Garage Flooring, Part 1 of 3

There's a spot here for a bad pun about the floor being the foundation of everything done in a garage, but that's beneath me so I won't stoop that low.

Or will I?

Refinishing a garage floor is a major undertaking that requires full commitment. It takes a lot of work to do - and all the more work if there's anything actually in the garage since it needs to be emptied. If you go the epoxy coating route that we went, the floor needs time to cure, which means it needs to stay empty for at least a day. We've got a ton of stuff in the garage, so it was quite the process for us. Here's how it went.

Choosing a Floor

The first step is to choose the kind of floor you want. You can get tiles, or polish the concrete, or get an epoxy coating. I had concerns about floor tiles. If a smooth tile cracks, it needs to be replaced and that can be a lot of work. I drop stuff all the time - tools included - so I'm a bit worried about the practically of that kind of flooring in my own garage. There are tiles that sit on top of an existing floor. I worry about liquids seeping down through the cracks between these. Like tools, I spill things quite often, so that was another potential hazard for me.

I love the look of polished concrete. BC Racing's North American headquarters here in Florida has an absolutely stunning floor in the vehicle workshop space. We saw it when we were there getting our red V8 Vantage project car fitted with prototype coilovers.

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The cost of that floor was more than I could stomach, so we went another route and got an epoxy coating. More specifically, we got something called Liquid Granite which is a mix of epoxy and colored chips.

It's not uncommon for house builders to do a basic epoxy coat in the garage of a new house. However, the coating is usually very thin and cheap, so it doesn't last long. We had an epoxy coat in our garage and it was in really poor condition. Patches were missing, there were a few chunks gone... and it was a shade of builders beige that I hate so very, very much.

Here's what we started with.

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Not too pretty, is it?

Clare did all the work planning out the new flooring - everything from getting quotes to picking out the colors and finish. She showed me a finish called "Tuxedo" that I liked. It was a grey base coat with white, grey, and black flakes in it, but then she added in red flake along with a bit of a kicker. 

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Clare has wanted a "glitter wall" in the house ever since a friend of ours showed her one of those cheesy viral videos that make the rounds on Facebook. When she saw there was an add glitter option for the flooring, she jumped on it.

When she showed me the glitter that'd be going in the floor, I felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me by a shimmering unicorn. Seriously, look at this...

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But I told her that somehow, somewhere she'd get glitter in the house so,  despite my apprehension, I went with it.

The red, grey, and black color scheme fits our Astons and the glitter, to my surprise, worked out rather well. The glitter added a bit of depth to the floor without being obnoxious. It only shines in certain light and from certain angles - it's a nice, subtle touch that makes the floor (and garage along with it) feel that much more special. Seeing the end result, adding in the glitter was a brilliant idea.

Clare talked to a company called Masterpiece Garage. Jerrett, the owner/operator came out to the house and gave us a quote. It fit our budget, so we scheduled for them to come and do our garage flooring.

Before they could begin, we had to clear out the garage. We didn't have much space to dump its contents so we sacrificed our dining room to hold all the small stuff.

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Truth be told, it's the most use the dining room has gotten since we bought the house. We've had quite literally two meals in that room as of this writing. Dexter uses it for sprawling out and relaxing when he wants to be away from Wallace, so he was a bit miffed losing his space. You can see the strained patience in his face in the pic above.

We had already ordered a bunch of new tool cabinets, which was a bit of a story in itself, and those couldn't fit inside the house. To manage this little obstacle, we got a giant 20' x 40' tarp and used it to wrap up all the large items in the driveway. Jerrett brought a dolly over and he, along with Clare and his helper, moved all our cabinets, workbenches, and other large items out of the garage.

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The first actual work to be done was grinding away the old epoxy and cleaning up the concrete beneath it. Not only would this prep the surface for the new flooring, it would also expose any underlying issues in the concrete that the old epoxy was hiding. And, as we found it, there were hidden problems.

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There were cracks in the concrete I knew about in advance. The floor already had very linear cracks, which divided the space into six even sections. I knew it was by design, and Jerrett confirmed it. There are metal slats under the floor which create weak seams for controlled cracking. As the house settled, which all houses do, the weak seams would split so the garage floor would settle evenly with it. Usually these seams aren't completely covered. Rather, the concrete is done in sections, like we had in our driveway.

Jerrett suggested we clean those seams up - it'd prevent more cracking, which would prevent any new cracks from splitting the new epoxy he was about to lay down. He used a circular saw to edge out the seams.

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The hidden problems he found that we weren't expecting were patches of concrete that had come up far too easily. After grinding down the floor he could see that the concrete wasn't quite perfect. There were patches that didn't match the rest of it. Jerrett told us the most likely cause was rainwater washing away some of the surface of the concrete when the house was being built. The patched sections were thinner than the rest, which made it weaker, leading to extra cracking there, too.

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Rather than grind away and repaving to fix the washed-away areas, the builder just patched it up. We couldn't see the thinner cracking due to the original epoxy covering it, but it was pretty obvious once the epoxy was removed. Some of the thinner patches of cement also came apart when the flooring was removed, so those had to be patched again.

To make sure the newly-channeled seams, the new patches, and pre-existing cracks held together, Jerrett used an extra gallon of epoxy to seal and reinforce them. This would help prevent further cracking and the potential damage that could cause to the new epoxy coating.

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Once the garage floor was finally finished being prepped, the new Liquid Granite flooring could begin. Click the button below to go to Part 2.