What Garage Floor Treatments Provide The Best Return-On-Investment?
February 16, 2012
One common question that is often asked is “what available garage floor treatments provide the best and longest return on an investment”. After years of researching available floor treatments, experimenting with them and living with them for several years, we believe the two best options that give the best long-term use and return-on-investment (ROI) are:
- Polished Concrete; and
- Porcelain (not ceramic) Floor Tiles.
Most popular floor treatments for garages, such as floor coatings, provide only a short-term solution and typically have a limited life expectancy of 5-15 years. Both porcelain tile and polished/stained concrete are a permanent solution and can last for decades. In essence, they will outlive their owner.
Polished concrete and porcelain tiles are becoming increasing popular due to their toughness, strength and ease of maintenance and, for these reasons, offer the greatest long-term return on an investment compared to other flooring treatments. Lets cover the advantages and disadvantages of both floor treatments.
Polished concrete has long been a good alternative to marble, granite, tile, linoleum, or coated concrete for use in retail stores, warehouses, office facilities, and just recently has become popular with homeowners, who are captivated by the stunning, high-luster floors, which can be stained to replicate the look of polished stone.
The process of polishing concrete floors is quite simple, similar to sanding wood. Heavy-duty polishing machines equipped with diamond-impregnated disks (similar to sandpaper) gradually grind down and polish the concrete surface to the desired degree of shine and smoothness.
You can learn more about polished concrete by visiting the Concrete Network website:
BENEFITS OF POLISHED CONCRETE
- Long-term life (life expectancy of a polished concrete floor can range from 25+ years of useful life). As a result, it has a very good long-term return-on-investment.
- Unlimited color selection as a result of staining options.
- Ease of maintenance.
LIMITATIONS OF POLISHED CONCRETE
- They can become very slippery when wet and as such, should be considered for ‘showroom’ garages, not ‘working’ or ‘day-in/day-out’ garages.
- The initial cost.
- Repairs can be unsightly.
- Considering the investment in equipment and the skill required, polishing your own concrete floor is not a project that can be done by a do-it-yourselfer. A professional concrete polishing contractor to do the work. You can find a qualified professional concrete polishing contractor where you live by searching here.
The advantages of porcelain tile far outweigh other concrete floor treatments. Because porcelain is a dense and impervious product, it is stain resistant, wear resistant and does not discolor or fade. Once mortared to concrete, porcelain tiles are very durable (superior in strength to granite) and one of the best wear resistant flooring material, making it an excellent choice for high-traffic uses. This is the reason why you will see miles of porcelain tiles used in just about every mall in America. Porcelain tiles are unaffected by chemicals and will not show no visible signs of chemical attack, all of which make it idea for use in a garage where it will come into contact with automobile fluids such as oil, brake fluid and anti-freeze among other chemicals.
Porcelain has a very long life expectancy and are manufactured to last a lifetime of use. It is this durability that makes porcelain tiles one of the best returns on investment that a homeowner can make.
Whereas many flooring options show their age from wear and tear, porcelain look beautiful when installed and the tiles actually seem to accentuate in their beauty as they age, taking on a beautiful patina. If you have ever visited Europe, you will note tile being liberally used in many buildings as exterior cladding and outside in cafes and it looks just as beautiful, if not more so, from the day it was installed.
Visit the Assembly Line at the Ferrari Factory in Maranello, Italy and you will see Porcelain Tiles on the Factory Floor.
BENEFITS OF PORCELAIN TILE
Here are some of the material advantages of porcelain tiles over traditional ceramic tile and quarried materials:
- Long-Term Lifespan – The life expectancy of porcelain tile can provide 50-100 years of useful life. As a result, it has the best long-term return-on-investment of any garage floor surface treatment.
- Stain Resistance –Unlike ceramic tile and natural stone which can stain, porcelain solid-through tiles are stain-proof.
- Strength – Porcelain tiles have a breaking strength 2X or 3X times greater than granite and 7X to 8X greater than marble providing one of the hardest, most durable surfaces for a garage floor.
- Abrasion Resistance – Porcelain has a 3X higher resistance to deep abrasions compared to quarried surfaces.
- Moisture Resistance – Porcelain has an exceptionally low absorption rate of less than 0.01%-0.04% classifying them as “impervious”. Their dense, impervious nature makes them ideally suited for high-moisture environments.
- Frost Resistance – Tiles are frost proof and able to withstand freeze/thaw conditions.
- Chemical Resistance – Porcelain tiles are unaffected by chemicals and will show no visible signs of chemical attack.
- Color Resistance to Light – Porcelain tiles are unaffected by UV and will not change in their brightness or color.
- Environmental Impact – The production process of porcelain tile has a very low environmental impact and, unlike quarried materials, which have a high wastage rate (approximately 66% of quarry volume is waste by-product) and major environmental repercussions.
LIMITATIONS OF PORCELAIN TILE
- The initial cost to install porcelain tile can exceed the cost of other surface treatments.
- Porcelain tiles have a limited number of colors and size options compared to other floor surface options.
- Although easy to maintain, porcelain tiles may need to be periodically cleaned with a floor cleaning machine containing a nylo-grit brush head to scrub and professional clean the floor, just as is done in malls, retail stores and restaurants where porcelain tiles are used.
WHAT KIND OF PORCELAIN TILE IS APPROPRIATE?
One last thing worth noting. Porcelain tile is not the same as cermic tile (the difference between the two in a future article, but ceramic tile is not appropriate for use in this kind of application). Also, not all porcelain is made in the same way and there are two criteria that should be considered when searching for an appropriate porcelain tile that will perform in the garage:
- Specify Only Commercially Rated Tile – Tile that is rated for use in ‘Residential’ applications is different than ‘Commercial’ rated tile. Although residential-rated tile may be appropriate for use in a bathroom or kitchen, where it will not come into contact with automobile fluids, it is not appropriate for the garage. Specify only tile that rated for “Commercial Use”.
- Avoid Glazed Tiles/Select A Solid Throughout Product – Source only porcelain tiles that have the same composition throughout the tile and are NOT manufactured with a surface glazing. Glazings are used to add color to bare tile, so if the top surface of a glaze tile is damaged, scratched or chipped in such a surface would reveal a different body color, which can stain, and warrant replacement. A “Solid-Through” tile is similar to glass in that its composition is the same throughout, so damage to the tile, such as due to a scratch is not a noticeable.
- Warranty – Find a tile that is warranted against staining. The garage is a harsh environment and you will want to source a tile that is able to handle the highest levels of stress, traffic wear and the most persistent stains.
You can learn more about porcelain floor tiles and purchase them by visiting VAULT’s website at:
Porcelain Garage Tiles are sold by retailer VAULT (www.vaultgarage.com)