Commercial garages put up with nearly constant vehicle traffic, the movement of heavy machinery, oil and fuel spills, and dropped metal parts that can easily damage an inadequate flooring system. No one wants to be repairing and replacing their commercial garage flooring frequently due to damage caused by daily wear-and-tear, so investing in the right type of flooring from the start will pay off in the long run. No single flooring system is right for every facility, so it is important to review the various garage flooring options and choose the option that will best meet your facility’s unique needs.
Garage Flooring Options
The vast majority of commercial garage floors are installed over a concrete slab base. Concrete is relatively strong and able to withstand a fair amount of abuse, but unfinished concrete will quickly crack, stain, and deteriorate when exposed to the harsh conditions of a commercial garage. Many options exist to enhance the lifespan and function of garage flooring systems, and they can be broken down into four main categories:
- Epoxy. Epoxy floor coatings for commercial garages are heavy duty, fluid applied flooring systems that should be professionally installed for optimal performance. They offer superior protection and durability.
FloroTallic is featured in this drive-up area, which includes a whimsical floor graphic, by Preferred Ft. Wayne of IN.
- Paint. Garage floor paints, sometimes known as epoxy paints, include epoxy solids that are suspended in water. Although easier to apply, performance suffers.
- Tiles. Though more commonly seen in residential applications, the occasional commercial garage may opt for a system of interlocking plastic or PVC tiles for their concrete floors. These can be effective in protecting the underlying concrete to some degree, but are themselves prone to damage from temperature changes, excessive solvent or chemical exposure, staining and other wear-and-tear that is unavoidable in a busy commercial garage setting. In addition, any flooring system with grout lines or interlocking seams can enable vehicle fluids, oils, solvents, water and street salts to seep through to the underlying concrete and begin damaging the slab surface.
Precision installation of Florock High Performance Garage Flooring by FloorCare USA of WI.
- Mats. Rubber or vinyl mats can also be laid down over the concrete surface rather than a more permanent solution. However, these mats are prone to rapid deterioration when exposed to petroleum products, and can be trip hazard. Mats may be best suited as an added layer of protection in select areas, rather than as a primary flooring system.
Types of Commercial Garage Floor Coatings
When considering long-lasting flooring solutions for a commercial garage, epoxy floor coatings and epoxy paints are by far the most popular. And though similar-sounding, the two are actually quite different. Epoxy paint essentially consists of a small to moderate amount of epoxy solids suspended in water or blended with standard latex paint. It is installed very similarly to house paint, leaving a very thin finish as it dries. Epoxy floor paint is relatively simple to install and it offers a degree of protection when compared to bare concrete. However, any benefits of epoxy floor paint will be very short-lived in a commercial garage setting, as they generally not industrial-grade formulations, but rather are intended for simply DIY homeowner projects.
In contrast, epoxy floor coating systems offer significantly more protection for commercial garage floors than even the best epoxy paints. True epoxy floor coatings rely on a chemical reaction between two or more components that are combined at the time of installation. Rather than simply drying through the evaporation of moisture as paint does, epoxy floor coatings cure through a chemical process that creates a hard, durable surface. In addition, floor coating systems are installed over properly prepared concrete, which today involves either shot-blasting or diamond grinding the slab surface.
The coating systems can be comprised of a primer, mid-coats and topcoats, plus additional slip-inhibiting, strengthening, safety or decorative elements. System thicknesses can range from 20 mils to ¼” or more. And while epoxy is the most common resin used in floor coating systems, urethane, polyaspartic and vinyl ester resins are increasingly used. Although more technical to install, epoxy and other resinous floor coatings offer far superior protection and strength.
Functional Options for Heavy Duty Garage Flooring
In addition to durability, there are several more factors to consider when selecting a commercial garage flooring system. These factors include:
- Slip Resistance. Slip and fall accidents are a leading cause of workplace injury, and in a commercial garage setting, this risk is compounded by the possibility of oil and solvent spills on the floor. The right level of slip-inhibiting additive can make all the difference.
- Moisture Vapor Mitigation. In a situation where the underslab vapor barrier is breached or non-existent, moisture and moisture vapor underneath the concrete can enter the floor slab and cause damage to the floor topping. This can include mold growth on the underside of vinyl or plastic tiles, or bubbling and other issues in sheet goods and coatings. The right moisture vapor mitigation flooring system can help prevent these problems from occurring.
A&B of IN expertly installed FloroWear 7100 in this repair shop, providing the high abrasion resistance needed.
- Impact Resistance & Strength. In commercial garages, where sharp tools could be dropped at any moment, impact resistant flooring is must. This typically involves incorporating specially graded sand or other aggregate into the coating system. The aggregate helps to dissipate impact across the surface of the topping, allow the coating to remain intact and protective. For especially abrasive environments, aggregate blends containing tiny particles of steel can be utilized in a troweled epoxy floor to help impart an extra level of strength and performance.
- Chemical Resistance. Fuel and oil are just the beginning – commercial garage floors are exposed to countless damaging substances. Having the right level of chemical resistance is imperative.
- Safety Markings. Delineation of drive-up areas, pedestrian walkways and other safety indicators can be installed in contrasting colors in commercial garages, using coatings with the same level of performance and durability as the rest of the floor.
Additional Commercial Garage Flooring Options
Beyond the highly functional features for commercial garage flooring, epoxy and other resinous floor coatings can provide great aesthetics and can include a variety of decorative and visual effects. Many commercial garages favor a single, solid color that makes it easy to locate dropped tools and parts, but epoxy and resinous coatings can also be installed with textured color combinations consisting of differently colored chips, metallic finishes, wow-factor graphics and other stunning decorative options.
Decorative flooring, like FloroChip with a high performance topcoat, has a place in commercial garages, too.
We know that every minute spent installing a new flooring system is a minute that your garage isn’t open for business. Fortunately, epoxy floor coatings don’t require much downtime to install – quick curing options are even available that are completely cured within an hour.
Epoxy Floor Coatings for Commercial Duty Floors – What You Need
Proper installation of commercial garage epoxy or other resinous flooring is a several-step process that involves multiple layers. Here’s the rundown:
- Preparation. A properly prepared concrete floor is clean, dry and free of any substances that can impede the bond of the new coatings. The surface must be correctly treated to produce the level of profile needed for the selected coating system. Shot-blasting, diamond grinding or other approved mechanical method is typically employed.
- Primers. A low-viscosity, penetrating primer is applied as the initial coat. The primer helps ensure the adhesion of the coating system to the substrate. Depending upon the condition of the concrete, the primer may need to be moisture tolerant or moisture-vapor mitigating, highly alkaline resistant or possess other special properties.
- Crack Repair and Joint Fillers. Any imperfections or surface damage should be repaired before subsequent coating layers are applied. Any cracks or holes should be cleaned and filled with compatible resinous material. Both moving and static floor joints should be examined, and treated accordingly with the appropriate rigid or elastomeric fillers. Joints may be isolated or coated over, as preferred.
- Mid-Coat(s). The “body” of your floor coating should be formulated to meet the specific needs of your commercial garage. One or more layers of 100% solids epoxy or other industrial-grade resinous coating, along with any aggregate content, get installed at this stage. Depending on the system, techniques can range from using a notched-squeegee to apply a slurry layer to power troweling a stiff resinous mortar mix.
A skilled power trowelling installation of Florock FloroBuild by the experts at CIC of GA.
- Topcoat(s). Finally, the system should be sealed with one or more topcoats. High performance topcoats tend to be thin film coatings with outstanding abrasion and UV resistance, providing an added layer of protection. They can be clear or tinted, and provide a semi-gloss or highly reflective finish. Slip-resistant aggregate can be incorporated in accordance with facility needs.
For best results, all the above steps should be included in your floor coating installation.
Finding a Professional Commercial Garage Floor Coating Contractor
Properly installing a commercial-grade garage floor coating is a highly technical process that requires precision and care. An experienced, factory-approved professional can best install your epoxy or other resinous flooring system, so be sure to find a contractor you can trust to get the job done right – the first time. At Florock, we manufacture a complete line of industry-leading flooring options, installed by our network of highly-skilled specialists. Regional Florock technical representatives are available throughout the Americas, UK and other locations around the world — contact us to learn more.