If you are a car buff at all, or you just like to do your own maintenance and oil changes, you spend a lot of time in your garage. One of the most important areas, and often overlooked, is the floor. Concrete is the most normal flooring material found in a garage and, although it is tough and hard, it can pose some serious problems.
Standing on concrete for extended periods of time can cause such things as back pain, knee pain, and skeletal problems. A concrete floor can also be very slick when it gets wet, whether the liquid is from water dripping off your car or an automobile liquid. Installing some sort of garage floor system can have many advantages for a weekend warrior or full-time mechanic.
When you make the decision to install some sort of garage flooring you have several decisions to make which will help to decide which of the garage floor coatings you will use. The first question is what you use your garage for. If you are only interested in parking your car or maybe changing the oil every 3000 miles you will probably just want to look at a normal duty solution.
These are quite durable for average garage use. If you are going to be repairing or restoring cars on an ongoing basis then you should focus on a heavy-duty system. These will give longer life if the floor is used continuously for heavy repair work.
Another question to answer about your garage floor covering is if you want it colored. If you are only interested in a normal duty covering that is not colored you can get a roll-out clear PVC flooring mat that will work well to protect the floor from light spills and wear and tear. Many people are choosing to add color because of the added resale value it can add to the home. Also, it is just darned cool to have a floor that is colored to match the house colors or your favorite car color.
A third question is how much water or fluids you have to deal with. If your floor is susceptible to hydraulic action, that is the water table is high or there is an artesian well, then a garage floor epoxy is probably not what you want to use. You can tell this will be a problem if the floor tends to stay wet most of the year. If you have water problems you will want to install a system that will allow the water to run away from the floor such as garage floor tiles or garage floor mats.
There are actually three main categories covering garage floors. There are garage floor mats, garage floor tiles and garage floor paint also called an epoxy sealant. Each of these has its good points and bad points. We will discuss each below.
Garage floor mats are just what the name implies. They are rolled-up PVC which can be purchased in widths from 6’ to 10’. Since these are constructed of plastic it is very easy to add whatever color you want. You need to decide what color you want before ordering because it can not be changed after you lay the floor. You can not paint a floor mat to change its color.
Installation of mats for garage floors is really quite simple. First, you need to roll the mat out in the driveway to allow it to get used to laying flat. During this time, sweep the floor and if it is dirty or has oil or other automotive liquids then clean it with soap and water. Allow the floor to dry and then bring the first mat in and lay it down. Allow for a one-half-inch space around the edges for expansion as PVC has a high coefficient of expansion.
Next, lay the other mats down until the floor is covered. You have two choices for the seams. You can either overlap them or you can connect them with tape. Butting the mats together and securing them with tape gives a much nicer result in my opinion. To tape, the mats, roll both mats back a little and apply the special joint tape to the seam. Apply the tape so half of the width is stuck to the first mat.
Next lay the second mat down on the tape being careful to see that the mats fit together as closely as possible. This will seal the edges and keep the mats from shifting. Later if you decide to remove the mats for cleaning or the move you can untape them and roll them up. Garage floor mats are a quick and easy solution to garage floor coverings.
Another form of garage mat is the floor protector. With this system, you first install an epoxy floor coating or floor tiles. Then you lay over a protective mat of clear PVC with protects the floor covering while letting the colors come through. These garage floor protectors are relatively cheap and are easy to replace if there is damage. Much easier than repairing an epoxy-coated floor or some floor tiles that are damaged.
Garage floor tiles are another covering that has gained popularity in recent years. They are more expensive than floor mats but they are also very easy to install. Most of these tiles snap together which keeps them in place and several even have an interlocking edge that seals water and liquid from seeping through to the floor below.
One of the benefits of this system is there is no need for adhesives. These can be very messy and oftentimes have harmful vapors. Also, since the tiles are thick they can be laid over cracks and divots in the floor which will not telegraph through.
Installation is very easy. Clean the floor by sweeping up debris and using soap and water to get rid of any dirt. If you have stains from petroleum you can remove them with a good degreaser. Lay out a chalk line in the center of the garage and then bisect this line with another perpendicular one. Start laying the tiles from the intersection of these two lines. This ensures that if any tiles need to be trimmed to fit the garage they will be done at the edges where they will not be noticeable.
Working from this center spot move outward laying the tiles. If you have a design in mind then map it out on the floor beforehand with chalk to ensure you have the right tile in the right spot. You can make any design you want by adding different colored tiles. Often times people go for a checkerboard tile floor or a line of different colored tiles around the edge.
By snapping the garage floor tiles together you have a strong structure that can last a long time but which will also be easy to repair as one or two tiles can be removed and replaced. These floors are becoming very popular.
The last garage floor system in garage floor paint is also called garage floor epoxy coating. As the name implies this is an epoxy-based material that is painted onto the floor. This method of treating the garage floor is more involved than any of the methods above.
First, the floor must be absolutely clean. Start by brooming and then using a decreaser to remove any petroleum residue. Next use soap and water to clean the floor surface. After this step, you need to etch the surface of the concrete in order to allow the epoxy to bond better. A weak acid solution is applied which pits the surface causing very small indentations to which the epoxy will bond.
Once the floor is prepared you can mix the resin and hardener. Only mix about enough to do a 6’ square area at a time. Spread the epoxy with a roller and then add any paint chips or anti-slip materials. Then do the next 6’ square area. It takes about one day for the epoxy to cure to the point that you can walk on it and in about 3 days it has obtained optimum hardness.
This should give you a very good idea of what to do if you want to install a garage floor covering. In fact, treating your floor is not a very difficult job and it can make a world of difference to your work.