Today I wanted to start writing up how I went about turning my garage into a games room. My intention is for this to assist those wanting to, or thinking about doing the same, but at the same time, not going into too much detail, to get bogged down, and anyone wanting further information can either drop me an email or, as I did, many times, ask Google!!
I live in a house with an integral garage down one side, with access both through the expected garage door, but also at the rear, through an interior door in our rear hallway. Ever since I became involved in this hobby, MrsM has been very understanding of the varying demands of collecting and restoring these hulking great, old, (at times) smelly cabinets, but has always maintained a ‘no cabs in the house’ policy, which I think is a fair compromise.
This has lead to the garage evolving into the natural habitat for the cabinets that I have purchased and owned over the last few years. A location I was relatively happy with; the large garage door and immediate access was great when Martin came delivering a new cab to add to the collection; with no windows, there was no glare on the screens; and it was sufficiently out of the way, to avoid any disruption to those not partaking.
However it had it’s cons as well; the bare brick walls and concrete slab floor, were cold and dusty, giving the constant feel of being in a, well, cold and dusty garage; it was always, at best, a dual purpose space, with the utilitarian white goods at the ‘house’ end of the garage; and in winter, the temperatures, despite it being integral, were not suited to these old machines, or me!
So it was time to put this right, the plan I had in my head was to separate the garage into two thirds games room, one third utility room, by building a partitioning wall, with plenty of inbuilt storage to house all the detritus that currently lived in the garage; further insulate everything; cover the bare bricks and concrete floor with something warmer and nicer to the touch/eyes; sort out the electrics as I currently had only 2 double sockets, both at the utility room end; and fit some kind of non-reflective lighting. I also intended on making an area for my retro console collection to be housed along with a CRT tv, or two.
Now as garages go, I think mine is fairly typical. I certainly wouldn’t like to try and squeeze my car into it, but then I don’t know many/any who do these days. It is a relatively new build house, so despite the overall lack of size, it should at least be well insulated. I got out the tape measure and decided where the stud wall would go, leaving a small but perfectly formed 2.5m cubed space, to turn into my gaming nirvana. I don’t intend or expect to have any more than a select, well chosen, few cabs in the future, so this space should suffice (famous last words of an arcade enthusiast…)
The time was nigh to stop planning and start prepping, so with more tools at the ready than Tim Allen in an episode of Home Improvement, I raised my drill aloft, released some guttural manly chants to the room, and work began.
First up was to affix some sturdy batons to the walls, to keep things easy, I spaced these to fit both the large polystyrene insulation boards and plasterboards, that are readily available from the usual outlets, with the batons the same 1inch depth as the insulation boards. Remember that this garage is fully insulated with cavity wall, as per the rest of my house, so I am just topping up here really.
600mm spacing is the usual for batons but this is all just to create a wall effect, which is then going to have cabs in front of it, so I was happy to go with full sheet spacing.
After that is was a case of fixing in some ‘first fix’ sockets and running wires back to the vicinity of the circuit/fuse board thing (electrics really are not my thing). I had taken some advice from someone qualified to give it, and with two spare circuits to play with, I put 4 double sockets on each side of my room, with both running on a separate ringed circuit, to a separate 32amp circuit breaker/fuse.
With the walls measured and positions marked, these were then simply fixed to the bare walls (I got the slightly deeper back boxes to fit with the insulation and plasterboard I intended on fitting). I stumbled across a great wee tool whilst doing this, which was a great timesaver, called a MarXman, it replaces the pencil, which can be difficult to see, when marking onto grey bricks, and is a doddle to use. Under a fiver, go buy one!
Note that I have deliberately positioned the sockets just above a standard cab height, so that they can be accessed easily without the need to pull out the cabs, or using remote control plugs. I had read lots of other games room builds/conversions and this was something that had been pointed out and a pitfall I wanted to avoid. On the other side, they are mixed between, raised for cabs and lower for consoles.
Before putting up the insulation and plasterboards I decided to visibly inspect the walls, especially around the garage door, as there had always been draughts and no blooming wonder! There were huge gaps, literally inch wide gaps around the garage door frame, easily big enough to get my hand down, so these were promptly filled with expanding foam, whilst they were still accessible.
A trip to local hardware store, with a good friend, and his van, saw us bring back the plasterboard and insulation sheets and I was ready to say “bye bye”, to those cold bare bricks.
What this photo also shows is the complete lack of space I had, whilst carrying out this work. It was easily the most frustrating part of the whole process and one which turned every 60minute job into half a day’s work. It felt like I was living inside one of those childhood puzzles, where you had to shuffle the squares around to remake the picture, with only one spare square available to move the others into.
But, with everything moved to one side of the garage, I was able to get access to the other side and the insulation and plasterboard went up easily and quickly. The insulation sheets are easy to cut, but make one hell of a mess, with polystyrene granules, ending up everywhere and I mean, everywhere! The plasterboard was then offered up and pushed against the sockets, to leave an imprint in the plaster to then cut around.
Then it was simply a case of moving everything to the other side and repeating the process. The main fluorescent tube light in the garage was on a looped switch with a socket as each end of the garage. Since I intended on moving that light fitting to sit solely in the utility room end, I blocked off the wiring for this and covered it by the plasterboard, as it won’t be used again. I made sure to test that I had looped the wiring correctly and that the remaining switch actually still worked.
The trickiest part on fitting the plasterboard was around the fixings for the garage door track. I had toyed with replacing the whole door, for one that didn’t require the track, as from the photos, you can see that it is quite unattractive, but in the end, when the room is full, I don’t think it will be as noticeable and the money saved can be spent on better (arcade related) things.
Next up, and I really wanted to tackle the garage door. Having decided not to replace it (the cost of a fully fitted, insulated door was going to be £1500!!), I wanted to try and make the best of it, both aesthetically and from an insulation perspective. First thing was to clean it, which may sound daft, but as a garage, I never really ever ‘cleaned’ anything, other than an occasional sweep/mop, and it was surprising just how dirty it was. That done and next I wanted to tackle the heat loss angle. The door is just a standard metal door, made from millimetre thick sheet metal, reinforced with struts, etc and will let out as much heat as it will let in cold. So back to the afore used polystyrene sheeting and I basically just fitted it between the metal strut sections. I then filled all the pre-drilled universal rivet holes that were letting cold air through and filled any visible gaps in the frame fitting with caulk. I still have something else planned to tackle the aesthetics, but at least it should now retain any heat and lessen the cold drafts.
Next job was to finish the more fiddly task of insulting/plasterboarding the more fiddly parts around the garage door and recesses. Same procedure as before though, with the only difference being the plasterboard affixed to the underside was done with an instant grip adhesive, to save drilling into the steel support beam.
Then it was time to break out some filler and smooth over the screw heads, tapered edges and any other gaps, ready for the lining paper.
Then the bare boards were sized/sealed, ready for lining paper to be applied.
As much as the limited space made things awkward, as already mentioned, the vertical, flat, straightforward walls being tackled, more than made up for that. All the work undertaken here, really is quite simple and straightforward and should be able to be carried out by most competent diy’ers. So, without further ado, the lining paper was put on. I find it worth buying a decent paper, the cheap ones are crap, and it’s far easier pasting the wall, not the paper.
Paint. I ummed and arred over painting options and colours, going from bright to plain, intricate patterns to solid colour, but in the end, decided for solid mid-grey on the walls and a lighter shade for the ceiling. The reality here is that most of this will be obstructed by cabs and covered by pictures, when all is said and done. Roller and brushes at the ready, cabs moved again and covered with sheets. 3 coats later and…
Ok, then, that is part one of this thread complete. Jobs still to do, and there are aplenty, include; second fix of electrics; custom coving with led light strips built in to construct and fit; architrave to fit; floor covering to choose and fit; custom storage partitioning wall to construct, fit and paint. And then I think we will be ready to decide on the final layout/positioning of cabs, a unit to display/hold my consoles/tv and something comfy to sit on.
I genuinely hope that this will be of use to someone/anyone, who is maybe considering/starting out on doing something similar. I read through literally dozens and dozens of similar write-ups and probably took a little piece of info from each of them.
I’m actually a little ahead of where this post finishes, so it shouldn’t be too long before I can update further. If you like what you read here, please give it a like, retweet, or share on whatever social media you frequent. I’d be stoked if you took the time to leave me a comment but happy that you stopped long enough to get this far. Hope to see you back here for the next instalment.