Porcelain tile for a garage floor generally isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when looking at tile flooring options. Besides, it’s only used inside our home and not in our garage, isn’t it? Or is it? Well contrary to what you may have thought, more and more residential garages are being tiled with porcelain today. After all, it’s so durable that it is used quite frequently for such things as showroom floors for prestigious auto dealerships, professional automotive mechanic garages, drive-through hotel porticos and many other commercial applications that involve vehicles – so why not your own garage?
Benefits of Porcelain Garage Floors
The reason it is being used in these numerous applications are quite simple. Porcelain tile looks luxurious, is extremely durable, and is easy to maintain. Because of its extremely high density when manufactured, it absorbs very little moisture which makes it almost impervious to any kind of stains. This also makes it frost resistant (some say frost proof), scratch and chip resistant and resistant to impacts and heavy loads. It is also very resilient to abrasion; it’s not affected by chemicals or cleaning agents and will not fade in sunlight.
Most porcelain is manufactured as a through-body tile meaning that the color and materials run through the thickness of the entire tile. If it does chip the color won’t change. In the event that you crack or break a tile, they can be removed and replaced with a new one.
One ongoing myth about porcelain tile for a garage is that it will be too slippery. This actually isn’t true. With the correct rating, porcelain will not be any more slippery than standard concrete when wet and sometimes even less so. This is one reason why it is popular for entrances that are exposed to the weather.
Some nice features about porcelain are the abundance of nice colors and textures. Depending on how much you want to spend, you can install tile that looks like stone, marble, travertine and an array of other materials.
It is also available in a variety of sizes so that you may get creative with the pattern on the floor. Most garage floors use a minimum size of 12”x12” and can go as large as 24”x24”. Smaller tiles can be used but will require more grout and can make a large floor look “busy” if you use too many.
How Porcelain Tiles are Rated
When shopping for porcelain tile for a garage floor you need to be aware that they are rated for three different categories; hardness, skid resistance, and moisture. The hardness rating is referred to as the PEI scale (Porcelain Enamel Institute). This helps to determine the durability of the tile in terms of how well the surface stands up to abrasion and traffic before the tile shows any sign of wear.
For a garage you want a tile that is rated either a 4 or 5 on the PEI scale. A rating of 4 is for medium commercial use which is satisfactory for a garage floor and a rating of 5 is for heavy commercial use.
Skid resistance is measured as the coefficient of friction on a wet surface. As a result, the Ceramic Tile Institute has created three categories based on these ratings. Tile that is rated at 0.60 or greater is considered ‘slip resistant’ and meets or exceeds OSHA and ADA requirements for a wet surface. A rating of 0.50 to 0.59 is considered ‘conditionally slip resistant’ and meets or exceeds OSHA requirements. Any tile rated below 0.50 is considered ‘questionable’ for slip resistance.
The last rating is for moisture absorption. In order to properly certified as porcelain tile, it must be rated at or below 0.5% for moisture which is considered impervious to water. This is what makes it frost proof, stain proof, and water damage proof. Most tiles should have these ratings displayed on the packaging somewhere for you to see. If you can’t find it, consult the manufacturer to determine its ratings.
Porcelain garage tile costs
The cost of porcelain tile varies depending on your choice of size, color, texture, and ratings and can be bought for more than $5.00 a square foot for a boutique type of tile. Fortunately many people have found tile for garage flooring at just under $1.00 a square foot on sale at their local home improvement centers. These tiles usually have a minimum of a 4 PEI rating and skid resistance greater than 0.50 wet.
You do need to consider the cost of other supplies that you will need when installing tile such as grout and thinset mortar. Darker grout colors are preferred for their ability to hide dirt and depending on what type of grout you choose you may have to seal it as well.
Some preparation of your garage floor may be required beyond just the cleaning of the concrete. Contraction joints will have to be filled as well as insuring a fairly even surface before laying the tile. If you have experience with installing tile and choose to do it yourself, you can end up with a beautiful looking garage floor for a fraction of the cost. John Bridge has a great forum to get information about installing tiles and the Tile Council of North America has good information on thinset and grout.
For those of us who are not as skilled, installers can be found to do it for you. Costs for installation vary, but depending on what part of the country you live in people have been getting their tile installed for as little as $2.00 a square foot. Just remember to always ask for references to check before hiring someone.
If you want to have a tough and durable floor that will add a touch of class to your garage, then installing porcelain garage floor tile may be just what you need. It will last for years and years, be easy to clean, and give you one of the best returns on your dollar for the duration of the floor.