Garage Work Grows: Pouring Great Flooring

Posted: 03/15/2011 9:50AM


By Bill Esler & Dave Parrish

Surface preparation, quality products make the difference in projects.

During the downturn, a rare bright spot in the home organization business has been garages. In fact, garages recorded the strongest growth last year, percentage-wise, in CLOSETS magazine’s annual State of the Industry 2011 study of closets manufacturers.

Delivered at the February 2011 Closets Expo by Publisher Laurel Didier, the study found that garages represent 12 percent of home storage systems manufacturer’s revenues — a 20 percent rise since the last study in 2008. It’s no coincidence the Extreme Garage Pavilion at Closets Expo was one of the most vibrant areas of the show. For Amazing Space Garages, Sylvania, OH, the flooring aspect of the business has been a real boon during the downturn.

“Flooring has really worked out for us,” says Dave Parrish, owner. “We had done closets for over 20 years, but within three years of entering the garage flooring business, we have done very well.”

Amazing Space Inc. began in 1987 as a custom cabinet company that focused on closet organizational systems. This led to work in other areas such as home offices, basements, pantries, craft rooms, and of course garages. However, Parrish says during the downturn, “We saw that our garage makeover and cabinet business has stayed flat since 2008. While the closet business plummeted, the garage business flat lined.”

Parrish says he has found a profitable niche doing small commercial flooring projects for retailers such as oil change franchise outlets. “There is almost a void on commercial guys doing 2,000 to 3,000 square-foot projects. These aren’t that attractive to bigger firms doing flooring. For someone like me with smaller equipment, it’s a nice job.”

Amazing Space Garages
Amazing Space Inc. began in 1987 as a custom cabinet company that focused on closet organizational systems. This quickly led to work in other areas such as home offices, basements, pantries, craft rooms and of course garages. (Image courtesy of Amazing Space Garages.)

Amazing Space Garages promotes the service online, and offers a white paper by Parrish that precisely describes the difference in quality between do-it-yourself garage flooring and the version a professional can do. An excerpt gives a flavor of the offering:

Applying epoxy floor systems to garages is really taking off. The garage is often the largest room in a home and turning it into a more functional, lower maintenance area has become the trend. Coating the garage floor greatly improves the space and is a lot of bang-for- the-buck.

This is key to a good application, as poor floor preparation will lead to peeling, typically sooner than later. In the professional floor industry, “mechanical preparation” is the term used to refer to the use of either a coarse industrial diamond grinder or shot blaster. These are serious machines that separate the professional from the novice. Additionally heavy sanders, edge grinders and powerful vacuums are required to prepare a floor correctly.

All of this essentially allows the preparation to get down to the raw porous concrete, into which the initial epoxy coating will be absorbed. Do-It-Yourself kits often come with an “acid wash” floor preparation system, where acid is poured over the floor and etches the concrete in attempts to create a surface profile to which the coating will adhere.

This approach often doesn’t work, as the acid is not sufficient to get past dirt, oil and sealers. Additionally, acid etching, by its nature, can leave residues and even moisture in the slab, which can adversely affect adhesion. Professional floor applicators invest heavily in the proper equipment and training to do the job right. If your applicator does not practice mechanical preparation, then you are likely dealing with a novice.

Floor Thickness and Decoration

The simple epoxy kit you buy from the local hardware store typically is about 4 mils thick (a mil is 1/1000th of an inch). That’s pretty thin, often referred to in the industry as “too thin to win.” Even with an entry level commercial grade floor, any professional job is likely going to be up to five times as thick.

Other more expensive floors can be closer to 40 to 60 mils thick, sometimes more. Floor thickness not only adds to the life for the floor, it also increases consistent color hide, in addition to helping minimize the appearance of concrete flaws and irregularities. Also note that DIY epoxies are often diluted in solvents or water. This makes them easier to handle and lengthens the working time, making them more forgiving to the novice. The down side is as the epoxy cures, the solvent evaporates and the floor ends up thinner than first applied. Most professionals use what are called 100 percent solids epoxies, meaning no solvents and no shrinkage.

Most often, three types of garage floor styles are installed: solid color, random flake system or full broadcast. Each have different functional properties. As a general rule, the full broadcast systems — where the decorative component such as flake or quartz completely covers the surface — do the best job of concealing existing concrete flaws or repair work. They minimize wear appearance over time, and generally just hide dirt well requiring less cleaning.

Amazing Space Inc., Sylvania, OH, positions itself in multiple markets with an artfully designed web presence, encompassing AmazingSpace garage storage systems at one of its website tabs, (with a related Facebook site) and for its closets business.

VIDEO: Amazing Space Pours
See a video of Amazing Space Garages pouring a floor.


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