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Wood-Frame Garages

Book Review

by Ryan King

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This review is complicated.

It isn't about a book titled "Wood-Frame Garages," but about two books by two different publishers that cover the subject of wood-frame garages: Build Your Own Garage Manual, Fifth Edition from Creative Homeowner and the Black and Decker-branded Complete Guide to Garages, Second Edition from Quarto Publishing Group.

Why books by two completely different publishers in one review?

They complement each other really well.

The Complete Guide to Garages is a how-to manual for building, remodeling, maintaining, and repairing wood-frame garages, but it's a little light on the fundamentals of construction.

Build Your Own Garage Manual does a great job of digging into the fundamentals of garage construction like foundations, hardware, and framing, but doesn't show you how to build a garage from start-to-finish.

Together, they provide a really great introduction and reference for the DIY enthusiast — and there aren't a lot of enthusiast-oriented books on garage building out there, so you have to take what you can get.

If you're going to pick these books up, I recommend starting with Build Your Own Garage Manual — which will help you understand some of the concepts in the Complete Guide to Garages — and that's how I'm going to do this review: Build Your Own Garage Manual first, and the Complete Guide to Garages, second.

Here we go!

Build Your Own Garage Manual, 5E

When I picked up a copy of Creative Homeowner's Build Your Own Garage Manual, I wasn't sure what to expect.

I knew there were a limited number of books out there about how to build wood-frame garages, but this one seemed a little light on information and excessively heavy on garage plans — to the tune of more than 175...for sale.

This seemed like I was paying to look at a book that only wanted to sell me plans. In the modern world of online shopping and free mail order catalogs, I wasn't very impressed.

Yet, I persisted.

I'm glad I did.

While only 43 of its 144 pages are informational, those are some really packed pages that cover a lot of ground. I just wish it did so in a more organized fashion — which is to say, I wish it had chapters instead of just a bunch or sections. Now, I know I said I wish it were more organized, but those sections are very orderly and build on one another very well. In that regard, this "book" is more like a really long magazine article — just one.

Forty-three pages long.

In those 43 pages, it has 44 sections as well as a brief area for notes, a very easy to read glossary of construction terms — something I found really helpful as a beginner — and three virtually useless sections tacked on to the end that address plan drawing.

I would love to give you a critique of those 44 sections, but this is a review and the sections are so short, I would simply be re-writing the book. I've also considered providing a list of those sections, but it's so long, that the individual sections start to become lost in the shuffle. Instead, I'm going to group those sections under summaries of what they cover:


  • Build Your Own Garage?
  • Planning Driveway and Parking Areas
  • Garage Sizes
  • Anatomy of a Garage

The first four sections provide an extraordinarily brief introduction to garage planning and construction with a short primer to inform you that building a wood-frame garage yourself is possible and that it could save you money.

This planning section was so light it wasn't even worth including and the suggestions wouldn't really work for someone trying to use the garage space for anything serious — that is, as an automotive enthusiast, the concepts wouldn't be good beyond limited parking and access to the garage.

Not the kind of space I would recommend to anyone trying to perform any serious repair work, major rebuilds, restorations, or customizations in.

Don't give up yet, though, it gets a lot better.

Site Layout

  • Establishing Lot Boundaries by the Lot Survey
  • Layout of the Garage Site

These two sections cover site layout and the use of batterboards, as well as the importance of the lot survey to the layout process.

Mind you, this is very beginner stuff, but if you're a beginner, they've done an excellent job of concisely explaining how these things work. And I mean that. Both, excellent and concise. I completely understood what I needed to do — and these aren't the only two sources I've researched on this subject, most of those other sources just left me lost and confused because of their lack of completeness and conciseness.


  • Preparing Your Garage Foundation
  • How to Pour a Concrete Foundation
  • Formwork for Foundation Walls
  • Casting a Concrete Wall
  • Building Concrete Block Foundation Walls
  • Pouring a T-Shaped Foundation Concrete Floor
  • Foundation Details for Turned-Down Monolithic Slabs
  • Pouring the Concrete Slab
  • Some of the Tools Needed
  • Calculating Concrete Volume
  • Estimating Cubic Yards of Concrete

This is an excellent introduction to concrete foundations and explains concepts glossed over in the Complete Guide to Garages. In fact, the Complete Guide to Garages — which is an excellent how-to book — does such a poor job explaining the subject of foundations, that while it claims it will give you the knowledge to build a garage from start to finish, it left me with a complete lack of confidence in doing so with the knowledge it provided, but this bunch of sections in Build Your Own Garage Manual completely make up for it. So much so, I understood what was being left out in the Complete Guide to Garages and — based on the knowledge provided in Build Your Own Garage Manual — would probably have someone come in and pour it for me. Just sayin'.

Framing and Roof Sheathing

  • Choosing Lumber for Framing
  • Nails and Fasteners for Framing and Finishing
  • Selecting Your Doors
  • Selecting Your Windows
  • Typical Garage Wall and Roof Framing Plan
  • Typical Garage Floor Panel (Wall Panel System)
  • Garage Wall Framing
  • Constructing the Basic Wall Frame
  • Door and Window Framing
  • Diagonal Bracing
  • Raising the Walls
  • Leveling and Corner Details
  • Framing with Metal Fasteners
  • Roof Framing
  • Hip Roof Framing

Written from the perspective of a general overview rather than an instructional how-to manual, this section does an excellent job of providing the fundamentals of framing carpentry for wood-frame garage construction — however, it doesn't do a great job of providing insight into how to apply these principles in the real world through examples. That's both a weakness and a strength of this entire book — which is what makes it a great introduction to how to build a wood-frame garage, but not the complete package.

One area that's far too light, are the two sections that cover wall paneling. Now, you might think I'm talking about putting panels on a wall, but I'm not. I'm talking about wall framing in sections. An explanation would have really helped the diagrams they provided. Thankfully, the Complete Guide to Garages does explain this concept in detail so that you understand why and how it's done.

A second area that needs a lot more detailed information is roof sheathing. There is one very brief section that's a few paragraphs long, but doesn't provide enough details to understand this very important step.

The area of wall paneling is the only area this book falters in on the subject of framing. It provides excellent detailed information on the process of framing so that when you finish reading this book, you have a solid idea of what people are talking about when they discuss wall framing. You'll even have the knowledge necessary to take note of the details not explained clearly enough in the Complete Guide to Garages — things like nails, screws and metal framing fasteners (otherwise known as brackets or hangers), and even some of the more minute frame construction details.

Roofing, Siding, and Exterior Trim

  • Overhang and Trim Details
  • Roof Shingles
  • Siding

Okay, so, wall sheathing. Yeah.

It only briefly mentions wall sheathing as a part of siding. So, this book is going to leave you entirely high and dry on sheathing your garage. Thankfully, the Complete Guide to Garages doesn't. It covers sheathing really well.

The section on roof shingles is also light. It'll certainly give you enough info to get you familiar with some concepts, but not enough to make you feel comfortable with the subject. Again, the Complete Guide to Garages will come to your rescue — it covers roofing really well.

I leave the section on overhangs and trim for last — it does a solid job with trim and overhangs. It could use a more complete explanation, but the diagrams will give you a solid foundation for understanding the ideas behind and process of constructing overhangs and installing trim that are covered with greater breadth and depth in the Complete Guide to Garages, but oddly enough, not with the same level of clarity that the too-simple approach used in Build Your Own Garage Manual achieves.

Doors and Stairs

  • Garage Doors and Mouldings
  • Sectional Garage Doors
  • Installing Prehung Doors
  • Disappearing Stairs
  • Building the Stairway

It seemed to me like this part of the book should have included how to install windows, but Build Your Own Garage Manual never covers that subject. On the positive side, the Complete Guide to Garages has lots of info on how to install pre-hung windows.

This section does briefly look at garage doors and stairs, as well as pre-hung doors, but beyond a description and some cursory explanations of how they're installed, there's little substantial information on how to get it done — not even enough to make you comfortable with any of the subjects it covers. Thankfully, the Complete Guide to Garages will come to your rescue. Although both books mention getting a garage door installation technician for the installation, Build Your Own Garage Manual specifically tells you not to attempt to do it and only hire a professional. The Complete Guide to Garages will show you how it's done from start to finish — whether you attempt it yourself or not, you'll at least have an idea of what's going on before making a decision.


  • Electrical Wiring
  • Garage Door Opener

In all fairness, electrical installations and power requirements is a fairly involved subject, so expecting two sections to give you what you need to know to do it, would be like expecting a goose to lay golden eggs. This section also isn't long enough to provide you an introduction to the subject, but it does do a reasonable job of covering warnings and precautions related to the process of getting power to your building, so there's that.

Yes, there's also a section about garage door openers, but it only says that while you shouldn't attempt to install a garage door, a garage door opener is well within the ability of the average DIYer to install. I don't know if that's true, but I do know you won't have any idea of which opener to choose for your application or how to install one from reading this book.


  • Garage Storage Ideas
  • Finishing the Inside of Your Garage

Truth: these last three groups of sections are really just used to usher you through to the finish without providing much valuable information. The only useful bit is some of the garage storage ideas, but only because it'll give you some concepts, not because it'll provide you much to act on. Most of it involves hanging things from the ceiling or building other contraptions that allow you to store things over vehicles, but as a car enthusiast, that's the last thing I would want to do.

175+ Garage Plans

As a hardcore automotive enthusiast who's work more represents a professional auto shop or the tiny house version of a manufacturing facility, I can honestly say that not a single garage plan in this book meets even one of my needs. I'm not saying that they won't work for you, because I don't know what your needs are or what the level of engagement with your hobby is, but I need the kind of space — length, width, and height — not accommodated for in these plans.

And, yes, I looked carefully at every single one of them.


I came away from Build Your Own Garage Manual with a solid sense of "so, that's how that's done." While it didn't leave me with a great feeling of confidence that I could do it, it did give me a clear understanding of the various aspects of wood-frame garage construction and the confidence to find the information I need to build one — and it did it in a scant 43 pages.

Now, to address the elephant in the room, yes, this is a marketing piece you'll be paying to look at. They do take the time to try to sell you on their garage plans, but I'm almost surprised of the fact that they kept the selling out of the informational section, which made reading those 43 pages interesting, rather than irritating.

Black & Decker: The Complete Guide to Garages, 2E

Quarto Publishing Group nearly knocked it out of the park with Black & Decker: The Complete Guide to Garages.

I say nearly because there are some important details missing — details that make understanding certain areas of garage construction a little challenging. Things like definitions for terms, explanations of some basic but critical construction concepts, and how a foundation is constructed as well as how to build one — even though it says you can manage it yourself.

Those are the reasons I recommend reading Build Your Own Garage Manual first. Virtually all the needed information missing from this book to be complete are covered in that one.

Otherwise, the Complete Guide to Garages covers basic construction of wood-frame garages with incredible detail, as well as many of the more critical and harder-to-understand methods to renovate, repair, and maintain one.

Like Build Your Own Garage Manual, this book lacks numbered chapters, but unlike the previous book, the Complete Guide to Garages is logically grouped by larger sections that can easily be considered chapters that are further broken down into smaller, bite-sized sections.

Follow along and I'll give you a tour of what this book has to offer:


I don't always include a book's introduction as a part of the review because they are often just filler — that isn't always the case, but it is here.

Why am I including it? Due to the arrangement of the book, they've made it integral to the overall structure, rather than a preface I can logically gloss over in a review; it doesn't provide much information, but it does set the stage for what's covered in the rest of the book.

Gallery of Garages

If you've never looked at garage ideas for the average home, this section will be great for you. If you're an automotive enthusiast, these ideas are geared towards normal homeowners and won't provide many — if any — useful ideas for you.

Between Gallery of Garage and the Introduction, this book firmly gives you the right idea that it's geared toward average homeowners and doesn't really consider the needs of an automotive enthusiast. But, stick with it, because it does provide an excellent introduction to the construction, renovation, repair, and maintenance concepts applicable to any wood-frame garage — whether it's used to park your daily driver and store useless house crap or is an awesome wrench-palace where you tinker on your hot rod.

Building a New Garage

Building a New Garage is a 10-part chapter that does an excellent job illustrating how to build a wood-frame garage, bit-by-bit.

In fact, it does such a great job that I came away from it with a firm understanding of the process — it filled in everything missing from Build Your Own Garage Manual.

This chapter was so thorough, that I need to break it down to provide insight into what it covers. Each and every section, though, is fully illustrated with both photos and drawings to provide visual as well as written explanation of each step. What this chapter doesn't do is explain things like the different types of framing lumber and provide a list with nominal and actual sizes, something you'll find in Build Your Own Garage Manual. The Complete Guide to Garages also calls out specific fasteners like nails and screws, but, doesn't explain what they are or how they're used in relation to other types of fasteners. Again, something you'll find in Build Your Own Garage Manual. Both books provide a list of tools, but neither one explains what those tools are, what other types of tools are out there that are similar, but perform different functions to help reduce confusion, nor how these tools are used in relation to one another to provide a concrete understanding of why you'd use one type of hammer over another, for example.

What the Complete Guide to Garages does provide is a tools and materials list at the beginning of each section, which lists the tools and materials needed to perform the work for that section: something that's very useful from a practical, hands-on sense — and not available in Build Your Own Garage Manual.

Let's get into the sections and I'll do my best to point out some of the things it would be helpful to understand:

Making Plans

This section is all of two pages, but it does something in two pages that neither How to Build Your Dream Garage (a book I reviewed back in January) or Build Your Own Garage Manual manage to do: give you an idea of how to read building plans. It's short. It certainly could provide a lot more info on the subject — but, it does give you the barest information necessary to comprehend building plans. This is something that will be valuable for reading the rest of the book and beyond, as you continue to explore garage design, engineering, and construction.

Building the Foundation

I've mentioned previously that the Complete Guide to Garages was light on foundation information. To be clear, this section is well written, but it lacks clarity in specific areas:

First, it tells you to use batterboards to layout the foundation, but not how to construct them. Build Your Own Garage Manual, however, provides excellent information on how to construct them and the importance of having a lot survey done prior to laying out your foundation. Both provide relevant and useful information on how to use batterboards to layout a foundation, but you will need the information from both of them as neither provides completely clear instructions. Build Your Own Garage Manual provides the fundamentals needed to make them work, while the Complete Guide to Garages provides the practical implementation in clearly illustrated steps. If you find that a little vague and confusing, it'll all make sense when you read them.

Second, the Complete Guide to Garages doesn't provide any details about how to build a perimeter foundation, only a turned-down monolithic slab. However, Build Your Own Garage Manual gives you lots of details on that foundation style — what it doesn't provide a lot of detail on, is the monolithic slab.

After reading both books, I came away with a solid understanding of the kinds of steps needed to build a foundation and a level of certainty that a team of experienced people would be needed — which for me, means having someone else do the job. That said, it's important to note that both books provide slightly different approaches to laying a monolithic slab foundation, complete with different warnings and different specifications — although both say that you'll need more research into area-specific building codes. I would add that although they left me comfortable with the concept of foundation pouring, I still had questions and more research is needed into how to construct the forms and the process of pouring a foundation if that's something I'd really want to attempt myself.

Framing and Raising Walls

This section will tell you everything you need to know to frame the walls for the garage they're building in this book — carefully illustrated — but not everything you should know in general. Build Your Own Garage Manual will provide little tips, tricks and options such as let-in bracing, metal strap bracing, and plywood corner bracing for wall frames that require it.

Installing Roof Framing

Again, this section provides everything you need to know to frame the roof for the building being built for this book — clearly illustrated — but doesn't provide anything for more complex hip-roofs. And again, Build Your Own Garage Manual will give you those details. Both provide information on how to use trusses in-place of rafters, and both provide different and valuable details the other doesn't cover.

Sheathing Walls

Wall sheathing is almost completely missing from Build Your Own Garage Manual and covered beautifully in the Complete Guide to Garages. Every single step. It even includes types of sheathing and wrapping.

Installing Fascia and Soffits

Installing fascia and soffits is covered well, but in a very general way in Build Your Own Garage Manual. Not so, here. In the Complete Guide to Garages, it shows very clearly in an illustrated step-by-step way, that the devil is in the details. Like the wall sheathing section, this section is well done.

Building the Roof

Finishing the roof would probably be a better name for this section, because the roof framing is already constructed at this point, but otherwise, this section is as well done as the last two. All the details and options for roofing are clearly described and illustrated — as long as the roofing you want to use is asphalt shingle. If you want to know how shake, tile, metal, or some other roofing method is installed you'll have to find another source.

This section covers sheathing the roof, laying down building paper, putting on the shingles, and installing a roof vent.

Installing Windows and Service Doors

The chapter on garage building is coming to a close with the final details beginning to fall into place. Service door installation is only lightly covered in Build Your Own Garage Manual and as I mentioned already, window installation isn't covered at all. That's okay, because the Complete Guide to Garages covers the subject thoroughly and illustrates the process very clearly.

Installing Overhead Garage Doors

In Build Your Own Garage Manual, installing the garage door is considered strictly taboo, here, though, it is completely detailed — at least for the multi-panel roll-up door used in this build. It also clearly states that different doors will need different approaches and to read the manufacturer's instructions — or just have the door installed by a pro.

Regardless of what route you end up going, you'll at least have a rough idea of what's going on after reading this section.

Installing Siding and Trim

Although briefly covered in Build Your Own Garage Manual, the general details of how siding and trim work are well explained.

How to install them, is another story.

Not so, in the Complete Guide to Garages. Here, the entire process is covered from start to finish and even includes how to create a stone veneer wainscot accent on the lower portion of the exterior wall. For the rest of the siding they used fiber-cement lap, which requires some special handling and even discuss two other methods briefly: wood and vinyl lap.

Although they explain how to use inset trim, they don't discuss how to use corner tins or overlapped corner trim. Those are briefly discussed in Build Your Own Garage Manual.

With this last section the garage build is complete and that's all for the Building a New Garage chapter.

Garage Plans

Free garage plans!

This section provides three free garage plans. Each garage is a little different from the others. Only one of them is useful for parking a car, and not much else. I can't see any of them very useful for a serious automotive enthusiast except as sheds or some sort of tiny workshop for doing something like grounds maintenance.

Remodeling a Garage

Like the chapter, Building a New Garage, Remodeling a Garage is in-depth and covers 19 different projects — as well as some other minor or major projects oddly categorized under those 19 sections. The table of contents lists 20, but one of those 20 — Finishing Interior Walls — is actually arranged as a subsection of Walls and Storage in the book.

For those of you with a garage to spruce up, this chapter may very well have what you need. It's pretty thorough. It also covers some things you might want to do to a new garage, but not covered in Building a New Garage.

Nothing in this chapter addresses the kinds of industrial upgrades needed by serious car nuts.

Just like with Building a New Garage, I'm going to provide a section-by-section rundown so you know what you're getting into with this book:

The Garage Workshop

By workshop, they mean woodshop — which is great for those of you in need of a tiny woodshop for odds and ends finish carpentry and making tiny projects out of wood. That said, it does look at floor layout in four diagrams. Although the actual process of space planning isn't covered here, you do see a number of potential layouts involving workbenches and small equipment snuggled into a small space alongside cars — a combination I highly recommend against. For the avid car enthusiast, cars should be protected against potential damage by flying objects, carried objects, and scratches and dents from moving around them in close proximity as well as the excess accumulation of work-related dust and debris that will lead to excessive cleaning or even surface damage from the buildup of some chemicals and material deposits.

Workshops are best kept away from parked or stored automobiles, so if you are going to share a space like I'm planning on doing with the Garage, make sure the cars aren't in there when you're tinkering.

Electrical and Lighting Improvements

This is one section that has an appropriate — if not excessively brief — subsection: Wiring Safety. It also acts as an introduction to the following two sections and really doesn't act like a full section itself. Basically, they could have made the next two sections as subsections to this one, made Wiring Safety more in-depth, and the book would have made a lot more sense.

Working with an electrical system is complex — which is why electricians have to be trained and certified, and follow a bunch of building codes — and a section in a DIY garage book wouldn't be enough space to learn how to work on your garage's electrical system, but this introductory section would have been a lot more useful if it made a concerted effort to introduce the reader to wiring and electrical systems. Just sayin'.

Bringing Electrical Service to a Garage

This section is kind of an all-in-one wiring section. It clearly explains how to run wiring from a house to an external garage, and, with just a little more explanation, the information in this section could be used to add electrical outlets to a garage that already has electricity.

Would I recommend trying to wire a garage with just this information here? No. For me, I would want a more comprehensive understanding of electrical wiring before I started wiring my garage, but it is sufficient to give you an idea of what's involved.

There's another problem here for serious automotive enthusiasts: running off an existing service to your house probably isn't enough. You're going to want a dedicated 200-amp service or maybe even more if you can get it — I haven't heard or read anything anywhere that said "don't get that much power in an automotive workshop." We need to run some serious tools and equipment like industrial grade welders and air compressors. And sometimes we need to run a bunch of equipment that draws heavy on the electrical system all at the same time. But, if all you're trying to do is install some lights and plug-ins in your garage to run some basic tools and equipment and your house service is up to the task, then by all means, knock yourself out.

Installing Fluorescent Light Fixtures

Fluorescent? Really? This book is almost 10 years newer than How to Build Your Dream Garage and even it was exploring the idea of using LED lights — and it was written from the perspective of what came across at times as a near pathological fear of spending money.

In all fairness, How to Build Your Dream Garage was written with the enthusiast in mind and this one is written for the average homeowner.

If you're considering installing fluorescent lighting in your garage in the year 2020, then I would definitely check out How to Build Your Dream Garage for tips on how to choose the right fluorescent light fixture and lightbulbs for a serious shop.

That said, this book does clearly explain the process of installing fluorescent lighting in a garage — and as the book states, if you don't know how to wire it to a service panel, hire a professional. The only thing this section gets wrong (that I can see and/or remember — I don't know everything, after all) is that it says that daylight bulb color temperature is around 3000 degrees Kelvin. It's not. As far as I know, the color temperature of the sun through the atmosphere is around 5780 degrees and a daylight bulb is around 5000 degrees.

Converting a Fluorescent Fixture to LED

If you already have a fluorescent light, this could be a way to go to get LED lighting in your garage and from what I know, this section describes and illustrates this process well. It isn't straightforward, however.

If you're going to upgrade lighting in your garage in any capacity, I would look at the cost to install real LED lights and factor in their energy usage before making any decisions.

Of course, I'm not approaching this subject from the perspective of the average homeowner and wouldn't even approach the attached garage I'd use to park my daily driver in, from that perspective, so feel free take my point of view as you will.

This section does provide a nice side bar about garage lighting options, however.

Adding a Garage Window

Not only does the Complete Guide to Garages cover how to install a window in a new garage, but also how to do it in a garage that's already built.

This section — and the next that involves installing a skylight — is probably the most involved remodeling project in the whole remodeling chapter. It's also written and illustrated really well. It doesn't cover any surprises you may run into when doing this — like what to do if you find electrical wiring in the wall — but it does cover the straightforward process very clearly.

I actually felt pretty good about tackling this project on my own should the day ever come that I'd want to.

Installing a Skylight

This section is written and illustrated just as well as the last. Although I don't personally want skylights in any of my garages for the time being, this all made perfect sense and the clearly depicted steps make it seem very achievable for an avid do-it-yourselfer — provided you don't have a ceiling. It addresses that there's added difficulty if you do have a finished ceiling, but doesn't provide a procedure for dealing with it.

Walls and Storage

I've already mentioned there is some odd sectioning going on with this chapter and this is one of those sections with strangely subsectioned projects.

First, walls and storage seem like strange bedfellows to me.

Second, this section is like the Electrical and Lighting Improvements section in that it seems like it should be an introduction and include most of the following projects in this chapter. Better yet, split this section into two separate sections — walls and storage — and then put all the projects under those two sections as subsections.

Third, this section does have a subsection as a side bar, which is adding insulation and it includes a subsection — Finishing Interior Walls — that was called a separate section in the table of contents for the book, which I've already mentioned.

Fourth, it mentions finishing ceilings as a logical part of finishing walls, but doesn't include it in the Finishing Interior Walls subsection, nor as a section of its own. There is a subsection later in the chapter titled How to Install Drywall on a Ceiling, but it's under the section Adding a Custom Storage Loft.

Those issues aside, the side bar, Insulating Your Garage Walls, and the subsection, Finishing Interior Walls, are well illustrated and explained and should clear up any confusion or general questions left by the minimal information provided in Build Your Own Garage Manual on the subject of interior finishing.

Hanging Pegboard

I've never been a big fan of pegboard, but this chapter does a good job of explaining and illustrating the process of putting up a pegboard wall to hang your light tools and other paraphernalia on. In fact, they made it seem so simple I'm almost tempted to consider its use.

Installing Adjustable Shelving Systems

I've never been a fan of wall mounted adjustable shelving systems, either, but like the previous section on pegboard, they do a nice job explaining and illustrating the process of putting it up. They made the process so clear it got me to thinking about how I could use it in certain circumstances around my own shop or home.

Utility Shelves

Okay, they lost me here. They did a great job explaining their built-in utility shelves, but, with the availability of relatively low cost and easy to assemble movable, free-standing shelving, I can't see myself ever doing this kind of thing to my shop or garage. However, maybe you find value in it that I don't see. Regardless, the steps are clear and easy to follow.

Installing Garage Cabinets

This is another well illustrated, clearly written section that follows all the steps of installing wood cabinets in your garage. For me, I was hoping for the installation of metal garage cabinets, better suited to a more industrial environment, but from what I can tell, the steps should be pretty similar and if your taste calls for fancy wood cabinets or your budget calls for cheap particle board or second-hand wood cabinetry, you're probably covered here.

Installing a Complete Slat-Wall Storage System

Slat-wall storage falls into the same category as pegboard for me, but, if I had to choose between the two, I'd be more inclined to go toward slat-wall. This section is well done just like those storage sections previous and by the time it was over, I was — again — considering its use. There are some circumstances I can see this potentially working for me — like in the Boxes.

Installing a Ceiling Storage Unit

I'm fundamentally against ceiling storage in garages. Here's why: I put some stuff on a ceiling storage rack. It falls. It lands on the hood or roof of one of my beloved rides causing thousands in damage.

That said, they did a fine job showing how to install a ceiling storage rack and if you're going to, they've got solid tips for doing it.


Adding a Custom Storage Loft

This one falls into the same category for me as the previous section, Installing a Ceiling Storage Unit. And as a bonus, it also has the same attributes as Utility Shelves.

They also do a good job showing you how to do this if this is what you want for your space.


As an added bonus, they've also included how to install ceiling drywall to this section. It's well illustrated and described and helped me understand the process so much better — because this was something I've often wondered about and never took the time to research. I'm just still at a loss as to what prompted the editors to put this subsection here.

Floor Improvements

This is yet another section of this chapter that seems like it should have been an introduction with the following floor-related sections as subsections. That said, there is a useful side bar, Patching Garage Floors, that introduces you to how to repair minor cracks and damage to cement floors in preparation for the garage floor improvement projects that follow.

Garage Floor Treatments

This section is all about coatings and how to apply them. It, however, doesn't cover the kinds of coatings better suited for more demanding environments like an enthusiast's workshop. That's one of the reasons I recommend reading How to Build Your Dream Garage. It's a great introduction to the concept of an enthusiast-oriented garage or workshop and provides more durable coating alternatives than the two offered here: epoxy and stain. That said, the process is illustrated well — including the preparation phase with cleaning and etching the concrete.

Installing Interlocking Floor Tiles

Like most of the rest of the book, this section is done well. It carefully describes and illustrates each step in the process of laying in interlocking garage floor tiling.

Interlocking tile garage floors aren't something I'm a big fan of, but the nice thing is, if you keep extras around and you bust or stain a tile, you can just replace it. Plus, if you spend a lot of time in your garage on your feet, the tile system could be less fatiguing than hard concrete — if they have some give in them, of course.

Garage Door Openers

I found this section to be oddly placed (it seems like it should belong with the electrical stuff) and of marginal help.

It's well illustrated and written, that's not the problem. The problem is there are a number of different styles of garage openers out there and while the steps show you how to set up one of the most popular varieties (chain driven, multi-panel garage door opener that lifts from the ceiling), this isn't the variety I see as the most useful as an automotive enthusiast who uses lifts and needs the ceiling as clear as possible.

There is a great side bar in here though, titled Garage Door Options. It's brief, but it discusses the types of doors available and what their advantages and disadvantages are. Honestly, in a book about building and remodeling garages, I think this side bar should be expanded to an entire section or maybe even a chapter.

Garage Maintenance

There are two sections in this chapter. It seems like there should be more subjects discussed in garage maintenance, but the sections are well done. They include Renewing a Garage Floor and Tuning Up Garage Doors. Although the subjects have never been a priority for me, running into them and reading about them was pleasantly satisfying for me. Like receiving an unexpected gift that you never would have thought would be valuable or useful but that you always find yourself using.

Special Section: Bonus Garage Plans

More free garage plans!

This time there are six!

Again, nothing terribly useful for a serious automotive enthusiast except maybe the one titled Detached Three-Car-Plus Garage with RV/Boat Storage. With that one garage plan you could successfully use the RV/boat storage bay with the 16'-high ceiling for a car lift and the attached two car garage as a workshop.

Of course, the design of that garage probably doesn't match your house, so, it may need some adjustment to work if you care about your resale value.


This book covers a lot of ground — and it clearly illustrates and explains it the entire way. Sure, there are a few items here and there that require further explanation to fully comprehend — that's why I recommend starting with Build Your Own Garage Manual — but it does an excellent job providing practical, hands-on advice to build, renovate, and/or repair your garage. Although not written for the hardcore automotive enthusiast like myself, it still manages to cover a lot of the topics I needed to understand to feel comfortable approaching building what I need for my cars.


You won't come way from reading these books with all the knowledge necessary to build your own garage, but, they are an excellent primer for the DIY beginner.

They vary a little from one another on the procedures that overlap, but provide you with a well-rounded introduction on how to construct a garage and more.

I found that after reading these two books, I no longer look at the idea of building my own wood-frame garage with uncertainty.

Whether you end up doing all of it by yourself, bringing in contractors to help with the parts you're not able to do on your own, or have someone build the entire thing for you, these books will do a great job of informing you of what to expect.

There are some important pieces of information missing in both, but together, I wholeheartedly endorse them. These two books complement each other so well that they really do provide evidence of the possibility of something being greater than the sum of its parts.

•   •   •

For more information on Build Your Own Garage Manual, contact Creative Homeowner on the web at foxchapelpublishing.com, by phone 1.800.457.9112, or by email at customerservice@foxchapelpublishing.com.

For more information on Black & Decker: The Complete Guide to Garages, contact Quarto Publishing Group on the web at www.quartoknows.com, by phone 1.978.282.9590, or by email at customerservice@quarto.com.

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