9 Smart Strategies To Improve Your Attached Garage Air Quality

attached garage air quality

Your attached garage air quality may not rank highly on your list of home-related concerns, but it should.

Garages are an incredibly important space in our homes. When designed properly, a garage should function effectively as an extension of your living space.

However, it’s the very nature of a garage’s many functions that warrants diligence and care in order to keep the space’s air quality safe.

Why attached garage air quality matters

Attached garage air quality matters because the space’s two main purposes are for parking emission-releasing vehicles and storing items that can include hazardous materials.

Because your garage is attached to your house, it naturally has an impact on the rest of your home’s safety. Paying attention to your attached garage air quality is also important for these reasons:

  • more homeowners are using attached garages as the main access point to their house
  • many adults spend hours in the garage exercising or doing other hobbies
  • kids use the garage as a space to play

VOCs in the home

Most of us are now well-educated on the hazards of carbon monoxide in the home. Compared to a decade ago, carbon monoxide detectors are now far more commonplace in homes.

The hazards of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the home aren’t as well-known, however. VOCs are compounds found in many types of products in our homes. Examples included paints, cleaning products, building materials, office equipment, and furnishings.

VOCs slowly release chemicals into the air we breathe. Benzene is one of the most common VOCs found indoors, but typically in such small concentration amounts that it doesn’t pose a health risk to us.

A 2013 Health Canada study showed that more than half of the country’s single-family homes had an attached garage. Indoor exposure levels to benzene were found to be three-fold higher in these homes compared to those with detached garages, or without garages.

That last fact may sound ominous, but even these benzene air concentrations in homes with attached garages were still considered “very low” by Health Canada’s standards.

9 tips for improving your attached garage air quality

While the risks of indoor exposure to VOCs for homeowners is considered to be low, there are a few smart strategies you should use to improve your attached garage air quality.

Here are nine tips that will make your garage’s air safer (and smell a little nicer).

1. Don’t idle your vehicles in the garage

Do you regularly warm up your vehicles in your attached garage on cold mornings? Even with your garage door open, that’s not a good idea.

Idling your car in the garage for lengthy periods is the quickest way to negatively impact your attached garage air quality. Even with today’s tougher vehicle emission standards, all sorts of pollutants (including benzene and carbon monoxide) are released into the air from any non-electric running vehicle.

Avoid running any vehicle (including recreation vehicles) for an extended period of time in the garage, whether it’s attached or detached. Do so outside, with your exhaust as far from your open garage door as possible (or better yet, close the door). Also make sure to run any gas-powered tools outdoors.

2. Install garage ventilation

A garage ventilation system is one of your best defenses against poor attached garage air quality. Improved airflow in your garage has several benefits:

  • helps remove VOCs
  • keeps the air fresher
  • helps the garage maintain more stable temperatures
  • reduces garage condensations levels that can cause mold and mildew

A mechanical air ventilation system (meaning one that’s powered) installed in your garage’s roof or walls will deliver the best results. A passive ventilation system (such as a wind-powered turbine roof vent) is less effective, but still worthwhile.

3. Air the garage out periodically

Even after a vehicle has been shut off, it releases benzene into your garage’s air. And because garages are also used for storing a wide range of items that release VOCs, airing your garage out occasionally is a very good idea.

Airing your garage out periodically doesn’t just lower your level of VOCs, it also helps get rid of that stale, musty smell that garages can develop, especially older garages. You can use a fan or two to speed up the airing out process.

4. Use environmentally-friendly garage flooring

Keeping the VOC levels in your garage as low as possible makes your home safer. One way to do that is to look for more environmentally friendly products for any home improvement projects.

Your garage’s floor coating makes your space look nicer and also adds protection for your floor surface. It’s a given that any floor coating is made up of a combination of different chemicals. Some coatings, however, release more VOCs than others.

Floortex™ polyaspartic floor coatings ensure that an ultra-low level of VOCs is released into your garage space. Not only will your garage floor look spectacular, you’ll be choosing the safest flooring option when it comes to your attached garage air quality.

attached garage air quality flooring

A Floortex™ floor coating is the most environmentally friendly garage floor coating option available.

5. Cover and clean your garbage cans

Your attached garage air quality is worth giving your attention to for more than just health reasons. Your comfort level in the garage is also important and no one likes a stinky garage space.

Poorly maintained trash disposal undoubtedly can make the garage a space you want to avoid. Make sure your garbage cans or bins have functional lids that securely contain any foul odors.

And while it’s not a pleasant job, it’s necessary to thoroughly clean out your garbage receptacles occasionally. Use a bristle cleaning brush with detergent or soap (or bleach for especially filthy trash containers).

6. Don’t grill in the garage!

You’d think this would be an obvious no-no, but grilling in the garage is more common than you might think. Usually, it’s lousy weather that prompts someone to move their barbecue into their garage so they can stay dry or warm, while still getting the family’s dinner cooked.

A dry garage might be a more comfortable and convenient space to grill in such circumstances. It’s dangerous on a couple of levels, however, even if your grill is positioned at your open garage door.

First of all, having an open flame in an enclosed space that contains numerous flammable materials obviously isn’t smart. Secondly, charcoal and gas grills produce a lot of carbon monoxide, which can quickly seep into a home.

7. Stop smoking in the garage

It might seem more responsible to have your smoke in the garage instead of your main living space. Smoking in the garage still produces benzene, though.

And just as it’s not wise to have a flame source like a barbecue operating in the garage, smoking in there can also lead to safety issues.

For example, extinguishing a cigarette in an old planter stored in the garage might seem harmless…except for the fact that fertilizer in the soil could cause a combustion to occur, even hours later.

8. Use a shed for supplemental storage

Storing some of your belongings and supplies in a well-ventilated shed is another wise strategy for maintaining a healthier level of attached garage air quality.

Higher temperatures also accelerate the release of VOCs in the air. Consider storing any of these items in a shed, especially during the summer:

  • fertilizers
  • pesticides
  • pool chemicals
  • gas cans
  • solvents
  • gas-powered tools

9. Declutter and clean regularly

Garage clutter restricts your ability to clean regularly and gives dust and dirt a convenient spot to accumulate. If you’re able to keep your garage tidy and clutter-free, this will create better airflow within the space.

Some garage junk, like cardboard boxes and textiles, also retain moisture. This increases the likelihood of mold developing in your garage.

Take the time to declutter and clean your garage periodically, including safely disposing of old paint, chemicals, and cleaning supplies that are no longer useful.

Take advantage of helpful garage storage systems like slatwall panels, storage racks, and cabinets to make garage organization easier.

Pay attention to your attached garage air quality

Being more attentive about your attached garage air quality will keep your home and family safe. All it takes is a little bit of common sense, better garage organization, and some preventative maintenance.

For professional help with getting your garage cleaner and more organized, schedule a free in-home consultation with a Garage Living design consultant.

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3 Garage Winter Maintenance Tips for a Cleaner, Energy Efficient Space

When you live in a snow-covered area, regular garage winter maintenance is necessary to help keep your garage space clean.

Ignoring garage winter maintenance leads to your space being a slushy, watery mess that can be a safety hazard. Road salt residue left on your floor also damages the flooring and is unsightly, which detracts from your garage’s interior look.

Garage floor clutter and disorganization isn’t ideal at any time of the year. During the winter time, it’s especially inconvenient. After all, who wants to be searching through a disorganized pile of things for that specific snow shovel in frigid temperatures?

Garage winter maintenance also means ensuring your garage’s energy efficiency is functioning at its most optimal level. Here are three garage winter maintenance tips to make those last few weeks until spring arrives (and next winter) a little easier.

garage winter maintenance floor

Protect your garage floor from the damage done during winter time by investing in a durable polyaspartic floor coating.

1. Protect and maintain your garage floor

If you reside in a climate that gets extreme temperature shifts, the process of a garage floor contracting and expanding in accordance with the temperature changes is normal. Expansion joints help facilitate this process.

That process is put under more strain, however, when melted snow enters cracks in the garage floor and then refreezes when the temperature drops. Deicing road salt that recrystallizes inside the cracks only adds to the problem. Existing cracks will get deeper and longer and new cracks will eventually form.

Using the proper type of garage floor coating is your best defense against the ravages of winter on your flooring surface. Investing in a high quality polyaspartic garage floor coating like Floortex™ provides the best protection against water and salt damage. Floortex™ floor coatings can be also be applied any time of the year.

This durable floor coating looks great and has a textured surface that offers better traction than epoxy coatings. That’s a useful feature for your garage floor surface to have when the mercury drops.

And garage winter maintenance with a polyaspartic floor is easy, too. A squeegee quickly removes any standing water. When the floor is dry, you can give it a fast sweep to remove dirt and salt particles. Pick a milder winter day to give your floor a more thorough cleaning.

2. Make garage winter maintenance easier with a clutter-free floor

There’s no more important time of the year to park your vehicles in the garage than during the winter. They’ll warm up faster. You’ll also save yourself from the discomfort (and extra time spent) clearing ice and snow off your vehicles when the weather is unpleasant.

A clutter-free garage floor makes garage winter maintenance significantly easier. In addition to making the aforementioned floor cleaning easier, you’ll also simply be able to function much better in an organized garage space.

An organized garage using the right storage systems removes clutter from your garage floor to make room for parking and maybe a bulky snow blower. You’ll also have easier access to your handheld snow removal tools. Using these storage systems will minimize the effort you’ll need to put into your garage winter maintenance routine:

  • garage cabinetry provides storage space for tools and winter-related items like bags of deicing salt and sand
  • slatwall storage keeps your snow removal tools off the garage floor and well-organized
  • tire racks, heavy-duty overhead racks, and other specialty storage racks provide storage space off your floor for bulky and seasonal items
garage winter maintenance tire rack

Keep your bulky second set of vehicle tires from cluttering up your garage floor by using a sturdy tire rack.

3. Check your garage’s energy efficiency

Another part of your garage winter maintenance should include checking to make sure your garage is being energy efficient.

Has it been ages since you upgraded your garage’s insulation? Are you detecting drafts in the garage or perhaps in your heated living space with a door that connects to the garage? Here are a few improvements you can make:

  • upgrade your garage’s ceiling and wall insulation (or add some if you neither)
  • invest in more energy efficient garage windows or upgrade your garage access door
  • ensure weatherstripping and door thresholds aren’t peeling away or letting drafts in

Your garage door also warrants attention to help with garage energy efficiency. In terms of garage door materials, steel is a better natural insulator than wood or aluminum (especially a thicker lower gauge steel).

Modern garage doors offer much better insulating features than their predecessors. This helps improve energy efficiency, makes the doors stronger and less likely to dent, and provides sound insulation as well.

Any upgrades you make to your garage to help with energy efficiency during the winter will also deliver benefits throughout the rest of the year, including a lower hydro bill.

Garage winter maintenance tips that make spring cleaning easier

Investing time in some garage winter maintenance during the year’s coldest months will make your garage spring cleaning all that much easier.

To get expert help to outfit your garage for the winter and year-round, you’re only a link click away from getting the ball rolling. Schedule your free in-home design consultation with Garage Living here.

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5 of the Worst Home Renovation Projects for Return on Investment

worst home renovation projects FB

They may be called “home improvement projects”, but not all renovation or remodel projects necessarily improve your home’s worth on a long-term basis.

Unfortunately, there are some home renovation projects that may help you to enjoy your home more for the foreseeable future, but can turn out to be a burden years from now when you decide to move.

In fact, some of the worst home renovation projects can actually decrease the value of your home.

Avoid 5 of the worst home renovation projects

The additions and upgrades you’ve chosen to help create your dream home can have wildly fluctuating returns on investment. Return on investment is an estimate of how effective and valuable your investment will be, based on the initial cost.

Some of the worst home renovation projects won’t reveal their financial shortcomings for years. What you might think is a smart home upgrade now could end up as a deal-breaker for a potential buyer later.

If you haven’t done your research on how your renovation will affect your home’s value, you may be in for a rude awakening when the time comes for you to put your house on the market.

These are five of the worst home renovation projects when it comes to adding value to your home and delivering a desirable return on investment.

1. Sunroom

For anyone with a green thumb and an itch to create more room in their home to accommodate their horticulture hobby, a sunroom is very enticing. The truth is, however, that a sunroom is considered one of the worst home renovation projects when it comes to return on investment.

Experts estimate that somewhere between 45-50% of your investment in a sunroom is recouped when your house eventually sells. That’s considered a poor return. Sunrooms can get quite expensive to build and maintain, especially if you opt for more of a greenhouse-style design that features floor-to-ceiling windows.

A recurring theme with many of the worst home renovation projects is the fact that some of the additions you make to your home won’t appeal to everybody. A potential buyer might love the rest of your home, but have no interest in a green room.

When deciding on a home renovation, just be sure you’re fully committed to what it will bring to your home because you’re potentially shrinking your pool of prospective homebuyers.

2. Swimming pool

Speaking of pools, putting a swimming pool in your yard is considered another of the worst home renovation projects you can do. A new pool can cost anywhere from $15,000-$60,000 to install.

If you live in a northern climate and won’t even be able to use the pool for a significant part of the year, the already-low return on investment from a pool (less than 25%) drops even further. And owning an above-ground pool is something that many experts agree actually decreases your home’s worth.

While a pool is a welcome addition to your home when the weather is hot, here’s a few more reasons they’re still considered such a bad investment:

  • pools are notoriously time-consuming and expensive to maintain
  • they leave less space in your yard for gardens and non-swimming recreational space
  • many prospective homebuyers have no interest in owning a pool
worst home renovation projects pool

A swimming pool delivers one of the worst returns on investment when it comes to home renovation projects.

3. Bathroom addition

Bathroom additions tend to provide a high level of satisfaction for homeowners who choose to undergo this renovation. With a relatively poor 50-60% return on investment, however, it’s worth thinking twice before moving forward with this project.

Adding a bathroom will require expensive plumbing and electrical work, in addition to the expense of whatever fixtures you purchase.

For a more cost-effective option that delivers a higher return on investment, a bathroom remodel is considered the wiser choice.

4. Converting the garage into a living space

A  recent survey of 12,000 Canadian homebuyers by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association found that a two-car garage was one of the top 10 assets they valued.

Another survey by American real estate investment firm Crescent Communities showed that 74% of the respondents believed having a garage was “extremely or very important”.

Because garages are so highly valued by most homebuyers for the parking and extra storage space they provide, converting your garage into a living space is considered a bad idea. That’s one reason a garage addition delivers a low return on investment of around 60%.

Conversely, buying new garage doors are commonly thought to be one of the best ways to add lasting value to your home. New garage doors that boost curb appeal deliver an outstanding return on investment in the 85-90% range.

worst home renovation projects garage

Numerous surveys show that most homebuyers highly value garages for their parking and storage space.

5. Home theatre

Building a home theatre is another of the worst home renovation projects you can do. This is a home improvement project that offers limited niche appeal to prospective homebuyers and an undesirable 25-35% return on investment.

A state-of-the-art home theatre can undeniably enhance your TV and movie watching experience significantly. Just be aware that not everybody is a cinephile. A dedicated viewing room will be viewed by many homebuyers as space that could be better utilized.

If you’re looking to create a high-end entertainment room, a less permanent solution might be wiser. A high quality custom entertainment unit for your family room or basement is one option.

Save yourself from future headaches

Avoiding any of the worst home renovation projects listed here will save you from future headaches when the time arrives for you to put your home up for sale.

If you’re looking to make a smart investment in your home, improving your garage is a great place to start. Garage Living has the right products and expertise that can help you get a lot more from your garage space.

Schedule your free in-home design consultation with us to get a detailed quote.

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5 Reasons to Get Your Garage Floor Coating in the Winter

It’s a common misconception that homes located in northern climates are unable to get a new garage floor coating in the winter. This is simply untrue…provided you use the right type of garage floor coating.

Using a polyaspartic floor coating gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of when it can be used. Its year-round usability is just one of several advantages that polyaspartic coatings have over epoxy coatings.

As you’ll discover, there’s no need to wait until the weather warms up in the spring to enjoy the benefits that a new garage floor coating provides.

There are even a couple of advantages to having your damaged floor rejuvenated with a polyaspartic garage floor coating in the winter.

garage floor coating in the winter application

Our professionals adjust the mixtures and materials used during the garage floor coating process to suit specific temperature conditions.

1. Cold temperatures won’t delay your garage floor project

To apply an epoxy garage floor coating, a minimum temperature of 50-55° F (10-13° C) is required. Urethane garage floor coatings require a minimum temperature of 40° F (4° C) to be applied. That significantly restricts the times of year they can be used on garage floors located in colder climates.

Compare that to the versatility of a polyaspartic garage floor coating like Floortex™. Getting a garage floor coating in the winter isn’t a problem when this high quality product is used for the job. That’s because Floortex™ garage floor coatings can be applied in temperatures as low as -22° F (-30° C).

We can carry out flooring projects during the colder weather by making adjustments, based on the temperature, of the Floortex™ mixture and materials used.

The application versatility of polyaspartic coatings also lets them be used when the temperatures are blazing hot. That means even when the temperature rises as high as 104° F (40° C), a polyaspartic garage floor coating application can be done.

Colder temperatures do affect how long the curing time for the floor top coat takes. It can range anywhere from 8-24 hours before foot traffic can resume and between 24-96 hours before vehicles can use your garage again.

A Garage Living representative will let you know how climate factors will affect the curing time for your particular garage flooring project.

2. A garage floor coating in the winter has the same quality

Getting a polyaspartic garage floor coating in the winter provides you with the same level of flooring surface quality as a floor that’s done when the weather is warmer.

You’ll still get a durable, attractive floor surface that’s easy to maintain and provides the following benefits:

  • a UV stable topcoat that prevents the floor from fading and yellowing over time
  • exceptional impact and abrasion resistance
  • highly resistant to most household chemicals and automotive fluids
  • guaranteed not to blister, flake, or peel
  • ability to customize floor with a range of available colors
  • textured surface provides better traction than epoxy floor coatings

And whether you get your garage floor coating in the winter or any other time of the year, Garage Living still provides the same 10 year limited warranty after every flooring application. And the entire process can still be completed in as little as one day, depending on the weather.

3. Get your new garage floor quicker

Now that you’re educated about the fact that getting a garage floor coating in the winter is indeed possible in colder climates, you can use that information to your advantage.

Because many people wrongly presume they need to wait until the spring or summer to get their floors redone, the lead time to book a garage flooring project is actually shorter in the winter.

Our work crews aren’t quite as overwhelmed with scheduled projects as they are during the warmer months of the year. That means the time between booking your initial design consultation and the flooring project being completed will typically be shorter in the winter than during the spring and summer months.

4. Protect your floors from damaging road salt

Road salt brought in to your garage on your vehicles during the winter leaves ugly white salt stains on the floor. The salt can also take a real toll on your garage floor’s durability over a long period of time.

That’s because melted salt mixed with water from rain and melted snow gets down into the floor’s cracks and then refreezes again when the temperature drops. This puts extra stress on the natural expansion and contraction process that a garage floor experiences with changes in temperature. Over a period of time, the floor will be more likely to crack and existing cracks will only get longer and deeper.

Getting a polyaspartic coating applied before the winter begins provides you with the best protection for your garage floor. But even getting a garage floor coating any time before winter ends can save your floor from the ravages of road salt.

Even with durable protection, garage floors still need to be cleaned occasionally during the winter months. A smooth Floortex™ floor coating makes it even easier to maintain a clean floor during the winter and all throughout the year.

garage floor coating in the winter floor closeup

Year-round garage floor coating applications are possible when you use a polyaspartic floor coating like Floortex™.

5. Enjoy a better-looking garage floor

Making the wise decision to get your garage floor coating in the winter and not later on means you’ll get to enjoy a better-looking garage floor that much sooner.

A new garage floor, especially one with the aesthetic benefits that the decorative flakes used in the Floortex™ application process provide, can have a huge impact on a garage’s overall look.

You’ll have a fresh, durable garage floor surface that’s all ready to take on the heavier foot traffic that comes with the increased usage of your garage when the warmer spring weather arrives.

Garage makeover solutions all year round

Along with taking care of your garage floor coating project, Garage Living’s other garage makeover solutions are also capable of being installed any time of the year. Schedule your free in-home design consultation with us today.

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Garage History: How Much Do You Know About This Vital Home Space?

How much do you know about the history of the home garage? Garage history doesn’t stretch back that all far – barely 100 years, in fact. Let’s look at where this vital home space began and how garages have evolved over the past century.

“Garage” – derived from the French word “garer” (meaning to protect, shelter, or store)

garage history

Garage history: the early years

Before the garage existed, the main mode of transportation for North Americans was the horse and buggy, which were kept in detached buildings known as carriage houses, gatehouses, and outbuildings. As the 1908 Ford Model T made automobiles more accessible to the masses, a need for a more practical parking solution became apparent.

Early car owners would park their vehicles alongside their horses in the carriage houses. Carports and portable garages were also used. Large parking lots that charged a monthly fee were another method used for car parking until around 1910. At this point, the availability of parking spots was being outstripped by the number of car sales.

Early on in the 20th century’s second decade, architects began creating the rudimentary designs that brought us a little closer to what would become the traditional home garage as we now know it.

There was a still much room for improvement, however, as many of these garages still weren’t attached to homes and had to rely on inconvenient and cumbersome barn-style doors.

The overhead garage door and garage door opener are invented

By 1920, cars had become a must-own item in America, prompting even more demand for a more practical storage space for vehicles. It was at this time that C.G. Johnson came up with the overhead garage door, which replaced swinging garage doors with a more convenient and space-saving solution.

In 1926, Johnson also invented the first electric door opener, which made it easier to open the heavy wood doors of the era.

The home garage evolves

Garage doors would continue to evolve into the 30s with improvements made to their mechanical operations, reliability, design choices, and overall quality. The sectional overhead garage door was also introduced. The inclusion of a garage would increasingly become a make-or-break factor in whether homes up for sale were purchased.

It was around the early 40s that homes were more commonly designed with an attached garage in mind, with an entryway from inside the garage directly to the home also becoming more popular. The size of garages increasingly grew as car sizes got bigger.

Garage history: garage door openers get more high-tech

Although they first appeared in the 20s, electric garage door openers actually took decades to really catch on with North Americans. Improving on its initial radio-controlled design, openers began to use a fixed code pulse system that ensured a more unique signal that was far less likely to accidentally open a neighbor’s garage door (and were more secure).

Better safety features, such as early versions of the eye sensors commonly used on models today, were also implemented into door opener designs in the 70s.

Now we’ve evolved to the point where modern garage door openers use a rolling code technology that constantly changes the door’s access code, giving homeowners a higher degree of security.

Today’s openers are also much quieter, energy-efficient, and tech-friendly, with innovative features like the convenient MyQ Technology, which lets you control your garage door through your smartphone.

Garage history: garage doors improve in quality

It took until the 70s for a garage door material besides wood to become more common. Although wood garage doors deliver a warm, earthy look to a home’s exterior, they do require more maintenance. This brought about the advent of a low-maintenance alternative with steel garage doors. Eventually, fibreglass and full view aluminum doors were made available to consumers.

Just in the past couple of decades, garage door technology has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of quality and customization ability, allowing homeowners more choices and styles than ever before. And wouldn’t you know it, that original carriage house look is now a very popular style favored by homeowners purchasing new garage doors!

Garage flooring evolves

For decades, a garage floor was nothing more than a gray, boring concrete surface. In recent decades, painting your garage floor was one way to add some character to its look. The end result generally didn’t look great and the paint would need to be reapplied too frequently.

Epoxy floor coatings came along and raised the bar in terms of what floor coatings could do for your garage’s look and as a way to protect the concrete floor. Garage flooring technology has now evolved to the point where newer polyaspartic floor coatings like Floortex™ have raised the bar even further.

The home garage gives birth to some culture-shaking ideas

When contemplating the history of the home garage, one can’t overlook the truly culture-shaking ideas and hugely successful companies and bands that originated inside some of them. The Beatles, The Ramones, Nirvana, The Who, and The Kinks all began in the garage and a whole music genre would come to be known as “garage rock”.

Some of today’s most successful companies also started in garages, including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Amazon, Dyson, Disney Studios, and Harley-Davidson.

 

garage history underground

Home garages have come a long way over the past century.

Home garages have come a long way

A look back at garage history shows just how much this vital home space has evolved over the past 100 years. We’ve gone from its humble beginnings as a glorified shed to the modern wonders that garage makeover professionals like Garage Living can now design.

A century ago, no one would have believed the kinds of beautiful garage spaces that can be created nowadays. Take, for example, the stunning underground garage pictured above.

If your outdated garage is in need of a modern touch, schedule your free in-home design consultation with us today.

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