How to Ensure Your New Concrete Garage Floor Will Last

If your garage floor is cracked, uneven, or otherwise unsightly, you may be thinking it is time to replace it. Sure, you could call a contractor to find out what you need, but call more than one and you’re likely to get differing opinions and even more differing estimates. 

So, what’s a homeowner to do when a new concrete garage floor slab is in order?

Do Your Homework

Not all contractors are created equal, which means you need to do your homework when looking for one to pour a garage floor for you. You need to ask questions and be able to identify when you may not be receiving a truthful answer. Quality concrete work should last for many years, so be sure you’re choosing a company/contractor with a reputation for success. 

The Concrete Slab itself

Floor Level

Building codes have changed significantly over the years. One code that still has a foothold in the minds of some contractors is the floor level of an attached garage. It used to be that a garage floor needed to be four inches lower than the floor of the home. These days, that isn’t the case, but some contractors still insist on it. Just know, especially if you’re pouring the floor yourself, that it doesn’t need to be lower than the level of your home’s foundation. 

Preparing the Ground Underneath

Good ground preparation is key to ensuring your concrete slab doesn’t crack. First, the topsoil should be removed, and gravel or stone should be added and compacted. This solid base forms the perfect foundation for a large concrete slab. 

Insist on a Vapor Barrier

Although not required, a vapor barrier keeps ground moisture from seeping through the concrete where it can damage anything sitting on top of it. If your contractor doesn’t use one, you should insist on it to ensure nothing in your garage is damaged by unwanted moisture. 

The Mix, Reinforcement, and Expansion Joints

Other important factors in ensuring your concrete garage floor is durable enough to last for many years are the mix, reinforcement, and expansion joints. The right mix – not too thin – makes for a strong slab. Reinforcements such as wire mesh or rebar are also added to further strengthen the slab. Lastly, expansion joints placed at the corners and around any protrusion help with expanding and contracting as temperatures fluctuate. 

Finishing Your Concrete Slab

Concrete slabs need to be smoothed and leveled immediately after pouring. Once this is complete, they need to be left alone to “cure.” Curing is a chemical process that takes place – concrete does not dry. During the curing process, the top layer of the concrete needs to stay moist, so a curing compound or plastic sheeting is often used to reduce evaporation. 

Now that you know a little more about concrete, you can use your knowledge to find a good contractor for the job. If you do the job yourself, be sure to educate yourself as much as you can to ensure you pour the best concrete garage floor slab possible.