Archive for the 'garage' Category

DIY Savings: Garage Floor Grinding & Epoxy

For the new year I’m going to start a new series about how much we saved doing a renovation ourselves instead of hiring a contractor to do it for us. There has been a number of projects that we originally were planning to hire out but after finding out how much we could save by doing it ourselves we went the DIY route. DIY projects take a lot more time but can save you big bucks if you’re willing to take them on. Hopefully, this will help other people make an informed decision on whether to tackle it themselves or hire it out. I’ve added a new DIY Savings tab in the right column:

DIY Savings


The most recent project we saved money on by DIYing it was our garage floor. After converting our one car garage back into a two car garage we needed to fix the uneven floor that was creating water issues. Then the garage floor got an epoxy coating to finish it off. In our long search to find a contractor that would take on the project we did get one quote for $3,900. We ended up doing it ourselves after we found a place to rent the heavy duty concrete grinding equipment from. It was a messy and time consuming process but it was well worth it. We went from this:

To this:


Difficulty level
Grinding the floor – Moderate
Transporting, moving, and controlling the heavy machinery were the hardest parts. You had to make sure to keep the machines moving or they would make the floor even more uneven.

Applying Epoxy – Easy
There was a lot of prep work and the process took a long time but it was overall pretty simple.


Rental of scarifier = $140
Rental of floor grinder = $75
Renting carbide blades for the floor grinder = $50
Wear on floor grinder’s diamond blades = $290
Total cost of rental equipment = $555


Rustoleum Professional Grade Epoxy Kits = $350
Rustoleum Anti-Skid Additive, Concrete Patch Kits, & Degreaser = $118
Brushes, buckets, squeegee, rubber boots, respirator, goggles, mixer attachment & everything else pictured = $347
Total cost of epoxy floor = $815


Combined cost = $1,370
Contractor’s bid = $3,900
DIY Savings = $2,530

Stay tuned for even more DIY Savings posts!


Applying Garage Floor Epoxy

Now that we had converted the garage back to a two car garage and ground down the floors we wanted to add an epoxy coating to make the floor easier to clean. Even though we’ll still have a small puddle 1/8” deep puddle it’s still much better than the 1” deep one we had before. The plan is to use a floor squeegee as need be on the much more manageable puddle. We also wanted to add a floor coating to help protect the floor from the winter salt and water that would get in the open pores and divots we made by grinding down the floor. We didn’t want the salt getting down in those little crevices and eating away at the concrete faster.

Originally, we planned to hire someone to both grind down the floor and put down the epoxy but we decided to do it all ourselves. Epoxy seemed easy enough to put down but it was the prep work that took a lot of time. During my research I found that using a 2-part epoxy was the way to go because they are much more durable and last longer than 1-part epoxies.

So I went out to get some prices from our two local big box hardware stores; Home Depot and Menard’s. Home Depot had two options; Garage Floor Rustoleum in the standard gray and tan colors and their own Behr product that can be mixed any custom color. Hmm…custom color that sounds awesome. I immediately liked the warm tan/gray color because it wouldn’t be something obvious you’d notice when you walked in the room but it was more interesting than the basic cool gray color. Of course the Behr product was significantly more than the Rustoleum epoxy. Next I went to Menard’s where they had five options; Garage Floor Rustoleum, Basement Floor Rustoleum, Garage Custom Color Rustoleum, Premium Clear Coat Rustoleum, and Professional Grade Rustoleum. This is why I love Menard’s! Not only did they have more selections but the exact same product was $30 cheaper and we needed six of them so that’s a $180 difference! And of course Home Depot doesn’t carry the more affordable Garage Custom Color Rustoleum because it would compete with their Behr product. Another thing I liked about the Rustoleum products over the Behr products was that the Rustoleum products come as a kit with the acid etch and color chips included. With the Behr products you have to buy everything individually which makes them even more expensive than the Rustoleum epoxy. As I started to get excited about the custom color Rustoleum and all the possible colors I could make it I started to wonder what the difference was between the professional grade epoxy and the rest of them. It turns out the Rustoleum Epoxy Shield Professional Coating stands up better to chemicals and oils and it recommended for garages by nearly everyone who has tried both. I even called Rustoleum directly and the rep said this is the product she put down in her garage. It’s just a better all around product but the major downsides are that it can’t be cleaned up with water and it costs more. Seeing that we wanted this to be a one time project and that we’d always have this epoxy on the floor (to remove it we’d have to grind it off) we went with the top of the line Professional Grade Rustoleum in the simple light gray color.


Before we could get to the floor though, we had to tear down the curled wood paneling along the exterior wall so that we could reach the floor underneath. Unfortunately, when we did that we found three holes mice had chewed into the wall that were hidden by the siding from the outside. In those cavities the insulation was chewed up (when this happens the insulation settles to only cover 2/3 of the wall), there were acorns, droppings, and we even found one dead mouse. Lovely! Oh the joys of living in the country and having your basement/garage infested with mice.

We were in a bit of a hurry to get the epoxy down so we just removed the bottom foot or two of insulation and sealed the walls off with plastic. The plastic helped keep debris from falling on the wet epoxy and kept the walls dry while we’re washing the floor. From my research not many people put up plastic on the walls but I think it was an important step because then we knew we could get right up to the walls and corners with the acid wash and rinses. We also taped off the bottom of the steel posts, the drain pipe, and doorways.

As a last ditch effort we tried scraping the last bits of linoleum off the floor with a hand chisel (we had already scraped it with a razor blade and ground it with a floor grinder). It was tedious work and we had to keep flipping the chisel from one side to the other because the concrete was dulling the blade. We spend 4 hours crawling around on the floor working on it. This is how we spend our Saturday nights people! Finally, we just quite because we had hardly made a dent in the amount of the linoleum on the floor.

Then we cleaned the floor off with water to remove any lingering concrete dust or debris. We used a floor squeegee to remove any excess water.

Now it was time to bust out the epoxy materials. What seemed like a straightforward process snowballed into a shopping spree that had me driving all over southern Wisconsin to get all the supplies we needed. Here is the result:

Sophie’s like, “Why are you motioning me away? I’m just standing here like a good dog.” OK back to the pile…

My list of supplies was as follows:

• 6 Rustoleum Epoxy Shield Professional Floor Coating kits in Silver Gray
• 8 bags of Rustoleum Anti-Skid Additive
• 4 boxes of Rustoleum Concrete Patch & Repair
• 3 boxes of extra Rustoleum Acid Etch
• 1 bottle of Rustoleum Heavy-Duty Degreaser
• 4 lint free paint rollers
• 2 angled 1.5” brushes
• 2 rolls of 2” wide painters tape
• Plastic tarps to cover the walls
• Floor squeegee
• Stiff bristle broom top that uses a paint roller extender for a handle
• A second pair of goggles
• A second respirator
• 2 pairs of tall rubber boots
• 2 pairs of acid resistant gloves
• 2 five gallon buckets for mixing
• A mixing wand attachment for our drill

That’s a lot of stuff! I advise getting everything in advance so that you can read the directions ahead of time and make sure you have all of the supplies you need.

The first step was to put on the acid etch which helps the epoxy adhere better to the concrete. Because we had already went over the whole floor with a grinder we weren’t sure if we needed to still do this step but we figured it couldn’t hurt. The better you prepare the floor the better the epoxy will stick. We geared up in our goggles, respirators, acid resistant gloves, and rubber boots and got to work.

The instructions suggest you use a watering can to evenly distribute the acid. Unfortunately, our watering can was broken so we used a weed sprayer (which was brand new) instead. It gave us great control over where the acid went and in general worked out well but the watering can probably would have been faster since it wouldn’t have required any pumping. It took us two hours to do 750 sf. Per the instructions we applied the acid to a 10’x10’ section at a time, scrubbed the area, and rinsed it off using a squeegee to remove access water. Note to self buy goggles with better vents next time because the cheap ones I bought were fogging up as soon as I put them on.

When we were done with the whole 750 sf space we gave it one more final rinse and squeegee off. Then we let the space dry completely for a week. If the floor isn’t completely dry the epoxy won’t adhere properly so this is an important step to not skip.

Next we decided to replace the metal support post that was rusty and deeply pitted from the water issues in the garage. We figured now was the best time to do it so we could epoxy right up to the new one. So we bought a new pole and came up with a rig to lift the beam it was supporting. We borrowed a scrap 4×4 and a jack from Papa Flannel and attempted to lift the beam. We raised the jack until the 4×4 was tight to the beam and twice the 4×4 fell! Luckily, no one got hurt. After some further investigation we found that the jack was leaking hydraulic fluid. So we improvised with Flannel Man’s truck jack.

When we finally had the old post out we found a rusted metal plate underneath. Half of it came off with the post and the other half was stuck to the concrete. Now we couldn’t put the new post in because it would be uneven so the plate had to come off. Flannel Man took an angle grinder to it until the spot was level.

What was supposed to be a simple swap turned into a big mess. After we finally had the new post in we had to vacuum up the dust, re-wash the floor, and re-acid the area around the post. And because the jack leaked hydraulic fluid we had to bust into the degreaser…the one thing I thought we’d be able to return! Plus, that meant our one week of waiting for the floor to dry had to start over.

The new post did look really nice though:

Next we had to patch all of the channels in the concrete the scarifier made. Before we ground the floor we had some hairline cracks in the concrete. They weren’t structural just a crack in the finish. The scarifier managed to take these small cracks and chip out large pieces of concrete on either side turning them into large channels running through our garage. We weren’t sure how we were going to fill these because we didn’t know how the epoxy would stick to the filler so we played it safe and went with the product Rustoleum specifically makes for patching concrete before you put down epoxy. It’s called Concrete Patch & Repair and it’s a 100% solids epoxy product that is a thick sticky paste you apply with a putty knife. It dries within 24 hours which is also nice but we found that additional layers are needed since it shrinks as it dries. We ended up needing 3 layers in some spots.

Finally after all of that we were ready to put down the first layer of epoxy!! It was late in the year so we wanted to be able to close the garage doors before the floor was completely dry to keep the space warmer and to keep fall leaves or other debris from blowing on the floor. Plus I was advised to not paint the concrete outside of the door since epoxy turns white and chalky with sunlight. So we put down some tape just inside the doors to make a nice straight edge.

Next up it was time to mix the epoxy. Even though our garage is only a two car garage it is actually the size of a three car garage with a big storage area. Each kit is supposed to cover 300-400 sf. To start we only mixed two kits but I had an extra kit on hand just in case. To make the color even between kits we mixed the bases (Part B) together in a 5 gallon bucket first. Next we followed the directions and mixed the activator Part A and the bases Part B with an electric drill. Then we had to let the mixture cure for an hour before we could use it.

To make mixing easier mix each can of the activator individually first until it turns white. Mixed and unmixed activator:

I started painting on the epoxy by cutting in the edges with a 2” wide angled brush while Flannel Man used the roller. As I was painting I came across some spiders (I mentioned our little spider problem in the last post) and other bugs who would just get stuck in the epoxy so I had to squished them and stuck them in the pocket of my jeans since I had nowhere else to put them. We made sure to constantly keep a wet edge and put it on plenty thick. When we were a quarter of the way through we started worrying that we would run out so we broke down and mixed up the third kit. The tricky thing is it needed an hour to cure before we could use it but you don’t want the rest of the floor to dry before you put down the last bit.

We didn’t tape the cement walls of the garage because we wanted to fill in the crack between the floor and foundation walls with epoxy. Unfortunately, those areas were one of the last places we painted on the epoxy so my brush was thick with epoxy and the lines weren’t very straight. It did the job though and most of those walls will be covered with shelving so we won’t be able to see most of it.

After an hour and a half we were done with all 750 sf. Here’s Flannel Man pretending I locked him out:

Unfortunately we forgot to turn off the florescent light we have that uses a pull chain. Which lead to problems because we needed to leave the garage doors open that night for the fumes. There were a number of bugs attracted to the light and there weren’t many places for them to land besides the floor. We were able to keep the fall leaves out by leaning some long pieces of plywood across the doorways. The fumes were something else though! The whole house reeked of epoxy and we both got headaches from it. We aired out the house the best we could and eventually that helped. I guess that’s the other downside to the Professional Grade epoxy.

In the end we barely used any of the third kit and we could have easily made the two kits work if we put it on a little thinner. But there were a lot of crevices and pits to fill from our floor grinding so the third kit was just insured that we would have enough to finish even though it cost us $95. For the second coat we knew we only needed two kits and took the third kit back. We also took back all of the extra acid etch and two of the concrete patch and repair kits.

As the epoxy dried it started to looks splotchy with different areas having a different sheen and/or slightly different color. We were very careful to put on a thick even coat so it wasn’t because some areas were too thin. From my research I’ve found this is very common and the Rustoleum representative I talked to even mentioned it. She said there are two ways to combat the uneven look by either putting on a second coat or putting on the clear coat they sell. We chose to put on a second coat because we didn’t want the sheen or the slipperiness of the clear coat.


We were able to step on the floor after 16 hours but it was still a bit tacky. Three days after we put the first coat on we applied the second coat. We started by going around and pulling all of the bugs and other debris that had gotten stuck in the epoxy. As we were crawling around we noticed there were some bare crevices that we know we had covered with the first coat. The thick epoxy must have trapped an air bubble and not filled it completely. It needed a second coat. After we had mixed and let the second coat cure for an hour we mixed in the Rusoleum Anti-Skid additive to help keep the floor from being too slippery when it’s wet. The additive looked so fine (almost like flour) that we put in more than the suggested amount (8 bags for 2 kits of epoxy or 4 gallons).

Make sure to always put the anti-skid additive in the second coat only for it to be effective. For example if you were putting down a clear coat on top of an epoxy coat you would want the additive in the clear coat. Just like before I cut in the edges and Flannel Man filled in the center. The second time around I also filled in some shallow holes with epoxy to help even out the floor and it seemed to work fine. To keep the anti-skid additive suspended in the epoxy we kept the cordless drill nearby so we could re-mix every so often. We put on a nice thick coat and let it dry for a day and an half before we walked on it.

The second coat made all the difference! The splotchy appearance was gone and everything was a nice consistent color. I highly recommend putting on the second coat. Our only disappointment was the anti-skid additive. It is so fine it just looks like little pinhole air bubbles and I really don’t think it would stop me from slipping. Here’s the best picture I could get of the anti-skid additive it’s the tiny little bumps everywhere:

Luckily, the fact that we roughed up the floor keeps it from being too slippery. For people looking for some better anti-skid additive I’ve read that Shark Bite and Tread Tex both work great.

Two weeks later we were able to park inside again. The floor looks amazing! Much better than the curled up yellow linoleum don’t you think? Before:


Next we drywall, paint, and organizing the garage…

Fixing Our Uneven Garage Floor

After we had converted the garage back into a two car garage we started noticing the floor issues. In the winter when snow was coming into the garage from our vehicles it would melt and create large puddles on the floor. This is why garage floors are pitched toward the door in our climate (you just have to be careful of freezing your door shut). The side that I park on had a huge 1” deep dip right where I step out of the car and the side that Flannel Man parks on the water runs toward the exterior wall. The wood paneling on that wall was all curled up and the wood sill was rotting. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it was only a garage wall but this wall supports our dining room above.

First we scraped the linoleum off the floor that the previous owner had glued down when he converted it to shop. It was an ugly yellow color and the edges were curled up. Can someone say tripping hazard? We bought a razor edged floor scrapper and went to town. For owners who were known to do everything half ass they sure did put down a lot of glue! It took days to scrap all of the linoleum off and even then there were still white spots of it and the glue everywhere.



We also had a bench that ran along the whole wall and some shelving from the previous owner to demo.


Upon further inspection the entire floor was wavy with the largest dip being in the storage area which luckily was away from our wet vehicles. The original owners/contractor must have hired a cheap concrete company because it is one of the poorest concrete jobs I’ve ever seen! We knew we needed to do something to fix the floor but what? There were only two options (1) grind the floor down or (2) add a product to level the floor. Self leveling concrete would have been great but it’s not recommended to drive on and with all the thin edges it would be bound to crack and chip. Next we looked at pour down epoxy but from what we read they would be very difficult to put on ourselves and it’s hard to come by the materials. I called around and couldn’t find a company that would do our garage because it was too small of a job. Ugh. The last product we looked at was Nature Stone which is basically pebbles covered in a clear resign. They would be able to level the floor we walk on but it isn’t waterproof so the water running towards the wall would still be an issue. Plus, the product is significantly tall so they taper the product near doorways and raise the door slightly so it can swing open. Well with our short ceiling height the exterior door can’t be moved and right now it actually hits the bottom of the garage door track. Then when we saw the price tag of $6K we ruled that one out. Plus the problem with all of these leveling products is that they do just that they level the floor. What we really needed was the floor to be pitched toward the garage doors.

So we figured our only other option was to hire someone to grind the cement floor down. We called dozens of people and it seemed like no one would touch this project with a 10 foot pole. Every place we called said they would be able to pour us a new slab if we/they busted out the floor. Um it’s not bad enough for that much work! Just when it was looking like we’d be sucking up water for the rest of our lives with a shop vac we had one contractor agree to come give us a quote. He agreed that we needed to do something about the uneven floor. Then he noticed all of the tools we had stored in the side of the garage and suggested that we rent the equipment ourselves since that is what he was planning to do. *cue light bulb* He gave us the name of a company that rents the heavy duty equipment and went on his way.

DIY what a great idea! Now we had already called some local rental places (you know the ones that rent power washers and lawn aerators) to see if they had a concrete floor grinder with no luck so we figured that was that. But you can’t just call any old rental place when you need to grind concrete. Let that be a lesson. After multiple phone calls and a visit to the rental company Flannel Man had a good understanding of what we needed to do and which machines we needed to rent. When he first called the person at the rental company asked how we found out about them because they rarely rent pieces of equipment to the general public. It wasn’t against their policy but they don’t advertise to that demographic.

We ended up renting a scarifier and a floor grinder with both diamond and carbon steel blades. We rented the scarifier because we had a lot of concrete to remove and we had to pay a pretty penny for the wear on the diamond blades. Then at the last minute Flannel Man decided to also get the carbon steel blades because the glue and linoleum left on the floor was going to gunk up the diamond blades. At least those were a flat fee. Originally, we were thinking of renting one at a time over the weekend so we had the maximum amount of time with each machine but then decided that only spending one weekend full of dust and listening to loud machines was better than two.

Flannel Man went and picked up the machines on a Friday at noon and got a head start on the floor. He started with the scarifier which basically cuts multiple grooves into the floor. To remove material you pull it back and forth and side to side until you have lots of dust and a scratched up floor. Within a minute the whole garage is filled with a cloud of dust so thick you can barely see where you’re going. I got an emergency call after work to go buy the nicest respirator I could find because the one we had wasn’t keeping the dust out. I did just that but we still ended up still adding a piece of paper towel as a filter in the air inlet on the front of the masks. Crude but it worked. He spent a total of five hours using the scarifier on the floor that night! I’m sure the neighbors loved that.

0.3 seconds later:

The bottom of the scarifier wasn’t what I expected.

Somehow those rounded edges cut groves like this in concrete:

The next day we spent another 4 hours with the scarifier. Periodically we’d stop to do a “bucket test” where we dump a bucket of water on the floor and see where it flows to. Very scientific stuff.

The water is on the move people! That’s progress.

Eventually we had to stop because we started to hit the large aggregate. The scarifier wasn’t doing much to the rocks but kept removing concrete around the rocks only making the floor more uneven.


Next we took the floor grinder with carbon blades to the left over linoleum on the floor. It did get some nice curls of linoleum off the floor but still left a lot of spots untouched. Most of those spots though were in the low areas of the floor so the floor grinder couldn’t reach them. Dang uneven floors!

Finally, it was on the diamond blades on the floor grinder. Switching out all 6 blades actually ended up being kind of tricky because some of the blades wouldn’t fit in correctly so we had to keep trying different blades until one fit. After a lot of rubber mallet whacking and some cursing we got them in. With the diamond blades the floor grinder put out a lot less dust and was much easier to handle. It reminded me of one of those commercial floor buffers only it was scuffing up the floor.

Taking the floor grinder over the scarified areas it did a great job smoothing out the rough areas. Here’s a picture after only one pass with the floor grinder:

We tried to smooth out the scarified areas as much as we could but there were some low spots and deep gouges we couldn’t reach with the floor grinder because it was wider than the scarifier. Imperfection was OK to us because it would only give us traction when we painted the slippery epoxy on. We also made sure to take a quick pass over the rest of the floor so that the epoxy would adhere better.


In the end we had 4 garbage bags half full of concrete dust (because we couldn’t pick up the bags if we’d filled them fuller) and concrete dust in every nook and cranny of the garage/us. The garage had a bit of a spider issue to say the least and the dust really highlighted those webs:

And as we left to go run the hardware store we were both briefly scared something had happened to our beautiful dark brown garage doors when we saw this:

Luckily, it was just a lot of concrete dust! We weren’t able to get all of the floor pitched toward the garage door like we had wanted but we got very close. In the center dip we went from a 1” dip:

To a 1/8” dip:

And the dip near the wall appears to be completely gone. So hopefully we won’t have any more issues with the water rotting out our wall! It was a lot of work but we’re glad we took the time to do it.

Next up we prep the floor and put down epoxy…

Converting Our One Car Garage Back Into A Two Car Garage

Well we’re just finishing up a major garage overhaul but before I can show you the finished product I need to start from the beginning. When we bought the house there was only a one car garage. The house originally had a two car garage but the second owners put up a wall and converted it into a shop.

The one car garage:

The shop side:

Well that is after we thoroughly cleaned it. The previous owners ended up using the space for storage…a lot of storage:


To park their second vehicle (we do live in Wisconsin where parking your car inside in the winter is a huge bonus) they built a two car detached garage that we call a shed to avoid confusion. For the first year I parked in the shed but carrying the groceries across our front yard and shoveling a path on our grass in the winter got old fast. So before our second winter in the house we decided to convert the garage back into a two car garage. I quickly started the search for some high quality garage doors. As I explained previously we wanted a garage door with the highest R-value possible since our dining room is over our garage and we wanted something that was low maintenance but looked good since they are on the side of the house the public sees from the road. But the doors we wanted didn’t come in the odd size we needed (6.5’ x 9’) at least not yet. We had heard a rumor that they might start making them in that size so we ended up pushing back our garage door project until the company started offering the size we needed.


We finally got the call a few months later, “Clopay has started carrying the Dark Oak Gallery garage doors in the 6.5’ x 9’ size you need!” So we ordered them right away and patiently waited until they came in.


Meanwhile we had to figure out how to convert the shop back into a garage without leaving a big hole in our house for an extended period of time. We decided to do everything in one weekend and have the garage door installer come the following Monday. Papa Flannel came over the help and we quickly tore out the wall between the garage and converted shop. It was simply two layers of wood paneling and some 2×4’s that were spaced far apart. In only a few minutes we went from this:

To this:

Sophie had a good time helping getting in our way.


Next we opened up our exterior wall hoping that the framing for the original garage door was still there. Considering the previous owners were lazy enough to leave the original garage door attached to the ceiling and just cut the wood paneling to fit around the tracks we were optimistic that the door opening was still there.

We carefully took out the large 6’x4’ window and started tearing off wood paneling. Luckily, the framing was still there and we just had to deal with siding and brick mold. While Flannel Man and Papa Flannel were working I had the pleasure of taking a 3 hour drive to pick up the PVC door jamb that our local hardware stores only had in 8’ long sections (the openings are each 9’ wide).

By the time I got back they were waiting on me to finish. That night we rigged up a tarp with 2×4 braces in an attempt to close up the opening. Of course it rained that night and we worried we’d wake up to a puddle in our garage but it ended up keeping the garage dry.


The next day the garage door installer came and put in our new doors and openers. Originally, we were going to DIY the garage doors and openers but after calling around on prices we found that the installer was only $100 more per door. Knowing how dangerous the door springs can be and that we’d have to pay to get rid of the waste it was a no brainer to just hire someone.


So in one weekend we went from a one car garage and a fugly shop to a two car garage with beautiful yet energy efficient doors. Better yet these doors and trim can’t rot like the old stuff was:

I know a normal person wouldn’t be excited about garage doors but I’m not a normal person and these are your normal garage doors. Look at these suckers:

Next up we tackle the inside of the garage…

The Garage Doors Are In

We have a two car garage! No more walking across the yard in 3 feet of snow to get to shed/detached garage.

They were installed Monday:



Never mind the fugly awnings. They used to attach where the new door is so we need to figure out a way to hang them back up without putting holes in our expensive new trim.



They are so beautiful. The wood grain adds so much depth and texture where there was previously a white box.

Both Flannel Man and I think the new doors visually look bigger than the old white one. For now they don’t really go that great with the old gray siding but someday we’ll have tan rock and light olive siding so they’ll look even better then. Aw someday…but for now we’re enjoying our first renovation to make a big visual impact.

Stay tuned on a post about cutting in the second garage door.

We Finally Found Our Garage Doors!

You know you’re a remodeler when you get excited about garage doors. But after 3 months of searching and 2 months of waiting we almost have our doors!

Our number one requirement in a garage door was a high R value. Because our garage is actually part of our basement it is surrounded by space we heat and cool. Our dining room is one of the coldest rooms in our house in the winter and that is due to the fact that it’s directly over our garage. The garage also has two doors that lead to the interior and though they are sealed they still transfer a lot of air between the spaces. When we started looking into getting new garage doors we were surprised to realize that it is common to have little to no insulation in garage doors. While garages aren’t a conditioned space they can provide a nice buffer between your home and the outside so why wouldn’t you insulate them as much as possible? Granted we do live in an area that gets to be -10°F or lower in the winter so we take every step we can to insulate our house. Since the doors face south we also wanted them to have windows to provide light to the space so of course we wanted insulated windows also.

Our second requirement was looks. When you drive up to our house all you see is our garage door (soon to be doors) and our dining room windows. You can’t even see our front door. So having attractive and inviting garage doors was important to us. Originally, we were going to get a standard white door with some windows. Sounds nice enough right? But then I started looking online at house exteriors and I soon realized that I was drawn to houses that had a contrast between the garage door color and the exterior trim. Since we have and want to stay with white trim I wanted to spice things up and go with a dark garage door. But picking a color now for our garage doors when we don’t even have our future siding colors picked seemed like a color mishap waiting to happen. We do know that we both want dark wood front and possibly side doors so we thought it would be easiest to coordinate with that.

But real wood doors were not an option for us because our last requirement was that the doors were low maintenance. We didn’t want to have to stain a door every other year or try to prevent rotting and cracking so we needed a steel door. So the search was on for a well insulated, attractive steel garage door painted to look like wood that had windows…

After doing some searching I found the perfect door. There aren’t many companies that make steel doors that are painted to look like wood. I was so excited I called to get some quotes only to find out they don’t make the door in our size! Because our garage is on the same level with our basement it is much shorter than the standard garage of today. We need two single doors that are 9 feet wide and 6.5 feet tall and that short height isn’t very common anymore. So we got quotes from every other option that would fit our door. But no door met all of our requirements. We were bummed and decided to wait on buying garage doors for a while (this was back in April).

Then one day in June we got “the call” from one of the garage door installers we had gotten a quote from. In response to customer complaints (one of which was probably us) Clopay had decided to start manufacturing 6 ½ foot tall doors in their Gallery style! They were going to start manufacturing them in mid-July so we ordered two right away. Our new doors will be installed next Monday! Here are some pictures of Clopay’s Gallery collection:

Our door’s specs in case anyone is looking to get something similar:

  • Two 9’ x 6.5’doors
  • R-value = 17
  • Insulated glass windows
  • Dark Oak Ultra Grain paint
  • Short grooved panel design
  • Four plain square windows per door (no grilles)
  • Semi-carriage style appearance
  • Standard spade lift handles

I’ll update with before and after pictures as soon as they are in so stay tuned.

Our Summer To Do List

Between all of the matches and kayaking trips we have a lot to do on the house this summer. Besides maintenance and upkeep these are the major projects we want to get done:

  • Re-roof the shed
  • Put gutters on the house and fix the gutters on the shed
  • Put in a new, working patio door in the basement
  • Convert the shop area back into a garage by cutting back in the garage door
  • Re-insulate the attic
  • Paint entire house


Re-roof the shed

We’re getting right on this list by re-roofing the shed this weekend. We had bought extra shingles from the roofers who redid the roof on the house before we closed so we don’t have many other supplies to buy to finish the project. I just ordered a dumpster and we’re picking up the flat shovels used for tear off from Papa Flannel tomorrow. Flannel Man and I will be tearing off the old roof and laying down the new tar paper on Saturday and Papa Flannel will bring his roofing nail gun and help us put on the new roof on Sunday. Hopefully everything will go OK because FM and I only sort of know what we’re doing.


Put gutters on the house and fix the gutters on the shed

The house currently doesn’t have gutters and never has in the 35 years since it was built. This has caused the windows and doors on the exposed basement of the house to rot from the water constantly dripping on them. By not routing the water away from the house the foundation has begun to settle on one side along with the front walkway which now angles water towards the house. We want to add gutters to the house and run the downspouts underground so that we don’t have to worry about moving the arms every time we mow. We also want to add some downspouts to the gutters on the shed because right now there aren’t any. The water collects in the gutter, falls through the hole where the downspout should be, puddles in front of the garage door, and floods the garage. In the winter time the water freezes and prevents you from opening the garage doors.


Put in a new, working patio door in the basement

Because of the lack of gutters water from the roof runs off the roof and hits the house on the two story side. This has caused the wood on the windows and doors in the basement to begin to rot. The patio door is the worst. It is completely rotted out so that it no long can move. When we moved in we discovered that the door was actually open by 1/4″ and also has a 2″ round mouse hole in the corner. So for right now we plugged up all the holes and gaps with expanding spray foam to prevent bugs, mice, and air from coming in and out of the house. I can’t imagine what all those hose did to previous owners heating bill. We would like to replace this door so that we can use the patio sometime this summer.


Convert the shop area back into a garage by cutting back in the garage door

The previous owner converted one of the garage spaces into a carpenter shop and then used the garage doors in the shed to park in the winter. They even left garage door on the ceiling so it could be converted back easily. We want to convert it back into a garage so that we can both park in the house and not have to tromp across the front yard in the winter. We’ll have to cut the garage door back in, remove the wall between the two garage spots, and close up the ductwork that was used to heat the space.

[Note the garage door at the top of this picture.]


Re-insulate the attic

There was only minimal insulation put in the attic of the house when it was built and over time it has compacted down to only three inches of insulation. There is also evidence of mice living up there in the winter time that have dug pathways everywhere though the insulation. The lack of insulation is most likely the main reason the previous roof was completely shot after only 11 years. There was a lot of ice damming that occurred because of the heat leaving the roof. We want to look into both batting and spray in insulation.


Paint entire house

With most of the house having white walls and almost white carpet we’d like to add some color to the walls. We also need to paint all of the ceilings because there are water stains on almost every ceiling from the previous roof. It would be nice to cover up the horrible goldenrod color in the study and the dog blood in the dining room, hallway, and master bedroom. We actually picked up some paint samples last weekend and now have spots of paint all over the house. I think we’re going to be painting the master bedroom first before our new bed arrives.



This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
DIY Savings