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When you start to think about it in a purely abstract way.
What are the things that make a material suitable and well placed to be used as garage flooring?
That question can vary wildly depending on your use case. For instance plain old concrete is perfectly suitable if all you intend on using your garage for is parking the car and walking into the house. Not to return until you need to make your next journey to pick up the kids or go shopping etc…
But let’s say that we’re wanting to turn our garage into something more special. Like a home gym, office, kids play area, home theater, work shop you name it! In these scenarios and more it probaby makes more sense to lay something that’s going to make your garage feel more welcoming.
That’s were Vinyl comes in. Here me out. You might be asking what makes this more suitable for garage flooring than say something like laminate wood?
Put simply Vinyl is a super tough and hardy material that’s going to perform well in a slightly more challenging setting like a garage. This is because vinyl flooring is typically designed to work in bathrooms and kitchens. Places that are used regularly but can also get water splashed on their surface and heavy, hot or potentially sharp objects falling on them.
Not only that but vinyl flooring is easy to work with tooling and can be fixed down without needing to use adhesives. Further saving on cost.
So with all that said, let me explain exactly how you can install vinyl flooring in your garage…
Let’s Talk Vinyl
What exactly is vinyl flooring anyway? Put simply its a durable plastic top coat with a printed pattern middle coat (could be wood effect, tiles etc…) and a stiffened under layer to add rigidity.
These three combined make up a vinyl flooring plank. There extra bit of magic is that they interlock easily and securely using a quick fit system. Not nails, no glue. Just an interlocking design that takes 2 pieces and forms a seamless join. How cool is that!
The materials used in making vinyl flooring can vary. But it usually they include fiberglass, PVC vinyl and a plasticizer. This stack of materials in combination with the quick fit system results in a waterproof solution for floors!
It’s been on the market for decades but has picked up in popularity over the past 5-10 years as people are starting to see other applications for this cool building material.
What Makes Vinyl Suitable For Garages?
This stuff is tough, believe me. I’ve taken a flat head screw driver to this stuff applied a LOT of force and couldn’t even make a dent. I doubt you could even say the same for concrete by itself!
If you’re installed a surface for laying the flooring for a garage you want to be sure it can take a whole range of scenarios and that’s where vinyl flooring shines.
Typically within a house/home you could use vinyl flooring for your kitchen, bathroom, conservatory, hallway, living room, bedrooms heck you could even use it on top of under floor heated rooms.
A combination of durability, easy of installation, lack of adhesive and range of patterns make what might initially not seem like an obvious choice to floor a garage become my go to option.
I mean sure, you could go down the epoxy floor route, which is super popular all over the US these days. But that stuff is expensive, very messy and you’re going to need a professional to install it. Not to mention if you decide you don’t like after a few summers well you’re kinda stuck with it.
Vinyl Flooring works In Garages If…
If you’re planning on making this a home DIY project then my advice is to definitely go with vinyl flooring plants over anything else. If you’re thinking this is something you’d like to try your hand at then vinyl flooring would work.
I’d also say its a good option in use cases such as a cheaper alternative to using expensive gym flooring if you are planning on converting your garage into a home gym. That’s because it won’t misshape when heavy objects are dropped on it and as we mentioned before. It’s very durable.
How to Install Vinyl Flooring In Your Garage
Let’s get to the good stuff.
You’ve been to home depot and you’ve purchased a stack of wood effect vinyl flooring planks. You drive home in your truck and the next thought hits you.
How do I install this stuff?
Although the process is relatively straightforward compared to epoxy or carpeting. You still need to be aware of a few things before you start laying down planks.
First let’s take a look at the tooling you might need or find useful.
Useful Tools For Working With Vinyl
An electric jigsaw is a must. Remember me telling you how tough these planks are? Well that’s true and using an electric jigsaw to cut out non linear shapes can help massively
A Box cutter is super useful for making linear straight line cuts. Don’t try and score the top surface of the vinyl floor plank. Instead turn it upside down and score the underside. This cuts much easier and then apply a little pressure to the opposite side and you’ll have a super straight cut!
You probably want to mark out cuts and then move back to your working area to shape the plank. I recommend using a sharpie or a posca pen to mark out the shape as these pens work well on uneven surfaces.
After you’ve made the cut, if there’s some residue pen marker then you can remove it with an aerosol spray. Trust me, this works!
Lastly I’d recommend getting a work bench. I probably don’t need to go in to depth about why. I’m guessing the answer to that is pretty obvious if you’re planning on taking a project like this one.
Considerations When Installing Vinyl
In the next section I discuss what types of things you should consider when installing vinyl plank flooring. You’ll need to take into account if the floor itself is flat as plank flooring won’t work well on uneven surfaces.
There are options if your garage floor isn’t option so lets explore them…
What If My Garage Floor Is not Flat?
If you were installing vinyl flooring in your garage and the concrete flooring is something similar to the himalayas then you might want to consider a few options to level it.
This is because of the nature of the interlocking planks doesn’t work as effectively as it could if the floor isn’t perfectly flat. For instance the seem join will be more obvious and the waterproofing will be less effective.
To tackle this, you can do one of two things. The first being using self leveling compound. This stuff is great for ironing out bumps in an uneven concrete floor. Just mix it up and lay it down and let the compound do its work.
However self leveling compound won’t work if your floor isn’t concrete! If for instance your garage is wood floored then the liquid would seep though the wood. This solution obviously won’t work. That brings us nicely on to option two.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring isn’t as great an Option IMP
I’ve spoken a lot about vinyl plank flooring. But you might be asking what about sheet flooring? Sheet vinyl flooring is made in a similar way to planks but lacks the rigidity of planking. It’s similar to the rolls of carpet you’d get.
This makes working with sheet vinyl flooring more tricky than planking. It also means that because the material is softer, you loose some of the durability making it less suitable for workshops and home gyms. It’s also worth noting that sheeting tends to show bumps and imperfections in the floor more redily that planks would. Which In my opinion ruins the finish of the material.
So In summary I’d avoid the temptation to switch from planking to sheeting.
How Does Vinyl Flooring Compare to Other Garage Flooring Options?
This is the $64,000 question. There’s a bunch of different options you can use to floor your garage. We cover quite a few of them in houshia. Checkout our article on “Should You Carpet Your Garage” it’s a great read.
Carpet tiles can feel great under foot. But they are more tricky to install and don’t hold up as well if your garage floor gets wet. They also don’t fare as well if you stain them. Tending to absorb oils rathar than have them sit on the surface. With Vinyl flooring planks you don’t have this problem. They wipe clean and are not affected by damp.
What about traditional tiles? It’s true that traditional porcelain tiles are readily available and easy to install. The issue comes with tiles in that they take a lot of work to put down and you’re going to need extra supplies like grouting compound and tile adhesive. You’ve also go to take into account that there’s a lot more skill involved in tiling as you need to make sure that every tile is symmetrical with the rest otherwise the layout looks uneven.
Take It With You When You Move!
Ok this is kinda naughty, but when you think about it. Because vinyl plank flooring is not fixed to the floor. There’s nothing stopping you taking it with you when you move home. It’ll just lift off in the reverse way you installed it.
Leaving you with a stack of proven vinyl floor planks to install in your new place 😉
Should I use Wood panel underlay?
I’ll wrap up this article with a question I got in regards the underlay for the planks. In a bathroom or kitchen you would most likely use sheets of thin wood to form a flat base from which you’d lay your vinly floor planks.
I supposed you could do this in you garage instead of using a leveling compound (it would be more expensive though) but you should take into account of what would happen if the underfloor got wet. How would this affect the wood underlay?
For my money I’d just go with leveling compound.
Ok that’s it for this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it and if you think it might be useful for someone else then please share it on social media, email or your own website!
If you enjoyed reading this article, why not checkout a few more:
- Carpeting my Garage Floor
- Are Epoxy Garage floors worth it?
- Should I Insulate My Garage – My Story With Pictures
- Should I Insulate My Garage Ceiling – The Complete Answer
- Should I Insulate My Detached Garage – Things you Should Know