Maybe you’ve been in the same home for many years and witnessed the gradual worsening of your garage floor’s durability and appearance.
Or perhaps you recently moved to a new house. It’s highly likely the homebuilder left a garage floor with the bare minimum in terms of the surface’s resilience and visual appeal.
In either situation, now is the time to think about upgrading the level of garage floor protection in one of your home’s hardest working rooms.
Why garage floor protection is so important
Concrete garage floors take a beating.
In addition to everyday vehicle and pedestrian traffic, they’re exposed to dirt and dust, grease, automotive fluids and household chemical spills, hot tires, and road salt. And let’s not forget about the moisture brought into garages from the rain and snow.
Temperature fluctuations also put stress on a concrete floor as it contracts when it’s colder and expands when it’s warmer.
That’s a lot your flooring has to endure.
Over a number of years, a garage floor that hasn’t been maintained will start to show its age by exhibiting any of these surface flaws:
- stains from spills, leaks, and efflorescence (a white powdery substance caused by deposits from mineral salt)
- pitting (when a surface degrades and shows many small indentations)
- an uneven surface color
- spalling (when a concrete surface crumbles or flakes away)
With so many things in your daily routine capable of causing wear and tear on a garage floor, why not start giving a little TLC to the flooring in this busy home space?
Ranking the best and worst garage floor protection options
We’ve put together a list of nine garage floor protection options that homeowners will commonly turn to when making garage floor upgrades.
You’ll note that some of the products at the bottom of the list provide virtually no floor protection benefits.
We’re still including them because there’s a lot of misinformation and misperceptions out there about what protective benefits these products actually provide.
1. Polyaspartic floor coating
If we’re talking about your garage floor protection options, we may as well start with the best – a polyaspartic floor coating.
This high-performance coating is comprised of professional-grade materials that are applied by trained pros using special equipment to deliver long-lasting flooring protection.
Unlike most cheaper garage floor protection products that provide a less effective topical surface bond, polyaspartic coatings penetrate deeper into the concrete.
This creates a stronger foundational bond with the concrete that makes it more impermeable against water, chemicals, and other elements that can cause floor damage.
With its durable top coat, Garage Living’s Floortex™ polyaspartic floor coating resists damage from impacts and abrasions, chemicals, and permanent markings left on the floor from “hot tire pickup”.
Because a good floor coating doesn’t wear down as quickly as a bare concrete floor, your garage will also produce a little less dust.
And whatever dust is present from floor wear and normal, everyday use won’t even be very visible. Polyaspartic floor coatings have decorative colored flakes broadcast across the floor before the top coat is applied. This obscures dust and adds a decorative flair to your garage’s interior look.
2. Epoxy floor coating
If you’re thinking of taking the DIY route when it comes to your garage floor protection upgrade, an epoxy floor coating kit is probably what you’ll buy.
We’ve all seen them in home improvement stores. Their box advertising promises to work wonders on your garage floor and boasts of how easy the product is to work with.
And they promise all of this at a surprisingly cheap price. Instead of being lured by a lower price tag, perhaps you should be wondering, “Hmmm…so what’s the catch?”.
The catch is that while epoxy coatings can do a serviceable job protecting your garage floor and updating the room’s décor, they fall well short of polyaspartic coatings in every measure of how the coating looks and keeps your garage floor protected.
Any epoxy coating kit’s materials will be substandard when compared to professional-grade polyaspartic coating materials.
Applying any coating product requires thorough preparation of the floor surface, properly mixed materials, and usage of the materials within a certain amount of time.
With epoxy and polyaspartic floor coatings, the temperature and humidity levels must also be taken into consideration. Unlike polyaspartic coatings, epoxies can’t be applied in extreme hot or cold temperatures.
There’s little room for error in the floor coating process, otherwise you’ll be left with a finished floor that’s visually unsatisfying and not providing you with complete garage floor protection. You’ll also need to revisit your garage flooring project for touch-ups or a complete redo sooner than you’d like.
Polyaspartic floor coatings require more expertise and specialized equipment to apply properly, which is why these projects are usually handled by professionals and cost more. Keep that in mind the next time a low-cost epoxy flooring kit catches your eye.
3. Garage floor tiles
Instead of directly upgrading your concrete floor surface, another viable option is to use interlocking floor tiles in the garage.
Floor tiles may be better suited to your floor upgrade budget. If you have floor damage that’s out of your price range to fix, floor tiles are also a cost-effective option to cover up an unattractive surface.
While floor tiles won’t actually remedy any issues with garage floor degradation, they do help minimize further surface damage from wear and tear occurring.
Floor tiles are made from plastic or stronger PVC materials for added durability when placed on your concrete floor.
Some types require adhesives and mortar to install, but look for the much-easier-to-work-with type that feature interlocking teeth.
Aside from their cost effectiveness and protective benefits, here are four other good reasons to consider interlocking floor tiles for your garage:
- fast installation time
- they’re versatile and can also be used in basements, laundry rooms, and storage rooms
- when a tile eventually gets damaged, it’s extremely easy to replace
- create a custom floor look with different tile colors and styles
4. Concrete resurfacer
One of the products that will probably show up on your radar when you’re considering different garage floor protection options are concrete resurfacers.
Concrete resurfacers are made up of a mixture of sand, Portland cement, polymer materials, and additional additives. A trowel, brush, or squeegee are typically used to apply them.
The product’s natural cement grey color can be enhanced with decorative pigments to create a more dynamic floor look.
The words “concrete resurfacer” certainly imply that this product will renew a flawed floor surface. That’s only partially true.
Intended as a more cosmetic fix for garage floors in need of a refresh, the floor protection benefits of concrete resurfacers are rather modest. This is partially because their application coat is usually fairly thin compared to an epoxy or polyaspartic coating.
Concrete resurfacers are more ideal for floors with light, superficial damage (meaning minor cracks and pitting). Bigger floor problems such as wide and deep cracks, spalling, and extensive pitting would need extensive repairs before applying a resurfacer over them.
5. Garage floor coverings
Garage floor coverings like mats, rugs, parking pads, and trays tend to be used more in colder climates that get snow, which leaves garage floors a wet, sloppy mess during the winter.
These products can help protect your floor, but once again, the protection they offer is fairly superficial and limited.
The function that’s most appealing about them (other than their low cost) is they’ll help contain excess moisture from rain or melted snow and ice that’s tracked in by vehicles. That keeps your garage floor cleaner.
They’ll need to be emptied outside occasionally in order to drain the collected water. That can be a bit of a chore since they can get heavy with all that water and be quite messy to move.
One big drawback of these types of floor coverings is that if the pooled water isn’t emptied often enough, the extra moisture can increase your garage’s condensation levels. That’s not good. And if any collected water leaks underneath the covering, the cement is at risk of damage.
Another shortcoming with these products is that vehicles entering and exiting a garage can cause the coverings to shift and need repositioning. Some models with anti-skid bottoms will be more stable and using double-sided tape to keep them anchored might be helpful.
6. Floor sealer
Another popular product homeowners choose to protect their garage floors are roll-on sealers. They’re inexpensive, relatively easy to apply, and come in acrylic, latex, and urethane types.
But do they offer much flooring protection? As their name implies, this product does provide a seal for the floor that can protect it from stains and water damage.
However, sealers don’t perform at the same level as polyaspartic and epoxy floor coatings when it comes to protecting a floor.
They don’t bond to concrete as well as higher quality coatings. They also wear away faster.
Clear concrete sealers won’t hide blemishes from patches and repairs made to the floor before the sealer is applied. Tints can be used to add some color and may produce better visual results.
7. Floor patching
At this point on our list, the durability of the remaining garage floor protection options falls off dramatically.
Sure, repairing a garage floor using crack sealers and fillers, concrete patching compound, or water stop cement does prevent further damage to problematic floor areas.
There are a few reasons, however, to rethink this “bare minimum approach” to dealing with your garage floor’s issues.
First of all, these types of fixes using inexpensive tubes of sealant and filler aren’t a long-term floor repair solution. They typically don’t last and will need to be readdressed in a year or two.
Secondly, these types of repairs are only practical for smaller areas, not an entire garage floor in need of fixing.
And last (but not least) is the simple matter of aesthetics. Patches, touch-ups, and spot repairs just aren’t conducive to a good interior garage look, especially when they don’t match your floor’s color.
8. Floor stain
They’re not as well-known as floor paints, but floor stains are another product you’ll see that promises to transform your garage floors.
They’re chosen purely for their decorative appearance, which adds color or even a natural stone look to a garage floor’s surface. Floor stains are usually found in water-based and acid types.
Because stains add color to the floor, they can help to hide surface blemishes. But in terms of garage floor protection, stains do very little for a surface since they barely penetrate the concrete.
A sealer topcoat can be applied over the stain’s thin surface coating. This provides some protection for the stain and floor surface, as well as helps to make the stain stand out more.
9. Floor paint
Floor paint products, like floor stain products, do virtually nothing to protect a floor surface.
Despite this fact, they’re one of the most popular options for homeowners looking to spruce up the look of their garage floor.
Why? Once again, they’re cheap and fairly easy to apply yourself, although it’s not like you can just sweep your garage floor, pop open a can of paint, and start rolling it on.
Some surface preparation is required, whether it’s repairing cracks or other damage, or using a heavy-duty degreaser on the floor to help the paint adhere better and to get rid of tough stains.
It’s a common misconception from consumers that floor paints protect your floor. Unfortunately, once the paint has been applied and dried, all you’re getting is a cosmetic upgrade to your floor (and a relatively modest one, too).
Garage floor paint applications are notorious for being a short-lived floor improvement “solution”. The paint chips and flakes quickly and will need to be touched up or fully reapplied sooner rather than later.
Get the best garage floor protection available
As you can see from our list, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right product to protect your garage floor.
Garage Living can take care of your floor upgrade needs with either an installation of interlocking floor tiles or a coating application of the best garage floor protection solution available.
In as little as a day, a Floortex™ polyaspartic floor coating can be applied in your garage that will last for years and make your garage stand out.
Schedule a free in-home design consultation with us today.
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