Garages tend to develop into a no-man’s land, a barely organized collection of clutter. Abandoned DIY projects, outgrown toys, mysterious leaking containers… is that last year’s Christmas tree in the corner?
Creating a Heavy-Duty Habitat
With a plain concrete–or even dirt!–floor, it’s hard to find a better use for areas of your home like the garage or basement. But if you’re ready to clear out that clutter and reclaim the territory for you and your family, the right floor coating can turn storage space into living space.
Floor coatings are used to create durable, attractive, easy-to-clean surfaces that withstand the rigors of their environment. Dampness, chemical corrosion, heat: You name it, there’s a way to protect your floor against it. The right type of resistant coating is essential in steamy commercial kitchens, airplane hangars, and industrial factories.
Now, you may not be using your garage to store jet fuel or cook a thousand meals a day, but your goal is to create a space that feels like home not just to you and your family, but also to your car and your hobbies. The type of sealant you would use for interior flooring won’t be up to the task of resisting oil stains, road salts, and snow melt made of chemicals like magnesium chloride. The coating you’ll demand is similar to the kind you’d see on the showroom floor of an auto dealership: tough enough for tire skids but easy on the eyes.
Choosing a Coat that Fits
Traditionally, garage floor coatings consist of either polyurethane, epoxy, or a combination of the two. Polyurethane is the best bet for scratch resistance, epoxy cures into a much harder surface that resists heavy or dropped objects, and a combination of the two offers elements of both at a greater cost. Advances in technology have allowed for specialized applications and new compounds; the newest treatment available is polyaspartic polyurea which is ideal for industrial applications because it cures quickly and has exceptional abrasion resistance, but it is relatively expensive and not widely available. Let’s take a deeper look at other garage floor coating options, the ones available for your home.
We recommend epoxy as the best combination of durability and affordability for home floors, as well as offering greater variety in aesthetic features like tints, color chips, and patterns. As an added benefit, there are many types of epoxy available with zero VOC (volatile organic compounds), making it an environmentally friendly choice.
But even if you settle on an epoxy coating, there’s more to consider. How important is skid resistance? Will your work in the garage or basement involve additional surface stressors like brake fluid, welding equipment, or heavy objects like weightlifting gear?
It’s also vital to understand the moisture level of the surface you are coating and how the moisture level will change throughout the year. The wrong treatment can be an expensive and unattractive mistake that will leave you with an un-level floor and require extensive maintenance in a few short years. The right one will handle all these factors and more, and last for decades.
Put it On and Put it to Use
As you may have gathered, a garage floor coating is not a project for the DIY beginner; it requires careful evaluation and preparation of the surface and a multi-stage application process involving a variety of specially tailored chemicals that can be complicated by aesthetic touches and environmental features specific to your task. If you have experience with similar procedures (and we don’t mean conventional painting) and the advice of an expert to guide you, DIY kits are available online and at some big box retailers. Otherwise, a reputable local contractor may be a better investment of your time and money.
However you get it done, you’ve got a new space for activities that wouldn’t fit anywhere else. Sure, there’s obvious “man cave” potential, but it’s also a place for kids to play without scraping up against a grimy concrete floor, a welcoming open space for semi-formal events, and an easy-to-clean base for messy DIY or art projects. And if the time ever comes to move, there’s no denying the curb appeal of a finished floor compared to a concrete wasteland.
If you find yourself enjoying the look, feel, and utility of these coatings in your garage or basement, you may consider using similar processes to coat outdoor decks, patios, steps, and even docks. For these jobs, you’ll want to take care to use a coating that is more UV (sunlight) resistant, and you may consider using a heat-reflecting additive to make surfaces comfortable even in summer.
This is a guest post by Ben Freund on behalf of Colorado Garage Floors, a leading polyurethane and epoxy floor contractor. He writes tips, tutorials, and more on the CGF Blog.
All images via Ben Freund on behalf of Colorado Garage Floors.