Garage Floor Coatings vs. Coverings
Coatings are flooring products applied with a roller or brush that adhere directly to the floor. Paint and epoxy are the main products in this category. Coverings are products that are set on top of the garage floor. They can be moved or removed at any time. Tiles and mats are the products that fit this description.
The type of coating you use will be determined by the level of usage and amount of heavy traffic on the floor.
Staining vs. Paints and Coatings
Staining – Garages that are actually showrooms or exposed to minimal vehicle and foot traffic are best suited for a stain.
Stained concrete can be fairly high maintenance but you can create a very unique and interesting floor when you use a stain. The great thing about stains is that once it is absorbed into the concrete, it is nearly impossible to get the coating to chip, peel, or deteriorate. Two methods are presently used to stain garage floors: acid staining and dye staining.
Acid staining is done by applying an acid mixture to the concrete. Once absorbed into the pores of the concrete floor, the acid will react with the lime already present to create a marbled, translucent look. Any imperfections still present in the concrete when it is stained will either enhance the overall character of the floor coating or become glaringly apparent.
You generally have the choice of eight basic color tones to choose from for an acid stain. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the color you end up with will vary depending on the age and condition of the concrete.
Dye staining is a non-reactive way to add color to concrete. These stains use a water or solvent base as a carrier agent. The water or solvent is absorbed into the concrete along with the dye to create a range of colors. Some professional flooring contractors use dye stains in conjunction with acid staining to increase the number of color options.
Regardless of what you choose, a stained concrete floor will need to be sealed with a clear acrylic or polyurethane top coat.
Paints and Coatings
Most all of the paints and coatings that are sold as DIY kits will be water-based epoxies. Basically, water is used as a carrier agent for the epoxy to increase the pot life (time it takes for it to dry in the pot) and make it more environmentally friendly than a solvent based epoxy.
A box store epoxy kit will take anywhere from three to ten days to fully dry. Once the floor is dry and the water has evaporated, you are left with a thin layer of epoxy. The quality of the finished floor will really depend on how well it was prepped and what you intend to use your garage for.
The type of paint or coating used by professionals will vary. Some are using a 100% solids epoxy; with little to no solvent or water carrier. It does have a very short pot life but just one coat of it would be much thicker than your average box store kit.
Another coating that is popular among flooring contractors is a polyaspartic. It has high abrasion resistance, does not yellow from UV rays, has high solids content, and can be applied to floors with internal moisture vapor emission rates that may be too high for the other options. Some polyaspartic coatings can be applied to floors with very small cracks to form a uniform surface.
Coatings can be complicated and if you are looking for an easier option, floor coverings may be the route for you.
What to know and look for when considering tiles
There are four types of tile flooring you can choose from: snap tile; peel & stick tile (brands that are glued to the floor are also available); roll out flooring; and containment mats. Diamond plate, coin, smooth, and a number of other textures are available in each of the tile types (except containment mats).
Snap, sticky back, and glued tile brands will present the highest quality and widest selection of options for floor coverings. Most brands use high-quality polypropylene or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to make their tiles. The thickness of the tiles, colors, and textures will, of course, vary by brand; manufacturers producing these tile types will likely offer the most options.
PVC or vinyl tiles have a bit of an edge over hard plastic because of their flexibility. That property makes them better equipped to handle impact or abrasion. There will be less chance of cracked, dented, or chipped tiles if a heavy tool drops or something is dragged across a PVC or vinyl floor.
Another benefit of using flexible plastic tiles is that you are less likely to hear the annoying “click-clack” sound typically made when walking on floors covered in hard plastic. Some tile brands made of PVC or vinyl also provide anti-slip and anti-fatigue properties.
Most roll out flooring is made of PVC or vinyl and is quite a bit cheaper than actual tiles. As the name implies, this type of flooring comes in rolls that you unfurl to cover your floor. Once you have covered the floor, the excess roll can simply be cut using a knife. Installation does not get much easier than that!
While it is cheap and easy to install, roll out flooring is not without drawbacks. That saying “you get what you pay for” is certainly true here.
Roll out floors are known to develop ripples and wrinkles over time due to prolonged heavy vehicle traffic. It is also prone to rips, tears, and holes from sharp objects. Depending on the brand, you may have a number of colors to choose from, however, there is little room for customization. And finally, the floor covering has a lifespan of only four or five years. This type of flooring is best used under rarely driven cars or motorcycles and in workshop areas.
If you just want something very basic to cover the area where you park your vehicle in the garage or if you want to protect a finished floor from water, salt, or vehicle fluids; a containment mat is probably the best option for you. This is a very affordable solution for individuals unwilling to dedicate a great deal of time and money to the garage floor.
If you are looking for professional advice for your garage floor, call 888-356-6935 today.