Q&A / 

Garage Flooring

DEAR TIM: While touring new homes, I see different garage flooring systems. When I grew up, our garage flooring was concrete. I’m intrigued by the new products that make the floor dazzle, but I’m wondering if they are worth it. What do you think about the epoxy garage flooring and garage flooring paint? Would you do any of these in your own garage? What can I do to revive the look of my current dirty and stained garage floor? Shane G., Naperville, IL

DEAR SHANE: I’m old fashioned and I’ll admit it. You might not like my answer, but the best garage flooring, in my opinion, is plain old concrete. It’s time tested and in most cases is maintenance free. You can seal a clean concrete floor making it resistant to almost any stain.

As plain as it is, poured concrete is really a great garage flooring material. It’s not sexy, but it’s durable. PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Carter

As plain as it is, poured concrete is really a great garage flooring material. It’s not sexy, but it’s durable. PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Carter

You’ve got lots of options to choose from when it comes to changing the look of your garage floor. By all means don’t ignore the old standby used by my dad when I was a kid. He took high-gloss paint, and as crazy as this sounds, painted our concrete basement floor.

Do you know what color he used? Gray. It looked like concrete when he was done. In a matter of an hour, he took a maintenance-free surface and turned it into one that required periodic cleaning and repainting to look good. My mom thought he was an idiot.

Because our home was built just before WW II, there was no vapor barrier under the concrete. As a result, water vapor passed right through the concrete from the moist soil beneath and would cause the paint to peel periodically. Most modern homes have plastic vapor barriers, so you should be okay to paint if that’s what you decide to do.

Be sure you read the instructions on the paint can and use a paint that’s designed to be applied to floors. You may need to use a special primer to get great results. Think about slip resistance. Painted floors can be slippery when wet.

I’ve seen rubber garage flooring. You can get interlocking tiles that come in different colors and patterns. They’ll make your garage look spiffy indeed. Be aware they come in different levels of slip resistance and price.

Rolls of vinyl garage flooring might catch your eye. These come in colors and clear. I can’t understand why someone would want a clear vinyl product, as you can see through to the concrete. Perhaps you would have a double covering in this instance!

If your budget is low, you may be able to find discount garage flooring or cheap garage flooring. Be careful if you go this route, as I’m quite sure not all the products would stand the test of time. There always seem to be inexpensive products to appeal to the people at the bottom of a market. More often than not I’ve heard the lamentations of these buyers several months down the road when the products fail or underperform.

In the event you decide to go with a paint, take your time and do the research. I’ve had any number of homeowners contact me about hot-tire syndrome. You live where it can get beastly hot in the summer.

If you’ve been driving around on hot roads for a while and pull into your garage, the tires on your car can be very hot. This concentrated heat coupled with the weight of the car, has caused the paint to peel and pull up in certain situations.

Be sure you research this extensively online and see if the paint you intend to use has a history of peeling. Contact the manufacturer. Be sure you follow all instructions to the letter when applying it, as paint is just glue with color in it for the most part. Be sure the concrete is clean, dry and has been prepared to get the best bond.

To revive the look of your existing garage floor I’d start by trying to deep clean it. You’ve got nothing to loose by using a pressure washer to remove years of dirt and grime. Oil stains and other organic stains can sometimes be removed by soaking the floor with a solution of oxygen bleach and then scrubbing it. This non-toxic product is readily available online.

If the floor doesn’t come as clean as you like, you can actually apply a thin coating of cement plaster that will make the concrete look like it’s brand new. This plaster is just a mixture of fine silica sand and Portland cement. It’s applied as thin as an eighth of an inch and can be troweled as smooth as glass.

To get it to bond to the old concrete, be sure the concrete is clean and paint on a thin coat of Portland cement paint just before applying the stucco. Don’t allow the cement paint, just a mixture of Portland cement and water, to dry before you cover it with the stucco. After curing for 30 days, apply a clear silane-siloxane sealer to prevent stains in the new cement coating.

These cement or concrete overlays will last 50 or more years if done correctly. What’s more, they can be far thicker than an eighth of an inch. If you want to level out a floor that’s dropped, you can install concrete on top of concrete. If the new overlay is about 1 inch thick, be sure to put small rounded gravel in the mix. It should be no larger than peas you might eat. If the overlay is about a half-inch thick, use regular coarse sand instead of fine sand.

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