The home garage is a staple in the do-it-yourself mechanics' arsenal. Without it, you're pretty much stuck bumming workspace from friends, neighbors, and the overly nice mechanic. For those of us fortunate enough to have our own garage and accompanying work tools, it helps projects come together. In my case, it has aided me in creating a lot of the tech articles you see in this magazine. As much as I love the office workshop and access to hoists and every tool imaginable, there's something real and authentic about working out of a home garage—not to mention it's more relatable to most of you.
As most homeowners can attest, maintaining a house is pretty similar to maintaining a car. There are problems that arise, age takes its toll, and repairs are needed. With my 15-year-old garage seeing constant use, its floor is by no means new. No thanks to me, it resembles a minefield with oil, grease, and rubber stains more than it does a cement floor. No matter how much scrubbing and cleaning I put in, the floor is too far gone to look any good. It's time for an upgrade.
Better Life Technology (BLT) is a producer and supplier of vinyl floor covering that uses only high-quality, commercial-grade materials. Other manufacturers try to get away with a layered vinyl tile where only the top layer is made of high-quality material. The result is a tile that won't last very long. On the other hand, BLT's RaceDay tiles are made of one solid vinyl piece that provides a durable, long-lasting tile. They also come in a variety of colors and finishes to suit your personal tastes.
What makes the G-Floor RaceDay tile so appealing is that it's a peel-and-stick application, so it can be butted up side by side to create a seamless look and finish that won't move or slide. Most importantly, though, these tiles are resistant to oil, antifreeze, battery acid, salt, and alkali. That means permanent oil stains will be a thing of the past. With RaceDay tiles, it's a quick and easy clean-up job that leaves nothing behind. The other added benefits are it won't chip or crack like epoxy-based coatings, and the tiles insulate, cushion, and reduce noise.
If you're looking for even more protection, BLT makes a Top Coat Stain Blocker, which is a urethane-based topcoat specifically designed to be used on RaceDay tiles. It gives the entire floor a wet-look finish while sealing and adding another layer of protection.
As easy as applying the floor is, this job is a time-consuming one due to the fact that you have to empty your garage—and I'm sure most of you have amassed quite a bit of tools and parts (and junk) over the years. It took more time to move everything out than it did to lay down the tile. That job is as simple as peel and stick. However, make sure to mark a straight line for your first row of tiles; you don't want to have a crooked pattern or worse—have to trim small amounts off every tile to make them fit snug.
Within a few hours, we had the entire floor covered with BLT's RaceDay tiles. The difference in appearance is astonishing. The garage gained a ton of character and has an almost showroom-esque appearance to it. I actually quite like the matte finish to the tiles, but since this floor sees so much use, BLT's Top Coat Stain Blocker was applied directly on top of the tile for more durability. The tricky part here is adequate dry time. It's recommended that the topcoat dry for a minimum of five hours, so we left it overnight before applying the second layer. That meant all the tools and garage equipment had to sit outside for the evening. Not the safest thing to do but, thankfully nothing was stolen.
After applying a second coat and letting it dry, we moved in some of the lighter equipment and let the floor cure for another four days. BLT says the longer you can wait before putting pressure on the floor, the better—so we did just that. The end result is a floor that now looks a million times better than the concrete and performs just as advertised. Oil and antifreeze wipe right up.
Just like a car modification, this garage mod has restored my enthusiasm to work inside of it, and every time I close the garage door, I can't help but glance over my shoulder to see just how good it looks.
It seemed as good a time as any to add some more tools to the growing stockpile in the garage because, as we all know, one's tool collection is never complete. First up is something that's often overlooked but comes in handy more times than you'd expect. It's a parts washer. Dirty, greasy parts are not only hard to look at, but they can cause gumming up of moving mechanisms or just make an already miserable teardown job that much worse. Harbor Freight carries a very affordable Central Machinery 20-gallon Parts Washer with Pump that tidily tucks into the corner of a garage but circulates 5 1/4 gallons per minute to dissolve even the most grungiest of parts. A must-have for any lowered-car owner is a low-profile jack. There are low-profile jacks and then there are extra-low-profile jacks. Pittsburgh Automotive's is the go-to item for cars that have barely any ground clearance. Its minimum height of just a tad over 2 inches will keep you from driving up on stacked wood pieces just to get the car up in the air. The rapid pump lift system means less time pumping and more time wrenching.