Protecting Your Garage Floor: Coating vs. Plastic Tiles

Posted by Tess Wittler on Aug 7, 2013 3:30:00 PM

 

garage floor coating 6

Epoxy/Poly Decorative Chip Floor

If you are like me and my husband, you use your garage space for many purposes. Besides a place to park the vehicles, we often use that area as a workspace. In fact, just last weekend I used it to replant all of our houseplants, and I saw that my “neighbor-dad” was using his garage for his latest furniture restoration project.

 

As a result of such projects, the garage floor tends to get pretty messy.

While I know how amazing epoxy garage floor coatings are from my time in working with STRONGHOLD FLOORS, I wanted to compare it to plastic tiles – one of the competitive alternatives that many homeowners often consider. In my research, I am using Nörsk PVC flooring as a comparison because it can be both purchased online and found in big-box home improvement stores.

I am comparing epoxy coatings and plastic tiles on four common factors: price, installation, durability and maintenance.


Price

While PVC floor tiles may first appear to be much less expensive than a garage floor coating, I am not certain this is always the case.

The Nörsk flooring tiles come in boxes of 6 that cover only 13.95 square feet and cost $3.78 per square foot (purchased direct from the manufacturer). With Pennsylvania garages typically 480 square feet and garages in Maryland and Northern Virginia slightly smaller at 400 square feet, that’s a cost of $1,814.40 and $1,512, respectively. Keep in mind that this is a rough calculation and does not include the separate trim kits that you also must purchase to finish the edges of the floor properly. There may also be shipping and handling costs – which at 17 pounds per box can really add up.

Still, while I recognize that a professionally applied epoxy coating may be more expensive than purchasing these plastic tiles, it isn’t as expensive as you’d think.  Typically between $3.50 -$6.50 per square foot, most decorative chip floor coatings are around $5.00 per square foot (which includes all installation and taxes).    Additionally, for the investment you make up front to have your garage floor protected with a coating, you’ll see the return in less frustration and peace-of-mind that your flooring will last for the long haul.


Ease of Installation

In my research, I saw that most plastic floor tile manufacturers provide videos on their websites on how to install the plastic tiles. And they all just snap them together. It looks simple enough. 

But I see two big problems with this.

1) Garage floors aren’t level. Garages are often purposely sloped to account for drainage, or they have settled over time.

2) The plastic tiles aren’t built at the same dimensions as garages. They will be difficult to snap together in tight areas, such as against the walls, around steps leading into your home, or you must choose to leave the perimeter unprotected.

Meanwhile, installing an epoxy coating is incredibly easy to install – just allow STRONGHOLD FLOORS to do it! At least then I’d know it was done right and that my garage floor will be protected wall to wall.


Durability

There is no doubt that the plastic floor tiles are durable. They are made of PVC – one of the strongest plastics out there, which is why it is often used in construction.

However, PVC can still become weak and brittle from weight and UV rays. Once they become damaged, the tiles are no longer protecting your garage floor, and you’ll need to replace them (and I can’t imagine replacing them is an easy task).

Alternately, the recipe for a professionally installed garage floor coating is built to last. A superior coating system made of industrial-strength epoxy and urethane, the coating is scratch-resistant and chip-resistant and will not stain – even from gasoline, road salt and anti-freeze.  (Check out the tests that Mike has done to his personal garage floor!)


Maintenance

plastic floor tileOver time, plastic tiles are prone to dulling or fading when subjected to daily driving with heavier vehicles and/or UV rays. Soap scum will also dull the tiles, and I’ve heard accounts where homeowners are left struggling with a solution to get the original out-of-the-box shine back.

Additionally, no matter how tight the interlocking connection is between tiles, there are still cracks – a lot of them – which provide the opportunity for liquids to seep through and get stuck underneath. While soapy water may not do too much damage, plenty of other liquids could damage the concrete underneath – or simply stink. 

I also wonder if the anti-skid ridges that are molded into the plastic would hinder sweeping up all the messes I make out in my garage. Besides doing crafts and repotting plants, I often take my pooches out to the garage to “FURminate” them (using a brush called the “FURminator”). I don’t even want to think about how difficult it would be to sweep up the dog hair with all of those cracks and ridges.

Conversely, a garage floor coating is easy to maintain. Simply sweep with a broom, and mop with soap and water from time to time to keep it looking clean and shiny. There is an anti-skid agent included in the epoxy coating, but it doesn’t create any issues with sweeping up messes.

The only additional maintenance cost garage coatings have is that in later years, you may consider applying a new top coat to return its original vibrant shine, but that is your choice, not a necessity.

While those plastic tiles look like a good deal, I am beginning to wonder how great of a savings it would ultimately be. While there are certainly uses for plastic floor tiles (and I’ll write about those later), in my opinion, the lack of durability and frustration of seeing money wasted far outweighs the slightly cheaper up-front cost.

NOTE: The author, Tess Wittler, is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant for the construction industry who regularly collaborates with the Stronghold Floors team. She and Stronghold Floors owner, Mike Mincemoyer, have known each other for nearly a decade. You can follow Tess’s blog (full of content marketing tips for contractors) at www.TessWittler.com.

 

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