Best Garage Floor: Paint, Tiles or Mat?

Garages are often thought of as dark, dingy places that collect dirt from your car and are difficult to keep clean. However, with a little bit of work, and the best garage floor, you can create an innovative garage that you will actually want to spend time in.

One of the most important parts of transforming your garage is flooring. Most garages have floors made of concrete that are traps for dirt. As your car comes in from outside, grime, mud, and salt that was on your tires get tracked onto your garage floors. And don’t forget about oil drips, chemicals, and moisture. And the worst part is, there’s no easy way to clean it and prevent stains and deterioration. However, there are a lot of garage floor options that can make a huge difference.

The three most common types of garage floors are garage floor coatings including paint and 2-part epoxy coatings, garage floor tiles and garage floor mats.  Here’s how to select the best option for your garage floor makeover.

Best Garage Floor Coatings: Paint, Stain or Sealers

Garage floor coatings include a variety of garage floor options like garage floor paint and epoxy coatings, as well as concrete stains and sealants. These tend to be a less expensive solution, especially if you decide to do the project yourself. Coatings can protect against corrosive elements like road salt, stains from oil, and moisture damage, but if you have moisture beneath the concrete, a coating may not stick to the floor.

One important difference between garage floor coatings and using tiles or mats, is the need for surface preparation.  Preparing the old surface to accept the new paint or coating can include everything from basic cleaning to renting a concrete grinder to literally grind away the old surface.  Your prep will also require repair of any cracks in the concrete or other surface deterioration.

Epoxy Garage Floor Coatings

We love epoxy coatings because they are far tougher than any other type of floor coating and will not chip or peel away. Epoxy can be easily wiped clean and will stand up to a lot of abuse, which is why this is by far the preferred coating to use.  They’re also available in a wider range of colors and many offer “color chips” that can be added to the surface which creates an attractive finish and helps hide the dirt.  If you’re looking for a glossy “showroom shine” you can also add a clear coat of epoxy to the surface for added protection and a spectacular look.

If you intend to use a garage floor coating of any type, be sure to review the manufacturers recommendation for surface preparation carefully.  If you don’t, there’s a very good chance the product won’t stick and you’ll end up with a floor that looks worse than when you started!

Keep in mind that epoxy is similar to a normal paint, with a key difference.  Epoxy garage floor coatings come in two separate containers, with one being the base and the other the hardener.  Once mixed, a chemical reaction occurs and the paint begins to harden.  Because of this, you need to plan your project carefully.  If you mix up too much at once, it’s going to harden inside the can and become totally useless!

Garage Floor Paint

Garage floor paint (including 1-part epoxy) is the most inexpensive choice in garage floor coatings.  It comes in latex or oil varieties and doesn’t stand up nearly as well as two-part epoxy coatings.  However, if you don’t anticipate being in your home more than a few years, it might be a perfectly fine short term solution, even though it may need to to be touched up occasionally.

Concrete Stain

Concrete stain is a decorative product that can improve the look of your garage floor.  However, it does not provide a protective coating like the garage floor paints described above.  Concrete stains react uniquely with the concrete and are best used on new concrete surfaces that have not absorbed dirt, oil or other debris. If you like the look of concrete stain, keep in mind that you will definitely need to add a protective coat on top of the stained surface, such as a clear epoxy finish to provide the durability a garage floor demands.

Concrete Sealers

Concrete sealers are not designed to be a protective finish and therefore not recommended as an a garage floor coating. Sealers will reduce the absorption qualities of concrete, which can be helpful in some garage or exterior applications.  However, sealers have literally no ability to stand up to normal wear and tear and hence won’t provide any long term protection against dirt or spills. While applying a concrete sealers offer a clean look, they’re not as tough as other options, and won’t stand up to hard use.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Best Garage Floor Tiles and Mats

Photo credit: Frontgate

Garage floor tiles and mats are much tougher than coatings and far more attractive. They are super easy to install and go down on top of the old concrete floor.  Other than a thorough sweeping, there is literally no prep required.  We also like that garage floor coverings are available in a wide variety of styles, patterns and colors so, there’s literally no prep required other than a thorough sweeping. These products can be more expensive than garage floor coatings, but they are easy to install by yourself and just as easy to take up should you decide to move to a new home!

Both Garage floor tiles and mats typically offer three patterns: diamond plate, coin or a smooth traction finish. Also, tiles are available as solid or self-draining, which can be handy if you expect your garage floor to be frequently wet.

Coverings are garage floor options that are much tougher than coatings. They also tend to be more expensive. It’s easy to install coverings by yourself, and there are a lot of options available:

Snap Together Garage Floor Tile

These come in a wide variety of patterns and colors and can add character to your garage. They are able to stand up to heavy loads and are made from heavy-duty plastic. They are easy to wipe clean, and resistant to chemicals. To install, you just need to line up the tiles and snap them together!  One thing we really like about using garage floor tiles is that you can mix different tile colors to create attractive patterns.

Money Pit Garage Makeover

Recently, we did a complete garage floor makeover of our own Money Pit shop using LockTile, an impressive product that delivered beautiful and durable results.  Check out the time-lapse video of the project here.

Garage Floor Mats

Garage floor roll-out mats are a great option that can be installed in a matter of minutes.  Mats can cover the entire garage floor surface or some prefer to have a mat that only covers the area under a vehicle.  Like tiles, mats are easy to clean.  Although garage floor mats are durable, they can still be damaged by sharp objects and hot temperatures. They can be slippery when wet, though, so if you live in a wet or snowy climate these might not be the best options.


Garages are a unique environment for a floor.  While they are outside our main living areas, we still do plenty of living in them!  Whether you use your garage for crafts, carpentry or are one of the few of us who actually use it for a car, any of these best garage floor options can make that space far more useful and easier to maintain!

After your floor is complete, you can finish the job with garage shelving units, a workbench, and light fixtures. Whichever one of these best garage floor options you choose, you’ll have a more innovative garage in no time.

Affiliate Message: The Money Pit is a reader-supported site. We may earn a commission from the links in this article, which goes a long way in helping us create useful home improvement content for our readers. Rest assured we independently select each of the products in our guide.

Information provided by Money Pit

Leave a Reply