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There’s a wide range of choices out there, and I’ve personally used several different materials to finish my garage walls over the years. I would consider the following to be among the most suitable and best choices for garage walls.
The most popular options for finishing garage walls are drywall, paint, wood paneling, plywood, OSB, metal panels, plastic or fiberglass sheeting, pegboards, slat boards, and backerboard. Drywall is a very popular choice for garage walls because of its easy installation, fire resistance, and economical price.
Each material has its pros and cons, so it’s important to decide carefully to make the right choice for your circumstance.
And if you’re on a budget, make sure to read to the end for the most economical way to cover your garage walls.
The 11 Best Options for Garage Wall Coverings
Drywall is a widespread favorite for covering garage walls – it is inexpensive, and you can install it with simple tools. Installing drywall is simple to put up, quick to paint, and you do not need much experience to end up with a professional finish.
You will need to tape and seal the seams for better mold and pest protection. Taping will also leave you with a smoother surface for painting.
Drywall or gypsum board does swell up if it gets wet and marks from the smallest of impacts – though it is easy to repair. Even medium-level impacts on drywall can leave you with massive holes and cracks.
- Price per Square Foot: – $0.38
You need good paint if you want to apply it to the bare concrete, cinderblocks, and brickwork in your garage. Most garages do not have insulation, and the damp can cling to the walls and peel your paint off.
It is advisable to use a sealant before you begin painting. You will find that sealant prevents your paint from sinking into the brickwork, which would mean you would need to use more paint.
Painting does not rely on talent, experience, or specialist tools. Paints come in limitless colors, and you can do it at a pace that suits you.
- Price per Square Foot: – Primer $0.30 + 2 × Paint $0.08 = Total $0.38
Wood paneling comes in a range of thicknesses, widths, and qualities. The most common panels are treated pines or whitewoods that are smooth and ready to varnish or paint.
The standard panels are eight feet long and four inches wide, with a thickness of around a half-inch. These panels are often tongue and groove, or shiplap, meaning that they slot into each piece so that you end up with a gap-free surface.
Wood paneling will make your garage feel warmer, perfect if you have a plan to use it as a workshop. These panels have a reasonable amount of strength in them – you can drill or hammer nails into the wood to hang shelves or pictures.
- Price per Square Foot: – $1.75
Plywood and OSB
Plywood is a great insulator, and the single large pieces make the installation process quick and simple. OSB and plywood are popular for timber constructions since the boards are easy to screw into support beams.
OSB is less expensive but does not have the same finish. OSB does paint well, and you can get some interesting effects from varnishing it. The roughness of OSB means that you can smooth it out with a coat of plaster, as it sticks well into the wood chips.
Both forms of wall covering are strong, and you can hang heavy shelving from them with little reinforcement. Manufacturers form these woods under high pressure with glue – so if the wood gets wet, these boards can swell and separate.
- Price per Square Foot: – Plywood $1.25 / OSB $0.75
Metal paneling is becoming more popular as new manufacturing techniques are bringing down the cost. Metal is robust and comes in a variety of designs and patterns.
Some metal panels are even ready to go, painted in your favorite color. Metal diamond-plate panels look good, and they hide scratches and dents.
Plain aluminum plating is a more expensive alternative, but it does not rust. You can save on primers as you have the choice of not having to treat aluminum, unlike steel.
- Price per Square Foot: – Diamond Plating $2.25, Aluminum $2.88
Plastic and Fiberglass
PVC or polycarbonate sheeting comes in large sections of either corrugated or multi-wall paneling. Either type is lightweight and easy to cut, so you can do most of the work yourself.
Plastic panels offer little in the way of insulation – you will want to put something between them and the main wall. This material will put up with a certain amount of abuse, but it will crack or shatter easier as it gets old.
Plastic and Fiberglass are not good at supporting weight. If you want to hang a shelf, you will need to attach your brackets through the material to the main wall or support column.
- Price per Square Foot: – Corrugated Plastic $1.46 / Multi-Wall $2.50
Storage Panels (Pegboards and Slat Board)
Modular slat boards or simple pegboards are useful additions to any garage. Making a garage look presentable is also about creating more floor space by using the walls.
You may want to sort out and organize your garage by hanging tools and other random equipment. High-end panel boards can hold up to 100 pounds per square foot.
Slat board is more than strong enough to support an aluminum ladder, a lawnmower, and your heavy-duty tools. Pegboards support less weight but are still perfect for sorting cables, lighter tools, and cleaning products.
- Price per Square Foot: – Pegboards $1.00 / Slat Boards $10.60
Moisture Resistant Backerboard
Backerboard is a common material to use on bathroom walls – it is also known as greenboard. Greenboard is better for garages that get damp in the winter as it does not contain paper or plaster.
You can even tile onto backerboard directly since it is moisture resistant. The mesh composition of the board allows it to breathe, preventing moisture build-up that would grow mold.
These panels give you a large, smooth, and flat surface to work with. Backerboard costs more than drywall – but it is as easy to install, plaster and paint.
- Price per Square Foot: – $0.75
What Is the Cheapest Way to Finish a Garage Wall?
The cheapest way of covering your garage is either drywalling or painting, or a combination of the two. Drywall is the cheapest if you leave it unpainted, though it will have a short lifespan.
Paint is the cheapest if you do not treat the concrete first. But if you do not use sealant, do not expect to go more than a year before the paint begins to peel off.
All other methods are far more expensive, or they still involve painting after installation. Painting on a treated wall is inexpensive – and it is faster to repaint than to repair the other wall covering choices.
You may find your choices limited by local fire codes. Certain jurisdictions forbid the use of non-fire-retardant materials such as plastic. Drywall is often acceptable for local fire regulations.
What Is the Quickest Material to put on My Garage Wall?
Shiplap is a fast and effective material to use in your garage. The interlocking wood acts as a barrier to the cold while still allowing moist air to pass through. Shiplap is inexpensive, you can buy it pre-treated, and it looks good whether you paint it or not.