After years of looking at your unfinished garage walls, you’ve decided that it’s finally time to consider some garage wall ideas to make improvements.
Along with a grey concrete floor, dim lighting, and an unfinished ceiling, those unattractive walls are a nagging reminder that your garage doesn’t look all that different from when the builder completed work on the home.
And if your garage lacks any decent storage systems, there’s probably floor clutter to contend with, which only hurts the garage’s appearance even more.
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 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).
- 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,” “Just be aware it will take several coats because it soaks up the paint.”
- Metal panels: Corrugated sheet metal is 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 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 a pegboard as the wall 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 like vinyl siding. They can be attached to drywall, masonry or wood studs, and the slats provide ample opportunity for attaching hooks and shelves.
The problem is, how do you know what type of finish you should use on your garage walls? After all, there are several options, from painting to drywall and a wide range of panel options.
This makes deciding between them difficult. Keep reading to find out more details on these various options for your garage walls, including the pros and cons of each, to help you decide which might be right for your garage.
Options For Garage Wall Coverings
We’ve covered the why. Now let’s talk about the how. If you’re one of those creative, DIY homeowners, you may be willing to step out of the traditional box and go with something completely different. The options are endless.
For the rest of us that want some more common options, here’s a look at each of them, as well as any pros and cons they may offer.
Painting is perhaps the most common way homeowners choose to change the look of their garage walls. Paint can be applied to almost every type of existing surface, including cinder blocks, concrete, and even the back of exterior panelling.
If you’re going to go the simple route and paint your concrete block walls, it’s important to seal your walls so water can’t get in. When we did this with our garage, we wrote about the entire process and how we waterproofed our garage walls. It’s a simple process but a really important step that you shouldn’t skip.
- It can be done by the homeowner
- Wide range of colours
- Not as durable as other wall coverings (unless applied to drywall)
- Adds no surface for shelving or other storage solutions
There are several wood panelling options that you can use to cover the walls of your garage. You can purchase any wide range of siding panels, in large 4 x 8-foot panels or horizontal lats. This can allow you additional options for style and can also be painted.
- Installation can be done easier and faster than drywall
- No need for mudding or taping joints
- Allows for attaching storage items, such as shelves, hooks, and more.
- It May end up costing more than other options, depending on material choice
- Will require additional support between existing studs in most cases
FAQs About Garage Renovation
What Should I Put On The Inside Of My Garage Walls?
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.
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.
Should I Finish My Garage Walls?
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 Texture My Garage Walls?
Adding a bit of texture to your garage walls not only adds aesthetic value but may increase home value as well. Unless you use your garage as a working space, textures create visual interest, hide flaws, and make an area feel more polished.
Should I Paint The Inside Of My Garage?
While the inside of your garage might be freezing in the winter, it isn’t exposed to rain, snow, or sunlight, so there is no need to use exterior paint. As long as the wet paint isn’t exposed to freezing temps, interior paint will do fine without problems. Using exterior paint in an interior space can also be toxic.
Most garages are either concrete blocks or bare studs. If you’ve got a bare, wood stud frame, then plywood or OSB will be a popular choice.
Its OSB\plywood is one of the best all-around choices for walls, floors, and home improvement.
The panels are usually inexpensive and can be finished in several ways, including painted or stained. Some people even torch the surface of panels to draw attention to the unique patterns they are known to have.
- Simple to install, even DIY with an extra hand or two
- Allows for a wide range of finish options
- Will not hold up to excessive drilling, mounting, shelving, etc. due to the composition of the boards
- May absorb excess moisture if not sealed properly
A big trend in home improvement of all types is using metal instead of drywall or wood. There are several options if you want the look of metal on your garage walls. Some of the most durable options are diamond plating, corrugated sheet metal, even grates and fencing for some people, and many more.
- Metal is strong and durable in most cases
- It can be used to customise a space
- Reclaimed metal sheeting is an option (old tin roofs, metal sheds, and barns)
- When purchased new, it may be expensive depending on the choice of metal
- Requires additional support in many cases
- Hanging shelves and other storage options will require specialised metal screws
An inexpensive option is to use plastic or fibreglass. These lightweight options require very little maintenance and resist moisture. They can also be cleaned easily, making them a great option for high traffic areas or where there will be a lot of dirt and grime.
- Easy to install
- Mould and mildew resistant
- Easy maintenance
- Usually, need to be installed over drywall
- Not as durable as other options
Pegboard, Slatwall Or Track Storage
Most people have seen pegboard, slat walls, and even lattice used as a wall covering. These panels give you immediate built-in storage using specialised hooks that are inexpensive and readily available in most hardware and discount stores. Storage panels are perfect for garages with a need for a wide range of storage needs due to their flexibility.
If you’re considering adding Slatwall to your garage, we highly recommend checking out the slat wall buyer’s guide article. When we considered it for our garage, we spent hours researching the
different brands and options and put them in that article. Check it out!
- Sturdy and flexible storage options
- Inexpensive and easy to install
- When combined with specialised accessories, it offers endless options for customisation
- It can easily be painted
- Not the most aesthetically appealing
- Offers little or no insulation properties
Moisture Resistant Backer Board
Backerboard, sometimes referred to as a green board, is commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens. It’s similar to drywall in function, installation, and appearance. Green board is designed for use with tile and other installations that are high in moisture.
Unlike drywall, which will crumble and collapse when exposed to high amounts of moisture, the backer board’s core resists water. At the same time, the surface is made with a mesh that allows air to circulate better, drying any moisture that does appear.
- Allows for a strong, drywall-like base for additional coverings such as tile or stone
- Resists moisture for less chance of mould and mildew developing
- It can be easily painted
- Installation is easy for some, the same as drywall
- It is more expensive than standard drywall
- Not recommended for garage walls that are going to have several items mounted on them (screws can impact moisture resistance)
Try These Garage Wall Ideas.
The walls in most garages have a vast amount of untapped storage potential. And just as they’re underutilised for storage, homeowners don’t take advantage of this sizable square footage to give their garage a more modern aesthetic.
Giving your garage walls some TLC with some wise upgrades can dramatically impact the entire room’s functionality and appearance.
When contemplating how to reinvent your garage wall space as part of a remodelling project, you could look at the walls as a blank canvas. With the right design choices, those walls can transform into something beautiful and unique that reflects your personality.
Let’s look at popular garage wall ideas that cover everything to do with storage, finishing, and decorating the walls in a garage.
Add Garage Wall Insulation.
Without garage insulation, your home loses a lot of heat when it’s colder outside and makes your air conditioner work harder when the weather is hot. Don’t forget about making sure your garage doors and ceiling are properly insulated, too.
The most common types of insulation for garage walls are fibreglass batts (pictured to the right), spray foam insulation, and blow-in cellulose insulation.
If your garage already has insulation installed, have a professional inspect it to determine whether an upgrade is warranted. Was it properly installed? Is it the right R-value? Does the insulation have water damage? The latter issue can lead to mould problems and make the insulation less effective.
Wall and ceiling insulation is even more important if you enjoy spending a lot of time in the garage with a hobby. If you have a heater or some cooling system in the garage, insulation helps make the room easier to keep at a comfortable temperature.
Insulation also has soundproofing benefits. That can limit the audible noise in the rest of the home from, say, a power tool being used in the garage.
Drywall The Garage
Insulation for the garage is a great investment, but the sight of exposed insulation and framing studs isn’t exactly visually appealing.
Get the garage one step closer to having a more finished look by hanging drywall. In addition to covering up a garage’s unattractive construction features and things like electrical wiring and a central vacuum system’s piping, here are three more reasons to install drywall in a garage:
- drywall is cost-effective
- it improves a home’s energy efficiency
- drywall gives you more flexibility when it comes to decorating your garage walls and adding storage systems
Hanging drywall isn’t rocket science, but it is physically demanding, and there is a definite skill to installing it correctly so that the wall has a seamless look without joints, tape, and screws showing.
Two other garage wall covering alternatives to drywall are fibreglass reinforced panels (FRP) and wallboard panels. Remember that these products are used only for covering and finishing walls and aren’t designed to accommodate hanging storage systems.
Paint The Garage Walls
Once your garage drywall is hung, you’ll want to dress it up with a fresh coat of paint. This is where the decor of the garage can start to take shape.
If you’re doing a top-to-bottom remodel with a garage makeover professional, the paint colour chosen for the walls will be influenced by the colours picked for a new floor coating, Slatwall, and cabinetry. Even the colours of your vehicles can be factored into your garage color choices to complement them better visually.
Many homeowners choose lighter garage wall paint colours because they reflect light better, make the room look bigger, and make us feel more comfortable. Neutral colours like beige, tan, and grey are also popular.
If it’s done tastefully, pops of bolder colours on a garage wall (whether it’s from paint or the colour of a cabinet system, for example) can add visual interest.
Have A Slatwall Storage System Installed
With a garage’s walls being invaluable for storage and interior design upgrades, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a product that took care of both those needs?
There is such a product, and it’s called Slatwall. Our Slatwall panels and hanging accessories are the best wall-mounted garage storage solution available and give garages a clean, finished look.
This complete wall hanging system involves installing PVC Slatwall panels in your garage that are sturdy, easy to clean, and waterproof.
Using a wide variety of hooks, racks, baskets, bins, and shelves, this hanging wall system helps to keep your garage organised and maximise its storage space. Rearranging your stored items is easier with Slatwall than it is with other types of wall storage systems, such as pegboard.
Eight Slatwall colours allow you to customise your garage’s design. There are several more ways that Slatwall can be used as a decorative garage wall feature:
- it can cover the entire garage wall and be used in corners and awkward spaces
- Slatwall can be combined with open drywall space
- another Slatwall colour can be incorporated into the wall design for decorative effect (like the blue Slatwall strip below the grey Slatwall in the first photo)
- ribbon lighting installed on the Slatwall creates a unique, more inviting look
Add Garage Wall Hooks Or Track Rail Storage Kits.
Perhaps the most common type of garage wall storage system are hooks that are screwed into the wall studs or drywall.
Wall-mounted track rail storage kits are also popular and involve installing thin rails a few feet long horizontally on the wall and hanging up items using the included accessories.
The benefits of these two types of garage wall organiser products are that they are cheap and easy to install yourself.
They do have some drawbacks, however. Unlike Slatwall or pegboard storage, you cannot change their location since they’re permanently anchored in the wall.
That creates problems when your storage needs to change and you want to rearrange where your things are hung. You can remove the storage systems from the wall and reinstall them in another spot, but then you’re left with holes and repair work.
Different brands, styles, colours, and brands of these products also tend to get bought over time. That results in a patchwork of storage accessories attached to the garage walls that don’t have a cohesive look and add to the room’s visual clutter.
Install Garage Wall Shelving
One of the garage wall ideas commonly used for storage is built-in shelving or freestanding shelving units. Often, these two storage systems are of the DIY variety and made with wood.
While functional, most DIY garage storage systems don’t look very good. Painting or staining the shelves (and frame if it’s a freestanding unit) can help, but unless you’re a carpentry expert, these projects usually end up with that low-end DIY look.
If you want to use a freestanding shelving rack, spend a little more to get a sturdier product that looks more professional and can hold more weight than one of those flimsy plastic shelving units.
Another option for your shelving needs is wire shelving that can be mounted to the garage walls.
Add Tire Racks
If you live in a northern climate that gets enough snow to warrant having snow tires, tire racks are a smart buy.
A spare set of tires stored on your garage floor, even if they’re all stacked on top of one another, takes up space that could be put to better use. And if you have multiple vehicles with the second set of tires, that space they’re occupying adds up.
Wall-mounted tire racks provide a dedicated space where an off-season set of tires can be kept, freeing up more room on the floor.
If you store your spare tire sets at your local garage or a tire specialist store, the fees you’re paying could be invested in tire racks that would pay for themselves in a short amount of time.
Use Pegboard Wall Storage.
For years, when people thought of garage wall ideas, pegboard would be one of the first things to mind.
Pegboard storage was originally used for merchandising in the retail industry. Someone eventually came up with the logical idea that the product could be useful for keeping residential garages more organised.
The design of the pegboard (a hardwood sheet with evenly spaced holes) made it ideal for giving homeowners more flexibility in how they stored their belongings on the garage wall. It was particularly useful for storing tools in a garage workshop with various hooks and hangers.
Pegboard now looks somewhat dated, however, and has been surpassed by Slatwall as a product that gives you a nicer aesthetic, more storage versatility, and the ability to handle higher weight capacities.
For a more durable pegboard product, you could spend a little more to get a pegboard made with galvanised steel.
There is probably an infinite number of ways you can finish your garage walls if you have the time, energy, and desire. Most of us choose function over style unless the garage is planned to be used as additional living space. No matter which option you choose, remember to check with your lock code requirements.
Regardless of which wall covering option you choose; we hope this brief guide can at least point you in the right direction.