Historically speaking, homeowners and shopkeepers don't give much thought to their shed floors. Some were even made of packed dirt or gravel. As time went on garages were upgraded to having concrete foundations and this sturdy and durable flooring material became the default flooring option.
Sometime during the 1980s or 1990s, people really started caring about the floors in their garages. Good floors keep the value of a home high, and they became a source of pride for anyone with a workshop or auto shop in the garage. Aesthetic yet durable floors also make it possible to turn garages into apartments, spare rooms or entertainment centres.
Since people started giving their garage floors a second thought, several different materials and coatings have been used to make them appealing and practical such as latex paint, polyurethane, tile, honed concrete and commercial epoxy floor coating, but only one of these is the clear leader with distinct advantages over the others.
The most affordable garage floor coating is latex paint, which has been used for decades by those who want to add some color to their dull concrete flooring. While latex paint can provide you with a wide selection of colours, it does little to protect the floor, and it does not adhere well to concrete. In fact, the paint may chip or peel with only the slightest impact. Other than the cost, the only positive characteristics of paint are that it is easy to apply and can be purchased at nearly any hardware store.
For several years, polyurethane coating was considered the standard for industrial garage floors. It stands up to heavy workloads, provides a layer of chemical resistance and protects floors for years to come. Polyurethane coatings also give the floor a spectacular sheen. The biggest problems with polyurethane are that it is very expensive, difficult to apply and does not adhere very well when applied directly onto concrete floors. Most experts will tell you that this type of coating is great as a top layer above another type of coating but not very practical when used alone. In addition, it emits strong and potentially dangerous fumes for several weeks to several months after it is applied.
Garage floor tiles have only recently come into use, and people who decide that this is the best way to protect a garage floor have several different options: laminate, modular plastic, ceramic and stone. Laminate tiles for garage floors are a new innovation, but if you have any experience with laminate counter-tops, you know that this material can be very delicate. It is sensitive to light, heat and chemical etching. One step up from laminate are modular tiles made from polypropylene or PVC. These tiles are available in a selection of colours and textures, and they are easy to install.
Ceramic and stone tiles work well for high-end garages where aesthetics is more important than function. They can turn any garage into a virtual palace with a variety of colors and patterns. However, ceramic and stone are both prone to chipping and require special tools to apply. The greatest drawback of any type of tile is cost. Other than going with solid slabs of marble or granite, tile is the most expensive option.
Epoxy is one of the best options for a garage floor coating. It provides a glossy finish that can be etched or stained with unique colours and patterns, and it can withstand even the worst abuse. Epoxy will last for years and is highly resistant to chipping, scuffing and scratching. In addition, it protects the floor from spills of all kinds including chemicals, oil and water. Epoxy is a decent choice for those who understand concrete and garage flooring options, but not all epoxy is alike.
Polished concrete is widely considered to be the best choice for garages and driveways thanks to the unmatched durability and visual effect these floors offer. Depending on the level of slip resistance required, a certain level of grit is created. Aside from this, polished concrete is the best option for residential, commercial or industrial use as they are nearly impenetrable from oil or grease stains. Easily cleaned with some hot water and a gentle cleaning solution if necessary, the concrete floor is the choice among Australia's garage aficionados.