garage floors, ceilings and lights?

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Forum topic by eddy posted 03-07-2013 05:08 PM 1829 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View eddy's profile


939 posts in 3387 days

03-07-2013 05:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

i just bought a 4 car garage and there was a house attached to it. i win
anyway i need to set up shop in a hurry need to run power both 110 and 240
need to paint the walls seal the concret floor and install a lot of lights
i am uing t8 fixtures now with the 1 1/2 bulbs. i see they have 1 inch bulbs has
anyone use these are they brighter? i am going to have to use underground aluminum cable
to get to the side wall of the garage for the main feed to the sub panel unless some one has a better idea (main is on the side of the house and the front patio and enter door is between it and the side of he garage) i am thinking gloss white for the walls and the ceilings. will run all my wiring thru emt 5 strands of 12 guage 2 hots for the 240 1 hot for the 110 and ground and comon i am open to any ideas what floor coating have you used that worked what did not.

-- self proclaimed copycat

18 replies so far

View DeputyDawg's profile


196 posts in 3988 days

#1 posted 03-07-2013 06:01 PM

Eddy; Good to hear from you.
What I did on my shop in Misery was to run an extra 110 wire and I ran all of the plugs around the shop in conduit and had everyone of the wall outlets on two circuits. So that way every other outlet was on a different circuit allowing me to plug in more tools without popping a circuit breaker. Also I didn’t use aluminum wiring and ran the main electric from the house through underground conduit to a junction box on the inside of the shop then ran all the wiring from that box to the lights, and tools

-- DeputyDawg

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2994 days

#2 posted 03-07-2013 06:20 PM

T8 fixtures use T8 bulbs. T8 bulbs are 1” diameter.
What ever the number is that follows the T is how many eights the bulb is in diameter.

A T12 bulb is 12×1/8 = 1 1/2” diameter.
A T8 bulb is 8×1/8 = 1” diameter.
A T5 bulb is 5×1/8 = 5/8” diameter.

The T8s put out about the same light as a T12, but at lower watts.

Almost half the light from a fluorescent tube is radiating up instead of down so it must have a reflector above it to redirect this light. The bigger the tube the more light is wasted because it reflect back into the tube itself.
This is why the industry is going to ever smaller tubes. The T5 HO tubes produce twice the lumens of usable light at work level with 54 watts, compared to a T12 40 watt tube. Also the T5 tubes are available in a wide range of color temperatures. They can actually come very close to true sunlight. In fact, they should not be used on ceilings lower than 10’ according to some literature I have seen.

Alas, the T5 lights cost much more than T12s or T8s and they are not as universally available. You might not find replacement bulbs in the grocery store, for instance.

T12s are becoming obsolete and will be harder to find as they are phased out over the next few years.

The very best light out there for energy efficiency and color and durability are the LEDs, but a typical 160 watt equivalent LED will last for 20 years but will set you back about $300 so I’m not going there just yet.

There are some guvmint programs where our brilliant, progressive, socialist nannys will pay you to install the LEDs but the red tape is such that mostly only large contracting firms can afford the accounting necessary to go this route. And, I don’t like the general idea that I should expect any one else to pay for my lights; that’s all a subsidy is, after all.

Finally, right now the T8 is probably the best, least expensive, and most bang for the buck choice.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3983 days

#3 posted 03-07-2013 06:30 PM

Painting concrete can be a prob. I’d get some info from a real pro before I’d attempt.
I put CVT (grocery store tile) on my shop floor. Much easier to maintain, and won’t flake off. Not expensive either.


View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2133 days

#4 posted 03-07-2013 06:56 PM

Sounds like you are on the right track and a four car garage is spacious.

I second the suggestion on the T5 bulbs unless you can get LED lighting which is costly.

I would suggest paneling your walls with plywood and then painting them white. With plywood you can drive a screw(s) anywhere to hang what you want. Drywall won’t hold much unless you get the screw into a stud.

Do you plan on having any 220V equipment that might draw more than 20 amps? Or even right at 20A? If so, think about 10 gauge wire which can support up to 30 amps.

If the garage is dedicated to woodwork consider laying pressure treated 2×4s down and then put tongue and groove plywood on top. The new addition to my shop was done this way and when I stand on it the feet will hurt a lot less than when I stand on the old concrete floor.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View frosty50's profile


46 posts in 2370 days

#5 posted 03-07-2013 08:25 PM

Painting concrete can be a real problem. In the county I work for we have used a couple of different exopy floor coatings purchased from the local big box stores and they have taken the abuse well. use it in the jail for the kitchen and hallways. Many offer a speckling agent. The main issue is proper prep of the floor, removing any oil or dirt before applying the coating. It goes down using a paint roller, fairly fast and easy.

As for the electrical, check out the requirements from your local building department. I would recommend dedicated circuits for any machinery/tools that draw 15 amps or more, and allow for expansion. 220V for lathes, TS, Jointers, DC, etc. I’d also have a subpanel in the shop.

Lighting-go with the T-8 fixtures as they are becoming the norm and T-12 are going away as an energy conservation measure. Have several different lighting circuits, you may not need to light the whole shop at one time. Put switching at several locations using 2 or 3 way switches.

Good luck, wissh I had that much space.

-- frosty

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2707 days

#6 posted 03-07-2013 09:20 PM

Why painting the floor?

If you think you have T8 fixtures but are running 1 1/2” tubes, there was a brief window where that fixture was for sale (accepted both T8/T12 bulbs). Bright white on the ceiling and walls you will not regret (even the better 4’ shop light fixtures all use a bright white reflector).

You need a “sparky” to opine on aluminum wiring. At one point it was considered a fire hazard but I think that was when the meter to main was copper and the connections were designed for copper wire. My guess is that any panel installed in the last 10-15 years or so should be ok (I built a house a few years ago and alum feeds both the house panel and the shop panel). EMT is a suitable ground on its own if properly installed (you don’t need a dedicated ground wire inside although you’ll need to ground any outlets/switches with a pigtail). I think you might want 2 120v circuits.

Another question for a “sparky”...can he share the “neutral” between multiple circuits? Or does he need one for each circuit?

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2994 days

#7 posted 03-07-2013 09:58 PM

Aluminum is frequently used industrially, usually for circuits over 400 amps.
Most new panel boards and breakers and devices are designed for both aluminum and copper, but it is hardly ever used in residential applications to my knowledge.

One problem with aluminum is it oxidizes and the oxide coating is non conductive. You have to clean the wire and coat it with a special anti-ox compound; looks like metalic grease. If this is not done, the connections will heat up.

This brings us to another problem with aluminum. When it gets hot it gets soft and expands. Then when it cools off, it does not remain tight. Imagine a wire under a screw connection. It gets hot and the wire extrudes out and then when it cools it shrinks leaving a gap between the screw and wire. Next time it is loaded it gets hotter because it is now a loose connection. This cycle continues till the wire melts. I know all this because my first house was wired with this crap and I almost had it burn down around me. I would not use this material in my house for anything.

They get by with it in industrial applications by over sizing it and using spring loaded connections and lots of de-ox joint grease.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2657 posts in 2945 days

#8 posted 03-07-2013 10:49 PM

I would not paint a concrete floor, nor any other. Seal it yes. I covered mine with plywood. I suggest that wherever you plan to put a duplex outlet in your shop use a four-plex instead.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2698 days

#9 posted 03-08-2013 02:53 AM

Aluminum can only be used for service cable. It should be sized one size larger than copper for the same amp rating. Never use aluminum going to receptacles; only into a service panel.

View Dakkar's profile


324 posts in 1950 days

#10 posted 03-08-2013 03:20 AM

If it were me I wouldn’t use gloss white for the walls and the ceilings. Gloss just creates glare that can be pretty annoying when doing work in one spot for a long time. Flatter shades diffuse/distribute light.

View Scott57's profile


2 posts in 1929 days

#11 posted 03-08-2013 03:59 AM

Eddie, Just a thought, not knowing you ZIP code or exactly what equipment you are going to be running, I can’t advise clearly on wiring… However having said that, If there is any way you could run a 60A sub-panel into the new shop you will find life much better as you wire and change things later, not to mention resetting a breaker. Leave you self breaker space for a the future.

View Bieser's profile


176 posts in 2057 days

#12 posted 03-08-2013 01:54 PM

Eddy, Are you still going to be using all the space as a garage? You can click on my profile to see my current woodshop garage build. I have 16 T8 bulbs on in the pictures to give you an idea of brightness. I walled mine off, I like the idea of having large open space but know all my woodworking stuff will get piled with junk and wanted to be able to shut the door and have dedicated space. I was going to paint/epoxy my floor originally but instead took a try at the rubbery flooring Home Depot had on sale that looks like wood. I have had it in for several months dropped boards on it drug tools across it and got it wet from snow, It seems to hold up well but Im still careful with it. The floor is much easier to stand on than concrete.

As far as electrical I ran 100 amp panel and put most of my outlets on that. My lights were ran off the main panel along with a few plugins. Reason is so I can shut my main panel off, and not have my little ones be able to turn any tools on. But I have a few dedicated plugs for my battery chargers, and can still turn my lights on and off.

Good luck with yours I just say take your time, I have had the urge to rush through mine so I can get back to making projects again.

View eddy's profile


939 posts in 3387 days

#13 posted 03-08-2013 03:08 PM

lots of good info here thanks all of you guys
scott zip is 85142 as for equipment see my shop pics on my profile i am in a 60 amp garage now and it works
i will be running a sub panel the aluminum wiring is for running from the main panel at the side of the house to a sub panel in the garage will be running 3-20 amp 120 and 1 240 amp
will be running the lights off the present 110 circut there is lots of power in the ceiling aleady (3 garage door openers and 3 4 foot lights)
i want to paint/seal the floor for cleaning my shop in cali. was painted with epoxy was so much easer to keep clean
again my biggest issue is time i make a good amount of money out of my shop so down time costs me a lot
i allready have customers wanting to know when i will be back up and going

-- self proclaimed copycat

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2707 days

#14 posted 03-08-2013 11:47 PM

Grandpa…”service cable” apparently includes feeds to sub-panels since I got sign-off on them (100a breakers from the north side of the new house to feed sub-panels on the south end of the house and also the shop panel 150’ away).

Dakkar…my eyes are getting old and I wish there was a brighter white than my high-gloss white. My guess is that it’s a function of ceiling height and number/placement of fixtures. I have 10’ steel ceilings and walls and never notice any glare at all.

eddy…I think I’d seal the floor with a clear-coat…we didn’t get an answer on sharing the neutral wire (what you called “common” I think)...somehow I recall that being a bad idea and that every 120v “load” wire needed it’s own. So if you use 3/4” EMT and use the EMT as the ground, 2 blacks and 2 whites for 2 120v circuits, 1 black 1 red for a 240v circuit (maybe 1 white there?) would put you at 6 (7?) 12ga wires in the tube. 6 is max I think but I’m not a sparky. Whatever you do with EMT, make sure you ream it on any cut (1/4” drill bit in your cordless drill on slow speed to remove the burr worked for me). And then if you use metal boxes (required if you are using the EMT as a ground), get the multipacks of grounding pigtails to ground the boxes (you’ll see the “pimple” connection point on the inside of the box).

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2707 days

#15 posted 03-09-2013 01:13 AM

forgot to add…EMT/metal boxes…be sure to wrap the terminals/switches with elect tape (3 times around) before you mount them.

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