20 Products in Your Garage That Are Waste of Space and Money
If you're fortunate enough to have a garage, you know how much of a struggle it is to maintain the space it provides. A few bicycles, a beer fridge, a work bench, a lawn mower, some tool cases, and maybe some gym equipment can put a pinch on prime real estate meant for a car. There are enough items that you actually need to house in a garage just to maintain a home and its everyday needs that any trivial detritus is just waste. Marketers and retailers want that garage space, but here are a few items that should never make their way behind the door.
You can buy rags at Home Depot for a few cents to a dollar apiece, but you know what beats that price? Free. If you have T-shirts clinging to life or dish towels with stains that just won't leave, congratulations: You have a free pile of rags.
While handy for cleaning up a shop or getting rid of floodwaters, wet/dry vacs tend to be big, wheeled beasts whose hoses and sheer bulk take up a whole lot of floor space. We aren't saying the big ones aren't worth the $50 or more, but you really need to assess what you're using it for in the garage. If the answer isn't heavy-duty cleanup, Amazon has smaller versions such as a 2.5-gallon Armor ($30), 1.5-gallon Stanley ($31), or 1.5-gallon Shop-Vac Micro ($37) that are not only less expensive, but take up less space.
Stick to generic Walmart Husky bags and you'll get 144 for $13.50. Get some Glad bags spritzed with Febreze, and it'll cost more than $17 for 110, or 6 cents more per bag. Garbage is garbage: Let it smell the way it smells or, better, take it out every so often.
According to automotive site Edmunds.com, the average price of a new compact SUV (think Honda CR-V or Ford Escape) is roughly $30,000. The average price of a 3- to 4-year-old version of the same compact SUV is about $21,000. In some cases, it may still come with either original warranty coverage or an extended warranty, making a slightly used car a far more cost-efficient garage occupant than a new one.
We aren't telling you to ditch the drill, but there are some tools that just won't be needed more than a few times. Since Home Depot and Menards rents tools from drills and saws to scaffolding and jackhammers, forget buying every tool you might need someday. What you can't borrow, you can always rent.
Even at a place such as Lowe's, you aren't going to get away with spending less than $100 on a tool cabinet. They can be great for organization, but unless you're a mechanic or dedicated hobbyist, they'll be full of tools you aren't using. By comparison, full pegboard kits start at $47.50, with a $70 model holding just about every tool a DIYer could ever need.
Work benches aren't cheap. They also take up considerable space if you're thinking about building one yourself. Sturdy fold-out work benches start at $83 and leave a whole lot more space in the garage for when you aren't working.
If you're spending $40 to turn the garage into a summer room, what you're actually looking for is a few screens for a porch. If there's no porch or balcony, you may have to face the fact you're living in the wrong place ... and that there are better ways to spend time than on a folding chair next to some tools.
Let's just use Weber as an example. The entry-level, two-burner Spirit starts at $350 to $400 at Lowe's, but is attached to a bulky stand that takes up space. For roughly the same price, the two-burner Weber Q is $169 at Home Depot and either attaches to a stand that folds flat for storage or works on its own with tiny propane tanks. If you don't consider yourself a grill master and just need a grill for occasional cookouts and camping trips, go small.
Rental isn't going to cut it if there's lots of land and vegetation to deal with. Instead of buying trimmers, weed whackers, brush cutters, pole saws, and tillers separately, though, pick up just one motor and attachments. Home Depot stocks Honda's VersAttach system starting at $299 for the base motor or Echo's trimmer and edger kit for the same price. While getting a Sun Seeker and its attachments for $200 on Amazon is the most frugal option, pros swear by the more costly Stihl KombiSystem.
Again, we aren't saying not to own these things. But a combination of the two eats up a lot of space for people in snowy climates. While lawn tractors often have mountable snowblower attachments, they're also the size of go-karts. The best bet for conserving a bit of space (and money) is a product such as the Troy-Bilt Flex ($399 at Lowe's) with a lawn mower attachment ($499), a snow blower attachment ($300), and other attachments for chipper shredders, log splitters, leaf blowers, and pressure washers.
You're going to need to get up on the roof, clean the gutters, change light bulbs, and muck around in other high places, but you don't need a stepladder, straight ladder, and an extension ladder eating up space when one ladder will do. We can't recommend a multi-position telescoping ladder enough, not only because it does the job of a stepladder and extension ladder, but because it can fold up for easy storage. They are not inexpensive (Lowe's Werner and Little Giant ladders start at $120 for the smallest models) but they're durable and make the most efficient use of space.
Paint cans take up a whole lot of space and aren't always the best at telling you what's inside. That dab on the lid or printed label can deteriorate over time, while the paint itself has a shelf life of little more than a decade. TrueValue suggests using up leftover paint, donating it to places such as Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, or letting latex paint harden and disposing of it properly. To keep leftovers, try storing in sealed, labeled Mason jars or other glass containers that show what's inside.
We can't estimate the cost and power use of the old refrigerator moved from the kitchen to the garage to store beer, wine, and overflow food for the holidays. But The Washington Post notes that a fridge that meets the newest federal standards will use $215 to $270 less per year in electricity than one that met the first standards set in 1978. In short, the beer fridge is an energy hog. The solution? Buy a larger, more efficient refrigerator for the house instead of running one in the kitchen and another in the garage.
Thousand-pound capacity wood dollies start at $20 at Lowe's, and an 800-pound steel hand truck goes for $60. A commercial 600-pound platform dolly is just $46. The question is, what are you moving, and how often? U-Haul rents furniture dollies and hand trucks for $5 to $7 a day, and appliance hand trucks for $10 to $12. Unless you think you can get roughly three to four moves out of a dolly or eight to 12 moves out of a hand truck, there's no need to own them.
No, you don't need a giant tank and compressor or even a hand-held unit for everyday use. If you aren't a mechanic or contractor, things such as nail guns and air ratchets will make only brief cameos in your life. While you can pick up a compressor for $100 or more, Home Depot rents them for $30 for four hours or $40 a day.
If it's temperature-sensitive, moisture-sensitive or attractive to pests, a stay in the garage will end in heartbreak. Garages are where records go to warp, family photos go to stick together in huge clumps, documents go to fade and degrade, and food, clothes, and cardboard go to be eaten by mice, moths, and spiders. Not only are those items wasting space in the interim, but you're tossing away any value they once had.
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