One on One With Chris Poehlman

Garage Flooring
 By Gina Dostler

Garages these days have changed.  From times where residential garages actually housed cars, they now have become more than mere space for automobiles, tools and lawnmowers. Garages now sport flat screen televisions and comfy couches right along side the family car. Bicycles hanging from perfectly aligned racks and cabinets keeping stuff organized and out of sight have brought garages out of cluttered darkness and into a home’s living space.  Flooring is an important aspect to this change, creating the ideal space for keeping things neat, clean and enjoyable to live in. Chris Poehlman of Premier Garage is a local expert that transforms dreary garages into stylish modern spaces. It was great to speak with him and find out exactly what the process entails when recreating a concrete floor into a premier garage.

Q:  Why redo the garage flooring? 

A:  The biggest reason people put floor coatings in the garage is for comfort. It’s nice to be able to walk around barefoot without worrying about stepping in oil stains. If your laundry room is part of the garage, you have a clean floor to separate the clothes. But really if you think about it, adding the flooring increases the living space in the home. About 50% of our work is for brand new homes and the other 50% older homes.

Q:  So the quality lends itself to another livable space. 

A:  The whole feel of the garage changes. It’s only about $1,500 to install a floor coating for a two car garage which translates to big improvements for not a whole lot of money. Many people make their garage into a play area for their young kids. A customer of mine made the area into a hang out with a couch, table and flat screen for her two teenagers to play videos and watch television.

Q:  What are the different types of flooring? 

A:  There are quite a few different types. Most people know it as epoxy resin. Technically we use a different type resin than what’s available at home improvement stores. This type of epoxy is more of a commercial grade and is California compliant without any environmental issues. It has very low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) making it virtually an odorless resin that after application dissipates very quickly.

Q:  What about colors and designs?

 A:  Quite frankly the most popular design is the simulated granite look with mottled color tone. It’s typically called a flaked floor. Then there’s is tan or grey as a solid color. Commercial properties tend to prefer these colors for their floor, but many homeowners like it as well. I typically have 10 different stock colors, but we can match any color, it just make take a little longer to bring in the material.

Q:  How long and what is the process of installing the floor? 

A:  Of course it depends on the size and condition of the floor, but for the average home it takes only two days. The first day is prep work on the floor. We use a walk behind diamond grinder with a vacuum attached to contain the dust. This machinery profiles the concrete and cleans up the oil and all the contaminants that end up on the garage’s concrete. This is a very critical part of the process. The roughness in the floor allows the concrete to accept the product better.

Q:   Accept the product? 

A:  Well the grinder opens up the pores in the concrete which allows the epoxy to soak in and adhere much better to the floor. So after the prep is finished, we put down the epoxy. A base coat is applied first. For a flaked or “granite” flooring we then apply little paint chips and broadcast them into the base coat. All this takes one day and then needs to dry for 24 hours overnight. The next day a clear sealer coat is applied that gives the floor protection from any oils or chemicals or any thing that might stain it. The sealer also provides UV protection so it won’t fade if it is exposed to sunlight. It also gives a nice high gloss to the whole flooring. Things wash off super easily with a hose or mop up with hot water and soap.  

Q:  Why are some floors better than others? 

A:   It’s really a simple process – you ask yourself what color, what’s the warranty, and how much. But there are certain differences in product that makes a difference in quality and longevity. You do want an epoxy that is solvent based, and here’s the key, you don’t want one that is water based. It doesn’t last and doesn’t look nearly as nice as the more professional products.

Q:  So you need to have the right kind of epoxy. 

A:  Yes. Also who is applying the epoxy is important too. Make sure whoever is putting in the garage flooring is correctly licensed and insured. Do-it-yourself kits are really not the way to go. First, most people don’t have a $3,000 grinding machine to prep the floor. And then if the job is botched it is a nightmare to fix. A lot of painters think they can do it, but it’s best to get a garage flooring expert that’s been doing it for a while. Practice definitely makes perfect. After professionally doing this for over eight years – we have done about 3200 garage floors – we’ve gotten pretty darn good at it.

Q:  Warranty? 

A:  It should last 15 years for typical wear and tear. Bottom line is it shouldn’t lift or peel and this is what happens if it’s not prepped correctly. Also, some homes have water under the house causing hydrostatic pressure so we can’t do it due to moisture issues in the home. A telltale sign is a white powder or effervescent on the concrete that indicates there might be a water issue.  We can test for water issues and advise the customer if we think it is not a good idea to put a floor coating down.

Q:  Are you just flooring specialists? 

A: Besides our years experience in flooring we install garage storage cabinets, drywall, electronics such as TVs and storage solutions for sporting items. Our business consists of half flooring installation and the other half installations to organize items such as clothes, and holiday decorations. We offer free onsite design. The garage is a great space to use and once the clutter is removed to its proper place there are plenty other options to make it your unique room.

Chris Poehlman, Owner Premier Garage of Orange County
949-297-3951 :