Installing Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT) Garage Flooring

by Linden on October 4, 2007

It is time to leave the car outside and focus on a product for the garage. More specifically, we are going to take your drab and boring concrete floor and not only improve the looks, but make keeping it clean much easier. I don’t need to remind you that a tile floor will make you the envy of all the neighbors too…


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Recently, I put finishing touches on covering my garage floor with vinyl composition tile, or VCT. This commercial-grade flooring is very common and very durable. Most likely, your favorite grocery store, drug store or even indoor mall uses it. VCT is available in nearly every color and is sold as 12-inch-by-12-inch squares.

I used Armstrong Imperial Texture VCT for my garage floor. Since I wanted a black-and-white checked look, I used two alternating colors. I chose Armstrong #51910 (black) and #51911 (white) because they are not solid colors, but speckled with chips of the complimenting color. The 1/8–inch-thick tiles are resistant to most chemicals and oils. The colors are solid throughout, so you can sand down any stains, and then wax the tile back to perfection. Home Depot sells VCT for 59 cents a square foot.

Floor preparation is relatively simple. Sweep and vacuum up the dirt, gravel and cobwebs, then ensure the floor is smooth. I used a chisel to knock off debris (paint and concrete drips), and filled holes with a concrete mix (ready-made). The floor must be clean and even. You will be amazed that even the smallest bit of gravel will show through the tile after it has settled.

The tiles are glued directly to the concrete with an adhesive specifically designed for the job. Keeping it all in the family, I used Armstrong Glue S-750 ($13 per gallon). Each gallon covers about 10 feet by 20 feet, so I used three gallons on my three-car garage. For a more permanent application, tiles can be applied with epoxy to the concrete. This will prevent tile “creep” from wheel camber pressure when dropping cars off floor jacks.

The most difficult part (and most critical) is putting down the first tile. All tiles build off that one, so make sure it is completely straight. Houses in California are not built perfectly square, so don’t expect your garage to be either. I decided to snap a perpendicular line off the middle of the garage door. I used that as my “straight line” for reference and to place my first tile. Visually, it worked out perfectly.

The tile goes down very easily. Spread the glue in sections with a very shallow trowel (1/32 of an inch), and then let it dry to the touch. The color change of the dried glue is quite obvious, so it is easy to tell when it is ready for tile.

Place your first tile and then build off that one. The tiles are sized exactly the same, with perfectly square and straight sides. Push them together firmly (no gaps), then go to the next one. You can cut the tile with a utility knife, or a special tool (like a paper cutter), as you near corners or obstacles. Upon completion, roll the floor with a 100-pound-tile-roller (Home Depot/$15 day) to press out any air.

For the best protection against stains, I suggest waxing and polishing the tile to a shine (like grocery store floors). The floor will resist most chemicals and oils, but I still suggest wiping up spills. Unlike concrete, sweeping the tile floor with a “dust broom” takes mere minutes to complete.

My home has a three-car garage, with about 610 square feet of floor. I did the entire garage for about $450 (that figure includes tile, glue, equipment rental and tools). If you are interested in contracting the job out, I was quoted $1 a tile (labor) to have someone else install it. However, they would not allow me to supply the tile at that price (I would have to buy it from them for $1.24 each). Doing the math, it would have cost me about $1,400 to pay a contractor to have the floor finished in VCT tile.

Instead, I used my minimal contractor skills, an open weekend, and an investment in materials of less than $500. The result is a beautiful tile floor that garners continuous comments from nearly everyone who walks by.

 Ask questions and view more pictures of the VCT Tile Install here.

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ourmonkeys » Installing Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT) Garage Flooring
November 22, 2007 at 9:24 pm

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

john May 22, 2008 at 12:51 pm

Good luck with vinyl. I would be very interested to hear how it does after your garage floor gets wet, especially by snow melting off your car. I strongly suspect that you will see tiles lifting up.

Steve Dietrich January 19, 2009 at 12:43 am

A lot of vinyl restroom and kitchen floors get wet on a regular basis. I would suspect that it might be hot tires or moisture from below.

Russell August 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Nice!! please tell me where to get the aluminum trim molding. I suppose it’s ok to drive on it? I was wanting to do my garage in blk & wht checks, so I seache the web, and there was yours!

Jack August 21, 2009 at 9:33 pm

I would like to do this to my new garage floor. New house that is.
I have a concern though. My garage has v shaped joints in the concrete. They look pretty wide. About 3/4″ wide. I’m thinking I’ll need to fill these with something. I just don’t know what exactly? Any idea’s.

Jason September 16, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I went with epoxy on mine and I am very happy. Roll On Rock they call it. You can buy it here – garagecoatings.com

Steve H September 24, 2009 at 8:27 pm

At Gorgeous Garage of East Texas, we like SwissTrax for older garage floors. Epoxy works well if you have a new floor or if you spend the money to grind the concrete well so that you get a properly adhered finish. The vinyl tiles seem like an inexpensive DIY project if you glue them well though. I would like to hear how durable they are over time if anyone has an honest analysis.

virgi ltoomey September 30, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I can’t seem to locate a page which shows VCT tile pattern ideas. I remember several years ago seeing a brochure in the Flooring Dept. that presented
some ideas for VCT. I was told now, to go to the internet, but I am not
finding it. Please tell me the site address. I would like to look at some ideas
to finalize my floor design. Thanks for your help.
Virgil Toomey – Atlanta

jdreaves December 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Many thanks to Jason B. I purchased the Armstrong black and white tile and designed a checkerboard layout for my two car garage. I drew up graphs (could have used graph paper – but didn’t have any at the time) of several layouts and my wife and I picked the one we liked best. I was looking for the aluminum molding for the exposed edge at the garage door, and Jason answered and helped me to locate the same product he used. I purchsed two aluminum strips (1/8″ x 1″ x 96″) at Home Depot for $17.46 each. Temp is too low right now in Alabama to lay the tile, so i’ll have to bring in a propane heater and warm the garage for several hours before putting down the adhesive. Looking forward to getting the project finished. I have a big incentive to finish, as I just returned from Iraq and purchased a new gun safe. I had delivery delayed until I finish the floor so the delivery guys could wheel in the safe and put it down in my garage exactly where I want it, and I can bolt it to the floor. Zero VCT damage. Many thanks to Jason B and I hope my floor turns out as good as his. I love the look.

Jdreaves

mike October 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I was undecided until my neighbor coated his garage with an epoxy and polyaspartic coating. I went to the same place and bought a kit to do my floor (from http://www.deckcoatings.com/Virtuemart/Garage-Floor-Coating-Kits ). The best thing about it was that their epoxy wicked into the concrete so I did not have to acid etch it. They claim that it sticks better than normal epoxy and they gaurantee it for life. Anyways it was easy to install and the clear topcoat made it look amazing. My neighbor and I like it so much we have been talking about starting a business installing it.

John February 20, 2011 at 8:24 am

So how does the floor holf up, after rain and snow ?

Carl Holliday September 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Color Choices Remember Good Rule Of Thumb Darker Colors Show The Shine/Gloss Better Than the Lighter Colors…

Nooma October 23, 2011 at 12:54 am

Howdy Jason,
What do you think about the self adhesive VCT vs. non self adhesive?
I don’t know the price difference.
Also… I can’t find the black and white VCT at Home Depot or Lowe’s now. Bummer…
I just love the look!
We’re moving into my husband’s 1950’s home that he was born and raised in. It will look just great in a little single garage! Sure hope I can find the product locally!
How does the garage floor look now years later? What if you never wax it..will it look lousy down the road?
thanks so much for the wonderful photos too Jason!
Nooma

Matt Thomas November 30, 2011 at 12:40 am

I want to do this in my two car garage, just cant decide if I should make it 1′ x 1′ checks or 2′ x 2′ checks

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