How to Choose Garage Walls

Garage walls do more than just hold the roof up and keep the elements out. Put yours to work with the perfect material for your needs.

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Available in metal or wood, pegboard is a handy way to keep clutter off the garage floor.

Available in metal or wood, pegboard is a handy way to keep clutter off the garage floor.
By: Karen M. Alley

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Garage walls are a little like a blank canvas, with shelves, hooks and pegboards in place of paint. If you’ve run out of room to park your car because the space has been taken over by bikes, tools and sports equipment, or if you want to turn your seldom used garage into a workshop or entertainment room, transform the walls with one of these easy solutions.

* Drywall. If your garage is finished, you more than likely have drywall already in place. In many states it’s a requirement for fire code (check before tearing it down and replacing it with another material).

However, drywall can get pretty beat up after a few years of use, and many people prefer to replace it during a garage remodel. Removing it is a hassle, but take advantage of the opportunity to add insulation for a sound barrier between your garage and house, or to put in any extra electrical or plumbing work if you’d like to use the space as a workshop or a bar. “It’s a good idea to add some extra blocking and additional framing during a garage remodel, to provide plenty of places to hang shelves and hooks for heavy equipment,” says Eric Reinhardt of Reinhardt Construction and Maintenance in Elkin, N.C.

If your drywall is in good shape, there’s no need to replace it. Just fill in the holes and dents and sand it over. “You can use a stud finder to look for studs for hanging shelves and hooks,” Eric says.

Plywood or OSB board: Wood walls make a durable option for garages: They can take a beating from teenagers carelessly backing out the family car and are strong enough to hang tools and equipment without worrying so much about studs. They also help absorb sound. “Plywood has a neat look for walls when painted,” Eric says. “Just be aware it will take several coats, because it really soaks up the paint.”

Metal panels: Corrugated sheet metal is a more expensive than the other options, but it’s fire retardant and holds up well. Plus, the shiny look brightens up a dark space. It can be fastened straight to wall studs or to drywall with a furring strip.

Pegboard: Available in metal or wood, pegboard is a handy way to keep clutter off the garage floor. You can use pegboard as the wall itself, or put it on top of existing drywall with a furring strip. This will ensure that the pegboard has enough space behind it for hooks to hang. Plan out exactly what you want to hang, then outline each item with a permanent market once it’s in place so you’ll know where to put it back.

Slatwall: These panels, made of medium density fiberboard (MDF), have overlapping layers and look a little like vinyl siding. They can be attached to drywall, masonry or wood studs, and the slats provide ample opportunity for attaching hooks and shelves.

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