Garage Workshop Update

new_door
After the garage door install, I moved all the stuff to one side of the garage and started working on the floor.

Early last month I blogged about Tommy Mac and his new shop (read about it here). I’m still following along, are you? But I also said what Tommy was up to has inspired me to do something with my would-be garage shop. Well, I have not been idle. I spent a little time getting a new, insulated garage door installed that has windows to add to all the un-natural light I stuck on the ceiling. I had also previously brought an electrical sub-panel into the garage so, between the electrical, lighting and the new garage door, all that’s left for a comfortable workplace is some climate control and to do something with the concrete floor.

Smooth_tiles
The smooth, portable dance floor tiles make it easy to roll machines around the shop.

 

Having spent a good portion of my time in shops walking on concrete floors, I want something else. Over the course of the last five or six weeks I’ve spent a good bit of time running through the gamut of flooring choices. Because it’s a garage, putting down sleepers, foam insulation and flooring didn’t seem like an option I wanted to consider. I have an old sailboat that I’d like to work on and having a floor that’s 3″ or 4″ above the driveway might make it difficult to get the trailer on which the boat resides in and out of the garage. So, sleepers are out.

The next consideration was an epoxy coating, which would make moving vehicles (including my boat) in and out of the garage easy, but wouldn’t provide any relief from standing on concrete. Then there was the price of having epoxy professionally done.

I did look into doing it myself, but the thought of clearing everything out of the garage and spending a day or two in there grinding the surface of the floor nixed the whole plan. I also definitely want something with some cushion – enter the world of garage floor tiles.

Tiles_hook_loop
Tiles that snap together (and come apart should the need arise) with ease. They’re almost like a hook-and-loop design.

I got samples of a bunch of different tiles from a bunch of different manufacturers. They all seemed like hard, cheap plastic that sounded hollow when you walked on them and didn’t feel like they would hold up to my Powermatic 66 sitting atop. I looked at solid vinyl tiles, but that price thing kicked in again. It was nearly as much to purchase the tiles as it was to have a professional do the epoxy. Most of the garage tiles I found had either a diamond or coin texture to them. When I tried rolling my bandsaw across the tiles, it caught on every bit of that texture.

I finally settled on something a bit out of the ordinary.  Eventually I found a place that sells portable dance floors. You know, the kind that Uncle Harry spills his drink on at every family wedding – ever. I figured the dance floor tiles had to be able to withstand lots of heavy weight, concentrated into a small area as well as shifting loads and serious abrasions (think Uncle Harry’s wife in high-heels at every one of those weddings). And to help the cushion and provide a bit of a moisture barrier between the concrete and my feet, I decided on a 2.0 millimeter rubber underlayment.

Tiles_down
Roll out the 2.5 mm rubber underlayment and drop the tiles into place. Walk on the seems to press the loops and pegs into place to affix the tiles – the floor floats.

Last weekend, I spent the better part of my waking hours moving everything to one side of the garage, rolling out underlayment on the “open” half, and setting tiles into place. So far, I’m liking it. I’ll move the rest of the stuff onto the half of the garage with the new floor and lay down the rest over the next few days.

The tiles themselves are easy to install. They have male and female sides (loops and pegs) that fit together fairly easily. Drop them in place and step on the seems and all is right with the world. Once all the tile work is done, I have a little electrical work to do and then it’s on to tool storage and a clamp rack. Now, what should I do about that climate control?

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Garage Workshop Update

  1. If all you want is heat, consider a ventless natural gas heater. I have one in my basement and it works quite well. It’s a little undersized but my basement is larger than your garage. If you want cooling as well, go with a Mr. Slim from Mitsubishi, which is a heat pump with cooling and heating. They are used throughout Japan and really do the job. But they can be a little pricey.

    1. I put a ventless gas heater in my garage (after having insulated it pretty well). I was disappointed with the amount of moisture it put out.

      1. I had looked at ventless heaters for the machine room at Acanthus Workshop. Eventually, I put in a vented gas heater specifically because of the moisture problem.

      2. Interesting. I have never had a moisture problem with my heater, but then again my basement is actually rather dry, especially during the winter. (Syracuse, NY has cold, dry winters so we need humidifiers.) I also had drainage pipes placed around the periphery of the house several years ago so no more water leaking in through the foundation. No mold nor mildew; minimal problems with rust. But it can get down to the low 50s in the basement without the heater. And we have an energy efficient boiler for the central heating but there are no radiators in the basement and there are the proverbial concrete floors with lots of rubber mats.

  2. Man, that is really coming along great Chuck.
    I’m kind of surprised at how much you have accomplished with all the other suff you have going on too.
    That is going to be a great shop.
    I wish my garage door had windows; and that nice floor have me envious too.
    Looking forward to see how you handle the climate control thing.

    Eric

  3. I too work in a single car garage and face similar challenges. I ran a hot water zone through a high mounted hydronic heater that gets a boost from a rear mounded fan. It heats great, even in RI winters….but its LOUD! Just saw a 12,000 BTU DIY split system for under $700. I think it would be a great solution for heat/cool. Please keep us posted on the progression of your shop….Regards, Mark B.

    1. Mark,

      It’s hard to tell from my iPhone photos, but there’s a stack of plywood standing on end at the right side of the garage door – it’s a 17′ door. The garage is a tight 2-car at just about 22′ square. Considerably smaller than my first shop (2500 sq. ft. w/1100 sq. ft. of office and showroom), but then I’ve also got the 360 shop at right around 3000 sq. ft. to play in as well.

  4. Chuck,
    I have a similar problem with my basement shop. Old legs and a concrete floor. Can you give us any particulars (manufactures, etc.) on the flooring?

    Thanks,
    Jim

    1. Jim,

      Ultimately, I decided on a product from Snaplock Industries called “Base Floor” that I purchased from bigfloors.com. A few of the others that were in contention would have come from rubberflooringinc.com and they were the Nitro Tiles, Octane Tiles and their 6.5mm Smooth Flex Tiles. The reasons I went with the Base Floor tiles are the cost and they had some flex to them. The smooth surface allows all my machines to roll around easily and the flexibility provides more cushion than the hard plastic tiles.

      I also decided to put down a rubber underlayment, which I got from rubberflooringinc.com. They had the best price and the best product given I wanted something that provided both a moisture barrier as well as additional cushion.

      All the choices I made took into consideration both my goal of having a smooth floor that provides relief from standing directly on concrete and my budget. When I first looked at converting the garage, I prepared a budget and have approached every aspect of the project, so far, adhering strictly to that budget, whether it was bringing in the 100 amp electrical sub-panel, the cost of the lighting or the floor. I’ve even got a budget for heating and cooling, even though the garage currently has an electric forced hot-air furnace and a window air conditioner. Because there’s limited space in the garage, I want to replace the furnace to give me more room.

      1. Can you still park a car on it, eg with a hot catalytic converter?

        1. I’m betting not, but the specs on the dance floor tiles are fairly nonexistent. The other tiles I looked at were “Garage Tiles” and were designed to handle hot tires, etc. I wanted a smooth surface, but wasn’t willing to pay a lot more for garage tiles because I don’t plan to park a car in the garage. If that’s a concern, I’d talk to the folks at Big Floors. They probably know about the tiles’ heat resistance.

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