Helpful Insights For Interior Designers, Architects, and Home Builders Interested in the Garage Design Market
VAULT® founder Chad Haas offers helpful insight to interior designers, architects, and home builders interested in the garage design market.
Q: Let’s talk about what typically goes into a garage. How many cabinets are typically being installed in a high-end garage? How large is the typical garage storage budget?
There is no set answer here on how much in size or budget is typical. Every client is different and therefore each project is unique. However, there is a set of details that are helpful for designers to gather from clients that will make it easier for them to create a custom solution that is just right for the homeowner:
- SPACE NEEDS: Understanding the number of lineal feet that a homeowner has available and/or wants to dedicate to storage is the first step of every project.
- STORAGE NEEDS: What a client intends to store in their cabinets determines what ‘type’ of cabinet will best meet their storage needs.
- BUDGET: Having a budgetary goal helps every project stay within the client’s expectations.
Knowing a client’s space needs, storage needs, and budgetary expectations will create a starting point to help homeowners visualize their space. Once the homeowner settles on a design that best suits all their needs, the industry pro can ask the cabinet manufacture to provide an itemized, detailed proposal.
Q: What unique qualities must garage cabinets have that kitchen, laundry, or bath cabinets don’t require?
Durability, first and foremost. This is a major problem afflicting this fledgling industry. The main culprit is cabinets that are wood-based, whether they are made from plywood or a pressed wood like particleboard or MDF. It doesn’t matter how beautiful they are – these products are simply not manufactured to last very long and therefore do not provide homeowners with a suitable return on their investments.
An investment in garage storage cabinetry should serve a client for a lifetime of use, so customers should choose wisely. Yet, because wood cabinets are so cheap it has become easier for homeowners to landfill them and buy something new. When an average household has to replace wood-based garage cabinets every five to seven years, it is appalling just how much money is being thrown away on “disposable cabinets.”
Q: Can you explain a bit further why wood cabinets don’t belong in the garage?
Having spent a number of years with a large industrial timber and lumber company, I have a deep reverence for the beauty of wood. Increasingly, though, I’m seeing wood-based cabinets that would normally be used in a kitchen or closet being re-marketed for use in the garage, particularly at the luxury end of the market.
While I feel that wood-based cabinets offer consumers the flexibility of nearly unlimited size options and appearance packages for use elsewhere in the home, I have strong reservations about their performance in the harsh garage environment. Nor are they being engineered to handle the extreme weight loads often required of garage cabinetry.
Unlike the environments of kitchens, baths, or closets, the harsh garage environment demands cabinetry be up to several grueling tasks:
- Storing heavy items like tools, sporting goods, gardening equipment, paint cans, Rubbermaid containers, large boxes, and other over-sized bulky items.
- Being durable enough so that they are not easily scratched or dented.
- Resisting contact with automobile fluids, chemicals, cleaners, and other items commonly stored in the garage.
- Holding up to the extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity that can wreak havoc in a short span of time, particularly on wood-based cabinets.
Garage cabinets are just like every other manufactured good in that if quality and performance are important, then homeowners will have to budget for that quality.
Q: Wood aside, what are other popular raw materials for garage cabinet construction? What does VAULT use?
Aluminum, steel, and stainless steel are three of the most popular raw materials used in the construction of metal cabinets, and each has a distinct set of properties and finishes across a wide range of performance and price points. Metal combines durability, beauty, stability and resistance to impact. It is the reason why, for example, all professional mechanics and shops use metal cabinets for their tool and bulk storage, not wood.
Whether a homeowner has a working garage, a space to display their car collection, or simply a place to organize and store things, metal is a great raw material choice for cabinetry. But it is important to select the right metal.
VAULT is the only manufacturer of galvanized and stainless steel cabinets on the market, made in the United States, that are designed specifically for clients wanting the very best performance. We only work with these raw materials because they offer the ultimate in durability for garage and tool storage cabinetry. We use galvanized and stainless steel because client’s want our products to last a lifetime, and beyond.
Q: You use porcelain floor tile in your custom garage designs – very different than the usual garage flooring. Can you tell us more about the tile you use and why it’s a fit for garage environments?
For strength and durability, it’s very important you’re using solid-through porcelain tile, not ceramic or natural stone. In a garage environment, the tiles will come into contact with automobile fluids, so you must ensure the tiles are warrantied against staining and comprised solid throughout, not glazed. Ceramic tiles, for example, have a glazing on the surface – this is to protect the tile, and it’s also where the color comes from. If this protective glazing is scratched or damaged, though, the tile substrate beneath it will stain. The porcelain tiles that we use have a solid-through body and are warrantied against staining.
Lastly, most tiles are rated for “interior” or “residential” applications. The tiles VAULT® uses are rated for commercial applications. This is an important criterion because residential-rated tiles are not manufactured to the same strength, durability, or stainless qualities as commercially rated tile.
Q: Finally, a big picture question: What do design professionals need to know about garage design that they don’t know they don’t know? What are the gotchas?
Design professionals such as architects, interior designers, or builders should give consideration to a number of things when designing a garage. Since the garage is often an afterthought, decisions on the placement of electrical panels, water heaters, garden irrigation panels, etc., can significantly impact the location of garage cabinets and other furnishings.
One major design obstacle that we run into quite frequently is the use of concrete curbs. If the foundation for a garage is poured and a curb is run up the wall – but the walls are not flush with the curb – this can significantly affect what kind of storage cabinets can be used. For example, if the wall is not flush with the curb then any free-standing cabinets will be unable to also be flush with the wall. Or, if the curb is too high off the floor, it may prevent wall-mounted cabinets from being mounted at all – they may need to be to raised so high above the curb that accessibility to the cabinet is simply impractical or impossible.