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Garage Flooring Choices

Garage flooring isn't limited to the basic concrete slab anymore. Regardless of whether you have an 'everyday' garage that simply stores your cars or one that would warm the hearts of a Nascar pit crew, there are floor choices that will look good and function better than the old concrete standby.

Why invest in garage flooring? For one, it's functional. It protects the concrete slab from stains, chips and spalling. This is particularly true in snowy climates where road salt from melting snow deteriorates the concrete. It also provides a more comfortable work surface that's more easily cleaned than bare concrete.

A new garage floor is also more aesthetically pleasing, particularly with home designs that project the garage as the prominent feature in the front of the house. Whether it's a stylish checkerboard pattern or the clean uniform look of epoxy, a finished floor will convey a neat, finished appearance.

Garage Flooring - What Are The Choices?

There are several groups of products available for garage flooring, each with their own unique characteristics and roles to play. One of their greatest attributes is that most of them are relatively easy and quick to install, something that's manageable by most do-it-yourself'ers.

Here are your choices for garage floors broken down into 3 general categories:


You've seen them before - those garages with the gleaming gray floors, speckled with bits of contrasting colors. These are typical of epoxy-coated floors. This is a coating that's applied over the concrete slab. It used to be that it required a professional installation but there are products on the market today that allow the homeowner to do it. The only caveat is that there can be differences in quality and durability between the professional and DIY jobs.


This category can divided into a couple of sub-groups: Plastic tiles and vinyl composition tiles otherwise known as "VCT".

garage floor tiles

The plastic-based tiles are simple to assemble and join together by means of hooks or other type of built-in retention feature. They lay right on top of the garage subfloor essentially forming a 'floating floor' (no attachment to the subfloor).

Two varieties exist: a solid tile and a "grated" or flow-through tile.

Grated or slotted tiles allow things like water and anything else that runs onto them to pass through to the subfloor. Solid tiles typically have some physical feature molded into them to provide some texture and slip resistance.

Vinyl composition tiles or VCT are individual vinyl tiles that must be glued down to the garage subfloor. They don't have any means of connection between them. They provide a smoother look than the plastic tiles.


Mats are just that - large vinyl mats that roll down onto the garage subfloor. They're large enough so that you'd only need one or two for most standard garage sizes. They too "float" and require no glue or means of attachment to the subfloor.

Any seams that do result from needing more than one roll can be joined by butting the edges and gluing them to a strip of material that sits underneath the seam between the bottom of the mat and the subfloor. Or, they can just simply overlap where they come together.

Mats are probably the easiest garage flooring to put down, consisting of rolling out the mat and trimming it to size.

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Pros And Cons Of Each

Like all other home product choices, there are highs and lows that go along with them. The key is finding the right fit (pardon the pun) for your desired style choice, needs and budget.


Pros Cons

Achieves a uniform finished look, wall-to-wall with no seams

Can be done by the homeowner using store-bought kits

DIY kits are cheaper than floor tiles though professional installations can be equivalent to tiles

Requires stringent cleaning and preparation of the subfloor to achieve a durable application

May stain more easily than other floor types depending on coating

Susceptible to "hot tire pickup" or "wet tire pickup" (peeling and lift-off) from hot or wet tires (dependent on good subfloor preparation and quality of coating used such as 1-part or 2-part epoxies)

Can't take it with you - it's permanent to the garage

Takes the longest to install and causes the most garage down-time of the various types of garage flooring (though some companies advertise a 24-hr turn time but it's dependent on air temperature and proper conditions)


Pros Cons

Plastic interlocking tiles are easy and quick to install

Tiles can be cut with conventional saws

Portable-you can take the floor with you when you move

Can achieve decorative patterns by using various colors

No adhesives required for the plastic tiles

Provides some insulation from a cold concrete floor particularly in unheated garages and colder climates

Vinyl Composition Tiles (VCT) offer a nice smooth sheen and an attractive look

Seams between most tiles aren't watertight so some fluids will seep down under tiles

Vinyl Composition Tiles (VCT) can be slippery when wet or greasy due to their lack of texture

VCT installation requires adhesive and are dependent on appropriate conditions for curing (proper air temps. or in heated garages)

Installation of VCT is not as easy as plastic interlocking tiles and requires careful layout

No way of removing individual tiles without disassembling the floor from the nearest edge

Plastic tiles have a hollow sound as you walk across

Requires additional pieces (ramps) to transition from the tile to the surrounding subfloor and/or the driveway apron


Pros Cons

Quickest installation of the various type of garage floors

Provides some "give" and a more comfortable surface to stand on than concrete

Very little prep work before installation - sweeping or vacuuming to clean the subfloor

Ribbed style mats help contain/control fluids like water and oil

Makes a quick fix for a concrete floor with chips, cracks and stains

Stain resistant but not totally immune from staining

Seams and edges provide a path for fluids to get between the mat and the subfloor

Rolled mats can be heavy to bring home and locate in place

What Do I Need To Consider When Choosing?

As is pointed out above each kind of garage flooring has it's highs and lows and fulfills a different need or purpose. To make an informed choice consider the following points as they apply to your situation.

  • How long are you going to be in the house?
    If you anticipate moving in a few years you may want to consider the movable types of garage floors like tiles or mats as opposed to a professionally-installed epoxy floor that you can't take with you. Although a permanent floor may be considered an enhancement to the home it's doubtful that you'd recoup your investment when you sell.
  • What's your garage's role and what activity will it see?
    Is your garage just a place to store your everyday vehicles or is it a heated workshop? Is it a storage facility for vintage cars? Do you envision doing a lot of work that uses heavy floor jacks and/or produces a lot of 'spill debris' like coolant and oil? A VCT floor (vinyl composition tile) might not be able to stand up to rough treatment like a good epoxy or sturdy plastic tile might. Lots of spills however might end up between and under tiles that don't have tight or overlapping seams.
  • Is your current garage floor graded properly?
    If your floor isn't graded to allow water to flow out the door you'll want to take this into consideration when choosing your garage flooring. Flow-through tiles work well for shedding water from the tile's surface but if it just ends up puddling in one area of the garage (under the tiles) it'll take longer to evaporate and make for a more moist garage environment. Consider the floor coatings, mats or the watertight tiles so you can brush/squeegee the water out.
  • Professional coatings are usually thicker than DIY applications
  • Some of the professional floor coatings can be as thick as 1/8" which is thicker than the less expensive self-applied coatings. If you're located near a dealer that does professional applications they can usually show you some samples where you can see the thickness of the material. Good subfloor prep is key to any durable coating application but a thicker coating may be more robust than what's achievable with store-bought kits. On the flip side, it's more expensive too.

  • Consider flooring for only part of the floor.
    If you divide your garage up into work areas and parking areas, consider using floor covering for the workshop area only. It's less expensive than doing the entire garage and helps delineate areas for different functions.
  • Be realistic about your expectations for your garage floor.
    Most garage flooring materials are stain resistant but not stain proof. If your cars leak oil or you're not a clean freak your new floor will eventually show the dirt. Tiles and even epoxied floors will scuff and scratch. What these garage floors will do for you is get rid of the ugly appearance of a chipped and stained concrete slab and provide a more stain resistant surface than concrete.

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Cost Comparison Of The Various Floor Types

To get an idea on how the different garage flooring products price out compared to one another take a look at the table below. It compares coatings, tiles and rollout mats.

The costs included here reflect the total cost to cover a standard-sized, 450 square foot 2-car garage (approximately 21'x21').

Garage Flooring Type Total Cost
Paints & Coatings1
Store bought DIY kits
Commercial grade DIY kits
Professional application

$85 - $125
$250 - $400
Tiles2 $1300 - $2600
Mats3 $620 - $1500

  1. Commercial grade DIY garage flooring kits are offered by companies that also do professional installation. The kits provide similar coating materials but for DIY application.
  2. This cost range example reflects the differences among 3 different product brands with variability in design and construction. It also reflects variability in where the tiles are purchased.
  3. This price range reflects products with variation in grade, manufacturer and retail source.

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Here's More Related Info That Might Be Helpful...

Choosing Garage Cabinets - Once you have the floor now it's time to equip your garage with storage cabinets.

Garage Doors - Understanding what's involved in choosing a garage door will help you make the right choice, both from a style and functional standpoint.

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