Obsessed Garage flooring
why tiles vs epoxy?
One of the biggest debates in a garage is what type of flooring to use. Some are diehards for epoxy. Others only want bare or polished concrete. Matt on the other hand has chosen Swisstrax as his prefered type of flooring. You wouldn't think that a plastic flooring tile would be ideal, but these really are on another level. Most other company's tiles end up looking cheap and feeling horrible to walk on. You don't get that with Swisstrax Ribtrax at all. The tiles are super high quality, larger than standard, and actually look really good. But it's biggest selling points are what it offers over an epoxy or other finished floor type.
Even with the best epoxy systems, it's only a matter of time before you start to see pitting, scratching, peeling, and chipping. They look great for a while, but are a ticking time bomb till they start to fail. Swisstrax though will last for years and years with heavy abuse. The tiles are rated to handle over 70,000 lbs of rollover weight. If you ever mess up a tile, rather than having to refinish the entire floor, or grind down the concrete, you can just pop the damaged tile out and replace it.
The dirt and debris management are what really sets Swisstrax Ribtrax apart though. A lot of people are scared by the slotted structure wondering what happens to all that dirt. Well, it sits under the tiles and out from under your feet until you're ready to clean it up. The dirt and debris fall underneath, allowing your garage or shop to stay looking cleaner for longer with very little maintenance. Whenever you feel like the build up is going too far, just vacuum with a shopvac. Or you can pull sections of tile out of the garage and do a thorough clean up underneath. I would say you only need to go all the way once or twice a year. This helps a ton with water and other liquids as well. There are slots under the tiles that allow water to flow freely underneath. If there is a slope, it will move away. If the water just sits, it will stay out from under your feet rather than getting tracked all through the garage.
HOW TO BUY GARAGE FLOORING
WE UNDERSTAND IT CAN BE DIFFICULT
Many are intimidated by the idea of calculating how many tiles to purchase and how to design their floor. But in reality, the process is really pretty simple. The Swisstrax tiles that we sell are all 15.75” x 15.75”, so rough calculations are pretty easy with accurate measurements of your space. Just divide the inches length of a wall by 15.75 and that gives you the number of tiles you need. Do the same for the adjacent wall and then multiply the two numbers to get your total count. A typical 20x20 two car garage will be 240” divided by 15.75 = 15.23 tiles. So 16 is your number. It will be the same for the adjacent wall since the garage is square. Now multiply 16 and 16 and you get 256. For your garage door, take the length in inches and divide that by 15.75 (the length of an edge piece). A typical 16’ garage door which is 192” will give you 12.19, so 13 edges.
What we prefer to do though is to jump into the Swisstrax configurator tool that allows you to punch in your dimensions, adjust for certain structure elements, and then start designing your own floor. This process gives you a full read-out at the end of how many tiles you need of each color and type plus edges. The 2D version works much better in our opinion than the newer 3D version. You can find the designer here: swisstrax.com/designer/#
For a full breakdown of how to use the designer, see our support article here: How-To: Using the Swisstrax Designer (2D)
Now, one thing to keep in mind is the need for extra tiles and edges. Because your garage will not be exactly 15 or 16 tiles wide, you will have to cut tiles when you get to those walls in your garage. The same goes for the garage door. You will likely have to cut the edges on both sides so that you can get it properly centered. We recommend that you order only 5-15 extra tiles depending on the size of your space to make up for missed cuts or missed calculations. If you’re doing an intricate design, just order extra for the tiles that will be along the walls that you will be cutting. Order 2 extra edge pieces for the garage door since you’ll be cutting both sides. We always recommend getting LOOPED edges for your garage door transition.
TOOLS NEEDED FOR INSTALL
YOU HAVE A FEW CHOICES, SOME ARE EASIER
The biggest part of the install process is cutting all the tiles around the perimeter of the room. This is where tools and saws come into play. There are several different things you can use, with some being better than others. But in the end, if it works and cuts your tiles cleanly, that’s all you need. Your options are the following though there are others you could probably find to do the job: Circular Saw, Jig Saw, Table Saw, Miter Saw, Floor Tile Shear, etc.
There are pros and cons to each tool, but the thing to remember is that in the end it doesn’t really matter what you use. At Obsessed Garage we prefer to use either a floor tile shear, or a circular saw for the main tile cuts. You will want to go one tile at a time measuring both sides of the tile to find your cut line. For the circular saw, you can just cut from the edge of a workbench, or you can setup a sacrificial board on a bench. Set the cut depth of the saw just slightly more than the tile so that you don’t cut all the way through the sacrificial board. Place your tile flat on the board top and cut along your line. This sacrificial board makes it quick and easy to work through all the cuts you need. Floor tile shears are also great if you can find one that fits the tiles. Swisstrax used to have a version that had a special 16” blade, but these are either impossible or difficult to find in that size. Usually they are in the 20-30” range.
The complimentary saw you will want for almost every job is a jig saw. Garage walls are rarely ever straight, and there will be some other areas that require more intricate cutting. The garage door rails near the floor are a great example as are the circular cuts around a water heater or similar.
INSTALl Your GARAGE FLOOR
It's quite easy, they snap together!
Where to start your flooring install is the biggest step that will help set you up for a great install and an easy process. As mentioned in the buying section, you should always purchase Looped Edges for the garage door or openings. As you go through the installation process this will help in the direction you install the tiles.
Start with an edge piece on the ground. You can have your garage door open or closed for this part. Using one of the pegged sides of a tile, connect it to the looped edge piece. The direction of the adjoining pegged side doesn’t really matter, but we usually put it to the right (if you are facing into the garage). Place your next edge down to the right and your next tile into the loops of the edge piece, and the first tile. Continue this process until you have a single row of tiles with edges between the edges of the garage door.
Now that you have your first row done, we need to snug the edge pieces up to the garage door while it is closed. Be sure to slide left and right and get the tiles aligned as needed with the whole of the garage. This sets the positioning for the rest of your floor. Don’t worry though, even with most of the garage laid out, you will be able to kick and reposition the flooring before getting the perimeter installed. With this first row set, you can now start installing the rest of the floor. Start back to the left side (looking into the garage) and continue row by row filling in the center area of the floor.
You should now have most of your flooring down except for the perimeter tiles. Now comes the fun part (hard part?): cutting all the perimeter tiles at your walls. Video really helps the most with this, so be sure to check the video posted here on how to install and cut your tiles. Reference the above tool section to know what you need. At this point, it doesn’t really matter where you start, so pick someplace easy so you don’t mess up too many tiles while you experiment on what process works best for you.
Measure and cut your tiles one at a time. Measure from the left side to the wall, and measure to the right side to the wall. Mark these on the tile you plan on putting in that spot, making sure that you have your orientation correct. Mark a line with a straight edge to connect the two points, and then grab your tool of choice to make your first cut. Snap your cut tile into place and continue on around the garage tile by tile.