How to Improve Garage Floor
Summary: If your garage floor is unsafe or just unsightly you have a few options. Epoxy garage floor coatings are inexpensive but difficult to apply. Rigid garage floor tiles are attractive but more expensive. There are also rolled garage floor coverings that can either be permanent or removable.
Q: I’d like to do something different with my garage floor. It’s serviceable. But it’s just smooth concrete and is a bit slick in the winter if it gets wet. Do you have any suggestions? I also want to mention that cost IS an issue.
A: I can relate to what you’re asking because my garage floor is the exact same way. In fact, most garage floors are.
And that’s understandable, most concrete contractors finish a garage floor smooth because homeowners want the ease of clean-up in notoriously messy garages.
My garage floor actually has a drain in the middle of it so I can just hose it out and run all the muck through the drain.
But, like you said, having a smooth floor like that can become a safety hazard the moment it gets wet. Not to mention that they aren’t exactly the prettiest floors in the world.
Here are some garage flooring options you have in various price ranges.
Garage Floor Coating
There are a number of products on the market today made to address this issue. Most of them are either garage floor paint or more of epoxy designed to cover the garage floor.
Either way they are coating designed for three basic things:
- Keeping your garage floor clean
- Giving it some ‘texture’ to not make it so slippery
- To make it look better than the regular old smooth garage floor that can crack over time.
Just to give you an example of the kind of money your looking at I’ll use my own detached, two-car garage as an example. Let’s say it’s 25 feet by 20 feet. So, that’s 500 square feet. One of the more popular products on the market, as far as epoxy coatings are concerned, is Rust-Oleum Epoxy Shield.
Online the product sells for $90 not counting shipping and handling and each can cover roughly 250 square feet. So I could get away with spending $500 to coat my garage floor not counting the time you’d have to put into cleaning your garage, prepping the floor, and so forth.
Epoxy Coating Pro
- Environmentally friendly
- Durable and resists hot tire “pick up” and abrasions
- Color chips for sharp looks
- Protects from common garage fluids including gasoline, antifreeze, and oil
Epoxy Coating Con
- Takes days to prep, apply and then be ready for use
- Must degrease garage floor and mix epoxy
- If concrete is ‘rough’ at all it will cut down drastically on the amount of epoxy that covers a square foot.
- Probably not as good at preventing garage floor damage
- If installed incorrectly the floor can bubble and lift from the concrete underneath. It must be installed under ideal conditions.
To me, that’s not that expensive. Of course, using garage floor paints and epoxy coating aren’t your only options.
Garage Floor Tiles
On the other end of the spectrum, you have garage floor tiles.
These come in a number of styles and fashions but the two basic types are either click-together ‘rigid’ tiles or ‘stickable’ tiles where the tiles adhere to the concrete underneath after you pull off a sheet of paper on the back of the tile that reveals a ‘sticky’ substrate.
These types of tiles are very similar to some of the tiles you might see in a laundry room that are individually placed on the floor.
Like epoxy covering both of these tiles have its advantages and disadvantages.
Garage Floor Tile Pros
- With the rigid tile much less prep time and worrying about installation conditions. Just snap together.
- It can create different looks with much more ease. One popular option is to alternate colors to produce more of a ‘chessboard’ look.
- It will likely protect your garage floor from damage more readily when a heavy object is dropped on it
- 15-year warranty (on most models)
- Tiles can be cut to fit any size of the garage (a jigsaw will work with rigid tiles)
Garage Floor Tile Cons
- Liquid spills can be more of a nuisance and may require you to select a higher gloss finish (which may negate the safety factor a bit as the glossier the finish the slicker the tiles become)
- Tiles are more expensive (more on that below)
Garage Floor Tile Costs
As you mentioned above one of the things you are looking for is something low-cost.
Going back to my garage as an example, let’s look at what it would cost me to do my 500-square-foot garage in rigid tiles.
If I were to do my garage in rigid tiles I would select RaceDeck tiles as they appear to be a great product and I have heard nothing but good things about them and their customer service from former customers. Online pricing for their tiles was $3.49 per tile. You can apparently get a volume pricing discount. So, for argument’s sake let’s say I can get the tiles for $3.00 a tile. The tiles are 12″ x 12″, so 1 square foot. If I have 500 square feet that’s 500 tiles. So, we’ll call it $1500 to do my garage floor.
I should note, that this does NOT include the shipping costs of the tiles which are about 1 pound per tile.
So you can see that if economics is your main concern epoxy would be the way to go. But, some manufacturers or epoxy products don’t recommend homeowners apply themselves – others do.
There is also a third option.
Garage Floor Rolled Coverings
Essentially this is a big chunk of pad or covering that you can lay out in one big chunk – usually covering the bay of your garage.
Some models allow you to lay the rolled covering down permanently. Others allow you to lay it down temporarily and bring it out for cleaning the garage.
For me this would be a poor option as it would be too much of a hassle to bring everything out of my garage – lay the roll down – then when I need to clean remove everything again that is laying on the roll and pull it out of the garage. I would want something more permanent.
I researched some of the permanent roll options and the biggest drawback is that they must adhere to your garage floor and appeared to me to be more difficult to install as it was like putting in carpet. Manhandling and adjusting a roll that large and cumbersome didn’t look fun to me.
Finally, I just didn’t like the looks of any of the rolls I saw.
Hopefully, this gives you a good overview of some of the things you can do for your garage floor. If cost is the main concern an epoxy covering is your best option if you are handy. Rigid garage floor tiles (in my opinion) give you a better look and more versatility but at a higher cost. They are also much easier to install and are covered by a warranty.