Angie's LIST Guide to
Concrete Flooring Options
Why Do Anything?
Turning empty, unused areas of the basement into useful rooms can increase the amount of living space, while transforming the garage will make spending time there more pleasurable. In addition, a beautifully finished basement or garage can add instant value to any home.
However, selecting flooring options for basements and garages can be challenging. Typically, the existing surface is poured concrete. While this may be a fine flooring choice for a purely utilitarian area in a garage, the basement is another story.
Many people finish the spaces in their basements and turn them into everything from a TV room to a workout facility spot to a play area for the kids play area. This means that they are looking for viable solutions to conceal an ugly, unfinished concrete floor.
Picking a material to cover a garage floor presents different challenges. The garage floor surface typically takes much more wear and tear from dripping oil and other fluids from cars, leaking gasoline from lawn equipment and a myriad of other substances – not to mention the abuse from cars themselves parking on the surface. Since the garage is often used as a work space to building or repairing objects, the flooring needs to be resistant to stains and easy to clean. But just because it’s a garage doesn’t mean a homeowner has to be stuck with the unsightly appearance of the original floor.
With both the basement and garage, other considerations include are moisture, water and proper drainage. Unless these areas are completely dry or have a waterproof subfloor, many surface coverings that work in other areas of the home will not work in a basement or a garage. For instance, carpet is not always the best choice for a basement, because it may get wet and produce mildew and mold. Other options, such as hardwood, bamboo, cork or laminate would also get soaked, buckle and rot.
Carpet is one flooring choice that’s suitable for a basement, but not a garage. If you plan on transforming a basement into a playroom or living room, covering the cement floor with carpet can provide a softer, more appealing surface than concrete.
Beyond the style and cost of the carpet you choose, one of the biggest considerations when laying carpet in a basement is preventing moisture from penetrating or accumulating in the carpet fibers or the underlying carpet padding. One way to prevent moisture accumulation, and eventual mold or mildew buildup is to install a vapor barrier beneath the carpet or padding.
Another way to prevent mildew or mold from taking hold is to purchase and install a carpet and/or carpet pad that has antimicrobial properties.
Epoxy Floor Paint
One of the best solutions for enhancing a concrete floor is epoxy concrete floor paint. It’s an application that’s been used successfully in commercial settings like retail stores, restaurants, offices and auto repair shops for years. The paint will hide minor imperfections on the floor, while repelling stains from hot tire marks, chemical spills, dirt, oil, grease or other contaminants.
In addition, the epoxy concrete floor paint provides resistance against slips, mold and mildew. When the floor does get dirty, simply rinse it with water using a hose or pressure washer. For more stubborn marks, gently mop the surface with some ammonia diluted with water.
Epoxy concrete floor paint comes in an endless array of colors and textures. It has a high-gloss shine that actually enhances the lighting in a garage or basement. Colored flakes can be added to replicate the look of stone or gravel. There are also metallic epoxy paints that create a multi-colored effect and interesting textures.
Floors can be designed to look like they have texture or depth are actually smooth on the surface. To achieve a highly detailed floor with an interesting mix of patterns, colors and textures, the clear epoxy can be covered with stamped overlays.
Cost and installation
Homeowners can purchase epoxy flooring kits to complete the job themselves or they can hire a professional. DIY kits range in price depending on how much is needed and the type of finish. Typically, they range from under $200 and may cost up to $900.
Whether you’re doing it yourself or using a professional, the first step is thoroughly cleaning the existing concrete floor then etching with a special chemical to help ensure good adhesion. Once the floor is dry, a coating of primer is then applied.
Next, the epoxy base coat is applied, including sprinkling any of the decorative colored flakes on top. Let it dry overnight. Once the expoxy is sufficiently dry, a clear, protective topcoat is applied. Even though the process itself may take more than a day, it should only take a few hours of labor.
For the best results, it may be more cost-effective and time efficient to hire an experienced professional, especially one who offers a warranty or guarantee on their work.
Another viable option for covering the floors of a basement or garage is modular interlocking tiles. They come in a vast array of sizes, colors and finishes, so each homeowner can create their own customized patterns. In fact, these modular interlocking tiles are available with materials such as rubber, metal, steel, wood film laminate, carpet or foam to top off the surface of each tile.
Cushioned tiles are ideal in the basement for kids play areas or TV rooms, where people may be laying on the floor. Basement home offices would be elevated to new levels with a tile that features a wood veneer surface. In the garage, rubber, metal and steel tiles can dress up an otherwise bland space.
Since they create a durable, waterproof surface, they work perfectly in basements and garages. The surface is designed to be sturdy, cushioned, anti-fatigue and shock-absorbing, so the tiles can easily handle the weight of large vehicles. Additionally, the tiles are produced to withstand temperature swings.
Cost and installation
Costs for modular flooring tiles can vary greatly by the material used and the size of the tile, but many options can start as low as $2 to $4 per flooring tile.
Since installing modular floor tiles is relatively quick and simple, many homeowners can accomplish the installation themselves. To install the tiles, the homeowner just connects the tiles in whatever configuration that they desire. The tiles are lightweight and simply snap together without the aid of glues, adhesives or tools.
Tiles can be cut to size to fit into oddly shaped rooms or to go around the furnace, water heater or other permanent structures. If a tile ever needs to be replaced due to damage or staining, it can be easily removed and replaced with a new.
Using multiple colors or patterns, homeowners can have a simple, solid block of color or generate a checkerboard pattern. Some people enjoy making abstract designs. Borders can be put around the perimeter and lines can run through the middle. There are also edging tiles to give the floor a more finished effect. The options are endless.