No part of a typical home takes more of a beating than the garage. It is routinely open to the elements, houses automobiles and other machinery that tend to track in dirt and drip oil -- and it often ends up as the family's dumping ground for gardening tools, toys, sports equipment and much more.
So after a decade or two of cursory maintenance, most garages need an overhaul.
For the fifth time since 2014, Garage Store of East Dundee and the Daily Herald are sponsoring The Great Garage Giveaway contest, which launches today. All entries must be received by April 18 at events.dailyherald.com/contests. Simply enter your name and ZIP code for a chance to win.
The winner will receive a Garage Makeover that includes a flooring system, wall and cabinet system and overhead storage valued at $5,000. Only one winner will be chosen this year and that winner will be announced May 6, with prize installation taking place in June or July.
Last fall Susan and Gary Heitsch of Palatine earned the pleasure of a $5,000 total garage makeover thanks to this annual contest. They were chosen from a field of about 1,100 entries, said Jim Melchert, owner of Garage Store.
"Our two-car garage had become a burial ground for old bikes and outdoor equipment," Susan Heitsch recalled, "so it needed clearing out and updating. It also wasn't well-lit and the floor was cracked and marked up from road salt and grease.
"If we hadn't won this contest, I know that we would have just lived with the garage as it was because we thought it was 'good enough' and we had other priorities," she continued. "But I saw the Daily Herald contest and entered it and won and now that we have had the garage redone, I have to admit that if I had known how nice it could be, I would have done it sooner."
At the Heitsch home Garage Store painted the walls, installed Gladiator wall cabinets to hold chemicals and other outdoor supplies and an easy-to-access wall system for hanging rakes, shovels and other tools. The company also applied a polymer coating to the floor that is similar to the commercial flooring systems found in manufacturing facilities, automotive centers and restaurants.
"That new floor is the best part," Heitsch admitted. "All we have to do now is sweep it out and if there is a spill, use Dawn dishwashing detergent and water. In fact, it looks so nice that we are no longer embarrassed to leave the garage door open.
"We love all of it. However, and are thinking about adding even more cabinets since doing that is easy to do with their system. Garage Store also offers stainless steel cabinets that would work in a basement," Susan said. "I would love to have that great floor installed in my basement, as well."
Susan said all of her neighbors who have seen the garage are now asking about it because they are so impressed. "It is honestly nice enough to entertain in. Maybe next year we will host the block party in our garage and driveway."
At some point, the Heitsches will want to sell their house and they believe "our gorgeous garage will now be a wonderful selling point that will differentiate us from the competition," Susan said.
"This was truly an amazing present. We are so grateful to the very professional and timely team at Garage Store."
While Gary is semiretired and now volunteers as a teacher's aide on Palatine Township Elementary District 15's Winston campus, Susan works in human resources for a downtown Chicago bank.
"I have to admit that my husband was skeptical," Susan said. "He didn't think it would really free, but he became a believer when Jim Melchert sent him a bill for one penny and now he is just as thrilled as I am."
Garage Store has been helping homeowners like the Heitsches reclaim their garages and transform them into another "room" of their house since 2007.
Garage Store is the place to go when a homeowner wants either a full garage makeover or a minor tweak. Solutions range from $300 for an overhead storage rack to $10,000 for a total garage makeover with a polymer floor, wall system, cabinet system, etc.
"All of our products and services for the garage come a la carte so that homeowners can pick and choose what fits into their budget," Melchert said. "We design, install and help them organize."
For instance, Garage Store carries several lines of cabinets and wall systems, as well as hooks, baskets, specialized sports racks and shelves. In fact, it is a designer and installer for Gladiator GarageWorks powder-coated steel cabinets made by Whirlpool, which come in silver, red or white. The company also carries ceiling-mounted bike pulley systems, SafeRacks and MonsterRax for overhead storage, and car lifts for stacking and storing vehicles.
It can also reclaim unused attic space above garages, adding pull-down ladders and flooring to the space above the garage to add as much as 250 to 300 square feet of storage space to the home, Melchert said.
For more information about Garage Store, call (847) 428-8862 or visit www.garage-store.com.