Birds Eye View of Garage Flooring Options
A Bird’s Eye View of Garage Flooring Options
We have decided to remove most of our sales content from this page and focus on garage flooring options. Regardless of where you decide to buy your flooring, we believe if you will spend 5 minutes reading this overview and the applicable tabs above, you will be much better off for it. A more in-depth and up to date version of this article: 2020 Guide to Garage Flooring
What is Garage Flooring?
For the purpose of this section, garage flooring is anything you use to coat, cover or protect your garage floor. For decades your choices consisted of bare concrete, left over carpet from your home and of course good old-fashioned indoor-outdoor carpet.
The first question I would ask myself when it comes to the floor is “What am I trying to accomplish?” Generally, the most common answer is “I want to protect the concrete, keep it from getting stained and damaged but I do not hang out in the garage and I am not overly concerned about how it looks.” In these cases we have found that an inexpensive concrete densifier, coupled with a concrete conditioner is your best option. We would use TL37 followed by TL40. For more information, click on the Densifier tab.
Some people just want a product to contain all the water, snow and chemicals that come off the car. They don’t want fancy product and they don’t want to spend a lot of money, they simply don’t want everything that comes off the car soaking into the concrete and running all over the garage. For these customers we recommend containment mats. For more information on containment mats, click on the Containment tab.
Many of our customers are looking to coat their garage floor. Historically this has been done with an inexpensive garage floor paint that is highly prone to failure or a garage floor epoxy system which requires a substantial amount of preparation. We offer epoxy systems and a time-proven urethane system that does not require major preparation and is very cost-effective.
The majority of our customers, including myself, want an attractive, easy to install option that can be installed in a matter of hours not days. Roll out garage floor mats and garage floor tiles provide great options to these customers.
Garage floor mats are virtually seamless and come in large rolls, while tiles come in small interlocking squares. Tiles also come in PVC which can be installed in such a way that they appear seamless. While we do not sell porcelain or ceramic tiles, it should be noted that they are gaining increased popularity and are featured on some impressive websites. For more information on mats, click on the Roll Out Mats tab and for more information on tiles click on the Tiles tab.
Concrete Densifier and Conditioner
While mats, tiles and coatings cover and in some cases protect a garage floor from above, a concrete densifier strengthens concrete from within. When properly applied, concrete densifiers cause a chemical reaction inside the concrete and fill in the voids. This reduces dusting, increases abrasion resistance, makes your slab more water-resistant and can make your concrete resistant to water, oil and other stains.
The use of these products is especially important in northern climates where freeze thaw is an issue. A properly applied concrete densifier and conditioner, even in conjunction with other products, will greatly reduce spalling concrete. In virtually any climate it is a great idea to improve the performance of your floor and keep it looking sharp — without spending a fortune.
Because a concrete densifier is a chemical reaction, it is a permanent solution and does not require reapplication. Concrete densifier is also used in a process called ‘Grind & Polish’ for those people looking for a high gloss floor. You can find our concrete densifier line here
Think of containment mats as a fence that goes around your car to keep all the bad stuff contained. From a technical standpoint, they are PVC or PVC impregnated mat with edging around the perimeter. There are also carpet type mats that offer some degree of containment. They work by absorbing fluids.
We offer two basic containment mats. The Park Smart Clean Park is a ready to assemble mat that has been in the market for about a decade. They offer a 50 mil product that is considerably thicker than other products. The edges are plastic piece that snap on. There are ‘special’ plastic pieces at the edge closest to the garage door called ramp edges. The 50 mil product is incredibly durable and effective but will take time and effort to properly assemble.
Garage Floor Coatings
Lets get one thing out of the way real quick. In almost every case a cheap garage floor paint is not worth the can it comes out of and leaves homeowners frustrated. In our opinion the words ‘garage floor’ and ‘paint’ should never be in the same sentence.
Most conversations about coatings and epoxy revolve around this thing called solids. You will see the term 100% solids or 93% solids, especially when we are referring to epoxy. What does it mean and why do you care?
This is not a perfect analogy, but I want you to think about a bag of chips that you buy at the grocery store. There are two bags of chips and they are both $2.00 and they are both about the same size. You open up the first bag and much to your dismay 70% of the bag is just air. We will call that 30% solids. You open up the second bag and it is completely filled with chips. We will call that 93% or even 100% solids.
When you paid for the chips, were you paying for the bag or for the chips? The chips of course. Epoxy is the same way. A gallon of epoxy is not necessarily a gallon of epoxy. If you read the information on it, you will see a percentage of solids. If its 30%, that means over 2/3rds of your epoxy evaporates into thin air –kind of like that first bag of chips. That said, a little bit of solvents in an epoxy makes it easier to install. Urethane generally has more solvents. Percentage of solids is still important, but the numbers will be lower.
Epoxy requires extensive preparation. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to make a quick sale. You will need to grind or acid wash your floor. You should apply a primer, a base coat, sometimes flake or quartz media and then a top coat. Top coats can also be epoxy or they can be urethane. Most of the time when you hear of epoxy failures it is installation or product selection failure. Hot tire lifting is usually caused by poor preparation. Stains and other issues can mean you selected the wrong product for your application.
We recently sent ripples through the coatings industry with the introduction of Rust Bullet as a coating for concrete floors. Simply put it is a one component (no mixing part A and Part B) , two coat (or more) urethane system that is installed over clean concrete without the need for acid etching or grinding. It has a very long pot life (does not get hard in the bucket) which means you don’t have to rush. It is chemical resistant, sustains continuous exposure to temperatures over 300 degrees and sticks like glue to almost anything — we actually had a hard time getting it off glass. It is probably not the best choice for a full broadcast flake or quartz system, but if you are looking for an affordable and attractive coating that will actually last and won’t break the bank, it is a great option.
What is Full Broadcast versus Random Broadcast?
After you put your base coat of epoxy down, some people will put flake (paint chips) on top of it to add pattern, color and texture. Random broadcast is when we take a small amount of flake, throw it in the air and let it land where it may. Full broadcast is when we cover the entire floor with flake or quartz — you never see the base coat of epoxy at all.
You can see our Garage Floor Coatings here
Roll Out Flooring — Garage Floor Mats
Garage floor mats are a roll our PVC flooring that are designed to cover your garage floor. They come in various colors and patterns and they are one of our favorite products.
A little over a decade ago, Justin Krauss had a conversation with one of the founders of Better Life Technology. At the time Justin was selling roof coatings online. After talking with Don, Justin did an about-face, shifted his focus to garage flooring and has never looked back. G-Floor garage floor mats were the first product we ever sold and to this day are the largest portion of our business. Why?
Justin is not the handiest of people. He is not a gear head and frankly does not even change his own oil. That said, the notion of being able to instantly transform his garage into a space that was usable intrigued him. All of this from an American Made product out of Emporia, KS!
Unlike coatings products, G-Floor mats can instantly transform your garage. There is no need for chemicals, preparation, adhesive or mess. You simply select the patterns and sizes most appropriate for your garage, roll them out and trim them to fit. If you want a permanent installation adhesives are available, but the majority of residential garages can be covered before lunch and parked on that afternoon. They are also widely used for commercial and industrial flooring as well as trailer flooring — although they are generally glued down in those situations.
They do not always go wall to wall either. Many people install them as parking pads under each vehicle. This is an especially popular option with the ribbed pattern. The ribbed pattern mats have a series of ribs and channels that direct moisture, dirt and debris towards the front of the garage — and do a pretty good job of keeping them from flowing over into your stuff.
Garage floor mats are also available in small Coin, Coin, Diamond, Levant (smooth) and in some cases imaged mats that look like tile or epoxy coatings.
If there is a downside to mats, they can stain and like all building materials they expand and contract. Both of these issues can be addressed with proper installation, care and maintenance.
Garage Floor Tiles
Garage floor tiles are perhaps the first product promoted specifically as ‘garage flooring.’ For our purposes there are two types of tiles. Rigid tiles that are made from Polypropylene and flexible garage floor tiles that are made of PVC.
Both rigid and flexible tiles are individual squares that lock together to cover your garage floor. Because they are modular, there is little waste and no need to order custom sizes. They can be locked together to form a pattern — such as the ever popular Black & White checkerboard pattern with red border. They can also be installed in a single color or just about any pattern you can imagine. We have a floor designer and several other tools to help you estimate how many tiles you will need. Of course our experts are here to help!
But What is the Difference Between Rigid tiles and Flexible Tiles?
Rigid Tiles: Rigid tiles are by far the most popular for residential applications. People love the square edges because they make it easy to create patterns. Rigid tiles rarely stain and are generally 12″ x 12″ but we do have some larger tiles as well. Rigid tiles do not protect the floor underneath as water and dissolved contaminants can easily flow through the tiles to the concrete below. If you live in a climate subject to freeze thaw or if you just want to protect the concrete, we suggest B4 prep solution before you install garage tiles. The other downside to Rigid tiles is they are hard and hollow. They can get a little noisy, but there is a simple installation tip to resolve that: landscape fabric as underlayment. ALL rigid tiles we sell have an engineered substructure designed to allow moisture to exit.
Flexible PVC tiles: These are often selected for workshops and commercial or industrial floors. While you can do a pattern, a single color can appear to be seamless. They are heavy and solid and do not tend to move. They give a little under foot but they are tough enough for cars and even forklifts. They are constructed to be very quiet. Some PVC tiles can trap moisture while others can be installed in a water-tight installation. Products like NORSK have a patented Air-Dry system and are one of our favorite PVC tiles. PVC tiles are not as resistant to stains as rigid tiles and some people do not care for the way they lock together as it can look like a puzzle when different colors are used.