Knowing when to choose a garage floor replacement over a garage floor repair can be a difficult call for a homeowner.
There are many factors to consider, which can vary widely from one garage to another. Let’s explore some of the issues that cause floor damage and examine why it may be smarter to choose a garage floor replacement instead of repairing your damaged flooring.
Garage floors have a hard life. They are subject to a lot of pressure as you drive over them, as well as extremes of temperature and abuse from oil drips and substances brought in on your tires. As a result, they might end up cracking, crumbling, shifting, or (in the worst-case scenario) caving in. Call a professional for a consultation if you spot any signs of damage, to find out whether you need garage floor replacement or repair.
Your garage is an essential part of your home where you keep your car stored, your tools organized, and your weekends filled with projects. Over time, the floor in your garage can start to show signs of serious wear and tear. Read on to understand when you need a garage floor replacement.
So, when is it time for a garage floor replacement, and how do you know when to start budgeting for an update? Here are five telltale signs that it’s the time your garage floors should be replaced.
You See Some Serious Cracking
Cracks in your garage floors are not only unattractive, but they can also cause damage to your tires and your vehicle. If you notice severe cracking and buckling, it could be time for a garage floor replacement.
The main culprit of floor cracks is something called the freeze-thaw cycle. In a nutshell, the garage floor “freezes” during the winter and then “thaws” during the warmer months.
As temperatures change, it can cause the garage floor to expand and contract. This process can cause the concrete to crack and buckle over time.
Since concrete is a porous material, it soaks up water from humidity and rain on warm days. It can even soak up water in the winter due to snowmelt.
When the floors absorb extra water and then freeze as temperatures drop, it can expand the concrete substantially. This puts serious pressure on the floors and can cause them to rupture and buckle.
If you notice any kind of damage like crumbling, peeling and flaking, or pitting, you should consider replacing the floors as soon as you can. Shifting can also occur as a result of the freeze-thaw cycle, which can cause foundation damage over time if it’s ignored.
When you replace your garage floor, treat it with a protective sealant made for concrete. This can help to prevent excess moisture and water from absorbing into the surface, which can cause cracks to happen all over again.
The Floor Just Isn’t Holding Up
If you’re starting to notice an uneven garage floor, constant chipping, or other damage, it might be because the original floor was installed incorrectly. Wear and tear is completely normal, but severe damage that continues to get worse is something you should address.
So, why would your garage floor seem weak and brittle? There are several reasons for this common problem.
First, if there’s nothing but dirt under the concrete, it doesn’t have a good foundation. Garage floors should be installed over something like gravel to keep the floor stable and sturdy.
Talk to a professional who can take a closer look at the soil under your home. Compacted gravel is a good option to serve as a sturdy base for concrete floors.
If the concrete isn’t thick enough, it could also be the reason your garage floor seems worn out. Your garage floor should be at least four inches thick, and ideally closer to five or six inches thick.
The thicker the concrete, the stronger the slab will be. You can opt to add another inch or two to your existing garage floor to save money if possible.
Improper reinforcement is another reason your garage floor might seem unstable. Rebar or wire mesh should be added to concrete to reduce the cracking and to hold everything tightly together.
When you install a new floor, opt for rebar if possible. It only costs a bit more than mesh and will keep your floor intact for much longer.
The Floor Seems to Be Sinking
You might notice that your garage floor appears to be uneven, or it might even seem as if it’s sinking. You’re not completely wrong if there is improper drainage around the garage.
Over time, water underneath the garage floor can penetrate the soil and cause the entire thing to sink. This is usually a result of insufficient drainage that should be redirecting water away from your home and garage.
Other signs of improper drainage include crumbling, chipped, or cracked floors. Without the right drainage, you could end up with some serious structural damage over time, and it could affect the rest of your home, too.
Make sure you don’t have pooling water sitting on the garage floor. This can be a red flag, and it’s also a serious safety hazard.
Whenever it rains, look carefully to see if you can determine where the drainage problems are happening. This will help you redirect the water for the future.
Make sure all drainage pipes and gutters are clear of debris and that water is flowing freely away from home. Your garage floor could be improperly graded, allowing water to pool and backflow back into the garage.
Talk to a professional before installing the new floor replacement. They can help you determine how to re-grade the area and what type of drainage you’ll need to keep water at bay.
Exterior French drains can help to direct water around the garage. If you’re prone to flooding, consider installing a sump pump in the garage for extra protection against water damage.
The Floors are Old and Worn
Every component of your home has a lifespan, and that includes the garage floor. If you have an older home, your garage floor likely needs to be replaced just to make it look new again.
Excess weight can put strain and pressure on the floor over time. Combine the weight of one or more vehicles with years of foot traffic, storage cabinets, heavy toolboxes, and landscaping items like lawnmowers, and you’re sure to see wear after a while.
Concrete that is exposed to things like chemicals and other liquids will experience deterioration in time. Shifts in temperature and moisture fluctuations all come together to create the perfect storm for garage floor damage.
If you weren’t around for the original installation of your garage floors, the worn-out appearance could also be a result of improper setup. The floor sub-base may have been installed at the wrong depth.
An incorrect cement mixture could have been used 10 or 15 years ago. The wrong compacting ratio might have been utilized, which means the soil settled incorrectly.
Other problems may include that the expansion joints were placed in the wrong locations, or that the floor was graded incorrectly. Some builders cut corners to get homes constructed faster. If so, it could mean that your garage floor is wearing out faster than you expect.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do after your garage floor was installed improperly other than to replace it. Take a close look at the wear and tear and decide if you think it’s worth the investment.
On average, your garage floor should last around 20-25 years. If it’s older than that, it’s probably time for an update.
Your Garage Floor is Just Plain Ugly
An ugly garage floor is uninspiring, and you’ll probably avoid spending time there just because of the aesthetic. Since garages undergo a ton of wear and tear, it’s not surprising that they can show marks and stains as time goes on.
Tire tracks from rubber are a common issue when it comes to the way your floor looks. Stains from spilled paint, lawn treatments, and chemicals can cause discolouration of the concrete.
If you drop a tool or something heavy on the garage floor, it can cause it to crack or chip by accident. Overall, heavy use of this space is bound to cause some issues with your floors over time.
Dirt and debris can build up in your garage, creating cobwebs and dark, dingy corners. Clean your garage regularly and sweep the floors to keep it clean and tidy.
From tire skidmarks to stains, an ugly garage floor will inspire you to get it replaced. It depends on the severity of the marks or unsightly looks as to whether or not you should do a complete floor replacement.
In some cases, you can refinish the floors using an epoxy garage floor treatment kit. This is an easy option that’s not difficult to apply, and you can usually complete it in one to two days.
Install rubber tiles on the floor to protect the concrete underneath if you’re on a budget. Clean the floors thoroughly using a solution made to remove stubborn marks left behind by tires and chemical spills.
Of course, you can always just replace the whole floor if you prefer. Look for new products that will make your garage look modern and updated. Coloured concrete and stamped concrete are a great choice to give the garage added dimension and style.
When Should I Repair My Garage Flooring?
If your garage flooring is showing signs of wear in limited, high-traffic areas, a repair may be adequate to restore the look and functionality of your garage. Wear may appear in the form of scuffs, minor cracks, stains and scratches directly on your garage floor coating. Pennsylvania residents, for instance, experience fluctuating weather throughout the year that may contribute to area-specific damage. Improperly stored rock salt in the winter or heavy flooding during the spring may contribute to a limited area of damage. In these cases, the repair is usually ideal.
Repairs may also be warranted in situations where the flooring was improperly installed or when a subpar material was used in specific areas of the garage. Similarly, your floor may qualify for a minor repair if your flooring has been replaced in recent years. If you are unsure whether your garage floor requires a small repair or a major reconstruction, be sure to consult a professional.
When Should I Replace My Garage Flooring?
If your garage flooring has a moderate to severe amount of damage, it is likely time to consider replacing the entire floor. A repair may suffice if the damage is limited to one area; however, if it is widespread, it will prove much more efficient to redo the entire floor versus patching it. Major cracks, large stains, wide scratches and severe settling throughout the garage floor certainly suggest that it is time for a replacement.
You may opt to replace your flooring simply to change the look of your garage. Many homeowners opt to install a garage floor that appears to be made of premium materials, such as granite, to improve the aesthetics or to fit in with a specific theme. Some homeowners also wish to update the look to fall more in line with their home decor scheme or simply because the epoxy-style garage floor coatings are more easily maintained than traditional concrete.
Long gone are the days when your garage flooring was limited to bare concrete. Today, there are numerous options to choose from when you opt to redo your garage flooring. If you are focused purely on aesthetics, you will also be pleasantly surprised with all of the colours, patterns, textures and designs that are available in each of these floor coatings. The most popular garage flooring includes decorative garage flooring, epoxy concrete flooring and garage floor tiles. Each of these creates a different ambience in your garage, and they are each resistant to scuffs, scratches and stains. When installed professionally, these flooring options withstand typical wear and tear without hesitation.
Before you answer the big question, you need to answer some smaller questions first.
How old is your existing concrete?
While concrete is much more resilient than other surfaces, it still has an “expiration” date. If your surface is facing 20-25 years of use, it is probably time to replace the concrete. Exterior concrete faces more elements than the interior, so adjust your concrete age accordingly.
How impeding is the crack?
Small surface cracks can usually be resolved with small patchwork. However, if the crack is long and affects the subgrade, replacement is your best option. The crack will let in water, and as the water freezes and melts, it will further deteriorate the foundation of your concrete. If the crack is on your driveway and is less than .25” wide, you can probably just use liquid crack filler.
Is your concrete a foundation for a different kind of flooring?
If you are installing hardwood or tiled floor on top of your concrete, the surface must be level. Products exist that can help level floors up to 1.5”, but they won’t necessarily repair more structural issues.
Is your concrete slab sinking?
Pathways and driveways are often installed in large slabs. If you notice one is sinking, the subgrade was probably not installed properly. You won’t have to replace all the concrete, but that slab needs to be replaced.
While repairing might be cheaper than replacing in the short term, you will end up spending more in the long term by continuing to patch your floor. Maintaining the integrity of your concrete will make for a safer surface, and a new, quality seal will ensure these problems to resurface with your new flooring.
Additional factors that can necessitate a garage floor replacement or repair
General wear from tires and foot traffic will also take a toll on a garage floor over an extended period of time. Exposure to leaking vehicle fluids and other household chemicals can also have a cumulative harmful effect on floors.
Pitting (where small holes form on a floor surface) and other surface imperfections may also occur/appear on floors. This can be due to dried salt deposits and fine dirt and sand granules that aren’t swept up often enough acting as an abrasive on the floor. All of the above factors will occur more rapidly if your garage floor surface never had a sealant applied.
Should you go with a garage floor replacement or garage floor repair?
So with all of this information, should you choose a garage floor replacement or go with a floor repair? The latter may be a simpler fix, but it will also prove to be more of a short-term fix, depending on the severity of the problem.
How important are the aesthetics of your garage floor to you? Patching cracks or larger sections of your floor with unsightly repair materials that don’t match your floor’s colour may not be a desirable look for your garage space.
A lot of factors go into setting the price of replacing a garage floor. On average, the cost will fall somewhere between 6 and 15 dollars per square foot to replace. The cost may vary from place to place and company to company, so call some local contractors in your area to get a more accurate price.
One thing to keep in mind, the cost of the floor often includes demolishing and removing the old cement floor, prepping the ground under it, installing rebar or other reinforcing materials, and pouring the floor. For maximum durability, you may want to consider coating the floor with an epoxy or sealing it to keep chemicals, dirt, and other contaminants off the concrete.