A standard garage concrete floor works great on its own. Concrete flooring is tough and long lasting. But you can improve it using various floor coverings or coatings like vinyl mats, epoxy, paint and tiles.
These floor coverings can make the garage floor stronger, more stain resistant, or easier to clean. They can also improve the look of your garage floor, especially if you have an old or cracked concrete floor.
In this post, I discuss the different kinds of garage floor covering ideas you can use in your garage, plus their pros and cons.
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Garage Floor Covering Ideas
1. Concrete Sealer
The least you can do to improve a concrete garage floor is seal it. An unsealed garage floor is more vulnerable to damage from vehicle tyres, temperature fluctuations, chemicals and moisture. It also stains easily.
Unsealed concrete can also be a health hazard. Over time, the floor breaks down into fine cement dust that covers everything in the garage. These particles are also dangerous to breathe.
When shopping for a concrete sealer, make sure you get a penetrating sealer that goes deep into the concrete and bonds with it. A good example is the Siloxa-Tek 8500 penetrating concrete sealer.
Concrete sealers are generally easy to apply. You can do it yourself using a brush, roller or sprayer.
You’ll need to clean the garage floor first and remove any stains and grease. If you have an old sealer on the floor, remove it too by grinding, sanding or using a chemical stripper.
Acid etch the floor then apply the penetrating sealer.
Note: Do not seal the concrete if you plan to apply an epoxy or polyurea coating. These don’t work on sealed floors.
If your main aim is to make the garage floor look nice, then all you need is a concrete stain. Staining adds permanent color to the concrete floor.
Note that you cannot stain a painted, sealed or coated concrete floor. Stain is best applied on a bare floor without any coatings.
So if you have any coating on the floor, you have to remove it before staining. If you plan to seal a bare garage floor, first stain it then apply sealant after the stain has cured.
Remember that staining is just for aesthetics. It doesn’t offer any protection to the garage floor. If you want to protect the floor and make it look prettier, do both staining and sealing.
Painting the garage floor is another good choice if you are focused more on aesthetics rather than function. While paint will offer some protection to your garage floor, it’s mostly good for improving the look of your garage.
The best kind of paint for a garage floor is acrylic epoxy paint. This is regular acrylic paint with some epoxy mixed in.
This creates a tougher surface that offers more protection compared to regular paint on its own.
A good quality epoxy paint can protect the garage floor from stains, scratches and moisture damage. But it can never be as good as an epoxy coating.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on an epoxy coating, consider sealing the concrete floor first before painting. This provides better protection and improves floor longevity.
Once you seal the concrete, remember to apply an acid etch and then a primer before painting the floor. This will ensure the paint bonds strongly with the concrete and the sealer.
Tip: When shopping for garage floor paint, look for paint with special additives for moisture protection, UV protection, slip resistance and other features.
4. Epoxy Coating
An epoxy coating is one of the best ways to protect your garage floor. Epoxy forms a hard coating on the concrete, protecting it from chipping, cracking, moisture damage, stains, hot vehicle tires and so on.
Epoxy essentially seals your floor, so you don’t need any extra floor coverings like a sealant. The epoxy is enough on its own.
Epoxy coatings come in two parts: the resin and hardener. Once you blend the two and apply them on the floor, they react and harden into an impervious and resilient coating.
An epoxy coating does more than protect your garage floor; it also makes it look better. You can choose clear epoxy with a gloss or satin finish, colored epoxy, or epoxy with decorative flakes.
The performance and longevity of an epoxy garage floor depends a lot on how well you apply the coating. Proper preparation is crucial.
You’ll need to thoroughly clean the floor, remove any previous coatings like sealant or staining, etch or grind/blast the floor, then finally apply the epoxy coating.
Follow the application instructions, especially when it comes to temperature. If the weather is too hot or too cold, it could cause issues with application or prevent the epoxy from curing.
A good quality garage floor epoxy coating that’s applied properly can last up to 10 years.
5. Polyaspartic Floor Coating
As good as epoxy is for a garage floor, there’s an even better option – polyaspartic floor coating.
A polyaspartic floor coating, sometimes called Polyurea, has several advantages over epoxy coating.
It lasts longer before it starts fading and showing wear, it’s tougher and more resilient, provides better moisture protection, it can be applied at a wider temperature range, and it cures faster meaning you don’t have to wait days to park your car in the garage.
Polyurea is so good that it’s one of the most common types of coatings used in industrial and commercial settings like airport hangars and hospitals.
If your garage sees a lot of traffic (multiple cars, bikes, lawn mower etc.) and heavy use, a polyurea coating is the best choice.
The main downside of polyurea/polyaspartic floor coating is that it costs more than epoxy. But since it lasts longer and protects your garage floor better, it’s usually better value for money in the long run.
Laying down tiles is one of the most affordable garage floor covering ideas. Garage floor tiles are designed to protect the floor from stains, oil, grease, and chemicals.
They can also handle the weight of vehicles and other machinery.
Garage floor tiles are typically made from vinyl, rubber, plastic or wood composite.
Most garage tiles, such as these GarageTrac Diamond non-slip tiles, have an interlocking design that prevents individual tiles from shifting and improves the strength of the entire floor.
In addition to being an affordable floor covering option, interlocking tiles are also easy to maintain. If one of them gets damaged, you just replace that one instead of the entire floor covering.
Garage floor tiles are available in a wide range of colors and styles, making it easy to customize your garage’s aesthetics to your liking.
There are a couple of downsides to garage floor tiles.
One, they are not as good as an epoxy or polyurea coating when it comes to floor protection and durability. Tiles will wear out quickly especially if there’s a lot of heavy traffic.
The other big issue is that garage floor tiles tend to trap moisture underneath. Some of them also absorb water and hold on to it.
This increases the risk of water damage on the garage floor. It can also lead to things like mold and mildew.
To avoid this, there are a couple of things you can do. One, seal the concrete floor before you lay tiles on top. A penetrating sealer will prevent moisture damage on the concrete.
Two, get vented/breathable tiles that have holes on them to prevent moisture from getting trapped underneath. They’ll help keep the floor dry. A good example is this pack of RaceDeck Free-Flow self-draining tiles.
7. Garage Floor Mats
A floor mat or carpet is another low cost garage flooring option. Like tiles, floor mats protect the garage floor from oil, grease, tire marks, scratches and other kinds of damage.
You can cover the entire garage with mats, or only cover the vulnerable areas such as where you park your car.
Most floor mats are designed to absorb liquids and moisture, preventing it from pooling or reaching other parts of the garage. But they have a waterproof backing to keep liquids from reaching the floor underneath.
That said, floor mats can still trap moisture underneath since they are not breathable. So I highly recommend sealing your concrete floor first, if you haven’t done it yet.
While many of the above ideas are great for hiding minor imperfections on your floor, don’t use them to cover serious damages or a worn out garage floor.
If you have small cracks on the concrete, patch them first. If you have large cracks, crumbling areas and other kinds of serious problems, either replace the floor or resurface it.
Floor coverings will not magically fix the floor or keep it from getting worse. Once you’ve repaired the floor, you can use any of the above coverings to maintain it in good condition for years.
To summarize everything I’ve discussed above, here are the most important takeaways:
- If you have a concrete floor, a penetrating sealer is a must unless you plan to apply an epoxy or polyurea coating.
- Epoxy and polyurea/polyaspartic provide the best garage floor protection. They are more expensive, but they are worth it.
- Painting and staining are mostly for aesthetics. They don’t offer much protection.
- Coverings like tiles and mats are the best options if you are on a budget. But seal the floor first.