Garage Floors – What Should a Properly Installed Garage Floor Cost?
That’s a great question. Now there are two ways to have flooring installed in your garage: either do it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. We will examine each of these methods within the three flooring categories (epoxy, tiles, and stains) in order to come to a conclusion.
Pricing an Epoxy Floor
Given ideal conditions, the average homeowner is fully capable of installing an epoxy coating from the big box store. Simply following the directions given with the kit should get you there. The bigger concern for anyone considering an epoxy floor coating should be the quality of the coating being installed. Let’s start by looking at the do it yourself option.
DIY Epoxy Floor Coatings
Here is a chart outlining what well known DIY brands cost, where to find them, and the price per square foot:
So let’s consider, as an example, the box store staple kit EpoxyShield by Rustoleum. Just one kit comes with: 1 ¼ gallons of two part water based epoxy, decorative flakes, and acid powder cleaning solution. These materials should be enough to prep and cover 200-250 square feet or a 1 car garage. Not including any other materials you will undoubtedly need for the application and your time, this particular floor coating would cost you approximately $0.40/square foot. When using just one kit, it would cost only $100.
Now before you rush out and buy one of these kits you should know that you will be making significant sacrifices in other areas. Even if you think everything went perfectly, your floor could still end up looking like the one in the image to the right.
You will need very stable conditions to get the epoxy to properly bond with the concrete. The ideal floor for this type of coating is free of sealants, dirt, grease, cracks, and holes. Their presence could mean additional time, effort, and possibly even materials. New concrete should have at least 30 days to cure prior to any installation attempt. It is important to note the biggest down side to a DIY coating, in my opinion, is the concrete is not prepped to accept the coating nearly as well as a professional job.
What you gain in pricing may be lost when it comes to the thickness of the epoxy. Most any DIY kits are water based; which means as the floor dries, the water will evaporate leaving behind less than 55% of the coating. You will be giving up 1-2 times the thickness provided by professionally applied epoxy. Water is added to DIY kits to give additional working time before it sets up, as you will see the professional coatings are almost 100% solids, which means they have much less working time so it makes it much more difficult to apply.
Professional epoxy floor coatings
In most cases there will be a big difference in quality between a DIY installed epoxy floor and one installed professionally. For starters a flooring contractor will have the manpower and know how to use 100% solids epoxy and polyaspartics. Typically the floor is ground or shot blasted to open the pores of the concrete and give the coating something to hold onto, because of this prep work these floors are known to bond better with the concrete (adhesion) and be more resistant to abrasion and impact.
Some formulations have short cure times; allowing you to have a coating installed and ready for heavy traffic in about a day. Good flooring contractors offer a urethane top coat for added protection, strength, and durability (most kits are billed as standalone products with top coats sold separately as add-ons).
There is, of course, a lot of research and due diligence that must go into selecting the right company for the job. The methods, materials, and costs can vary depending on who you are working with and the present condition of your garage floor could also play a factor in the cost (removing a sealer and additional cleanup of concrete can add to the cost).
Despite the unknown factors, it is pretty safe to say that an average range for having a floor professionally installed should be between $4 and $6 per square foot.
Pricing a Tile Floor
If you really have your heart set on installing some sort of garage flooring on your own, your best bet might be with tile. This is, by far the easiest type of floor for the average homeowner to put down alone. The chart below outlines well known tile brands, price per square foot, and where to find them:
A variety of quality interlocking or peel & stick tile brands are sold directly to consumers for DIY installations. The key to picking the right tile will be knowing what qualities you want out of your garage floor and matching those up with the available options.
Garage flooring tiles are available in a range of textures, colors, thicknesses, and materials; so you can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $15 per square foot depending on your needs. If you want to create intricate designs or patterns using tiles, you may be better off working with a professional flooring contractor to be certain that you get the exact result you are looking for.
Cheaper roll out floor coverings are also available for as little as $2 per square foot, however, they are notorious for not holding up under heavy traffic and offering very limited warranties.
Pricing a Stained Floor
For garages with very light traffic or that serve as showrooms, staining the concrete floor is also an option. While there are concrete stains available for DIY installations, it is highly recommended to consult with and hire a professional to complete the job.
For best results, you will need professional grade equipment to apply a stain to a concrete floor. In addition, staining a concrete floor is an art form that is not easily mastered. A flooring contractor has the ability to offer a variety of colors, do intricate designs/patterns, properly prepare the floor to receive the stain, and skillfully make defects in the concrete enhance the look of the floor.
A basic stain job completed by a professional garage flooring contractor will start at around $2 per square foot. The cost goes up from there depending on the design, color, and number of coats your floor requires.