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Floors - Let's Look at your Options
John K. Groom
Garage Floors have come a long way.
During the last decade the advances in plastics, paints, epoxies,
polymers and many other related products has led to the introduction
of a whole new arena of products that may be used to coat, cover
and enhance your garage floors.
In this article we will look at several categories in general
and we will go into more depth so you can pick the application
you are most interested in and investigate it further. Alternatively,
if you like, look at all your options to make the most informed
decision you can.
We will also try to give a general idea of the cost of these applications
to see if they fit into your budget or if you would like to see,
what other options are available for your garage floors. Prices
quoted are for professional installations, so you can see how
much you might save by doing it yourself.
We have been in the decorative concrete and remodeling business
for two decades and have seen and used numerous products for the
home and in commercial and industrial settings. The quality and
durability of these products vary greatly and the old adage still
applies, "You get what you pay for". While many products
promise longevity, only a few actually deliver. We will assist
you make the right decision and if something is out of your budget
we'll take a look at alternative products and give you a reasonable
expectation of their durability.
Garage floor coatings and paints: As a rule, I am not a big fan
of most of these types of applications. Reason #1 is that they
do not contain enough solids to stand up to vehicular traffic
or hot tires. What this means is that when applied, let us say
you have a 25% solids products, the amount of actual material
left on the surface is 25% of what was applied. The rest evaporates
or is eliminated through the chemical or moisture curing process.
This is a fancy way of saying you really were not left with enough
product on the garage floor for it to do its job. This category
would also include most "concrete stains" for your garage
floors. $1.50-2.50 sq. ft.
Another reason for failure of these products is there is usually
not enough prep work done to the floor before application of the
product. A good acid etching at a rate of about eight parts water
to 1 part muriatic acid followed by a neutralization of eight
parts water to 1 part clear ammonia is a good start. Where many
product recommendations fall short in this procedure is they do
not recommend a complete rinsing and vacuuming of the concrete.
Testing for hydro static pressure is also necessary, to make sure
there is no moisture coming up through the slab which could cause
Epoxy garage floors: Epoxies in general carry more solids than
their paint counterparts. As discussed above this enables them
to handle more vehicular traffic and to stand up to hot tire pick
up. There are several types of epoxy also, we recommend 100% solids
epoxy as we have found this is the only kind that truly lasts
over a period of several years. $3-4.00 sq. ft.
Epoxy chip floor systems: These flooring systems are used when
you want to add a little decorative touch to your floor. These
flooring systems can be achieved in two ways. In both systems,
the first coat of epoxy is applied and then you can apply a second
coat and sprinkle in the chips or you can apply a second coat,
sprinkle in the chips, and then apply a clear coat of either clear
epoxy or urethane. $4-6.00 sq. ft.
Epoxy quartz systems: These systems are extremely durable and
sometimes a little more than the average homeowner will want to
tackle on a DIY basis. A very thick coat of 100% solids self-leveling
epoxy is measured and rolled out and then colored quartz sand
is broadcast into the epoxy until rejection, meaning it cannot
take in any more. The system is left until the next day or whenever
the epoxy is at a certain cure stage and the quartz is swept off
and vacuumed and you have a beautiful flooring system. $6-9.00
Modular Flooring systems: Theses floors are one of the great inventions
we discussed earlier with the advances of science, manufacturers
have been able to produce "plastic" tiles that snap
together and lie directly on the floor. This eliminates the need
for floor prep and allows just about anyone to install these systems
in a few hours. While a little pricey they are also portable,
so when you move to a new home you can take it with you. $2-4.00
Garage floor mats: These mats can be used in conjunction with
lower quality paints to sometimes prevent hot tire pick up. There
are also some that have a "speed bump" if you will to
allow you to know how far to pull into the garage and not bump
the wall. What a great idea for those of you with a big vehicle
or a smaller garage. N/A
Garage floor tiles: In some respects, these are about the same
as the modular systems but not quite as pricey. They can be installed,
(DIY) for about the same price, as you would pay someone to install
an epoxy floor. The only drawback we have seen to these and the
modular systems is; while they are designed to be washed off and
usually have the proper clearance above the floor to do so, moisture
could become trapped underneath. These could cause some mold problems.
This is not necessarily the fault of the manufacturer but the
"flatness" of your concrete and its inability to drain
properly. Keep this is mind when looking into these systems. We
will discuss possible ways to check for this problem and remedies
for the problems if they arise. $1.50-3.00 sq. ft.