By Tim Carter
As plain as it is, poured concrete is really a great garage flooring material. It’s not sexy, but it’s durable
While touring new homes, I see different garage flooring systems.
When I grew up, our garage flooring was concrete. New products that make the floor dazzle intrigue me, 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, Ill.
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. A clean, properly sealed concrete floor is resistant to almost any stain.
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 in order to look good. My mom thought he was an idiot.
Because our home was built just before World War 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 OK 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 for 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. These interlocking tiles, which come in different colors and patterns, will make your garage look spiffy indeed. But beware. The tiles come in different levels of slip resistance and price.
Rolls of vinyl garage flooring might also catch your eye. These vinyl rolls come in two varieties -- colors and clear -- though 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 you're on a tight budget, 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 will stand the test of time. There are always inexpensive products available that appeal to people at the bottom of a market. Unfortunately, I often hear their lamentations several months down the road when the products fail or underperform.
If you decide to go with paint, take your time and do the research. I've had any number of homeowners contact me about hot-tire syndrome, which can occur if you live where it can get beastly hot in the summer.
Here's the scenario: You've been driving around on hot roads for a while and pull into your garage. The tires on your car are very hot. The concentrated heat coupled with the weight of the car, causes the paint to peel and pull up.
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, for the most part, is just glue with color in it. 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 lose 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. Follow this with a thorough scrubbing. Non-toxic oxygen bleach 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. Apply the mixture until it is as thin as an eighth of an inch and then trowel it until it's 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 green peas. If the overlay is about a half-inch thick, use regular coarse sand instead of fine sand.
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