The humble garage floor is getting a makeover.
People are converting their beat-up concrete slabs into something more decorative. New plastic tiles can be locked together to create a checkerboard auto-racing motif. Colorful polyvinyl mats can be rolled out and pieced together to cover the entire surface.
Doug and Sue Haynes of Leawood, Kan., chose to have their garage floor professionally coated in a mixture of resin and aggregate. The result is a shiny, speckled surface that resembles a kitchen countertop.
"We wanted the garage to look clean when we pulled inside every day," Doug Haynes says.
The Garage Beyond in Lenexa, Kan., a garage organization and redesign company, prepped the Haynes's garage floor surface, using a machine that roughened the surface so the coating mixture would adhere. Several layers were applied, creating a 1/16-inch covering. While the coating cured for several days, the couple couldn't use the garage.
"I feel like my garage not only looks better, it works better," Haynes said. For example, he easily wiped a rust spot off the new surface that would have stained the old one.
Fancy flooring for the average two-car garage costs from about $225 for do-it-yourself epoxy kits (available at home stores) to over $1,800 for professional coatings.
Don Sneed, president of Better Life Technology in Lenexa, developed the roll-out polyvinyl floor covering with his son Brett. They got the idea because when they hosed the garage floor, winter's salt, sludge and dust would remain. At first, Brett Sneed taped together grooved plastic mats, which looked better and were easier to clean.
Now the Sneeds manufacture large extruded-plastic mats called G-Floor in Emporia, Kan., sold at Sam's Club nationwide. They can also be ordered from Lowe's and catalogues such as Frontgate. The floors come in several patterns such as coin and diamond tread, and colors: gray, black, brown, blue, brick red and green. The flooring is 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch thick.
Wall-to-wall installation of the plastic mats involves sweeping out the garage, overlapping rolls and cutting them to size. The mats adhere to the floor with two-sided waterproof tape. Interlocking tiles also can be cut to fit the floor, says Todd Starr of Gladiator GarageWorks by Whirlpool Corp. Tapered edge trim pieces can create a smoother transition from the driveway to the garage. The cost of tiles, without professional installation, is more than $1,800 for the typical two-car garage.
Edward Weltner of Prairie Village, Kan., considered all options for his garage floor, which he had repeatedly painted himself with porch paint. Within a few months, his car tires damaged the surface. This year he had a coating professionally installed because he didn't want to mess with mats or tiles. "It looks clean even when it's dirty," he said.
Here are the pros and cons of various types of garage flooring:
* Coatings. Pros: Inexpensive for do-it-yourselfers; slip-resistant if resin coating is mixed with aggregate; easy to clean. Cons: Expensive when professional installation is used; slippery if coating is too smooth and doesn't contain aggregate; some coatings create fumes; days-long curing time.
* Interlocking tiles. Pros: Can replace a tile if it breaks; can create interesting patterns; portable to another house. Cons: Expensive; lengthy installation; the tiles are thick, perhaps requiring a transition grade from driveway to garage.
* Plastic mats. Pros: Can install yourself; make floor feel cushioned; slip resistant with lots of tread; inexpensive compared with other options. Cons: Heavy (rolls range from 58 to 170 pounds); water can seep underneath if the mat isn't wall to wall; ribbed pattern can be cumbersome to clean because debris sticks in grooves.