JW’s Garage Build (Part 1): Garage Floors

Good things don't just come in small packages!

The American garage, while often overlooked as a stash spot for junk and old chest freezers, can be a symbol of one’s relationship with his or her automotibles. After all, this is where they sleep. The decision to redo your garage and floors can be dauting but rewarding. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we moved into a new home with a finished but unmaintained 3-car garage. This has since turned into a bigger project over time as we’ve decided on additional lighting, flooring, storage, and paint. As a result, welcome to several part one of JW’s garage build series.

With any garage project, it’s good to outline your goals. We wanted a space that was good for working in, looked nice, and respected the existing features of the garage. We also didn’t want to break the bank on price or have something that would look bad in a few years. For example, if you do a lot of welding, plastic-tile flooring probably isn’t for you! However, the plastic tiles create a great space to show off and entertain, while being easy to clean.

Clean slate!

Upon careful measuring of the garage floors, we determined the size of our space and were better able to gauge costs among differing options. The first thought was an epoxy floor. These look nice but often mean days or weeks of careful prep and the potential for a failure for the coating to adhere. Professional quotes for the roughly 700 square feet were bordering on $4000, which was well over budget for us. We also considered 25-55 millimeter-thick vinyl mats that are water resistant and can be cut to size. The downside is these mats can get gross underneath with moisture that comes up through the floor. The size of our garage also meant costs would exceed $1500. And painting over the old layers of paint simply wasn’t a good option.

Options also included vinyl tiles that are glued down and traditional ceramic tile. Sadly, vinyl or VCT tiles need regular maintenance and polishing. They are also very slippery when went. Similarly slick, the ceramic tiles are expensive, heavy, and time consuming to install.

We picked another option: plastic tiles. These tiles are solid products sold under many name brands. A few names to consider: RaceDeck, its cheaper twin GarageTrac, and SwissTrax. These all vary slightly in quality, with GarageTrac being the cheapest of the bunch—hovering around $2.25 a square foot. Given our floor drains, we decided to also order some slightly more expensive flow through RaceDeck tiles. These tiles interlock through a proprietary hook-and-loop arrangement and float on the existing concrete. They are also channeled underneath to allow water to seep through to the floor drains. GarageTrac and RaceDeck are compatible, meaning you can buy some of the more expensive RaceDeck tiles in special colors or flow-through and piece into a cheaper GarageTrac floor. Basically, the GarageTrac tiles are a bit thinner and less durable, which is to say cheaper garage floors. Both GarageTrac and RaceDeck are made in the USA.

Here is the design we decided on:

This pattern was one of nearly a dozen we considered!

Several of these tile companies offer online tools to help design your floor (see above). They also will send you a free sample tile or two to check out color and quality. Ultimately, we went with the free shipping and excellent customer service from Big Floors, LLC. Our order came to around $1500 dollars all in. This included a handful of flow-through tiles, three different colors for our pattern and plenty of spares. It arrived on a very large pallet for our garage in less than a week.

Start of the install!

This massive pallet, weighing around 700 pounds, rapidly converted into a floor in just one evening of labor. Later we ordered black edging that creates a transition by the garage doors. Install was literally a snap, as the interlocking tiles popped together easily. There were no surprise issues and the tiles completely covered the horrible looking grey and green failed paint.

Halfway there!

The biggest compromises on this floor is that it doesn’t drain water like a concrete floor would and that it doesn’t have high levels of heat resistance. Purchasing additional flow through tiles would help with the draining issues. In hindsight, we would have interspersed more of these fast draining tiles near our daily driver parking. The colors all match and correspond.

Million dollar finish!

We have yet to encounter any serious problems the floor. Damaged tiles are easy to swap out too. Overall, we love the product and would recommend it for your garage build.

After a few hours of snapping and clicking!

The only problem is now you can see how terrible the walls look…stay tuned for part 2 on wall painting.

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