Shop Flooring Suggestions?

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Forum topic by SWM posted 03-17-2011 03:34 PM 16115 views 3 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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94 posts in 3205 days

03-17-2011 03:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shop floor

And so the shop renovation project continues…..

I was hoping to draw from the collective experience of my fellow lumberjocks on this one. I just can’t seem to find a suitable floor material, at least one that I want to shell out $$$ for.

My basement workshop is 13’x37’ long on a mostly below grade concrete slab, with walkout doors in the back. I’ll have painted T&G flooring on walls and red corrogated roofing on the 9’, sometimes 8’ ceilings. The concrete is pretty rough, ie not finished smooth, and does have some minor leveling issues.

I would like a new floor to accomplish two things. One, provide a smoother surface that cleans up easy and doesn’t trap so much dust! Two, extra cushion would be nice. I have lots of rubber floor mats at different work stations, but very rarely find myself using them.

The options:

Rubber garage floor tiles. This is the quick and easy solution. Although not the cheapest (I found these on ebay for $2.50/sq.ft) I was willing to pay it if they met my two criteria. I requested and received a sample in the mail yesterday (always a good idea before you spend $1200). They appear sturdy enough for my 600 lb planer at first test. However, they have leather like background that that seems very hard to sweep.

Vinyl floor: Would be great if it come in 13’ widths. Only comes in 12’. Would require lots of horizontal seems across floor to minimize waste. I’ve also noticed that my 600 lb planer leaves a noticeable indention in the vinyl floor adjacent to my workshop. It’s cheap, but I’m not sure it’s durable enough for a wood shop? It should be relatively inexpensive, but doesn’t provide much cushion.

Commercial glue down tile. I may be leaning towards this option since my disappointment in the rubber floor tiles. I would need to level the floor in order to use these tiles. However, once leveled, durability should be really good. These are pretty inexpensive, but the hassle of cleaning and leveling the floor can’t go unnoticed.

PLYWOOD! I could lay down 2×4 sleepers horizontal on 16” centers and cover with 3/4 T&G flooring for less than $1/sq ft. I would probably then paint with a porch and floor utility paint. This option probably meets both of my criteria, but I’m a little unsure how a future prospective house buyer would look at this type of floor. I”m sure a non-lumberjock may really be confused, but who cares???? I’d also have to to trim the doors about 1”. Not the easiest thing to do on fiberglass!

Hardwood/bamboo flooring: I really like this option, but naturally it’s the most expensive. I’d have a hard time justifying spending $3-4/ sq. ft for a workshop with OSB walls.


I would love to hear some ideas of what worked for you in your shop!

Thanks for the input

-- Working on a retirement hobby, only 30 more years to practice!

37 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2998 days

#1 posted 03-17-2011 05:09 PM

Thoughtful post, SWM.

I like your analysis of each option and adding numbers to really quantify the choices. It might be helpful to extend those numbers to total cost of materials instead of per sq. ft. It makes it more “real world.”

I know someone will ask, “What are you going to do in the shop?” so let it be me.

If you’re going to be making lots of sawdust, my counsel is to steer away from slickness. Porch and floor enamels, for instance, are usually pretty high gloss, low friction finishes. Not good when there’s even a skiff of sawdust down there.

There’s another option about which I know nothing. I’ll mention it and then we’ll get the benefit of some Learned Ones here: What about pouring floor-leveling concrete and then rolling an epoxy finish over that?
If it’s a viable option costwise, it could be an attractive and safe solution.

Finally, regarding your sensitivity to resale value and potential buyers’ impressions, I’d say a phone call to a couple of local realtors could provide good input.

Of your list, I’m leaning toward the sleepers and t&g ply for a practical solution. Consider ripping 2×6 PT in half for the sleepers. You’ll spend hours with shims and levels and tubes of construction adhesive but you’ll be rewarded.

My apologies for the rambling. The first mocha du jour has not been fully assimilated.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View ClayandNancy's profile


520 posts in 3163 days

#2 posted 03-17-2011 05:31 PM

Any type of vinyl, bamboo, and the glue down tile is going to require some type of floor leveling. Even the sleepers and plywood might need something. If you don’t mind leveling then the commercial tile would probably be the best. (Shouldn’t effect resale of the home). As far as plywood, easy on the feet, are you okay with sacrificing a few inches in ceiling height?

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3127 days

#3 posted 03-17-2011 05:36 PM

I would vote for the ply also, anything to get up off the cement, it certainly would be more user friendly. It seems like if you were to sell, it could be easily removed.

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View DIYaholic's profile


19657 posts in 2823 days

#4 posted 03-17-2011 06:43 PM

My suggestion would be to (1) pour self leveling concrete (makes step 2 much faster and easier), (2) then lay PT sleepers, (3) install a ply floor followed by (4) a coat of epoxy and then finally (5) crack open a cold adult beverage (if you haven’t already) for a job well done. Not speaking from experience, just my $0.02.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View SWM's profile


94 posts in 3205 days

#5 posted 03-17-2011 07:30 PM

Thanks for the post guys. I’ll try to address some of the questions:
I hope there to be lots of sawdust, but I hope to be able to vacuum/sweep easily also. The current concrete floor looks like it was brushed with a stiff broom. So it’s extremely hard to sweep effectively.

I forgot to mention the epoxy/paint combo. It’s pretty economical. My concern here is that every manufacturer states that the floor must be etched and cleaned with water hose or pressure washer. I simply don’t have anywhere for that amount of water to go in this basement. Otherwise, I think I would just epoxy the current floor and be done with it!

Also just to clarify, we are talking about minor low/high points in the floor, nothing that would make a tablesaw sea sick!

Keep those suggestions coming!

ClayandNancy: Half of the shop has 9’ ceilings, the back portion has 8’. I could lose 3-4 inches, but don’t we always need more? If height wasn’t an issue, I would probably build up the floor with 2×8’s so I could run dust collection. Alas, that will have to wait for the dream shop in the woods.

-- Working on a retirement hobby, only 30 more years to practice!

View grizzly1975's profile


6 posts in 2774 days

#6 posted 03-19-2011 04:10 AM

This summer i am going to try using a two part epoxy for my shop floor. comes with flakes to add for texture and i would imagine for looks too.Takes about 2 hours and dries in 24 hours.hope it works

View Edziu's profile


151 posts in 3198 days

#7 posted 03-19-2011 04:35 AM

I can add a review for a commercial vinyl tile floor. We picked it as the most economical choice- given the alternatives. It’s been installed for almost a year now and I am very pleased with it. Once it was put down, it required a curing time, and then a stripping of it’s factory finish. After that, we used a floor sealer/finish and put down the manufacturers required 4 coats. It’s been looking good ever since.

Downside: When we’re doing normal woodworking, cutting, planing, resawing, drilling- it’s fine if you get some chips on the floor. No problem. But when you are doing sanding and you get a fine layer of dust on the floor, WATCH OUT- it gets slick. We talked with the folks over at the janitorial supply house about a different floor coating, and they said there was nothing else. The dust will coat the floor and act like a million little ball bearings underfoot. They told us that we just have to be diligent about sweeping up. And thats about it.

View SWM's profile


94 posts in 3205 days

#8 posted 03-19-2011 04:53 AM

OK, now I’m really confused. I have plain old rough concrete floor now. I’ve always thought that it was a real pain to clean because of its rough texture. I have really been making a push to work on making the shop a clean/safe place to work. My initial thought was that a slicker surface would cleanup easier. I didn’t really consider the whole slipping issue.

I would love to just call this one in favor of the floor epoxy. However, I don’t think there is anyway that I could do much more than vacuum the concrete with my 2hp dust collector. A water hose and/or pressure washer would be a bad idea because I have no where for the water to go. Absolutely now where to drain but the carpet in the next room.

I wonder if mopping the concrete and pushing the leftover dirt around a bit would work?

-- Working on a retirement hobby, only 30 more years to practice!

View Manitario's profile (online now)


2631 posts in 3031 days

#9 posted 03-19-2011 04:53 AM

I have a wood floor for my garage and whereas it is not as durable as concrete, I love how warm it is and easy to stand on for long times without the leg pain associated with concrete.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Resurrected's profile


671 posts in 2840 days

#10 posted 03-19-2011 05:04 AM

I’m going to have this problem too. i want a new floor that does not hold a lot of dust but as some have said that floor will be slick. Looking for more options.

-- Who can I block now???????????????????????

View widdle's profile


2069 posts in 3146 days

#11 posted 03-19-2011 05:46 AM

Im just about to do the same thing to a 2 car garage..would like to use that self leveling crete and than sheet with 3/4”. but have heard bad things on the leveling compounds..any body have experience with that stuff ? Need to go
0” to 1 1/2 ” in 20 ’..And than shoot down ply, worried the small amount of concrete will shatter ? Anyone have a good product ?

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2787 days

#12 posted 03-19-2011 08:06 AM

I am days away from acid etching my 3-car garage (one bay that is the wood shop). Since I have a project car in Bay 1 and the potential for a vehicle from time to time in Bay2, I cannot do what I will advise you to do. I am going to acid etch, high adhesion prime, then a coat or two of one-part water-based acrylic epoxy from Behr. The acrylic water-based are very durable, but if they ever do need a touch-up, it’s a pretty straight-forward affair. No chips, thankyouverymuch. Mine will be fine.

IF your basement workshop is not also a lower level garage (meaning no cars or trucks will ever be on the surface), then my suggestion (taking all things into account… durability, non-slip, cost, re-sale, not wanting to re-surface, wanting a bit of cushion to the floor, durable) is to install a snap-lock laminate yourself over the good pad that is available. Make certain it is one of the new “hand scraped” ones. It will not be at S*m’s Club for 99 cents, but you can find it for around $2 per sf. Labor costs nil… pad .25 to .35 per sf. We have it at our place of business (a Home Center store… small box if you will) where I recently took a 16D nail and bearing down as hard as I could was unable to scratch this scraped-textured stuff AT ALL. Also, even though it is snap lock… use the glue in the grooves anyway for better moisture barrier on the top seams. By the way, most snap lock laminates’ warranty for commercial application requires that the glue be used for the warranty to be good. I would do this if I could.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View ScottN's profile


261 posts in 2827 days

#13 posted 03-19-2011 02:35 PM

I know what your going through…my floor is the same way. Sure it would be nice to just roll on some paint, but then I would have a painted rough floor. I’ve looked into all types of different ways I could put a decent floor in without moving everything out of my shop or pressure washing. As of right now ceramic tile seems to be the best choice for me right now. I see 12”x12” floor tile on sale for 99cents a tile. I haven’t done anything yet but its one of my future projects and so far… ceramic tile is at the top of the list.

-- New Auburn,WI

View NewfieDan's profile


50 posts in 2796 days

#14 posted 03-19-2011 03:21 PM

Check out your local reno store (HD, Lowes) they may have something other than what you listed. Up here in cacnada we can get tongue and groove tiles made out of OSB with insulation laminated to the underside. They are about 2ft square so you will need quite a few to do your whole shop.

This will give you the cushioning you want, the tongue and groove makes for a flat surface since it all locks together. the insulation will also help to make your house more energy efficient, always a good resale feature. Below is a link to what I am talking about. just copy into your web browser.

View Les 's profile


201 posts in 2838 days

#15 posted 03-21-2011 01:23 PM

I built a new shop a couple of years ago and used a commercial 2 part epoxy to coat the floor. Clean your floor good and acid etch it. Get someone to help you and apply the epoxy, add the colored specs that come in the kits, allow to dry the recommended time. Roll a clear coat over top of it and you will love it. It is great to clean, nothing sticks to it, and the little points from the specs create a non slip surface.

It doesn’t solve the standing on concrete problem, but I use rubber pads wherever I stand a lot.

It works great and I think you will like it.

-- Stay busy....Stay young

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