Garage Floor Finishes And When To Choose Each
There are three main ways you can finish a garage floor when a new concrete slab is poured. If the floor slab is already existing then your options go down but you still can do a couple of different things. For this article I will assume you are pouring a new concrete floor and you want to know how to texture it in order to make it as useful as possible and also to make it a safe walking and working surface.
Smooth Garage Floor Finish
The most common finishing technique on concrete is called the smooth finish. This is what you see in most indoor applications. This type of surface looks nice but the problem is it can get very slippery when wet. Most garages, if they are used for storing the car, are going to have water brought in from rain and snow melt. This water can create a very hazardous surface on a floor that is smooth.
The upside of a smooth floor finish is the ease of cleaning it offers. I have a friend who went with this type of surface just so he could clean it easily. If he makes a mess he can usually just wash it right out the door. I asked him about the slickness of the floor and he said it is slick but he just deals with it. I bet when he gets a little older and his balance gets worse then he won’t think the smooth floor is so great.
Broomed Garage Floor Surface
This is the concrete surface that is usually found on outside slabs and on side walks. The floor is prepared the same as when a smooth surface is wanted but then a floor type broom is drug across the top surface. This gives a nice rough texture that makes the floor much safer to walk on but it does make the floor or slab harder to clean.
The problem with a broomed surface is the dirt particles tend to get stuck in the grooves left by the broom. This makes it harder to sweep off and is exactly why my friend didn’t want this surface in his garage.
The easiest way to clean this type of surface is with a pressure washer. The water can blast the dirt out and it doesn’t require any scrubbing. If you have oil stains, though, you may need to use a degreaser first which would mean you will have to scrub the stain off before you can wash the residual away.
If you are going to pour your own floor slab then you will need a bull float to make the surface smooth and then use a new broom for the roughening. Usually you finish the concrete and let it set for an hour or so before brooming. The reason for this is so that the broom doesn’t sink into the wet concrete too far. Also, be sure you only pull the broom across the slab and you don’t push it. If you push, the broom will most likely dig in and cause a big divot.
A variation on brooming, if you want an even rougher surface, is to use a rake. My horse barn had this surface on the center slab in order to give the horses better traction. I have tried both yard rakes and garden rakes and I really can’t get a very good surface with this method. It just tends to be too rough for my needs. The rake tends to pull the concrete aggregate up to the surface and out. Of the two methods, I think the yard rake like the one you use for raking leaves was the best but I wasn’t really thrilled about either one.
Garage Floor Finishing Of Existing Slabs
If you have a concrete slab in your garage and you want to add a finish then the only option to consider, in my opinion, is epoxy. This is a very tough coating and it is easy to make it anti-slip by adding a sandy, gritty material or paint flecks. I think the industrial grit works best because the paint flecks don’t seem to grip as well.
Of course with a gritty floor you have the same cleaning problems as I mentioned about the broomed surface. They are hard to clean by sweeping and usually a pressure washer works best.
You can also just go with a floor paint but it will tend to wear off a lot quicker than the epoxy coating will. You can add anti-slip materials to a paint but don’t expect the protection to last more than a year or two. In contrast, if you go with a two part epoxy garage floor coating you can expect many years of good wearablilty. Some people have reported decades of protection.
So your options if you are pouring a new slab are the smooth surface or a broomed surface. If you want something really rough then you can try a rake but I doubt you will be happy with the results.
If you already have a slab poured in your garage and you want to add a finish to it, for my money the only thing to consider is an epoxy. This is the premier coating for concrete floors.