A garage floor covering isn't the top floor covering priority in a home, but putting in a floor for your garage has real benefits. You may not be concerned with creating a beautiful garage floor, but the fact is your garage floor is likely to incur abuse unlike anywhere else in your home. Automotive fluids can leak from your car staining the floor and creating an unseemly smell. At the very least, snow and/or grime is probably going to begin to migrate into your garage.
Contaminated garage floors can also contribute to accidents. If you use your garage as a workshop, you may need to install a garage floor covering just to be safe and reduce the chance of slipping. Of course, you can always just lay down mats to fix this problem, but more advanced floor coverings will give you total floor coverage and a more permanent, reliable garage floor.
Paint v. Epoxy for Your Garage Floors
The cheapest garage floor covering is simply a coat of paint. Paint will provide a layer of moderate protection for your garage floor and improve its overall look, but painted garage floors, as you might imagine, don't last very long. You should plan on repainting once a year, maybe more, to achieve any kind of consistent protection or look.
A better investment of your time and money is probably epoxy. Epoxy costs more than paint and the surface of your garage floor will have to be prepared to ensure a quality finish. Properly applied epoxy will give your garage a showroom-like finish, a greater amount of protection, and will be significantly more durable than paint. Because of the need for surface preparation, epoxy is a great idea for new garages. The potent chemical composition of epoxy requires safe ventilation and a multistage application process. Plus, you'll need to make sure your garage doesn't get wet if slipping is a concern.
Tile and Permanent Garage Floor Coverings
Neither paint nor epoxy can offer the benefits of a garage floor tile. Tile is going to be more expensive, but professionally installed tile should give you a garage floor you can trust for several years, at least. Interlocking tiles can decrease the cost of installation or high-end tiles can give an unmatched look to your garage. Floor tiles should be able to be laid down right on top of your concrete, so long as the concrete is in reasonable condition. The biggest difference between garage floor tiles and tiles you might use inside your home is the adhesive you use. Garage floor tiles don't require the same additives that are frequently needed for interior home use.
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Garage Renovations and Uses
Garages are typically designed to protect your automobile, but this doesn't mean you have to use it for this. If you have a car that's five years old and/or live in a more mild climate, you might find that there are better things you can do with your garage space than sheltering your '03 Ford Taurus. Installing a tile floor or staining your concrete can allow you to place a small pool table, ping pong table, or card table in your garage and convert the space into an entertainment area. You might also want to upgrade your insulation, windows, lighting, or walls to create a livable space. You'll be rewarded, as these renovations are often worth the trouble. Double garages, in particular, are good candidates for these types of conversions. By installing the right garage floor covering, you can park one or two cars in your garage for most of the week and pull them out to the driveway and setup for poker night.