Springs, epoxy floors help homeowners get most out of garages

By: Joshua Gordon | C&G Newspapers | Published August 14, 2013

In recent years, garages have become more of an extension of the home than a place to store odds and ends until they are needed. Some may use a garage as an extra room, some may use it as a workout area and others still may park their cars inside to keep them protected from the ever-changing Michigan weather.

One of the biggest changes in garages recently has been the use of the garage door as a way to enter the home, even without parking a car. Keyless entries have made it easy to have a remote on a keychain, or a keypad on the outside of the garage for kids.

Doug Bush, owner of A & B Doors LLC, in Warren, said more consistent use of a garage door can take a toll on its springs. While homeowners used to get 15 years out of garage-door springs, that number has dropped significantly.

With a 10,000-cycle basic spring, the springs may last only 3 to 5 years. With an upgrade to a 15,000- to 20,000-cycle spring, homeowners can get almost double the life out of the springs.

“Most people are using the garage door as a front door nowadays, so it is basically crucial to upgrade the springs to double the life for between $25 and $50, depending on the make,” Bush said. “When I first started in this industry, people would use the garage door once in the morning to leave and once at night to come home. Now, that door is going up 10 to 15 times a day and I get quite a few calls from people who are locked out of their houses because they use the garage and don’t have a front door key.”

When it comes to the garage door itself, however, it all depends on preference, Bush said. For a quick fix on a house one may be selling soon, Bush recommends a 25-gauge door, but for a longer life, the 24-gauge is the way to go, which comes with a lifetime warranty.

Either way, Bush said, garage doors are a tough product to perform a simple repair on, so a new door is the best way to go if something goes wrong with the old one.

The same goes with windows, he added. The windows are merely an aesthetic preference, but can add about $350 to the price of a garage door.

“Whether you get windows in your door or not goes back to what you are trying to accomplish,” Bush said. “If you are trying to dress up your home or you live in a nice neighborhood, there are a lot of good window options, such as thick, stained glass. It definitely adds more value to your home and your neighborhood.”

Some older houses may not have an automatic opener, but getting a new garage door means upgrading to an easier-to-use system.

The biggest upgrade in opener technology is the change from chain drives to belt drives, John Palazzolo, president of American Door Systems Inc. in Rochester Hills, said. The change from direct-current motors to alternating-current motors has also made openers smoother.

“We have went to belt drive operators in lieu of a chain drive because it is a much quieter machine today and it is maintenance-free because you don’t have to lubricate it or anything,” Palazzolo said. “With the new motors, you get more of a soft start and soft stop. The old operators would jerk the door right away and make a loud noise, but the new motors start slow and speed up until it is fully open.”

Another new trend in making garages more a part of the home is making the floor more inviting and something more than just concrete.

Vas Gorvokaj, owner of Garage Floor Coating Detroit in Shelby Township, said the two best options are epoxy and concrete polishing. While some may paint the floor, Gorvokaj said he doesn’t recommend it because it doesn’t coat the floor and protect the ground underneath.

With epoxy, which runs about $2.50 to $3.50 per square foot, there are multiple color options, as well as a various colored-chip option. The floor may make the garage look nice, Gorvokaj said, but the biggest perk is it makes spills and messes easier to clean.

“The epoxy keeps everything sealed and it prevents spills of things like oil from penetrating the concrete and below into the dirt,” he said. “It is also much easier to clean and maintain, and when winter comes and all the salt comes in with your tires, it doesn’t hurt the concrete.

“On top of all of that, it helps add another room to your house and make it more than just a garage or a storage area.”

Still, if people want to store tools or bicycles in the garage, hardware stores offer easy solutions to keep the mess organized and easily accessible when needed. Kyle Roberts, manager of Frentz & Sons Hardware, in Royal Oak, said hooks and spring clips keep things off the ground and easy to grab.

“We have rubber-coated hooks that can hang from the rafters where you can hang your bike, but you can also use those to hold some tools, though I would recommend a tool box for that,” Roberts said. “Spring clips are metal clips, and when you push the handle of a rake or yard tool into it, it opens up and closes around the handle. It is very easy to just put your tool up on the wall after you are done with it.”