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Garage can be more than a parking place

| Saturday, March 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Jill Yesko
Jill Yesko, from Discover Organizing in McCandless, used Rubbermaid products to organize this garage.
Gladiator, a product of the Whirlpool Corp., has a whole line of garage storage equipment.

Cleaning up the garage is more than a rite of spring. It also can help a home's value to blossom.

It is work that is well suited to the “transitional” time of year, said organizer Jodi Adams. Meanwhile, concrete craftsman Harry Spadafora sees the benefit to the end to days of salt and snow on the floor.

But cleaning up the garage also can play a large role in keeping the house good-looking for potential buyers, according to a survey done nationally for the makers of Gladiator garage storage equipment.

In the survey by Braun Research from New Jersey, 74 percent of Realtors who responded said an organized garage was important to selling a home. Eighty-nine percent said home buyers looked at garages as more than just a place to park a car.

Rebecca Ross, brand manager for Gladiator, a product of the Whirlpool Corp., said such importance didn't surprise her, “but I was glad to see the validation. First impressions are important, and the garage has become the first impression many of us get of a house.”

She says the role of the garage as a storage space has become more important as families have turned to using basement space for other functions, such as family rooms and workout space.

In the survey, 79 percent of the Realtors said garages should be as organized as any room in the house, not simply a dumping ground.

Warmer, drier weather naturally presents a good time to clean and organize garages.

Spadafora from Steel City Custom Concrete in McKees Rocks, for instance, said the end of winter offers a good time to clean the garage floor of the salt and dirt that cars have deposited there.

It then can be a good time to seal or repaint concrete. Sealing should be done every two or three years, he said. Painted floors may need to be touched up with a fresh coat of masonry paint.

But he warns against putting a coat of paint on a sealed floor. Putting the two chemical layers against each other will cause chipping, defeating the purpose of the job.

For that reason, he urges homebuyers to determine whether a floor has been sealed so they know what steps to follow.

Justin Burns, co-owner of EZ Garage Doors and Home Exteriors in North Versailles, urges a similar kind of cleaning on garage doors. Just as vehicles have dragged salt and road chemicals onto garage floors, they have cast them onto doors.

He recommends cleaning the doors as well as the electric eyes that control the opening. That procedure provides a good time to observe the operation of the doors, he said, making sure the cables and rollers are sound. He recommends lubricating metal bearings and rollers with a Teflon-based spray, but avoiding lubrication on nylon parts. With nylon, he said, the spray can pick up dirt and cause damage.

Clearing out a garage to do sealing or painting presents a good time to take a look at what is stored there, organizers say.

“There really is no bad time of the year to organize,” said Greensburg's Adams, owner of the In Its Place organizing company.

Jill Yesko from Discover Organizing in McCandless agrees. It also can be a good time to determine the most important role for the garage, she said.

“Is it primarily for the cars?” she said. “Or is it the sports center? Or is it for lawn equipment? Some older garages are so small, you really have to decide what gets in them.”

Naturally, she said, the change in seasons means a time to shift the placement of items. Mowers come to the fore and blowers are tucked away.

They both recommend shelves and cabinets to find a home for goods. They say the use of casters on shelf units allows them to be moved around the garage, making rearranging easier. A rack of cold-weather goods could be pushed to the back in the spring while warm-weather material comes out.

They both are advocates of using labeled boxes to store items instead of letting them sit around.

Yesko has one tip she believes can help eliminate clutter in the garage as well as the rest of the house: creation of an “out zone” — a place to put any item that is going out for repairs, disposal or transport to another site. If an item is placed in a defined “out zone,” she said, residents will see it and remember to do something with it.

Like the whole idea of keeping a space in order, the secret is deciding to do something.

“We always say, ‘Don't just put it down, put it away,' ” Adams said.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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