Garages tend to take a lot of abuse. They’re where you park storage cars; and as such, the garage can take abuse from outdoors debris, tire fires, oil leaks, and whatever else people do with their vehicles.
Fortunately, today, taking care of garages is easy. Automotive body shops, for example, can buy “diaper pads” for scissor lift protection for your garage. These covers can already catch leaks and drips from a vehicle so you won’t have to deal with duct tapes, rags, and mats.
Still, flooring for garages should withstand these conditions, plus frequent car and foot traffic, which is why choosing the right flooring is essential. So far, here are three flooring options that make it to the list:
Concrete offers some significant advantages for garage floors. It’s excellent at resisting oil spills. It makes a robust base that’s smooth (no tripping) and resistant to tire marks (though there are epoxy coatings that may create a glossy surface).
And when properly finished, it looks pretty good. The actual finish depends on what you use to mix it, how thick it is, etc. It’s also heavy, which makes installation more expensive. If you are unsure of your skills or are not up to the task of pouring a floor, hiring out the job will save you the trouble later.
However, if you live in an area where the ground freezes in winter, concrete is out. Ice expands and can crack it. Also, poured-concrete floors are not to everyone’s taste. The color is often permanent, so think about whether you can live with that particular shade of gray or beige for 30 years.
The finish might be rough, but some find the feel fantastic but does little to enhance the look of your garage. Furthermore, concrete must be applied over the top if you want a shiny finish, which means more work and expense.
Asphalt is less expensive per square foot than concrete, is very easy to install using basic tools, and typically requires no special skills or education. It also comes premixed, so nothing more than water needs to be added. You pour it out on your garage floor and flatten it out with a trowel.
Asphalt is very resistant to oil spills, though any strong cleaning product can harm its surface, so be careful with what you use in your garage.
It reflects heat, so asphalt floors are often quite warm to the touch. On the other hand, this means it may feel cool when you get out of your car on a hot day, which could be nice. The tradeoff for that benefit is that the summer sun will overheat your garage. If you park inside where it’s cooler (and let some light in), you’ll save money on air-conditioning.
On the downside, asphalt cracks easily. The larger the area and the more these cracks intersect with each other, the greater chance your garage floor has of developing a dangerous pothole. And unless you use a very expensive sealer, asphalt tends to get dirty quickly and is hard to clean.
Epoxy is the most expensive option for garage flooring, but it can be very durable. The texture of an epoxy-finished garage floor also makes it slip-resistant. Epoxy comes in many colors, but some colors are more vibrant than others despite being made from basic materials.
Epoxy coating over concrete can look very professional and glossy if done correctly. But it’s still a DIY job, so be prepared with the right tools, follow safety precautions, and know what you’re doing or have someone who does do it for you.
Epoxy floors are not suitable for all climates, particularly frigid environments. The last thing your garage needs is moisture collecting underneath it, where it can turn into ice that cracks your floor!
You should periodically seal your epoxy floor to protect it from oil and gasoline spills. These types of fluids could damage the surface if allowed to penetrate too deeply into the material. You will also need to apply a sealer after sanding any scratches or scuffs on the surface.
Some people use linoleum in their garages because this type of flooring is waterproof. But this choice isn’t always practical because linoleum tends to tear and become brittle over time. Linoleum can also be challenging to clean, and it stains easily.
What’s the Best Choice?
With all these different types of floors available, what’s the best? It depends on your specific needs, budget, and other factors like climate. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want my floor to reflect heat or should it absorb it?
- How much traffic will my garage see?
- What are my skills/resources?
After considering your unique needs, the only way to get an informed answer is to check out some garage flooring possibilities in person. Manufacturers have displays of different floors at home improvement stores, so take a look around and see what’s being used for garages today.
Whichever type you choose, a garage floor will never be seen by more than the occasional visitor unless you opt for a material that can withstand high foot traffic. It will undoubtedly put up with spills from things stored inside! Do your research on different materials and talk to people who have already tried them. Then you’ll be ready to pick something that looks great and keeps your garage looking good for years.