Porcelain Tile – The Ideal Surface for Garage Flooring

Choosing a garage floor comes with a unique set of challenges. You want the floor to be beautiful, but that’s not enough. Since the garage is a high-traffic area filled with automobiles, tools, chemicals, and a variety of other hazardous liquids, features such as durability and stain resistance are also significant factors. There’s only one garage flooring choice where beauty, performance, and return on investment all align: porcelain tile. 

When it comes to garage flooring, nothing approaches the features and value of porcelain. Porcelain tile has the sought-after appearance of marbles, granites, and other quarry stones, but its technical attributes are far superior to these materials. Porcelain tile is unmatched in features such as uniformity, shine, strength, low absorption, abrasion resistance, stain resistance, and ease of cleaning. Simply put, there is not a stronger or denser tiled surface, especially one that offers the stunning aesthetics of porcelain. And maybe most important – if cared for properly, porcelain tiles can last a lifetime and beyond.

Let’s take a closer look at the features of porcelain tile, and then at some helpful tips for porcelain tile installation for your garage design project.

WHY YOU SHOULD USE PORCELAIN FLOORING IN YOUR GARAGE

IT’S PERMANENT. Many homeowners and designers are making choices about garage flooring with an expectation of longevity – but that expectation simply isn’t being met. The most popular garage flooring options range from DIY-level epoxy floor coating (about $2-$3 per foot2) to professionally installed, multi-layered floor coating ($8-$10 per foot2). At these prices, these inferior garage-flooring options are approaching the cost of laminate or solid hardwood flooring in a home’s living area.

Someone who spends to install a hardwood floor in the home is doing so because they expect that floor to last the entire life of that home. They know that the alternative – carpeting – will wear out and have to be replaced in five to fifteen years. When it comes to the garage, though, people are still dropping “permanent solution” money for what amounts to temporary flooring. In a manner of speaking, they’re paying for hardwood and getting carpet.

Porcelain tile is to the garage what hardwood flooring is to the rest of the home. It has an exceptional long-term return on investment because it will last for the entire life cycle of the home. It’s permanent, and because of this simple fact no other flooring option can approach its value. Simply put: porcelain lasts. You can’t make the same case for other coatings that look like freshly minted pennies upon installation, but immediately start to age though constant wear, cracks, and stains. Tile not only lasts a lifetime, but it ages beautifully over the course of that life.

IT’S STRONGER THAN STONE. Fact: porcelain is stronger than granite. The high temperature used to fire porcelain tiles produces an extremely dense product that is resistant to chipping and cracking. This often comes as a surprise to customers who examine a 3/8-inch piece of porcelain tile – it looks thin enough you could just snap it over your knee. But, in fact, when porcelain tile is mortared to concrete it takes on the same strength characteristics as that concrete.

As far as how it compares to popular kinds of stone flooring, porcelain has a breaking strength that is 2X-3X times greater than granite and 7X-8X greater than marble. Porcelain tiles are incredibly rigid – you can drop heavy tools on them without any chipping. Essentially, what will damage concrete will also damage the tile. And it takes a significant impact to damage concrete. And the added beauty of tile is that if you do catastrophically damage the porcelain flooring – by, say, accidentally dropping an engine block – you can simply replace the damaged section.

IT’S NON-POROUS AND IMPERVIOUS. Porcelain is stronger than stone, but it has another major advantage, too: it’s non-porous. It has an impervious surface that nothing can penetrate. Porcelain is comprised of finely ground glass crystals fired in a high-temperature kiln that results in a product much like glass in its composition. Just like glass, nothing can stain it or penetrate it.

Because it’s an impervious surface it’s going to resist any staining from auto or motorcycle fluids (such as oil, grease, brake fluids, anti-freeze, and other chemicals) that frequently come into contact with a garage floor. These fluids can be catastrophic to natural stone because they can seep into the pores of the stone and can stain it permanently. For that reason alone, you should not use quartz, marble, or any other type of natural stone in a garage environment.

The dense composition that extends throughout the entire body of the porcelain tile pays other dividends, as well. It shows no visible effects from chemical attack or from ultra-violet light, meaning the tiles’ brightness and color will not be affected by these external environmental factors. As such, an impervious tile will be ideally suited for high-moisture environments and can withstand freeze/thaw conditions; this is why you will often see them used in exterior applications or as cladding on buildings, as well. In short, porcelain is stain-resistant, it’s wear-resistant, it’s not going to discolor, and it’s not going to fade. In a word: it’s impervious.

IT OUT-PERFORMS CERAMIC. Our customers often ask about the difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles. Porcelain is a solid-through product, meaning it’s entirely comprised of one material. As a dense impervious tile, the manufacturer does not need to apply a glaze to the tiles in the firing process. It’s comprised of one material through and through, so if it does have a chip or crack nothing is exposed or compromised.

Ceramic-based tiles, on the other hand, have a base medium with a glazing atop it. These tiles are limited by the fact that the glaze on the surface of the tile can wear off with use. Ceramic tiles offer a broader selection of colors and may look great once they are installed, but over time, once the glaze has worn off or is damaged, they can stain easily.

But it’s more than just time you have to worry about. Something as simple as a car tire with a stone in it or a dropped hammer can scratch or chip that ceramic glazing off, leaving it ready to be stained by everyday garage fluids. Bottom line: ceramics are appropriate for a kitchen, a bath, and certain other interior environments, but you don’t want to put a ceramic tile floor down in your garage. It simply doesn’t have the strength or stain-resistance of porcelain.

IT’S EASY TO MAINTAIN AND THRIVES IN HIGH-TRAFFIC AREAS. Porcelain wears incredibly well, so it’s an excellent choice for high-traffic uses. It’s no secret the garage is a high-traffic environment that takes continuous abuse: heavy car tires, road salt from winter driving, water puddling up on the floor, and a variety of dripping automobile fluids. As such, a well-maintained garage floor will need frequent attention. Along with polished concrete, porcelain has an advantage over every other type of floor option: it’s not going to show any visible signs of being attacked by salt, chemicals, and automobile fluids. The dirt, grime, water, chemicals, and other fluids are simply going to float upon the surface of the porcelain, making it very easy to clean.

Big picture: it’s very easy to maintain porcelain tiles. As long as you use porcelain tile cleaner on these surfaces, they’re going to look great forever. In fact, this is a secret that another industry that deals in heavy traffic – the malls of America – has known for decades. Drive to any mall in America and you’ll see miles and miles of porcelain tiles, still standing strong after millions of feet, strollers, and carts and all the dirt, water, and grime that they have tracked in. American homeowners, interior designers, and builders are just beginning to catch on to what many malls, restaurants, and automobile showrooms have long known: that the durability of porcelain is unmatched.

IT’S BEAUTIFUL AND CUSTOMIZABLE. We’re probably saving the most obvious quality for last here, but porcelain tile is simply beautiful. There’s a reason that porcelain tile is the flooring of choice in the showrooms of Ferrari and Maserati, and countless other elite luxury automotive brands. Porcelain tile not only represents an unrivaled blend of beauty, value, and performance, but it comes in a wide range of aesthetic options. There is a truly vast portfolio of available colors, textures, finishes, and sizes, meaning that the porcelain tile flooring can be customized to fit with any individual style, space, or brand.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT USING PORCELAIN TILE

UPFRONT COST VS. LIFETIME VALUE. The only aspect some might see as a disadvantage to porcelain is that the upfront cost (tiles + installation) might be higher compared with other flooring options. But when you consider that properly maintained porcelain will literally last a lifetime, its overall value, along with polished concrete, is unrivaled. Non-impervious flooring options, as noted in the section above, are far more likely than porcelain to be damaged or stained and to need partial or full replacement.

MINIMAL SPECIAL INSTALLATION REQUIREMENTS. There are really no major special components to installing porcelain tile in a garage. There are, though, a couple of things to keep in mind:

First, any major cracks in the foundation of the cement garage floor will have to be dealt with before the tile is installed.

Second, make sure to specify that the grout used in the installation be an epoxy-based grout (also know as a “stainless grout”). If you don’t use a stainless grout, the grout lines can potentially be stained by grease, oil, chemicals, cleaners, and other typical garage fluids. An epoxy-based grout, on the other hand, will resist staining. Epoxy grouts are a little bit more difficult to trowel, so it’s important to make this grout preference know to the tile installer so they can factor it into the quoting process.

USING APPROPRIATE CLEANERS. You can only use porcelain tile cleaner on porcelain tiles. Porcelain is similar to windows in this sense. If you put floor cleaner on a window instead of glass cleaner, it will smear. That’s because the cleaner remains atop the window, and if you don’t remove it the dirt and grime is going to stick to the non-appropriate cleaner and make the window appear dingy. The same thing applies to porcelain – if you use an oil-based or other non-porcelain cleaner on it, that cleaner is simply going to sit atop the tile and attract grime. So stick to porcelain tile cleaner, and don’t use bleach, ammonia-based cleaners, or other types of all-purpose cleaners. You might think these are appropriate since you use them on kitchen or bath tiles, but remember you’re not going to have much or any oil or grease in those spaces. The garage is just a different environment altogether, and porcelain is a different kind of surface.

DESIGN TIPS FOR A VISUALLY INTERESTING PORCELAIN TILE LAYOUT

If you do choose porcelain for your garage flooring, we’ve got a few tips that may help you use tile to maximize aesthetics and create visual interest in your space.

TIP #1: MATCH TILE SIZE TO SPACE SIZE. It is appropriate to use a smaller format tile in a smaller space, and a larger format tile in a larger space. So if you have a smaller garage (such as a single car garage), you may want to limit your selection to a tile no larger than 12×12 in size because smaller tiles will create a visual effect of making a smaller room appear larger. Conversely, a smaller tile in a larger room is going to make the room appear smaller. In a larger room you want a larger tile; for example, it’s common in three-car garages (1,000 foot2 and larger) to use 12×24 or 24×24 tiles. Those larger tile sizes look wonderful in more spacious environments.

TIP #2: BEWARE OF TRENDS. Avoid a tile pattern or colors that are going to look gaudy or quickly run their course (remember when avocado was a popular color choice in the 1970s?).  Instead, seek out a timeless look, especially since your porcelain tile should last a lifetime. One common example of overuse is the 50/50 checkerboard pattern that’s laid out in many garages – we’re starting to see that go out of vogue simply because it’s being overused. One trick to pulling off this look is to use a main field tile in which you intersperse a contrasting color. The key is being more creative with these colors in order to help shape something more unique and timeless, and to create more visual interest.

Here are a couple ideas. Rather than laying out an equal split of one-half lighter colored tiles with one-half darker colored tiles, you can accomplish a different visual look by laying out two large format lighter tiles, and then a darker one, and so on in that pattern. Or group them, so there are four lighter tiles together, followed by four darker. Another option is to cut small, 3-inch medallions of a different, darker contrast color, and interspersing the medallions into the checkered floor pattern – that will create a timeless look that can be traced back as far as ancient Rome. These more creative patterns may cost a bit more during installation, but the finished product will create the kind of visual interest and drama that catches the eye.

TIP #3: STAGGER YOUR TILES FOR VISUAL EFFECT. Another pattern that can be used for a unique look is moving one tile forward, with the other coming up half as far. This “staggered” look is both elegant and timeless, and another way to create a visual interest in the tiled floor.

TIP #4: ROTATE YOUR TILES FOR A UNIQUE LOOK. Instead of running the tile parallel to the walls, another unique and compelling layout can be achieved by turning the tiles 45 degrees on an angle to create a diamond shape. There’s more cutting that needs to be done near the entrance and on the edges where the tile meets the garage wall, but the result is a dramatic look that’s well worth the extra effort.

TIP #5: DON’T EXACT-MATCH TILE AND GROUT COLORS. One aspect of the tiling process that’s often overlooked is selecting a complementary grout color. Many people will pick their tile color, and then ask their tile installer to match the grout color exactly. If you match the grout exactly to the tiles, things are going to disappear onto themselves and the combination won’t accentuate the beauty of the tile – and that’s ultimately what you want to do. For the grout, you either want to go with a shade lighter or darker so that the tile jumps out at you and the grout disappears into the background.

For example, if you have white tile you don’t want white grout – you want to go with an antique white, or a cream, but you don’t want it to be an exact match. Or you could go a shade in the opposite direction. Or you could even match the grout with the color of your walls, pulling the space together seamlessly and creating some architectural harmony with your color decisions. In short, exactly matching grout and tile color simply doesn’t create the visual interest and drama that picking grout a shade lighter or darker does.

LEARN MORE ABOUT VAULT’S GARAGE DESIGN SERVICES

Given the seemingly endless positives we’ve laid out, it probably comes as no surprise that porcelain tile is the flooring material of choice at VAULT®. In fact, we’re the exclusive importer and distributer of the same elite, best-in-class Italian porcelain tile installed at all Ferrari and Maserati showrooms throughout the world, the same porcelain tiles used by Mercedes, Porsche, Lamborghini, Audi, and Land Rover.

Please contact VAULT® today if we can be of any help in your garage design project, or to learn more about our exclusive porcelain tile and our custom flooring services. We have a vast catalog of tile sizes, shapes, and colors to match your project and needs. Whether you’re flooring a private garage or commercial showroom, your space deserves a strong, bold, and beautiful foundation. So schedule your free flooring consultation today.

The Gotchas of Garage Design: WHAT INDUSTRY PROS NEW TO THE GARAGE MARKET MAY NOT KNOW THEY DON’T KNOW

The garage is a space unlike any other in the home and that can present unique challenges where design is concerned.  Despite this, the garage is often an afterthought in the overall design of a home. But unnecessary expenses, delays, and a whole host of other problems can be avoided with a well-planned design, one that takes the entire space and all of its wide variety of features into account so that your garage is both comfortable and functional.

For example, features like interior concrete curbs and the garage’s concrete footprint must be considered. And decisions on the placement of cabinets, electrical panels, water heaters, and garage door openers can significantly impact the aesthetics, safety, and convenience of the space and its contents.

Architects, interior designers, builders and other design/build professionals may benefit from giving thought to the number of common traps that could end up costing time and money to a homeowner down the line.

To help you avoid a delay, or costly and annoying problems, here are a few of the most important check-list items you can take into account in the planning phase of a new garage to ensure it can get built the right way.

DEALING WITH CONCRETE CURBS

One major design obstacle that we run into quite frequently is the use of concrete curbs.  In some parts of the country masonry curb blocks are required by code, so when the foundation for a garage is poured and a curb is run – but the walls are not flush with the curb – it can significantly limit what type of storage can be used.

For example, if the wall is not flush with the curb then any free-standing shelving or racks or cabinetry will not 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 – if they have to be raised so high above the curb that accessibility into the cabinet is either impractical or not possible.

Whenever practical, building garage walls that are flush with concrete curbs is ideal, since this will not limit your storage options.

PLACEMENT OF IMPORTANT GARAGE FEATURES

For a space that many perceive as simple or straightforward, placing important features within a garage actually takes quite a bit of foresight. With limited space, it’s easy for garage features to come into conflict with one another or cause unnecessary hazards.

Here are some tips on placing some of the more common garage features.

Electrical Outlets
Be sure the garage workshop has an adequate number of electrical outlets (and the proper amp capacity to power tools) to accommodate your needs. Placing enough outlets exactly where you need them will eliminate the need for extension cords stretched across your garage floor, which can create a tripping hazard.

As far as outlets go, we are fond of the Leviton brand of ‘Industrial Grade’ Heavy Duty Self-Grounding receptacles, which are bulletproof. Choosing a color for the receptacle that stands out – such as red, blue, or black – that also matches the color of your cabinets will be a small design feature that will set the garage apart from the rest, and also make it easier to find the location of an electrical box.

If you’re considering increasing the electrical capacity to 30-amp circuits, the planning phase is definitely time to make this decision, since upgrading capacity generally requires installing heavier-gauged wire from your circuit-breaker box to where you need outlets.

Electrical Panels
For very practical reasons, the electrical panel should be placed near the entrance from the home into the garage. Blowing a fuse or tripping a circuit breaker is a relatively common issue, so when it happens you want to avoid having to stumble through a dark garage – especially when it’s compounded by the clutter, parked cars, bikes, and other items commonly found there.

Locating the electrical panel in the area where the electrical wires enter the house – so that it’s also close to an entrance door –makes the most sense. Stumbling in the dark is never a good idea.

Hot Water Tanks and HVAC Systems
Water tanks, home vacuum systems and HVAC systems are usually placed near each other in a garage. Unlike garage cabinets, it is not wise to place these along the back wall of the garage. This is the easiest place for a car to accidentally strike something – certainly not ideal if it’s your cabinets, but a disaster if it’s your water heater! That said, side walls make the most sensible location for water tanks and HVAC systems – ideally recessed in an alcove to save space, and screened in for safety and to hide the unsightly, but necessary, appliances.

To make the situation more aesthetically pleasing, we’ve also had success with a few outside-the-box ideas such as creating hidden doors in the walls that the casual observer wouldn’t notice. We’ve also reconfigured our VAULT cabinets to act as a sort of “secret” doorway that these items can be accessed through. And we have placed them tucked behind barn doors or other doors that slide open and closed on rails. This last solution is visually pleasing and hides the ugliness of the water heater and HVAC, and since the doors slide there are fewer spatial conflicts with parked automobiles.

Televisions  When placing your electrical panel and wiring your garage, you may also consider the potential placement of other items that will require electricity, including décor such as neon signs. It will pay off in the long run if you think about media placement before your walls are drywalled.

One common mistake we see repeated over-and-over again are televisions incorporated into wall cabinets, or on a wall above a work area or countertop. Placing a television so close to where you will work or stand (usually only a couple feet away) can become an unpleasant and fatiguing user experience. It may also limit the vantage points from which the television can be seen elsewhere in the garage. Using blue painters tape to mark out same size of your TV onto a wall is a good way of help you visualize its location before making a final decision.

One of the best spots for a TV is elevated in a corner. Corners are good locations for televisions because they are generally free from obstructions and allow for a higher location so that the TV can be seen from more vantage points. Another good thing about corners is they tend to be dead space, anyway. Corner cabinets tend to be very large and take up a lot of space, and they’re very limiting in terms of what can be stored there (and in how easily those stored items can actually be reached).

You can read our more in-depth article about garage television placement here.

Garage Door Openers
Designers and homeowners alike often wonder whether anything can be done about the placement or appearance of garage door opener hardware – the big motors and those bulky rails that can dominate the garage’s ceiling in a fairly unpleasant way. One straightforward solution is to powder-coat the finish of apparatus to help it blend into the space by matching it with the color of the walls, cabinets, prominent architectural features, or overall color scheme of the home – rather than letting the look of unfinished, generic-looking hardware dominate the airspace.

Maybe the more important tip about garage door openers, though, is that they don’t have to be placed on the ceiling in the first place. When possible, we prefer to install jackshaft operated garage doors – in this case, the space-saving, wall-mounted system is located at the side of a door, thus eliminating the ugly ceiling motor altogether. Not only that: jackshaft operation is also ultra-quiet, and with some models can be even faster than their traditional counterparts.

Placed on the side of the door, the garage door opener is out of sight and out of mind, eliminating the mess up on the ceiling and presenting a cleaner overall look inside the garage. Jackshaft motors are also popular in spaces where a traditional garage door opener cannot be used, such as garages with very low ceilings or the exact opposite: garages with cathedral ceilings where a ceiling mount is not possible.

As an added bonus, jack-shaft operation allows the ceiling space to be used more practically – perhaps by installing a rack for containers housing holiday or seasonal items that don’t need to be accessed frequently.

If you are sticking with a ceiling-mounted motor, though, there’s one other important factor to keep in mind: lighting. Make sure there’s no conflict between garage doors and your light fixture location. If you place a light source in areas where they will be obscured by an open garage door, this conflict can limit the effectiveness of your lighting and create shadows that could negatively affect the space’s functionality and mood.

Light Fixtures
The placement of lighting fixtures is an indispensable part of planning out a garage, yet it’s one that is often overlooked. But perhaps no other set of choices can have a greater impact on the feel and functionality of your space. Proper lighting can make a space comfortable and highlight the room’s best features, just as poor lighting and shadows can create an environment that’s uncomfortable and fatiguing.

In VAULT’s garage design consultations, we recommend combining multiple layers of light to illuminate a garage space: ambient/main lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. Each plays an important role in bathing the garage in three to five sources of overlapping light to eliminate shadows and dark corners. We also recommend clients place lights on two switches: one for the day-in/day-out general lighting needs, and then a second switch that activates additional lighting where brighter light is needed, such as over a work area.

Want to learn more?  You can read our more in-depth article about garage lighting and its importance here.

INSTALLING CABINETS ON THE BACK WALL

If possible, designers should try to leave the back wall of the garage open for the placements of storage. One of main reasons why the back wall is better suited for storage (compared to the side walls) is that is that back-wall cabinets and storage systems do not have to compete for space with automobiles. In a typically sized two-car American garage (about 750 ft2) sidewall cabinet doors inevitably end up smacking into cars, and car doors end up banging into the cabinets. This competition for the same space also constricts the passageway between side-wall cabinets and parked cars, creating both an inconvenience and, potentially, a safety issue.

Installing your cabinets on the back wall is the most practical of all options: vehicles can still park in the garage, but this placement reduces any potential conflict between cars and cabinets. But back-wall cabinets also have an added aesthetic value: placed there, the cabinets are most easily seen by anyone viewing the garage from the outside. The dramatic framing created by this arrangement allows the proud owner to best show off their cabinets to neighbors and other passersby. 

MAXIMIZING SIDE-WALL USAGE

We discussed the reasons side walls aren’t ideal for cabinets. So what are they good for? Side walls are best dedicated to the placement of exterior doors that lead outside, or for water heaters, HVAC systems, electrical breaker boxes, or sprinkler system control panels – necessary items, but ones you do not need to access all that frequently.

If for some reason, though, you or your client is intent on installing side-wall cabinets, there are a few ways to maximize your space and usage. One way would be to consider installing overhead storage cabinets, which will maximize mobility by allowing maximum side clearance. They are called overhead cabinets for a reason: they are placed over one’s head. Since these overhead storage areas might be more difficult to access – because of height and/or parked vehicles – they are better suited for seasonal items that you may only need infrequent access to, such as holiday items, certain sporting goods, etc.

A second way to maximize space while utilizing the side walls is to install shallow-depth (12″) wall cabinets. Though it trades off some storage space compared to standard depth cabinets (24”-deep), selecting shallower cabinets allows easier passage through the garage and limits the space conflict between the cabinets and parked automobiles. If the garage has carriage doors installed, this shallower depth would place the cabinets – unobtrusively – behind the operating hardware for the carriage doors, thus addressing another potential space conflict.

MANAGING THE AESTHETICS OF THE GARAGE FOOTPRINT

One final tip for pros new to garage design focuses on an aspect that’s often overlooked, maybe because it’s underfoot: the footprint of the garage’s concrete pad. Be aware that very often this concrete pad extends beyond the garage door opening. If you have plans to tile the garage floor, it can end up looking awkward if a small section of tile is jutting out from the garage – especially when the doors are closed.

If you plan ahead, though, you can tackle this potential issue: create a threshold at the entrance of the garage so that there is a seamless transition from the concrete pavement of the driveway leading into the garage. The result will be an entrance area that’s much more aesthetically harmonious.

CONTACT VAULT WITH ALL YOUR GARAGE DESIGN QUESTIONS AND NEEDS

The garage design market is fairly young, but it’s growing rapidly. As more and more industry pros like yourself – architects, interior designers, homebuilders, and others – are tackling garage projects, they’re encountering many unique challenges that they didn’t foresee.

Luckily, VAULT is here to help. For over a decade we’ve been designing America’s finest garages, combining layout, lighting, flooring, doors, and furnishings into custom-built spaces that leave our clients (and their neighbors) in awe.

We hope these tips help you save some time, some money, and some frustration. If we can be of any help in your garage design endeavors, we’d love to hear from you at (310) 622-4477 or via VAULTGarage.com. In the meantime, happy designing!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. STORAGE NEEDS: What a client intends to store in their cabinets determines what ‘type’ of cabinet will best meet their storage needs.
  3. 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:

  1. Storing heavy items like tools, sporting goods, gardening equipment, paint cans, Rubbermaid containers, large boxes, and other over-sized bulky items.
  2. Being durable enough so that they are not easily scratched or dented.
  3. Resisting contact with automobile fluids, chemicals, cleaners, and other items commonly stored in the garage.
  4. 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.

 

Well-Planned Lighting Is A Key Element Of Garage Design

How the Right Layers of Light Can Totally Transform Your Space

When you consider the different aspects of garage design, lighting may not seem like a priority – but it should be. Proper lighting can make a space comfortable and highlight the room’s best features, just as poor lighting and shadows can create an environment that’s uncomfortable and fatiguing. 

Few design elements are as central to shaping a room’s ambience as the power of light. This is especially important if part of your lighting’s purpose is to display high-end automobiles or other treasures.

WHY GARAGE LIGHTING MATTERS

To put it simply: lighting is one of the most important elements of a garage space, whether that’s a home workshop, a professional space where mechanics work, or an automotive showroom with luxury vehicles on display. In service areas, having a well-lit space is indispensable. Ever try waxing a car in a poorly lit room? Or how about finding a dropped fastener?

As far as showrooms go, an automobile dealership wants to accentuate the beauty of a new car while ensuring it looks the same inside the showroom as it would out in the daylight. In a showroom, it is also vital to present color accurately, so, for example, silver does not appear light blue, or red doesn’t appear as orange.

THE SORRY STATE OF LIGHTING IN RESIDENTIAL GARAGES

The lighting requirements of many home garages are not much different from professional workshops or showrooms, yet lighting is an element that’s often overlooked in the residential market. This is evidenced by the limited number of fixtures that have been designed for the unique requirements of this space.

Lighting in most residential garages is woefully inadequate, usually consisting of a few incandescent bulbs or fluorescent cans hanging from the ceiling. In garages that lack windows – which is done for good reason, as direct sunlight can fade car paint and interiors – the situation is compounded by the lack of a natural light source. A poorly lit room can be an unpleasant place to work or relax, particularly if there is no natural light or if there are fixtures with ballasts that hum noisily.

Combining levels of light to transform your home garage

COMBINING LEVELS OF LIGHT TO TRANSFORM YOUR HOME GARAGE

Designing your garage to be well-lit is crucial, and can immediately transform the feel and functionality of your garage. Like other rooms in the home, the garage should be illuminated in three layers of light: ambient (general or main) lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. Each plays an important role in bathing the garage in three to five sources of overlapping light to eliminate shadows and dark corners.

Let’s look more closely at each level, as well as the unique value offered by decorative lighting and the emerging trend of LED lighting.

Lighting Level 1: AMBIENT LIGHTING. Ambient lighting will provide the majority of the light within your garage. As general lighting, its task is fairly basic: to produce a sufficient and uniform brightness and to create a safely lit environment. Ever pull your car into a garage only to run into something you didn’t see? It happens all the time due to inadequate ambient lighting.

Ideally, your ambient lighting should turn on instantaneously so that they do not take a long time to warm up before they produce adequate light. Some light sources can be affected by cold temperatures, so if the garage is not heated this may slow performance during winter months. For safety, it’s important to choose reliable general lighting sources that turn on instantly.

As far as placement, fixtures that are flush-mounted are the most common in garage with 9′-10′ ceiling heights or less. If the garage has extra tall ceilings, suspending luminaires on chains or cords can also be used. Fixtures that will bounce light off the ceiling will improve the lighting conditions within your garage.

It’s important to remember, though, that sources for general lighting should meet functional needs first, and aesthetics second. In other words, light requirements should be prioritized over style or form. 

TIP:  Consider wiring your general light source to a motion-detector so your main lights turn on if you walk into the space, or if your garage door opens. In addition, placing your ambient lights on a timer so that they shut off completely during unoccupied times will save energy.

Lighting Level 2: TASK LIGHTING. Task lighting is designed specifically to meet the needs of the tasks you want to accomplish. Fixtures should be placed within close proximity to your task – such as lighting a workbench area or tucking lights underneath your wall cabinets to better illuminate the work surface below. Where task lighting is concerned, the relevant criteria are good contrast rendition, appropriate luminance levels, harmonious brightness distribution, and elimination of glare.

TIP:  When selecting individual fixtures for task lighting, look for fixtures that can rotate, revolve, and/or swivel so that the light source can be aimed or concentrated at the specific task area.

Lighting Level 3: ACCENT LIGHTING. Accent lighting indirectly highlights an area or object(s) to create or reinforce the character of a room. Accent lighting is just beginning to be promoted for use in garages as an effective way to create mood. It can be used to catch your eye to spotlight a vehicle, artwork, wall sign, or interesting architectural features in the space, such as beamed ceilings.

Layers of accent lighting create drama

Accent lights that are focused on an object will help draw the eye toward that object in contrast to its background. Lighting aimed toward the walls and ceilings can make the room appear brighter than if light is directed downward to the floor. And lighting the corners of a garage will make the space seem larger than it really is – in this case, the eye will be fooled into seeing the space appear to stretch into eternity. 

Another accent lighting technique, very effective in automobile showrooms, involves spotlighting a vehicle within a soft pool of light that’s surrounding it. Your eye is led to the spotlighted car while the rest of the room recedes back, making the background disappear.

DECORATIVE LIGHTING. Though not one of the three primary levels of light, decorative lighting can go a long way in shaping the atmosphere of a garage space. With decorative light sources, the light fixture is a statement piece and is added to the layout to create visual interest in the room. Decorative lighting can be both stylish and functional – neon signs, hanging pendants, and gooseneck barn lights are just a few popular sources of decorative light. The soft warm glow of neon is a great example of how decorative lighting can be used to create visual interest and shape a space’s character.

Neon signage can create a mood

LED LIGHTING. One emerging garage lighting trend we are starting to see more and more is the use of LED lights, most commonly placed under wall cabinets to illuminate countertops, below base cabinets to illuminate the floor (handy if you drop a fastener), and in soffits to create ambience.

Under cabinet lights will highlight work surfaces

Bottom line, when planning your garage it’s very important to take into account the activities you’ll be doing in the garage, what you want to get out of your lighting, and what illumination level is best for what you are trying to accomplish. Using only one light source may result in shadows that limit what you can do with and in your space – but these limitations can often be removed by adding other indirect light sources.

READY TO SEE THE LIGHT?

That’s a lot of lighting know-how to take in. Luckily, we’re here to help you sort through your lighting needs. VAULT®‘s garage design pros can help you customize lighting solutions for your garage, shop, business, barn, showroom, or any other space you’re ready to bring out of the shadows. You can learn more about VAULT®‘s lighting solutions on our website’s lighting page. And when you’re ready to discuss your lighting project and see what VAULT® custom lighting solutions can do for you, contact us today at (310) 622-4477 to book your free lighting consultation.

Architects, Designers, and Home Builders – Don’t Overlook the Residential Garage Market

THE GREATEST MISSED OPPORTUNITY IN HOME DESIGN

Many building trade professionals that plan, design, and build homes are missing out on a burgeoning market and leaving money on the table. Custom garage design is a market that’s young but growing fast, and one that’s moving closer and closer to the mainstream. Tapping into this market will allow industry professionals to address an expanding set of client needs and expectations, while also expanding the number of billable hours attached to a project.

WHY THE GARAGE MATTERS

Ultimately, a home garage should be as well-planned, well-designed, well-organized, and well-furnished as any other room in the house. Not only does the space itself demand it, but the behavior of homeowners points to the garage’s growing importance, as well.

Here are just a few reasons why garages matter more than ever:

Garages are a huge factor in “curb appeal.” On paper, the garage dominates the square footage of most homes. In addition, it’s one of the most dominant features, visually, especially when seen from the street. It also offers a more hidden value: it’s the only part of the home where neighbors, passersby, and strangers can peek inside the home. And what outsiders can see in the garage may ultimately reflect on the homeowner.

Many homeowners are unhappy with their garage situation, and are ready to act.  Even if the rest of the house is immaculately furnished and organized, a cluttered garage will define how outsiders view the entire home and its inhabitants. And homeowners are aware of the problem. One-half of homeowners say their garage is the messiest room in the homes (Harris Interactive). At the same time, though, more than half of Americans want garages their neighbors will envy (Impulse Research/Rust Oleum).

Homeowners are giving their garages more attention. A couple decades ago, pretty much every garage you walked into would have exposed studs, a concrete floor, and harsh, utilitarian lighting consisting of light bulbs screwed into a ceiling socket. But that’s changing. More often, you’re finding upgrades or new designs to make the garage space more habitable, sometimes even pleasant. Drywall, insulation, finished ceilings, more pleasurable lighting, and interior decorations are being added – the kinds of comforts that make you want to spend more time in a particular space.

No room in the home is as versatile as the garage, and people are finding new and creative uses for it.  Maybe homeowners are giving garages more attention because they’re finding so more uses for them – or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, the fact is that a garage is an incomparable space. Where else inside the home can you store and work with automobiles, gardening tools, sporting goods equipment, and car care equipment? As a result, the garage has become more than just a space for protecting cars and collecting clutter. Some have been transformed into home gyms, wood and metalworking shops, small business factories, and garden prep areas. And usually more then one of these at once.

The demographics of garage interest are wider than you think. Because of the garage’s traditional identity as a car storage space, many professionals have ignored the expanding demographic interested in this dynamic and versatile space. It’s not just the male car enthusiast that’s the garage enthusiast anymore. Women do not want a cluttered home, which is why a significant percentage of our garage design consult requests at VAULT® come from women, who are demanding that their garages be every bit as tidy, well-organized and functional as their home. 

Garages are must-have features for many homebuyers. When people are shopping for a home, the lack of a garage – or the right garage – is often a deal-breaker. 74% of homebuyers ranked the garage as the single most important amenity in a home (Century 21). And 82% of homebuyers said that the garage would be one of the factors in their decision to move when looking for a new home (Rust-Oleum). 

LOOKING AT PAST MARKETS TO PREDICT GARAGE GROWTH

Despite all signs pointing to the ascendance of the garage as a premier homespace, though, many professionals are not seizing the limitless potential of this market. Perhaps that’s trepidation due to the market’s infancy – that builders, architects, and designers are waiting to see what this movement grows into in the years to come. 

The future of garages, though, can actually be best understood by looking to the past. Two other home design trends of the last couple decades were once seen by many as overly extravagant and perhaps even absurd, but have since exploded into ubiquity: home theaters and custom closets.

The Home Theater Revolution
With the availability of home video players in the early 1980s, the concept of home theaters was also introduced. For the next decade, though, the installation of a home theater was looked at as the height of extravagance: a high-quality video source and screen, multi-channel surround sound, and a custom-build space with furnishings to match. Those at all income levels saw this as some combination of pretentions and absurd. Who would dump money into such a thing?

Fast-forward to today, though, and no one’s asking that question. Because a home theater, in one form or another, has become so commonplace that even entry-level homes are wired for surround-sound and designed with an “entertainment area” in mind. In only a couple decades, the pretentious had become ubiquitous.

Even Closets Get a Chance to Shine
If a look at home theaters reveals that something seemingly elite can find a niche in every home, then a look at closets reveals that a huge market can be tapped for a seemingly pedestrian space. There was a time when closets were not a particularly important room. After all, most homeowners spend less than a few minutes a day, at most, puzzling over what shirts or dresses to wear, picking out some shoes. Yet pioneering companies such as California Closets were successful at convincing people that closets were crucially important to their day, important enough to drop $15k-$20k on a little-used space tucked in the back of an upstairs room away from plain view.

A closet simply stores clothes, and yet the custom closet market has exploded. Compared to a closet, though, a garage is both much larger and infinitely more versatile. A garage is a workspace, a storage space, an entertainment space, a gathering space, a display space, and more. If the closet market achieved such success with a one-dimensional space, logic dictates that the versatility and value offered by garages sets this market up for an even greater boom.

SEIZE THE UNTAPPED OPPORTUNITY OF GARAGES

From looking closely at homeowner and homebuyer behaviors, to examining the evolution of comparable markets, one conclusion is certain: garage design is a growing market ready for a boom.

Garages are an indispensible part of new homes, but are also spaces being reimagined in existing homes in terms of their use and their features. And this is true across the spectrum of homes, from luxury to entry-level. So if you’re an architect, designer, or builder, it’s time to capitalize by engaging more actively in garage design and redesign. This means organization, storage, lighting, flooring, garage doors, décor… the possibilities and permutations are as limitless as your and your clients’ imaginations.

And we’re here to help. VAULT®‘s industry-leading garage-design experts are always happy to chat about the garage revolution. Feel free to reach out for a consultation about the industry or the latest garage design trends, or to ask how we can help turn your clients’ visions into reality. At VAULT®, designing organized and functional custom garages is our passion, and we’ve been doing it longer than anyone.

Customize Your Garage Cabinets – Choose a Powder Coating to Match Your Space, Vehicles, or Personality

All VAULT® cabinets are handcrafted and custom built to our clients’ exact specifications. This includes details such as custom built-to-size cabinets, countertop surfaces and handle options that can personalize a garage or shop to make it stand out from the crowd. One of our most popular customization options, though, arguably offers the best means to truly personalize your space and make it your own: a custom exterior finish.

Why Powder Coating Matters to You – The Most Durable, Reliable Protection of Your Investment

Powder coating is one of the most durable, reliable and beautiful protective coatings available to protect metal surfaces. The technology of powder coatings has become so advanced that most car manufacturers now powder coat parts that are exposed directly to elements, such as car frames and under-body parts (previously these parts were painted and highly susceptible to rusting).

If powder coated external surface parts can withstand the harsh conditions of rock chips and common road damage – and remain unaffected by salt/deicers, solvents, chemicals, or corrosives – this technology is more than adequate to protect your metal cabinets from day-to-day wear, hot, cold, and humidity to a degree that wood and aluminum surfaces can never match. An additional benefit of our powder-coated surfaces is that they are environmentally friendly, emitting no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

It is for these reasons that all VAULT® exterior cabinet parts are powder coated, never painted. No other surface protection offers our customers what they want, including unlimited color choices, appearance, gloss/smoothness, ease of cleaning and – most importantly – resistance to wear, corrosion, and abrasion.

You’ve Protected Your Investment – Now Customize It

Our reputation for the quality of our finishing is where we excel among other metal cabinet manufacturers. We offer customers an unlimited color palette in a smooth, automotive-quality finish that has a highly reflective, deep luxurious appearance that sets the appearance of VAULT® cabinets apart from all others in the world.

To personalize their VAULT® cabinets further, customers can choose from a variety of texture depths (matte and textured) or topcoat. Our custom finishes create a limitless number of possibilities to personalize each project so that your space can be uniquely beautiful.

The luminous effects of our finishing accentuate the craftsmanship of our cabinets and truly establish our metal cabinets as works of art, as our clients can testify to:

“We were VERY SURPRISED with the beautiful cabinets they show in their website, but the truth is that WE COULDN’T BELIEVE THE QUALITY OF WHAT WAS IN FRONT OF OUR EYES until received the merchandise on the jobsite: TOP CRAFTSMANSHIP AND ASTOUNDING FINISHES, with a specific and beautiful color we chose to fit our client’s requirements.

Last but not least, I have to say that the staff was always very available during the whole process, and I can VOUCH FOR THE HUMAN QUALITY OF THEIR SERVICE WHICH I PERSONALLY FOUND EXCEPTIONAL.”

– RICARDO AVELLA, Architect
ATA Avella Architecture Workshop

The Most Common Cabinet Built at VAULT® is ‘Custom’ – Let’s Collaborate to Create Personal Effects to Set Your Home Apart

Many of our clients have chosen finishes to maintain a home’s architectural harmony or to complement features such as walls, décor, flooring color or finish. Others have matched the exterior finish of their cabinets to match to the color of their vehicles, their favorite brand, or to honor their favorite sports team. Many have simply settled on a unique color that expresses their personal essence. Any and all options are on the table at VAULT®. Here are some examples to get your own creative ideas flowing.

Matching Sports Teams

A huge Cornhuskers Fan in Nebraska picked a deep scarlet to cheer on Big Red and match the rest of his Huskers-themed space.

An avid Los Angeles Lakers fan from Anaheim, California, commissioned us to coat his FORGED cabinets in beautiful royal Lakers purple.

Matching Vehicles

“Ferrari Red” is one of our most popular colors overall. Not surprisingly, it’s especially popular with our clients lucky enough to own red Ferraris.

“Ferrari Red” is hot, no doubt. But since your four-wheeled treasures come in other shades, as well, we’ve got you covered.  

Custom vehicle matching isn’t just for cars, though. For his garage cabinets, our client in San Diego turned to “Azur Blue” to match his favorite dirt bike.

Matching Personality

While some customers have a sports team, vehicle, or other furnishings they want to match cabinet colors with, many others settle on a color that simply speaks to them in one way or another, one that allows them to express themselves and feel truly at home in their space. Here are a few examples of some the more striking and unique powder coating colors we’ve had the pleasure of applying for our customers.  

Free Consultation

The possibilities for customization of your VAULT® cabinets are really only limited by your imagination. If you’re ready to talk further about cabinets, color, or anything else related to your garage project, contact us to set up your free consultation.

The Hard Rock Garage

There are some things that sophisticated, stylish men get fired up about. A perfectly-tailored suit. A Swiss chronograph wrist watch built with precision accuracy that never quits. Speedboats. The sound of a Ferrari revving through its gears. These are some things very likely to produce the words ‘awesome’ or ‘amazing’. In the right context, even the occasional ‘sexy’.

Some things, however, many guys might not be so quick to throw on that list:  cabinets, garages, great customer service. Here’s the thing, though. Those guys are dead wrong, and it’s most likely because they’ve never stepped into their garage and seen their gleaming, custom-built, made-to-measure VAULT® Professional Series cabinets for the first time. If that were the case, they’d likely share the sentiments of a grateful VAULT customer calling from deep in the heart of Texas:

First word I would use to describe the cabinets when you look at them – which doesn’t really fit with the description that is given to most garage cabinets, but you just got to say it – is they’re just sexy-looking and AWESOME. And it just brings a real pop to the room that they are sitting in… they bring a lot of pizzazz, and really upgrade the whole scenario”,
says the owner of this incomparable garage.

Awesome, Sexy Cabinets, Awesome Service

That’s right: sexy cabinets. Awesome, sexy cabinets. We’ve heard this complement many times before, and we are flattered. In this kind of story, things usually start simply enough: a homeowner or trade professional is shopping for garage cabinets, but they do not like what they see. Then they’re flipping through a magazine or surfing the web, and then, boom, they find us. VAULT cabinets pop right off the page or screen. The customer is compelled to reach out, and that’s when our renowned customer service kicks in:

I saw an ad in the magazine, just a little 4×4 ad, and I liked the way the product looked in the picture. So I did a little bit more research through the Internet and finally made the call and was able to talk directly to the owner [VAULT founder Chad Haas], and he answered my questions and was very forthcoming in the process. And I just felt comfortable with where the whole process would lead to”,
said the client about his first impressions.

The customer had a grand vision for the space that he wanted furnished. Along with a large bank of cabinets, he’d be installing top-of-the-line California Audio Technology (CAT) amplifiers and loudspeakers and displaying an extensive array of collectible guitars. Parked in front of this installation would be his collection of jet-black sports cars from Mercedes Benz and Ferrari.

Like always, we gathered all the information possible from the customer and worked together to build a plan. Our goal is make the process as easy as possible for the customer while still working to incorporate his or her input and vision as much as possible.

I am pretty busy – got lots of iron in the fire – but they made process easy. I just basically sent [VAULT] a floor plan, told him kind of what my ideas were. They were helpful enough [so that]  the first step was easy enough.

And then from there we went to the next step of picking out the finishes. And so, that was another easy part. I was pretty set on what kind of finish I wanted, [cabinet layout, etc.] and Chad was HONEST about the plusses and minuses of what I wanted”.

We custom-built a block of Pro Series cabinets, made-to-measure, to perfectly fit the dimensions of the space and to hold the clients audio and video equipped, with a Starlight Black powder coating finish to perfectly match the Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes Benz sports cars that would be parked nearby. We also delivered a couple of custom-made, porcelain and enamel neon signs. Both were meticulous re-creations of classic European sports car brands, one a Ferrari and the other a Lamborghini.  Restoration of a 1930’s-era antique Shell gas pump added additional visual interest to the space.

Hard Rock Garage

Going Above and Beyond

Unfortunately, during installation the customer’s property was struck by a bit of misfortune when a ceiling pipe ruptured, causing significant water damage when it flooded the home. The cabinets and signs would have to be moved offsite and sat in storage for several years while the home was repaired. When it was finally time to unpack the crates and outfit the space, the cabinets, of course, were still good-as-new. The electronics in the neon signs, though, were damaged from the water. They were past their warranty date for repair/replacement, but the customer reached out anyway to have a conversation. And we were more than happy to put our legendary customer service into action:

“I’d have to give kudos to [VAULT] for going above and beyond. My project lasted about four or five years. When it got time to install there were a couple of things that needed some repair work and they fixed those without any complaints. But even though it was well past the warranty period, once I explained how they had sat and all that, the customer service portions just solidified that I had the made the right decision in choosing VAULT to do my upgrades or my upscale cabinet work.

You know, these days most people they just stick by the warranty and say, “Oh well, man, your time passed up and we’re done with you.” But I have really been fortunate to find them [VAULT].”

This is another reason customers choose VAULT: exceptional customer service. Other companies’ efforts in this area just don’t stack up to ours. Customer service isn’t a priority to them. But VAULT goes above and beyond as a standard practice, not just in special situations. We do right by our customers every time, and we keep in touch to make sure they have everything they need to enjoy our products to the fullest. As an added bonus, we get to hear comments like this one, describing the cabinets themselves:

“Most of the time, [metal garage cabinets] are pretty generic and kind of cold. But, you know, the finish that I wanted and the way that it was able to be applied by VAULT products, it goes ABOVE AND BEYOND SEXY AND AWESOME because it really does look AWESOME… I used that word because when everyone walks into the room that’s the words they use. You know, they’ll go, ‘Gosh this room is awesome’, I mean they even use the word sexy – ‘Those cabinets look sexy,’ especially when you got some sexy-looking cars next to them.

These pictures don’t do justice to just how nice these cabinets really are.”

Even though the cabinets sat for almost five years after coming into direct contact with water from the flood, the client was impressed that the stainless steel construction was infallible and completely unaffected:

I am just so IMPRESSED with the mechanical workings of your cabinets – you could tell these are good (drawer) slides and good roller bearings (that allow) the drawers (to operate) real smoothly (unaffected from the water damage from the flood). They (our Pro Series cabinet’s) are put together really good.  And they weigh so much.  In one word, they are AWESOME.”

Add Some Rock-n-Roll to Your Garage

Unrivaled products and unsurpassed service, made to order. Ready to rock? Schedule your free consultation, and start outfitting a garage that will leave you and your neighbors astonished.

About the Audio/Video Equipment in this Garage

Hard Rock Garage

When VAULT founder Chad Haas first spoke to this homeowner in an initial consultation to design his garage, the client expressed his vision for a minimalist showroom that would showcase his passions for sports cars, music (guitars) and home theater.

VAULT partnered closely with Dallas, Texas home theater company HomeTronics to give this client the unique and high-end solution he never thought was possible.  Several custom built-to-order cabinets house all of the audio visual equipment, which include a total of four mammoth California Audio Technology (CAT) 600 watt mono-block power amplifiers that weigh in at a hefty 150lbs apiece.

The solution that VAULT came up with were extra-deep (29”-deep) racks outfitted with heavy-duty 650lb capacity ball bearings to allow them to roll-out effortlessly, and with even weight distribution, despite having to carry more than 300lbs of load bearing weight from the amplifiers and other audio equipment.  The slide-out racking system allowed the HomeTronics installation team to easily access the back of each component that included articulating cable carriers to provide effective management for all cables and power cords.

The power amps and supporting equipment to run the [CAT] speakers are exceptionally heavy, not only could the VAULT cabinets easily support the weight effortlessly, their high-end look complimented the high tech finish of the California Audio Technology Speakers perfectly,” said Greg Margolis, President of HomeTronics.

VAULT also partnered with California Audio Technology (CAT) to make sure that the cabinets matched the client’s selection of speakers and audio equipment.  In these pictures you can see that the custom equipment racks sitting between the 7-foot tall CAT loudspeakers, which:

are built from CAT’s proprietary material MBX105 (which is similar to synthetic countertop material) and weigh in at almost 700 pounds each loudspeaker, finished with a custom owner selected color.  These loudspeakers were drawn in CAD and then custom CNC’ed to ensure precise fit and detailing.  They were then calibrated / engineered on-site for the owner’s exact listening positions and preferences much like a race car I set up for an individual driver and track at the top level. All of this detail and work ensures a WORLD CLASS END RESULT and it was a pleasure to work with VAULT on this project as their values align so closely with ours (Made in America, custom, owner and design driven)”, said Alistair Levine, Director, Sales and Marketing for CAT.

About California Audio Technology (CAT)

CAT was founded in 1990 and delivers bespoke audio systems for a wide variety of spaces (Indoor, Outdoor and Marine).  CAT was founded on the core beliefs of engineering superior solutions utilizing best in class Formula 1 style materials (aluminum, stainless steels (316, 316L and 2205), and carbon fiber).  These solutions either blend into the spaces aesthetic (utilizing custom grilles, fabrics or wall coverings) or become focal designs of the space (often in conjunction with architects and interior designer’s collaboration).

The Mistake Of Choosing Trendy Over Timeless

It can often be hard to predict which home design trends will stay in fashion, and which are short-term styles that will go down in history as laughable missteps.

Trends Come and Go

In the 1950s and 1960s, Victorian fixtures such as claw-foot tubs were ripped out of bathrooms in favor of the modern, sleek-lined, brightly colored fixtures popular during the Atomic Age. Today, though, the designs of the Victorian era are recognized as timeless, and have transcended generations of fleeting styles. And now those same Victorian fixtures cast away in the post-war era are in high demand, and commanding high prices.

And remember when Avocado-colored tile, toilets, and baths were all the rage in the 1960s and 1970s? By the 1980s those fixtures and colors were branded as outdated symbols of an ugly, bygone era. The matching shag carpet didn’t help, either. Nor did the fake wood paneling on the walls. Look away!

Garages and Style

To some degree, garages have been spared many of the fashion blunders of the last hundred years. Until fairly recently, interior garage design was either ignored or simply fell victim to the same fashion crimes perpetrated elsewhere in the home. In the last couple decades, though, as people are starting to put more money and attention into this valuable space, it has become imperative that you ask whether your choices in garage design and furnishing are truly lasting.

Take diamond plate, for example – that textured, shiny pattern that started popping up across the country in garages, gyms, workshops, and pickup trucks a decade ago. Diamond plate may be a current and widespread trend in garage design… but will it last? What happens if diamond plate suddenly becomes outdated and no longer fashionable? Metaphorically speaking, you’re stuck with a garage-full of avocado toilets.

The best way to avoid the stress of these trend questions is to avoid having to ask them in the first place. Essentially, you want to find the Victorian equivalent for garage style: a look with undeniable appeal that will transcend the shifting tastes between one generation and the next. You want timeless. You want classic. You want the Fender Stratocaster guitar. You want a Rolex. You want a Shelby Cobra. That’s where VAULT comes in.

VAULT’S Timeless and Classic Garage Cabinets

As VAULT founder Chad Haas puts it, “You know that you’ve achieved a great design if whatever decisions you make will look great 40 or 50 years later. I prefer a design that is timeless, versus something that is trendy.  That’s my guiding principle.”

So what does this look like? It means no diamond plating. It means no garish, trending color palettes. What it does mean is graceful lines, beautiful detailing, the deep gloss of automotive-quality powder coating in tasteful colors, exposed exterior frames, and stainless steel handles and exposed surfaces. And it means symmetry and harmony when pairing these pieces and placing them throughout your space. It means a collection of features that form into a style and quality that will stand the test of time.

Timelessness Demands Durability

Timelessness means being unaffected by time, which is why choosing a cabinet built to withstand the test of time is equally as important as transcendent style. As Haas points out, though, some current design trends are prioritizing style to the detriment of durability:

Unfortunately for consumers, there is an epidemic of bad products flooding the garage cabinetry market. Melamine cabinets, for example, may look amazing the day they are installed, but they have to be ripped out five years later because that raw material is simply not appropriate for use in the garage – as such, it has a high failure rate. Same thing for cabinets built from aluminum. As a soft metal, aluminum scratches and dents very easily. And because aluminum cabinets have painted surfaces – which may look nice, but are not powder coated – they just do not hold up.

Bottom line, according to Haas, is that focusing on trending style and ignoring durability may be great for the maker of the cabinet, but it means a terrible return-on-investment for the homeowner. Clearly, some cabinet manufacturers just don’t worry about timelessness. At VAULT, though, achieving a classic, lasting design matters because our cabinets and tool chests will still be standing in 50 years – a fact that is not lost on our customers:

“Extremely happy with the quality of the cabinets, think they’ll be in good stead till well after my grandchildren are old!”
– JUSTIN GAN (Perth, Australia)

Durability and Style to Stand the Test of Time

We build each VAULT cabinet to be an heirloom – like a Rolex, a Fender Stratocaster, or a classic sports car that’s as thrilling to drive today as it when it was first built. VAULT cabinets are well made so that they can be passed down to children and grandchildren. They will last, so their look needs to, as well. In 50 years, when your grandkids are stuck with your diamond-plated garage cabinets… well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Instead, maybe listen to VAULT customer Don Cooper from Orland Park, Illinois:

“If you’re looking for the ultimate quality that I think will look just as good ten years from now as it does today, I would pick VAULT.”

Ten years, twenty years, fifty years, and onward – classic never goes out of style. So if you’re ready to take the first step towards building a classic and timeless garage, contact VAULT to schedule your free consultation with owner Chad Haas.

How a Humble Roll of Tape Can Help Make Your Dreams a Reality


There’s a school of thought that says visualization is the key to success. If you’re running a race, picture yourself breaking the ribbon in first. If you want a BMW, line your office with cutouts of Beamers. Want to turn your cluttered garage into showroom-quality space lined with gorgeous, durable cabinets? Lay your ideas out on the walls!

See It Before You Build It

Garage Tape Idea

Visualization helps bridge the gap between dreams and reality. Many homeowners and architects in the earliest planning stages of a new or redesigned garage struggle to imagine the finished space, and this struggle can keep them from moving forward with their project. Even if they have some general ideas in their head, they find it difficult to translate those ideas into the nuances and measurements of their unique garage. Here’s the solution: take blue painter’s tape and mask out your ideas directly onto the walls.

By masking out the footprint of your garage cabinets you can project a visual impression directly onto the space itself. This will help you visualize the height and width of your new cabinets so that you can easily and quickly make changes or adjustments. Most importantly, you’re getting the ball rolling on your project. Rather than just daydreaming about your perfect garage, you’re taking the steps to make those dreams a reality.

Why painter’s tape? Painter’s tape is our tape of choice for this task since it’s designed to peel away easily, without leaving adhesive residue behind. So it doesn’t damage your paint or drywall after you remove it.

Planning for Depth

You should also tape out the depth of your ideal cabinets onto the floor (the industry standard depth for base/lower cabinets is 24” deep). This will help you get a sense of how far the cabinets will come out into your space. You’ll get a feel for whether walkways are adequate, and whether there will be enough room between open car doors and the cabinets you’re envisioning. You might learn that your space can only accommodate one wall of cabinets – or maybe you’ll be thrilled to find you can fit three walls’-worth of glorious tool chests and armoires. One thing’s for sure: you don’t want to learn this after the fact, or else you might end up with a space that feels like a packed subway car instead of the spacious and comfortable garage you daydreamed about. No one wants to have to climb out the window of his Lexus in his own garage.

The Endless Practical Value of Taping

Taping out your proposed cabinets supports the rest of your garage redesign, as well. Knowing where your garage cabinets will likely reside can also help you visualize where neon or antique signs or other decorative accouterments will be placed. This knowledge is priceless, especially when it keeps you from jumping the gun on inserting fasteners or cutting holes into drywall.

Lastly, and perhaps most practically, taping out your cabinets and decorative materials can help serve as a tangible and specific guide for the electrician that will be wiring your space (or the plumber adding any new piping). Again, this planning means fewer holes in your walls, but it also means fewer return visits from specialists you’ll likely be cutting a check to.

Get Taping!

This taping tip can help you settle on a layout that will best meet your space, storage, and budgetary expectations before you’ve ordered your cabinets or cut a hole into drywall. It’s not only a practical tool for laying out your space, though – it can be an inspirational one. Visualization really is one of the first small steps towards making your dream garage a reality. Your next step, of course, should be your free consult with VAULT’s owner Chad Haas. When it’s time to fill those tape outlines with the most durable and attractive garage cabinets on the market, give us a call.

So tape away, my friend, and get your dreams out of your head and onto your walls. And let us know how it works out for you! We’re here for you and your garage project, every step of the way.

GAUGING THE QUALITY OF METAL CABINETRY – Looking Beyond the Thickness of the Metal

One question frequently asked by our customers is, “What gauge metal are your cabinets?” While metal gauge – or thickness – is certainly a factor when evaluating a cabinet’s quality, it’s by no means the most important factor. What really matters is how a cabinet is designed and how it is built.

A general rule of thumb is the lower the number the gauge, the thicker the metal, and therefore the stronger the material. Gauge alone, however, may not get you very far in terms of the top-shelf strength and quality you are seeking. In reality, how parts are designed and engineering, and what raw materials are used have more to do with the strength and durability of a cabinet.

The Underlying Question: Will They Last?

In our experience, when customers get fixated on gauge thickness what they really want to know is how durable and strong the cabinets are. How will they hold up over time? Are the drawers, glides, and shelves strong enough to hold the desired weight? Is the metal strong enough to resist scratches, dents, bending and twisting? Does the cabinet feel robust and sturdy? Will the finish stand up well to use?

Factors you will contribute and are questions you may want to consider when making a decision:

  • Because not all metals of the same thickness are created equal, what metal cabinets are made from is very important. Stainless steel, for example, that is the same thickness (gauge) as aluminum is going to be substantially stronger. Read more about metal choice.
  • Are parts engineered for strength instead of cost?
  • Double-walled construction instead of single-walled.
  • Stiffening flanges to reinforce panels to bring it up to the required strength instead of single panel construction. It also provides for sound deadening.
  • How are parts joined? Welded parts are stronger than fastened parts. Even fastener choice is important with screws and bolts stronger than pop rivets.

Unmatched Strength Means Unwavering Confidence

These are just a few of the ways VAULT builds strength and durability into every product. Our premium-grade stainless steel drawers can hold an astounding 225lbs with no fatigue. Each shelf can hold 400lbs with no fatigue. You may wonder if you will ever place that kind of weight in your cabinets. The reason we build them to this level of quality is make them less susceptible to being dented and scratched through normal wear-and-tear and to ensure you have peace of mind that your cabinets will last a lifetime of use in your garage. You’ll never have to worry about overloading your shelves, your drawers coming out of alignment, or your doors being damaged through everyday use.

If you’re shopping for metal cabinetry for your home garage or professional shop, take a minute to consider which quality and performance characteristics are most important to you. Is the aesthetic design most important, or durability? Is price important? Is rust or oxidation a concern? Or, is the long-term performance of the cabinet your main focus?

Unmatched Quality, Unmatched Service

If your answer is that you want everything – beauty, strength, durability, and value – you’ve come to the right place. Simply put, VAULT makes the most durable, well-built metal garage cabinet in the world. And our customer satisfaction is unmatched.

Ready to see for yourself? Contact us today for your free consultation.