick, butcher block wood tops, integrated and adjustable storage, and built-in pegboards for keeping key tools close at hand.

Yeah, we’ve got stuff in our garages, too. So. Much. Stuff. The key to turning chaos into coordination is organization – do it right, and you can turn a busy, dirty pile into a high-performance workspace. The question to ask when setting up your storage solutions is, “closed or open?”

Shelving Types
Open Storage Shelving Open is the way to go for things you need often. Paints, yard stuff, etc. Most garage shelving units are designed for minimum weight and maximum weight capacity. The lightest weight is aluminum all-wire shelving, but it won’t hold the most. Steel frames with either metal or wood shelves will provide maximum capacity.
Closed Storage Cabinets Anything that needs more protection, could harm people (sharp tools, chemicals, etc.), or is infrequently used can be put in closed storage. Complete cabinet systems provide as little or as much storage as you dream up. It’s often best to buy into a system – complete integrated cabinet systems include work surfaces and more.
BlockTile Flooring Perforated Interlocking Tiles
BlockTile Flooring Perforated Interlocking Tiles
Specialized Storage
  • Overhead storage – Use your ceiling space for hanging bikes and storing infrequently used stuff like camping gear.
  • Motorized storage – Pulleys and the like actually lift your things out of the way to create even more space.
  • Bin systems – Small hardware organizers keep nuts and bolts separate and large bin racks organize all kinds of tools and supplies while keeping them accessible.
Wall Systems

Floor space in the garage is finite, especially if you actually use it for a car or two. But expand your storage and workspaces vertically and you won’t believe what you can do.

To do this you’ll need to buy into a system –a slatted wall, pegboard, or rail design. The rails or slats mount permanently to the wall and allow you to mount shelves, hooks, boxes, racks, and more. Once you’ve designed your wall, each of the popular systems boast a huge array of pieces that you can move around as your garage requires.

Garages aren’t known for their natural light. You’ll want to think of overall lighting for the space as well as task-specific lamps. These are the basic types:

  • Overhead: Florescent is best, providing bright white light so you can see projects properly.
  • Cordless: A bright handheld light lets you see down into a motor or illuminate an obscure corner.
  • Portable: At least one portable work light is recommended – a lot of projects spill out onto the driveway.
  • Spot: Even with good overheads, sometimes you need to focus lots of light on a single area to safely see your project.
The Gear

Most garages are collections of things accumulated over years and years. Some you need, most you don’t, and some you’ve somehow never seen before. We couldn’t possibly know everything your garage stores, but we do know some things that it shouldn’t be without:

Everyone, and we mean everyone, needs to have a toolbox. The best are super tough, designed to properly protect and organize your tools for years. If you do projects around the house, try a tool chest with a detachable box – your tools will have a permanent home, and you can take smaller sets anywhere at any time. Excel makes an excellent line of budget-friendly options.

Air Compressor

It’s one of the most versatile garage tools. You can, of course, fill your own tires instead of spending quarters at the gas station, but you can also invest in powerful air tools, use paint spray guns, and so much more.

You know what a ladder does, but which one’s right for you and your projects?

  • Wood: The classic choice. Wood ladders are economical and reliable, but can be heavy. They’re also somewhat limited to simple straight or folding designs.
  • Aluminum : Nearly as economical as wood, and much lighter weight. Aluminum ladders are strong enough for extension designs and a great choice for many homeowners.
  • Steel : Steel is the only ladder material that can bear the structural stresses created by multi-ladder designs. It’s strong and can be lightweight, but not cheap. Any metal ladder carries the risk of conductivity – electricians, stay away.
  • Fiberglass : Most professional contractors swear by fiberglass. It’s super strong and resistant to just about everything. Fiberglass won’t conduct electricity.
Ulti-MATE GA-065 5 Piece Garage Cabinet System
Ulti-MATE GA-065 5 Piece Garage Cabinet System
Shop Vacs

Shop vacuums suck. And you simply have to have one. A good shop vac will last you a long time, and is useful in a seemingly never-ending list of ways. To wit:

  • Clean Up Sawdust
  • Suck Up Spills
  • Unclog Drains
  • Blow Leaves and Debris
  • Vacuum Out the Car
  • Pick Up Small Parts & Equipment
  • Clean Out Tools
  • Scare Away Pesky Pets

And, seriously, so much more. Get a shop vac!

The right hand truck for your home will vary greatly on its size and layout, but the fact remains that you need one. The most basic carts and dollies are perfect for convenient assistance with heavy boxes or the occasional large stack of potting soil bags. Unless you have a specific need – moving appliances, lots of outdoor work, limited storage space – we recommend a high-weight-capacity, all-around convertible hand truck. Our customers and our staff recommend the Wesco Spartan Convertible Hand Truck.

If you don’t have a pressure washer, you don’t know clean. Those proud of their ‘elbow grease’ may scoff, but it’s true. The right washer depends on how grimy you’re going to get:


All this work is, well, hard work. A garage-based kegerator provides a little liquid motivation for when the job is done (or maybe a little while you go). To avoid a questioning gaze, you’ll probably have to sneak this one in while you’re buying other equipment. Don’t miss your chance to reward yourself for a garage well done.

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