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By Amy Hanlon on 27 Sep 2023

Garage vs Workshop: What’s The Difference?


Today in the great battle of garage vs workshop, we consider whether or not you have to keep a car inside a building to make it a garage.

Because when you think garage, you think cars, right? But you don’t have to use your garage this way. Maybe you use it as a workshop instead.

Wait a minute…

Which building are we talking about here? Garage or workshop?

Let’s explore the differences, and by the end of this article, you’ll have a clear idea of which type of building you need and how to prepare for this project.

What’s the difference between a garage and a workshop?

A garage is for storing vehicles or for general storage, whereas a workshop contains the tools needed to carry out a particular job.

You can use a garage building to house a workshop. Depending on its size, you may also be able to use your workshop as a garage.

What can I use a garage for?

Traditionally speaking, garages store cars. Whether you choose brick, concrete or timber, the primary purpose of most garages is to keep a vehicle safe and protected from the elements. Whether you have a single car or a collection of vintage motorcycles, a garage provides the ideal space to keep them safe and secure.

A large timber garage with a carport. The garage is natural timber and has a dark grey door. There is a white SUV parked under the carport.

This is a great example of a garage that isn’t being used to store cars. How can you tell? Well, it’s got a great huge carport attached. The owners of this beaut wanted somewhere to store their car and somewhere to store whatever else they needed to store. Even without a carport, a garage provides extra space that can be used to store cars, bikes, boats, or even very small planes.

What else can I store in a garage?

But there’s no rule that says a garage must have a car in it. How many people actually keep gloves in their glove compartment?

A well-built garage is a dry, secure, indoor space that you can use to store anything that fits. From long-forgotten exercise equipment to carefully curated CD collections – if you have space in your garage you can store anything you like in there.

Can I use a garage as a workshop?

Some people don’t just use their garage as a storage container. They use it as a workshop instead.

Workshops are spaces that are primarily dedicated to some sort of work. It might be woodwork or metalwork. It could be stained glass or stone carving. Generally speaking, inside a workshop you find the tools and equipment used for whatever work is happening.

What kind of building do I need for a workshop?

You can absolutely use a garage as a workshop. You can also use a shed, a stable, a hut, a garden room, or any other building that keeps your tools safe and your work sheltered.

Just like you don’t have to use a garage for storing vehicles, you don’t have to use a garage building as a workshop. Depending on your needs, a garage, shed, or garden room might be what you’re after.

Can I use a shed as a workshop?

Sure! Many dedicated Sheddies take their humble shed and trick it out with all the tools and furniture they need to get their work on.

Remember that a good shed will be reasonably watertight, but if you’re keeping expensive power tools and equipment in there, you must make sure that you keep the building well-maintained. This will help minimise water ingress and decrease the risk of the shed contents getting wet, rusted or damaged.

Can I use a garden room as a workshop?

A garden room is a lined, insulated, fully contained structure that will stay watertight all year round. Bear in mind that this statement is not true of all garden rooms. Check with the manufacturer to make sure that you have a Building Standards-compliant garden room to make sure it will withstand the elements.

Given that a well-built garden room is just as structurally sound as your home, you can definitely use one as a workshop. Traditionally workshops tend to be less luxurious than a garden room, but you deserve a bit of luxury, don’t you?

Does a workshop need electricity?

Whatever type of building you choose for a workshop should be comfortable. Heating and lighting will extend the use of your workshop into the winter months and if you have electrical equipment you’ll need somewhere to plug this in.

How is electricity installed in a workshop or garage?

Installing an electricity supply in a shed or garage should be done by a qualified electrician. They will dig a trench to run an armoured cable from your home to your garage or workshop, and install the lighting, heating and sockets correctly and safely.

Are garages and sheds the same?

Most timber garages on the market are simply big sheds.

A shed is less watertight than a Gillies & Mackay garage. That’s because we build our garages to keep the water out. We use a layered construction that uses cladding, a cavity gap, a dampproof membrane and OSB lining.

A diagram showing the specification of a Gillies & Mackay timber garage, with each layer labelled.

How do I tell the difference between a shed and a garage?

If you want a timber garage, check to see if it has layers. If it’s a single-skinned building, it’s just a big shed, and won’t be as watertight as a layered building.

Is a shed more watertight than a garage?

This is particularly important if you’re storing a valuable vehicle or expensive power tools. The last thing you want is water damage. If you’re using your garage or workshop to store important equipment, make sure the building is watertight.

What size of garage or workshop do I need?

Whether you’re building a garage or a workshop, there are two key questions to answer when deciding what size your building should be:

How much space is available to build on?

You can’t put a 5m x 6m garage in a 3m x 2m garden. While this seems obvious, it’s very easy to under or overestimate how much space you have. Get yourself a tape measure (or go old school and find a trundle wheel like in first-year Maths) and make sure you know how much space you have available.

What will I use the building or indoor space for?

If you want to use your building as a workshop, think about what sort of equipment and furniture you have. If you’re building wardrobes you’ll have different demands than someone making jewellery.

Make sure your car is going to fit if that’s what you’re planning to use your garage for. Again, it’s easy to under or overestimate the size of your car(s).

How can I find the size of my car?

Parkers is a handy website where you can check the specifications and dimensions of your car by entering the registration number.

A screenshot of Parkers.co.uk, showing the overview of a car specification. The dimensions of the car are highlighted by a red box.

How much extra space could a garage or workshop provide?

Sheds, garages, and outbuildings can have an internal area of up to 30m2. Buildings larger than this will need the involvement of architects, structural engineers and building standards. While it’s absolutely possible to install a garage or workshop that has more space than 30m2, it also involves additional costs and admin.

Where can I buy a watertight timber garage or workshop?

Whether you’re looking for a garage, a workshop, or a combination of the two, a Gillies & Mackay garage provides more space for a vehicle, storage, or to really get your workshop off the ground.

You can see one here in real life in our Show Area in Errol, and our Sales Team are more than happy to answer any questions you might have. What are you waiting for?

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