Old Man winter is getting ready to level his yearly assault on us. Let's all hope we avoid the Snowmageddons of prior years.
Just as we get our yards, pools and porches ready for winter, we can do the same for our garage. Here are a few tips to assist with safety, storage, maintenance and prevention. Most take only a few minutes and can save hours of headache and additional spending.
Check the Garage Door Seals for Issues
Take a moment to check the weather stripping on the bottom of the garage door and also the seals on the man-door into the home. If any of these seals are damaged, it allows cold air, debris and rodents to enter the garage or home. Keeping seals tight will keep those field mice in the fields.
Shield Garage Door Rails & Sensors from Damage
Keep items away or secured so that they cannot impede or damage the garage door tracks. If moving large items or equipment in and out of the your garage, be careful not to strike the tracks or sensors. Bumping the sensors can cause the garage door to not open or close properly from the remotes.
Pre-position Snow Blowers for Convenience
Have that snow blower or tractor with plow gassed up and a clear path out the garage door. Moving the cars, contents and storage items around during a snow storm is no fun. Make sure you need only open one garage door and run the snow blower directly out the door.
Moving bags or containers of snow melt chemicals close to the man door makes it quick and safe to apply those chemicals outside. Also, have snow shovels out and ready.
Add Floor Mats for Safety
While most of us have a welcome mat at the man doors, winter makes for slippery conditions when entering and leaving vehicles and traversing the main walkway. Adding carpet strips or floor mats from the outside door to the entry into the main home not only removes debris from footware, but prevents slipping on snow shoes and other footware that lacks wet floor traction.
Adding floor mats at the doors of the vehicles also prevents slipping when entering and departing from vehicles that are dropping snow and water onto the garage floor.
Safeguard Your Garage Investment
As a professional floor coatings company, I know this one sounds self-serving. But, a garage floor coating protects your garage floor from damaging winter salts, abrasive sands and stones in snow and from rust stains from snow shovels, tire chains and snow blowers.
It's not too late, as our professional floor coatings can be installed below freezing temperatures. Our teams have installed hundreds of garage floor coatings at temperatures below 30 degrees in all of our service areas.
Coated or not, sweeping the winter melt off and debris out periodically will help protect your floor and keep you from tracking these items into the home.
Unhook & Drain Water Hoses
If you garage has a hose bib, ensure the garden hose is disconnected. Drain hoses of all water before wrapping them up for the season.
If you live in the Midwest area, you probably get tired of going out to the garage and getting into a COLD vehicle. Our garage floor coatings work great, but the coatings don’t change that cold feel. But, there are many affordable options to make the garage more enjoyable in winter.
I’m going to discuss the 3 most common solutions I have seen over the past 10 years. Each solution can be scaled to the size of the garage. Some are easily installed as a Do-It-Yourself solution, but homeowners should heed all requirements from the heater’s manufacturer.
Heat your Garage with a Gas Forced-Air Heater
Forced-air, natural gas heaters blow warm air like a conventional home furnace. These solutions often heat the garage fastest due to the air circulation. Most units can be configured to use propane as well.
Typically installed in a corner, near a gas line and electrical outlet, these heaters often cost over $500 for a unit sized to 2 car garage and over $700 for a unit sized to a 3 car garage. While some DIY sites provide detailed instructions for their setup, these units may prove too complicated for a homeowner to install safely.
Forced air units can be noisy and lose heat very quickly if the garage door is left open. The forced air does tend to blow airborne dust about the garage, so wood workers may want to consider a different solution.
Common brands, like Modine’s Hot Dawg range from 30,000 to 125,000 BTU/hr.
Warm up the Cars with an Natural Gas, Infrared Tube Heater
Low intensity, infrared tube heaters also use natural gas or LP. Instead of circulating air, they radiate heat which warms objects first and the air second. So, floor areas which are under the tube heaters warm and radiate heat back up into the garage. You must keep objects a set distance away from these heaters or they will overheat.
Unlike the forced air units, they do not stir up dust and recover more quickly from garage doors being opened and closed. But, installation is more complicated, as the units must be located where they have all the distances from objects, walls and floor as specified by the manufacturer.
These units are more expensive than the equivalent forced air units, but are quiet, less costly to operate and the heat is move evenly distributed within the garage.
Take off the Chill with an Electric Garage Heater
These are often the cheapest and easiest to setup. Big box stores often have options that are under $200 and can easily heat a small to average, 2-car garage. Most circulate air over heat coils. They will not keep the garage as warm, and often do not distribute the heat as evenly as the other two options.
There are some electric, infrared heaters now which can do a better job than the units available at the hardware store. But these will have a higher operational cost than their natural gas counterparts.
Stay Warm This Winter
All of these solutions will make you garage and vehicles more comfortable in winter. If you spend a lot of time in the garage, consider going with the most BTUs appropriate for the size of your garage.
Keep in mind all of these solutions lose a lot when the garage doors are up in cold temperatures. So, always keep the garage doors down as much as possible.
If you plan to do a lot of work in the garage, decide if noise and air circulation will be a problem and ensure the choice you make is properly installed and safe for your usage.
What is the desired final result of your garage makeover?
Decide what this project should do for your garage. Some homeowners are just creating a more organized space. Others are creating spaces that highlight sport or antique vehicles, showcase special item collections or create gaming/party centers.
What garage upgrades will be necessary?
An honest assessment of the garage floor, walls, ceiling and lighting needs to take place. Some questions to ask:
- Is the lighting adequate and well placed for my desired usage?
- Do the walls need insulated, dry-walled and/or painted?
- Is the ceiling in need of some touch-ups?
- Is the ceiling high enough to assist with storage?
- Is the floor properly protected from attack from road salt, spills and stains?
What upgrades do I want to do myself?
With almost 10 years of assisting homeowners with garage makeovers, I strongly suggest working with a designer from companies like California Closets or Tailored Living to create the final solution. These designers are usually able to suggest all the other trades persons necessary to complete the tasks that fall outside their companys expertise.
In addition, these designers can create solutions that are truly customized to the size and layout of the garage, something that doesnt happen with DIY solutions from the big-box stores. The range of finishes and amenities will also be far more extensive.
Certainly changing light fixtures and painting can easily be completed by the homeowner. Just ensure you coordinate these DIY tasks with the other parties involved.
What order does the garage makeover process take?
Many steps in the process may be interchangeable for timing, but to reduce effort and allow for a smooth flow, there are some best practices. Regardless of whether you are doing some parts as DIY or leaving it all to professionals, I recommend following this overall approach:
- Get the lighting right first. Add or upgrade lighting fixtures and get the desired bulbs in place.
- Complete any other electrical or plumbing work that may be required.
- Complete all drywall and ceiling work. This includes all painting (but do not add trim yet).
- Replace or upgrade any wooden steps that go from the garage into the house.
- Replace or upgrade the garage doors.
- Get the garage floor coatings installed.
- Install the wall and/or ceiling storage and organization systems.
- Install any wall decorations.
Ensure that any drying times for the drywall, painting or garage floor finish are included into the timeline for this process. While our floor coatings dry very quickly (only 12-24 hours until ready for walk on traffic), many of the garage kits and garage floor paints require many days before you can truly use the garage floor again.
Get started on your Garage Makeover
If you need more help getting started on your garage makeover process, please contact us
A couple final notes:
- While most tackle these projects in the warmer months of the year, this is often not required and most projects can be completed anytime of the year.
- This process can be spread out over a period of time, so the budget impact can be applied over a longer stretch of time.
- Be very careful before enhancing the garage floor with a DIY kit. Many of these kits have very poor bond strength and will peel up under the vehicle tires.
Epoxy garage floor coatings transform the garage from a dull, ugly room into a special space. It adds character. It adds flair. It adds value. And, there are certainly some specific people who benefit from this:
1) The Parent
2) The Car Enthusiast
3) The Home Handyman
4) The Hobbyist
5) The Real Estate Agent
6) The Retiree
7) The Super Organized
Is this you? Read on to see which group or groups you belong to…
#1 – The Parent: Tell them to “Go Play in the Garage!”
It’s raining, just pouring. The kids are getting edgy and the novelty of that video game is gone. Aaaggghhhh!!!!
You don't stress. With the clean finish of your new coating, you send them out to the garage to play ping pong, throw some corn-hole or setup the ultimate Lego city. You keep the house clear and they get to have some fun.
Even if they do get a little wild and spill the Kool-aid,it’s no big deal. Your floor is sealed and a few paper towels take care of the problem. No worrying about stains and carpet cleaning.
#2 – The Retiree: Come home to the garage you deserve
You’ve built that home of your dreams. You’ve made sure you can spend your golden years here with no more modifications. The only room that was forgotten during construction was the
garage. But now you have a durable, beautiful decorative chip floor with a traction additive in the clear coat.
#3 – The Car Enthusiast: Create your own showroom
A car show is an opportunity to show off your special automobile. Strangers from anywhere and everywhere get to check out your dream machine.
The car show doesn’t end when you pull that 4 wheeled beauty into your garage. Nope, it’s just coming home to rest awhile in its permanent showroom, its art gallery, its auto spa. Your garage isn’t just a box with 2 garage doors. It’s a complete showroom: faux-terrazzo coatings, vintage wall posters, LED lighting and every car cleaning product known to mankind.
#4 – The Home Handyman: Work in a safer environment
You don’t call a plumber. You don’t need Angie’s List for a furniture medic recommendation. You can fix this yourself. A quick trip to the garage for the right tools and you have this fixed up in no time at all.
After last year’s costly mishap caused by spilled wood varnish on your garage’s concrete floor, you fixed the problem with a permanent, professional garage finish. Never again fall in that spill when trying to minimize the BIG, BROWN varnish stain on your garage floor. You would prefer to never again spend a few hours on Saturday afternoon finding out you hurt your left rotator cuff.
Now, you go out and sand, stain, sand, clear coat and admire your handwork.
#5 – The Hobbyist: Create the special space for your passion
You were tired of sharing your model construction table with the laundry. Your planes took a lot of time to build and you don’t want to find another laundry basket sitting against your most recent creation.
So, you finally found the perfect use for that 3rd garage bay. The same bay which used to be the place where “STUFF” just built up is now your personal nirvana. The solid color, epoxy coatings created a bright, uniform surface that makes finding even the smallest dropped screw easy to find.
Your construction table, air compressor, air-brush and completed models have created your man-cave.
#6 – The Real Estate Agent: Close that sale in record time
“Let me show you how this 3 bedroom, two and a half bath, ‘just went on the market’ house could welcome you home. Let me just punch in the garage door code.” you tell this excited couple.
The look on their face as they see wall-to-wall coatings and finished steps leading into the mudroom says it all. You just sold this home on day 1 and the first time you showed it. “Welcome home, Peggy & John. Enjoy your new home.”
#7 – The Super Organized: Put the finishing touch on the garage
The cabinets took 2 hours to assemble and 1 more to mount on the back wall. The slat wall was a Saturday afternoon install and 2 hours to get all the hooks in just the right spot to hold everything. That ceiling mounted kayak lift was a little trickier, but you got it after a try or two.
The picture of perfect organization, right? You bet. Nothing (other than the car) sits on your shiny, just mopped, epoxy floor coatings. “Everything in its place and a place for everything.”
Oops! We forgot a few…
OK. So the reality is there are a lot more than 7 groups of people who love epoxy floor coatings in their garage. Just off the top of my head…
The workshop owner; the home seller; the home builder; the home mechanic; the new car owner; the car restorer…
The reality is that the right garage floor coating will transcend your garage from ugly, smelly catch-all to one of the gems that makes your house a home. There really is a reason why over 1000 homeowners in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa have trusted us to transform their boring concrete floor. Are you ready to become one of those homeowners?
Each year, we exhibit at the annual Rochester Home Show. We get to meet new homeowners and catch up with our garage coatings customers. Sometimes, we even get a great story to share. This year, we spoke with a Do-It-Yourself homeowner whose story spans two year.
Our Story Begins With...
In 2014, the homeowner Joe, approached us in our booth to ask about our garage floor coatings. After about 20 minutes of conversation, Joe informed them of his intentions to use DIY epoxy floor paints to spruce up his one car garage.
Fast forward to 2015, Joe returned to our booth once more. Speaking with us again, he shared his DIY story. The highlights of this 30 minute plus conversation are as follows:
- He removed the existing garage floor paint using a 4" hand grinder and cupwheels (approx $150 investment). This portion took 4 days and ended with a sore body. Plus it pretty much ruined the shop vac used to pull up the dust ($75).
- He acid etched the garage floor two times just to ensure a good prep; two more days down ($25 of supplies).
- He applied an epoxy/urethane kit which included vinyl chips over a period of three days and then had to let the materials cure for another 3 days ($900 for the kit).
- Overall, Joe is pretty happy with the floor, but it has had a few minor issues (no additional details provided on those issues).
- Joe said it took a lot more effort than he had expected - figuring he had over 40 hours of his time invested in this project.
Our Story Ends With ...
To summarize, Joe had spent over $1,150 and a normal work week of time on this one car, garage floor coating. He lost the use of his garage for nearly two weeks.
What was our response to this story? Joe's 320 square foot garage would have been $1,500 if we had coated it. Joe admitted he would not repeat that DIY project.
Prologue to this DIY Story
While we didn't want to go into the differences any further, I thought I would point out several more items that are as important, if not more than just the cost.
1) With our polyaspartic system, one of our teams would have completed the entire process in 1 day vs. Joe investing 9 days.
2) Our coatings would have returned the garage to full service in less than 24 hours vs. Joe waiting over 72 hours to use his garage again.
3) Our polyaspartic topcoat would be three times thicker and considerably stronger than Joe's two urethane layers.
4) With a floor from us, Joe would have a 15 year warranty and the same satisfaction that 1000+ homeowners already have in our service area.
5) Our crew would have prepped his floor(removing the existing floor paints) with our world class planetary grinders and HEPA dust vacuums in less than 2 hours. Joe would not have sore knees, not exposed himself to breathing airborne concrete dust or have been exposed to the acids & their fumes.
I'm not saying that no one should ever attempt to coat their own garage. Just be sure it's worth the time and effort. Plus, don't purchase the cheap epoxy paint kits at the big box stores or get ripped off with overpriced kits on the web. There are some great products out there - just be sure to shop around.
Last fall, we got our blacktop driveway re-sealed. We have a long driveway with woods on each side. So, we had to figure out where to park our vehicles for several days. Pre-planning where to stage the vehicles and lawnmower made those four days nearly painless.
This project reminded me how often our Polytek Surface Coatings’ team encounters homeowners who want to have a garage floor coating installed, but don’t know what is or should be involved before our crew arrives to begin the garage coatings process.
Determine where the Garage’s Stuff is going
Many options exist for your garage’s contents, such as:
- Move to the back porch or basement
- Donate useful items to charities or non-profit organizations
- Throw away useless items
- Sell items in a yard sale or community sale
- Place items in rental storage (PODS, U-Haul, storage locker)
- Move items across the street to the neighbor’s garage
- Place items in driveway under the big blue tarps sold at hardware stores
Get new Drain Caps and Floor Cover Plates
If you have drains in your floor, ensure the caps are still serviceable. If cracked or rusted through, seek out replacement caps at a hardware store or construction supply.
If there are any cover plates and would like them coated with epoxy, ensure the plates are clean and rust free. Large plates can often be sand or bead blasted at a local powder coating shop.
PVC caps can be stained or scratched. Our crews prepare the drain caps and coat them so that the drains are extremely hard to see, but still fully functional.
Update or Replace Garage Door Seals
If your garage has door seals attached to the floor, ensure they are still serviceable and the correct look for your soon to be enhanced garage floor. Our crews can work around these seal strips. Seals can be added over the coatings, if desired after the coatings are complete.
Remove any Fixtures that are Movable
It’s always best to ensure the coatings cover as much of the floor as possible. That often requires removal of:
- Deep Sinks: These often have removable legs and can be quickly unhooked from the plumbing at the quick connects.
- Storage cabinets: If it’s not built into the wall, get it out. Because, when the time comes to throw out that cabinet, you don’t want a big, bare spot on the floor.
Ensure NO Yard or Home Maintenance occurs during Coatings Installation Dates
The following activities must not occur during the days of the garage coatings installation anywhere within 75 feet of the garage doors:
- Mowing the grass
- Application of mulch
- Use of leaf blowers
- Trimming of trees or bushes
- Sanding or painting
- Blacktop application or sealing
- Pressure spraying or cleaning of siding, brick or stone
Remove or wrap any electronics that cannot be removed
If any electronics or sensitive items must stay in the garage, those should be wrapped in plastic to ensure they are protected from dust or chips.
Turn off HVAC units located in the garage
This item needs to occur for the two days the coatings are installed. It ensures no dust or odors are pulled into the system and the home.
What Don’t You Need to Do
Things you don’t need to do are:
- Clean or scrub the floor – just cleaning up any debris off the floor is sufficient
- Fill the cracks or joints - most repair materials available to homeowners will not allow proper bonding of the coating or hold up to the surface grinding employed to prepare the concrete
- Sand off paint – the grinding process will remove any floor paints or epoxy paint kits
- Remove sealers – the grinding process will remove any sealers or waxes
- Remove wall mounted items - if not bothered by minor dust or decorative chips, unless the items are within 36” of the floor (as these may impede our grinders or crew members preparing the concrete along the wall)
If you have any questions about the process, be sure to check out:
Or just give us a call at 507.288.7887
If you are in the market to get an epoxy coating applied to a garage, basement or other concrete floor, I have a few suggestions. They will help you to pick the right, professional floor coating company (or, for that matter, a contractor for any assistance you need).
Read Reviews on 3rd Party Website
People can write whatever they like their website. They control the content. So, instead of trusting the “testimonials” on a contractor’s website, take a few minutes to do the following:
1) Check their reviews on HomeAdvisor.com. HomeAdvisor will not allow a company to be listed unless they are properly licensed and insured. The best companies will receive "The Best of Home Advisor Award"
2) Check their reviews on Better Business Bureau. The very best companies will have an A+ rating for their service area.
3) Check other sites like Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. (Our link for Facebook is below)
Check with local Home Builders
Chances are home builders in the same service area will know something about the specific contractor you are looking in to. See if the home builders have utilized their services for a customer’s home or a model home (or a Parade of Homes/Home-A-Rama/Street of Dreams entry).
If not home builders, there are usually other types of trades who interact with a contractor. In our case, we regularly work with home builders, along with commercial lease/management companies.
Talk to the Contractor’s Customers
Don’t just ask for referrals. Ask them for a customer where something went wrong. Find out how they handled the problems that arose. Do enough projects and something is bound to go wrong. Sometimes it’s beyond the contractor’s control (like the frog that jumps into the wet coatings right after we leave); sometimes a homeowner forgets what to do or not do (we find footsteps in our fresh coatings) and sometimes we goof up (we return to coat a garage step that got missed on the work order).
Ask to see projects they have completed that are open to the public. We regularly send prospective coatings customers to see work we have done in service garages, commercial buildings and model homes. (Sometimes even our own houses)
Wrapping it up
Nobody or no company is perfect. Be responsible and take good care of your customer. Stuff happens, but it doesn’t mean you don’t make it right.
Want to see how we are doing?
- Polytek Surface Coatings earned an esteemed A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau in the Rochester,
- We have received great recommendations on Facebook by people from the area.
- We have been granted the "Best of Home Advisor Award" for our commitment to customer service
- We have completed over 1000 surface coating projects in our short 11 year history.
If you are interested in working with Polytek Surface Coatings, give us a call at 507.288.7887
“A house is only as strong as its foundation.” It’s a quote we have all heard at one time or another. Its core idea is very appropriate to epoxy floor coatings. Regardless of whether it’s a professional, like us, installing a commercial grade polymer or a homeowner installing a garage floor, epoxy paint kit, the success of either is entirely dependent on the foundation. In this case, the foundation is the preparation of the concrete slab.
Whether the concrete is new or decades old, the longevity of any coating system begins with the preparation of the concrete surface prior to the application of the actual chemicals. Many methods exist to prepare concrete for a coating. For the Do-It-Yourselfer, the typical method is acid etching or sanding. For the professional floor coatings installer, mechanical diamond grinding or shot blasting is the norm.
DIY Methods – Acid Etching & Sanding
Acid etching is a common technique included in DIY kits, but it lacks the ability to properly prepare tightly troweled surfaces. It also cannot remove many of the substances that already have tarnished your concrete – such as existing paint, concrete sealers, or motor oil and other contaminants. All of these substances will decrease or alleviate the ability of the DIY coating to stick to the concrete.
Sanding is similar to the diamond grinding method, but floor sanders lack the ability to adequately open the pores and create a deep enough abrasion pattern. Again, the coatings then cannot soak in or lock onto the “foundation” properly.
As a result, the homeowner will quickly notice “pox” marks or chips in their newly coated surface – many of which could have been prevented by properly preparing the concrete.
Professional Method – Planetary Diamond Grinding & Shot-Blasting
Conversely, the preparation of your concrete floor by a professional is going to be much more thorough. Professional coatings installers have the tools to get it done right, ensuring the coating actually adheres to the concrete. In fact, the coating’s bond should be so strong to the concrete that if you pull hard enough on the coating, the concrete should break away!
A professional will use a mechanical preparation method, such as diamond grinding or abrasive blasting. This opens the top surface of the concrete floor – removing any substances or sealants – and makes the concrete porous again. This process allows the coating to properly adhere to the concrete – and not simply lay over the top of it.
As the beginning of our coatings process, we utilize planetary diamond grinders with HEPA filtered vacuums so that the dust and any contaminants are contained and don’t become airborne. Our prep work also includes filling in any cracks and fixing any areas that need addressed. Only on rare occasion do we utilize our shot blaster, as that method is normally overkill for residential and commercial projects that are receiving a decorative coating.
Granted, a homeowner or general contractor can rent grinders. Nearly all rental grinders are single or dual-disc machines that utilize block-style diamonds. These types of grinders are inferior to the more expensive, planetary grinders which feature 3 floating heads and industrial diamond sets. Single and dual-disc grinders do not create a uniformly prepared surface as quickly or easily as a planetary grinder. Our company has 7 of these planetary grinders for garage and commercial preparation, as well as two smaller units used for preparation of residential basements.
Building on the Foundation
Once proper surface preparation is complete, it’s time to move onto the installation of a high quality, commercial grade coating system. In an upcoming blog, we are going to contrast the materials and maintenance involved in the DIY vs. Professional coating systems.
Make your Garage look great before your open house!
One of the toughest and most durable finishes that you can apply to a garage floor today is an Polytek Surface Coating. Not only does it protect your garage floor, it can instantly transform your boring or ugly cement into a professional looking floor of beauty and function. And since the garage is fast becoming more than just a place where you park the car, the benefits of garage floor coatings have quickly made it one of the top choices for garage flooring today.
Used for both residential and commercial applications, epoxy will give your garage or shop floor that showroom shine that says “look at me”! Depending on which application you choose, you can select from a variety of colors match your style or even your favorite sports team.