A brand-new concrete garage floor does not remain looking new for long unless it is protected in some way from chemicals, oils or other leaky fluids from automobiles, salt residue from winter roadways and dirt and debris. The areas of the floor where you enter and leave the garage are especially difficult to keep clean. My need was for a garage floor covering that is effective while proving to be affordable for both purchase and upkeep.
When I moved into my new townhome, I wanted to avoid the fate that had befallen the garage floor in my former home which had become pitted in spots most probably due to salt damage. The project manager gave me this advice when I moved into my townhome: “Keep the garage floor clean from salt during the winter by mopping it occasionally and you will be just fine.”
Mop the garage floor to remove salt residue when it is it well below zero outside and near-freezing in the garage? After one winter in my new home, that advice proved unworkable for me.
The following summer I began evaluating floor coverings, and quickly eliminated paint and floor tiles, neither of which seemed practical for my purposes after talking with persons who had tried those alternatives.
I zeroed in on an epoxy coating because of its attractiveness and easy-to-clean features. Not feeling capable of installing such a floor by myself, I arranged for a free home consultation through Home Depot in order to get a cost estimate. The estimator quoted a price of nearly $2,400 for 430 square feet, which led me to table that idea.
A sales person at Home Depot suggested that just cleaning the floor annually with a specially formulated garage floor cleaner would suffice. After purchasing two gallons of the cleaner at over $30.00 a gallon without reading the directions on the containers, and a very hard-bristled broom for scrubbing purposes, I totally emptied out the garage in preparation for the cleaning process. That is when I read the directions and the cautions regarding the chemicals in the cleaner and the need to protect and cover your feet, hands and even the grass, flowers and shrubbery along the driveway!
Since I didn’t have the proper heavy rubber footwear that was suggested, I covered my shoes with heavy plastic bags, donned vinyl gloves, and proceeded to swab and scrub the floor in sections so that the cleaner could be on the floor the prescribed amount of time. The plastic bags over my shoes didn’t withstand the chemicals in the cleaner (duh!), and the grass and flowers needed constant watering to remove the cleaner that washed down the driveway when I hosed out the garage. The project left me feeling exhausted and more than a little disenchanted with the idea of an annual floor cleaning as my method of preserving a like-new garage floor.
Later that summer a chance encounter with someone at our townhome complex who was hosing off a vinyl floor mat that she had removed from her garage gave me a new idea. She gave me a glowing testimonial regarding the mat, which had been ordered through Menard’s.
I learned that the solid polyvinyl mats could be purchased through Menard’s or ordered directly online. They come in a variety of sizes, patterns and colors, and in either standard or commercial grade. I decided to order a 9′ x 20′ standard grade rib mat in slate grey, which was delivered in a few days by ground shipping. It arrived neatly rolled around a PVC core (which the recycling company accepted) and although heavy, could be rolled into position along the garage door and then unrolled to cover the floor of the garage where I park my car. I was glad that I had chosen standard grade as it is thick enough for my purposes without being way too heavy for me to manage.
The mat was very easy to install and stayed flat right after I unrolled it. The edges by the garage door and the front of my garage turned up slightly, so I placed some heavy objects along them for awhile, and although not totally flat, those edges have not proven to be a problem.
The total cost of the mat and shipping was $279.00, a savings of over $2,000 from the price quoted to me for epoxy coating. But would it do the job?
I am more than satisfied with my purchase! The size of the mat is perfect for me since I only own one vehicle. The rib channels neatly contained every bit of salt residue during the past winter and the mat was very easy to just mop in the spring. It is too heavy for me to drag outside easily for cleaning, but can be rolled to one side and then the other so that I can clean the floor around the mat with little effort.
Another plus is that the mat acts as a vapor barrier which will help keep the underside of my car from rusting. I was surprised to see the dampness of the concrete when I lifted the edge of the mat in the spring as I had thought the garage floor was totally dry at all times.
Although I haven’t needed to do so yet, the mat can be cleaned with a vinyl floor cleaner and further protected with a nonslip vinyl protector.
Since any floor surface may become slippery when wet, I was cautious of this during the winter when my boots were snow covered as the mat wasn’t totally skid-proof when wet. It wasn’t a big problem for me, but I may position a couple of outdoor mats along the edge of the mat where I walk and by the car door just to be on the safe side this coming winter.
All in all, I am pleased with my purchase of a polyvinyl garage floor mat which I have found to be an effective barrier against potential floor damage from salt, chemicals, oils and debris. I have found the floor mat to be not only effective as a garage floor protector and affordable, but also what should prove to be a money saver in coming years as well due to its need for only low-cost upkeep.