The garage has always been part storage space, part workshop and some. At our old house, we used the space to build pergolas, raise baby chicks, and even host family events.

And oh yes, occasionally, when projects didn’t get in the way, park a car.

So for the new garage at the farm, we had to take all of those factors into consideration. We wanted a clean, finished area that could neatly organise and store tools and still have open space to work on projects.

We also wanted it to look nice enough to host an event or two if extra space was needed. More than anything, we wanted to do it without breaking the bank!

So with a blank canvas of stud walls and a concrete floor, we went to work.

We knew if we went the “traditional” route of drywall, the cost would quickly skyrocket. Not to mention the time and effort to install, tape, mud and then paint.

The other options of panelling or plywood were not only expensive but just didn’t fit the look we wanted. We decided to finish ours to match the house – with metal and shiplap!

Whether it’s garden and hand tools banging against walls or a mower, grill or other equipment being shoved in and out – it seems like the lower wall space in any garage always ends up with most dings, dirt and abuse.

With that in mind, we turned to galvanised metal panels to create a durable, 36″ high low-wall around the entire garage.

Metal panels are not only strong and inexpensive but a breeze to install. And with the galvanised finish, even tough stains like grease and oil will clean off easily.

In addition, if an errant project happens to crash into a portion of the wall – fixing is as easy as unscrewing the damaged panel and replacing it.

To install our metal wall, we nailed three bands of 3″ wide x 1/2″ thick furring strips to the studs. We then attached the panels with metal screws to complete. The process was quick, taking about 4 hours to complete.

For the upper two-thirds of the garage walls and ceilings, we once again turned to shiplap siding. There is no doubt that the more we use it, the more we fall in love with it.

Shiplap is the perfect choice for garage walls. It’s durable, inexpensive, and easy to install.

Unlike drywall, solid wood makes it perfect for securing anything, anywhere, with hooks or nails. One of the best features of the shiplap is the speed of the installation.

We had the walls up and completed them in a single day.

To finish off the look, we cut down a few of the shiplap boards into 3″ wide pieces of trim. We then installed the strips as a transition between the wood and metal.

The best part of this project as it was extremely budget-friendly! We were able to use Between the metal and shiplap walls and ceilings. We were able to complete the entire project for about $600.

Do I Finish My Garage Cheaply 2

11 Things To Consider When Finishing The Garage

Garages serve many purposes: they’re used for parking cars, decluttering a home, house workshops and serve as an alternative entry to your home. 

By updating your garage, you will instantly increase the value of your home. While you may not see a 100% return on investment, you will surely get more than before the garage renovation. 

If you already have an existing garage in place, but no walls, floor, ceiling, or finishes, the cost to finish a garage will be up to $10,000. If you do a partially finished garage, walls and ceiling with panelling or sheetrock, any general contractor can do it for a few thousand dollars. 

Building Codes

You will want to make sure your new garage is up to code by going over all plans with your city before any work begins.

Permits

If you’re vastly transforming your garage into a living space or building a new garage, you’ll need a building permit. Depending on your location, the size and complexity of your project will affect your permit cost. However, most building permits cost up to $1000.

Plumbing

Most garage remodels do not include adding a bathroom or sink. You may want a sink to have a hand wash area. Plumbing costs vary, but you will want to expect to pay at least $500 to hire a plumber and install the necessary piping.

FAQs About Garage Renovation

What Is The Cheapest Way To Finish A Garage Wall?

Shiplap is the perfect choice for garage walls. It’s durable, inexpensive, and easy to install. What is this? Unlike drywall, solid wood makes it perfect for securing anything, anywhere, with hooks or nails.

What Can I Cover My Garage Walls With?

The best material for finishing garage walls is usually considered to be drywall. It increases the fire resistance of walls and is easy to install. However, you do have another garage wall covering option. Oriented strand board (OSB) can be screwed to the wall framing but does not require taping and finishing.

Should You Drywall Your Garage?

Drywalling Your Garage Is a Great Project. For those that spend a lot of time in the garage or have some of their most valuable belongings in there, putting up drywall in your garage is worthwhile. It adds protection, appeal and longevity to your garage as a whole.

Should I Drywall My Garage Ceiling?

Protects From Fire. Drywall is a great building matter that is highly resistant to fire, so it is a great addition to garages. Garages often have power tools in them, flammable materials, and also people who work on cars with products that could catch fire. Installing drywall would be a good idea to keep it a safe area.

Can You Drywall An Unheated Garage?

Yes, you can install drywall in an unheated garage too! Drywall is cost-effective and easy to install. For an attached garage, you must use drywall for the garage wall adjoining the house, as per the building code.

Electricity

Most garages already have electricity in place, but if you’re converting your garage into a living area, or man cave, you’ll need additional outlets and wiring, which generally costs around $1,100.

Hvac & Insulation

Garages have minimal insulation, so if you’re renovating your garage, you’ll need to add insulation and HVAC if you live in cold or hot climates. Adding new HVAC and insulation can cost up to $3,000.

Do I Finish My Garage Cheaply 3

Garage Flooring

Your garage most likely has a bare concrete floor. Depending on how you plan to use your new space, a concrete floor may be all you need. If the concrete slab has cracking, flaking, stains, pitting, or wear, it can be easily fixed by applying either epoxy or polyurethane-based coating. 

It bonds to your current concrete flooring to create a long-lasting flooring solution. You can add different colours to your topcoat or even a slip-resistant mixture for a safer garage floor.

Ceiling

If your garage is too hot or cold, it’s most likely because the ceiling is not insulated like the rest of the home. The cheapest and fastest way to solve this problem is to add fibreglass batt insulation. You also can install drywall over any insulation for a complete look.

Walls

An unfinished garage has necessary frame walls or wall coverings that may not be ideal for a newly finished space. If your walls have an original covering, you’d want to remove it for the more accessible location of studs, vents, and electrical writing. 

If you wish to finish walls but don’t need the extra polish that you get with drywall, plywood panels are a cost-effective option. You can screw it directly to the frame, and it will be able to support additional shelving you may want. You can paint the plywood to fit into your ideal design.

Doors

The most defining feature of any garage is the large garage door. There are a few ways to deal with a large entryway when going through a garage renovation. 

You can choose a new door from a bountiful of doors out there, close off the entry or paint the inside of the existing entrance to create a unique design element. 

All garages have another door already built into their design for regular access to space, or you can choose to install a new one. 

Install Weather Stripping

Seal out drafts and bugs by installing the garage door with weather stripping. Leaky doors and windows can let in uncomfortable drafts and increase heating and cooling costs. The overhead garage door can be a significant source of drafts and heat loss. 

Older entries may be lacking a weatherstrip. Garage door weather stripping is available at home centres, and installation is relatively straightforward. 

Add Storage With Shelves Or Cabinets

A garage storage system doesn’t need to be overly complicated. You can get basic plastic or metal garage shelves, or plastic garage cabinets can hide your mess behind doors. Adding storage can be as easy as installing old kitchen cabinets.

Finished VS Unfinished Garage: Pros & Cons

If you’re a complete newb, it’s a good idea to explain exactly what finished and unfinished garages are.

What Is A Finished Garage?

A finished garage has drywall covering the beams and gaps. It may or may not have insulation and electrical work. Sometimes we refer to a finished garage as a converted garage. This generally means that space has been optimised for a specific purpose. Our game room, sports TV room, and car park ideas are good examples of converted garage options.

If we wanted to turn it into a full sensory assault arcade, then the electric work would be configured differently than if we set up an entertainment system on one side of the room. Unless you’re okay running extension cords around and covering them with a rug.

What Is An Unfinished Garage?

An unfinished garage is simply a garage with no drywall covering the beams and whatever might be in between them.

An unfinished garage might have some electrical work. If you’ve ever had to do any work on electrical components of a house, then you know that not having any drywall up would make things a heck of a lot easier.

While it is unusual, I’m told, an unfinished garage can have insulation. But the means to secure such insulation would probably look pretty unprofessional.

The Cost Of Finishing An Unfinished Garage

To finish your garage, you’ve first decided just how finished you want it to be. That is to say, do you want just plain drywall to cover the beams and spaces, or do you want electrical work, electrical outlets, insulation, do you hope to set up a particular arrangement, do you want to drywall the ceiling, and do you want to paint?

If you only want to cover the beams, you’ve got a pretty simple job. This is also the least expensive option. In most locations, drywall costs about $12 for a four by the 8-foot panel.

For our garage, we needed roughly eight of these panels, which cost just over $90. That’s pretty cheap. Of course, you also need tape, drywall screws, and maybe some putty, which will drive the cost to around $120 at most. That’s still pretty affordable for most people, and from what we can tell, that’s about average at this level.

Of course, you probably want to include the ceiling, which should add at least four panels on average, adding $50 to include tape, screws, and putty. So a full basic finish job done DIY might cost around $200, minimum.

If you have space above the ceiling beams, leaving them open might be a good option before deciding what to do with the space.

Now, if you can manage to install the drywall yourself, then you’ve hit the top mark for your project costs. Installing drywall may be one of the easiest things you can do in home improvement. But there is some skill involved. 

In almost every case, you will need at least two people, both of whom are strong enough and capable enough to move the drywall, position it, and secure it in place without causing it to crumble.

If you don’t have a team of at least two people with some rudimentary construction knowledge and the back muscle to lift sheets of drywall safely – then you’ll have to hire a contractor.

If you hire a contractor to do a sizing job, you can expect to pay between $200 and $300. If you are not up to the job, this is well worth the cost. Someone new to this kind of work is almost sure to damage at least half of the drywall to the point that it needs to be replaced. Hiring a contractor ensures that it gets done right the first time – and if it isn’t, you have some recourse.

Here’s the breakdown, based on a small to a medium-sized garage;

  • DIY Drywall Only Finishing: $150 to $300
  • Contractor Drywall Only Finishing: $300 to $500

What About Electrical Work, Appliances, Paint, & Flooring?

Few people would be interested in a garage that doesn’t have any electrical assets. At the very least, you need just one light attached to the ceiling. Since it’s unlikely that you’re going to do the electrical work yourself if you’re reading an article like this- we may as well assume you’re going to hire a contractor.

Competent electricians are well trained and experienced. Their expertise and their labour are valuable. Small jobs will cost you anywhere between $150 and $500. Since the smallest job is installing a single electrical outlet, we can say that assembling a simple car parking spot will run you at least $300.

If you’re looking to set up a game room or some other hanging-out spot, you’ll need lighting and at least enough outlets to support three items equal to a large appliance. That drives the minimum cost up to $700 to $800.

There is the possibility that you may choose to install your electrical work without the drywall. This might not look amazing, but it will be quite a bit cheaper, and if the electrics ever need work (and they will, this is the real world, remember), then the wires and boxes will be easy to get to. That will cut down on future electrician services, should you require them.

So now, let’s break down some estimates for these different jobs. We’ll list them according to some of the different types of configurations that we considered. Remember that we include supplies on top of labour in our estimates. We’re also assuming that you’re not going to do your electrical work yourself.

  • Simple Car Park – No Drywall w/ 1 to 2 Outlet: $150 to $300
  • Basic Entertainment Room – No Drywall w/ 1 to 2 Outlets: $200 to $500
  • Multi-Asset Game Room – No Drywall w/ 2 to 4 Outlets: $350 to $650

Now, not many folks are going to want all of what we’ve listed above, are they? We thought it would be useful to the absolute penny pinchers out there. We know you’re out there. Most people will want to have their finished garages finished, especially if you’re spending time relaxing or playing in there.

So that brings us back to the level of a basic game room or multi-asset game room, plus drywall, which should look something like this;

  • Basic Entertainment Room – With Drywall w/ 1 to 2 Outlets: $350 to $800
  • Multi-Asset Game Room – With Drywall w/ 2 to 4 Outlets: $700 to $1150

How Much for the Whole Shebang? (Full Garage Finishing)

If you care about your garage enough to consider finishing it out, there are a few assumptions we can make. You may have bought your home as a fixer-upper. You may have built it as part of an urbanisation project and stopped finishing work at the garage to save time and money.

Whatever the case is, now you’ve decided that you want a garage that doesn’t make you feel like some spartan hermit every time you walk through it. You want a garage that justifies the additional cost per square footage to the overall price of your home. You want a space that’s useful and aesthetically pleasing.

This means you will install insulation, electrical components, drywall, some floor tile, and possibly even an upgrade for your garage door.

If you have an unfinished garage with one of those flip-up doors that you have to raise by hand, you’re almost certain to want something better. So, let’s start there.

A quality garage door without an automatic opening system will cost $490 to $2,000. A garage door opener costs between $220 and $600. If you want it to open at the push of a button, you’re also going to have to add one additional electrical outlet, which adds $150 to the total equation.

Here’s a breakdown on doors;

  • Basic Manual Door: $500 to $2000
  • Automatic Door: $900 to $2,750

If you’re feeling a bit hot under the wallet, remember, you don’t have to do all of this at once. You can assemble your custom finished garage in instalments. Adding just one piece each summer can make the cost of setting up your new garage digs feel like a gentle breeze blowing softly through your bank account.

Finally, we should consider the flooring. The average cost to fully floor-finish a room is $1,000 to $4,000. Since we can expect to use inexpensive tile or a simple coat of sealant – your garage flooring costs can be rounded from 0 to 0.

Now for you speed readers out there, here is the full cost-list breakdown;

  • DIY Drywall Only Finishing: $150 to $300
  • Contractor Drywall Only Finishing: $300 to $500
  • Simple Car Park – No Drywall w/ 1 to 2 Outlet: $150 to $300
  • Basic Entertainment Room – No Drywall w/ 1 to 2 Outlets: $200 to $500
  • Multi-Asset Game Room – No Drywall w/ 2 to 4 Outlets: $350 to $650
  • Basic Entertainment Room – With Drywall w/ 1 to 2 Outlets: $350 to $800
  • Multi-Asset Game Room – With Drywall w/ 2 to 4 Outlets: $700 to $1150
  • Basic Manual Door: $500 to $2000
  • Automatic Door: $900 to $2,750
  • The Full SheBang: $1,350 to $2,300
  • Add $300 to $800 for flooring
  • Add $350 to $850 for paint

Conclusion

That should give you some things to consider while hammering out what your budget can handle. If you’re feeling a bit light on garage money, remember, you can still have fun with a minimally finished space. 

Also, if you’re working on a tight budget but can’t live without a fully finished, multi electrical asset garage with flooring and paint, remember that you can take it in phases. 

If a bit of home improvement work is your idea of a good time, then your garage project can be a fun summer project spread out over the next few years!

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