advice sought for garage floor solution

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Old 01-23-17, 08:41 AM
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advice sought for garage floor solution

TL : DR - need an inexpensive floor covering for a garage that is pitted, salt stained, cracked and slopes to a central drain and gets constantly wet during winter (I live in Montreal). I have to be able to roll a large cabinet and woodworking tools - such as a bandsaw - across it.

Hi all,
I'm trying to find a solution for our garage floor. Recently moved to Montreal and I'm fixing up the garage to use as a garage AND a small workshop (woodworking mostly). Due to the space constraints I have to be able to move the tools around (on wheels) as they'll be stored along the rear wall so the car can still be parked (I have to pull the car out to use them). I've always just used an epoxy on all of my garages in the past and been fairly happy with the result but this time I don't see it being an option due to the salt and moisture in the floor.
The floor is pitted and stained due to the insane amount of salt on the roads, it's got some cracks and it is not level (aside from some mild uplifting it slopes to a drain - we get a lot of snow so there's a fair amount of melt after parking since the garage is both insulated and heated). Since it's a small garage the slope is actually pretty noticeable as it gets near the drain. Also the drain is an access panel that has to remain accessible.
To repair for epoxy would be a bear of a job and frankly I don't see us here for long enough to make it worthwhile.
Can anyone recommend something to use that will give a nice finished flooring, can be applied to the slab with minimal prep and won't break the bank?
It's a single car garage so not a lot of floor to cover. It's perfectly functional as is, but I HATE unfinished garage floors and would really prefer the finished look. Particularly if I want to spend time in it.
Thanks!
 
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Old 01-23-17, 09:07 AM
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Epoxy was my first thought, had my 4-car done last summer, love it.

Problem is any coating is going to have adhesion issues based on your description.

They make some plastic panels that lay on the floor but would hate to think what they would look like with melting snow?
 
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Old 01-23-17, 11:10 AM
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I liked the epoxy solution too, but I sincerely doubt I'd be able to clean it well enough as is. I'd probably need to refinish it somehow and that will blow the budget up to tile level but with more work.
I'd thought of tile solution such as Swisstrax but not sure how flat the floor has to be for that type of product or how it would handle the slush and salt.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 11:56 AM
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I don't think anything "applied" to the slab will hold up unless you do the proper prep work to the concrete. That sorta rules out paints, stains and epoxy coatings. Your left with things that sit on the floor. There are roll out vinyl mats, interlocking and plastic panels specifically marketed for garage floors.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 02:40 PM
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That's what I figured, but I'm not sure about how they'd hold up. Hoping someone who'd tried them might wade in with some opinions. Specifically if they "flex" with the floor or if they'd need a level surface, if they retain moisture underneath or if they allow proper drainage. That sort of thing.
 
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Old 01-24-17, 09:52 AM
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I have not seen any mats or plastic squares that have been down for more than 3 or 4 years. At least at this point the ones I've seen have held up. Unfortunately many plastics have a nasty habit of becoming brittle with age. It might take 10 or 20+ years but I assume at some point they will show their age but I'd expect a mat to die sooner than rigid plastic squares.

Solid mats act as a water and vapor barrier so you can get condensation on the bottom if there is water vapor passing through your slab. Some of the interlocking plastic squares are perforated. Melting water would pass through and onto your concrete but when things are dry they would allow vapor from the slab to evaporate away.
 
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Old 02-02-17, 08:32 AM
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I understand your desire for better appearance, but a work shop that is actually used as one needs to be safe and functional. The best surface for grip is unfinished concrete. Epoxies and sealed floors, or concrete polished, can be deadly slippery, even a small amount of water let alone a drip of oil can cause a major instant fall and serious injury. The anti slip and grip additives help when dry, but not so much when wet.

The plastic flooring that is available with a flow through style will just get incredible amounts of dirt and crap under them over time. Looks fine, but again, not so great a surface for an actual workshop.

There are some high strength porcelain tiles that are probably the best looking and with the right ones have a decent amount of grip. Expensive, but can also be installed on a crappy surface, as long as it is reasonably flat. Vault Garage has some really nice ones.

But my bottom line is, get some Spray 9 or similar degreaser and a scrub brush and clean and hose things down as best you can, get a nice big workshop carpet mat for your area where you work (Canada Mats has some great choices), and perhaps paint (a urethane floor paint would be fine)an outline of a foot or two around the perimeter of the garage and put some nice baseboard trim against the wall area, and you will spruce things up. But the bare cleaned concrete, as crappy as it looks, is your best functional surface.

I have a beautiful custom garage with a crappy looking floor. So I have thought about this and over time and even talking with suppliers that epoxies eg. a Costco. warehouse, getting advice from a commercial supplier to malls who worry about slip and falls, I concluded a workshop needs to be safe above all other considerations, and bare concrete is what I have stayed with.
 
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Old 02-03-17, 07:21 AM
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Hey flatcrank, thanks that's a very good point and I agree about the safety factor. It's something I've considered often, particularly here since we get so much snow melt, the floor is always at least damp.
That's why I was hoping someone might have a solution I hadn't come across yet to meet halfway as it were.
Biggest reason I like to finish the floors is honestly psychological. You would not believe the effect it has working in a shop with a finished floor. No idea why it makes such a difference, but believe me it does (at least to me). It's like working in a dark basement vs an airy open workshop. Just feels "better" to me. A not inconsiderable other reason is in resale. I've flipped a few houses and I've found that having the garage floor finished really makes a difference. You should see how people react. So I've usually just used an epoxy paint and was super careful when it was wet (you are right, it's insanely slippery when wet).
Having said all that, I'm just going to power wash the thing in the spring and MAYBE do some sort of sealant on the concrete to prevent any more pitting from the salt.
The tiles are no good in this area (as you say the grime will clog the drainage) and it's way too costly (and dangerous) to epoxy it.
Thanks again.
 
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Old 02-03-17, 08:23 AM
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One thing that sounds odd but works pretty well is carpet. It's not good with snow melt but it really spruces up the shop and makes it much nicer to work on a vehicle. I got a large area rug that someone left by the curb. Laid it out on the driveway and pressure washed both sides and after it dried put it in the garage. It's great when you're crawling under a vehicle or on your knees detailing and it's much warmer to lay on than bare concrete. When it gets dirty I just run the vacuum over it. In your case you could roll it up out of the way during winter.
 
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Old 02-04-17, 01:38 PM
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Lighting, faux tile look

I agree a nice floor finish makes a huge cosmetic difference.

I have also found though that the most important thing for the garage workshop is massive amounts of correctly spaced lighting. I have both florescent and incandescent lights which in combination and depending upon the need give the right spectrum for seeing things clearly without too much glare. Great for car detailing especially.

I have also thought of painting the floor with a lined "grid" like pattern almost a faux tile look. Would still give the bare concrete advantages but maybe add a bit of style. Maybe you could do some alternating squares of sealer on and no sealer, and get a faint tiled look with some remaining grip surfaces still exposed. If you are going to go with sealer, you might get artistic with it and see how it goes. Can always overcoat the whole floor if it doesn't work.
 
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Old 02-10-17, 08:24 PM
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huh... .hadn't thought of that. Interesting. Definitely need the lighting upgrade. There's a single CF bulb in there and the garage door light.
It's a fairly low ceiling though so going to need to find a flat panel system.
 
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Old 02-11-17, 05:24 AM
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LED tape strips, often used in under cabinet lighting, might be an option. Some are very bright and they have an adhesive back so the strip can just be stuck to your ceiling.
 
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