Road Test & Beyond: Dream Garage
17.10.2009: Transform a Dingy Garage into Dual-Purpose Space - For a Car and a Portrait Studio
Recently my wife and I faced the daunting task of finding a more appropriate space to call home for our portrait photography business. Needing to keep overhead
Transform a Dingy Garage into Dual-Purpose Space - For a Car and a Portrait Studio
Recently my wife and I faced the daunting task of finding a more appropriate space to call home for our portrait photography business.
Needing to keep overhead to a minimum we decided to simply expand at our current location, leaving us with the daunting task of transforming a big old, ugly cluttered garage into an inviting and useable space for our clients. Since we know there are a lot of photographers out there who have converted their garages into studios we figured this would be a pretty easy task – especially since we were already dealing with a fully insulated, heated environment.
After gutting the garage and many trips to the dump, we enlisted the talent of a carpenter-friend to install a huge bank of storage cupboards along the back wall, painted the ceiling and walls. Our carpenter friend did a fantastic job, and even came up with an excellent concept to divide the space in two, so that we could keep fingers and prying eyeballs off the very expensive classic car – a 1959 Ford Anglia - that we have the privilege to share our rented accommodations with.
While good progress was made with the purge and clean up, the floor remained the biggest and most irritating portion of the entire project. Knowing that we could put it off no longer, we completely stripped the garage of its old flooring – first a layer of linoleum, then a layer of tiles – to the best recollection of the owner it had been down there since the late ‘60’s or early ‘70’s. The great unknown was what we would under the tiles? How good or bad would the concrete be and what would it take to fix it?
Thankfully the concrete was in good shape with only a few minor hairline cracks. What was more worrying were the areas where the tiles had been adhered with glues and tars! With many worries and visions of dollar signs dancing in our heads we began further exploration of the replacement options which included new roll stock, concrete repair kits, epoxy finishes and more!
As we got deeper into the project, we were completely overwhelmed by the endless options and variations of products available. However, the question still loomed in our minds as to whether any of these products would remove the glue and tar, and whether or not any of new the products would actually be a success over these few disaster areas. None of the options seemed to guarantee success and we were deeply concerned that we could spend hundreds of dollars trying to correct the problems before ever the new finish was applied.
The cheapest option would have been to just cover it with the usual boring grey concrete paint. No chance! The floor had to look as good, if not better than the rest of the garage – besides it was going to be a portrait studio. The floor would be used in the pictures, so it had to be much better looking than blah paint.
Carpet would be a stupid choice as well as impractical, so that was immediately rejected. Ditto to laminate flooring. Vinyl flooring would make it look like a huge kitchen. Not only that, but depending on the condition of the concrete – it could get messy and expensive.
The reluctant decision was looking like an epoxy-type product. Instructions on the boxes are confusing because some products want you to use several applications of various products, prep and primers, all while leaving 24-48 hours between them. Then there’s the issue of coverage - most products suggest similar coverage, but we were still left with more questions than answers.
We didn’t want to purchase too much, but we certainly didn’t want to run out half-way through the job either. Even if you follow the steps indicated on the boxes – there’s no guarantee it’ll work first time out the door. Not only that, but it can take up to a week or more to get the job done from start to finish. We didn’t have the time or money to make a mistake and then re-do the project.
When re-finishing a garage floor, one of the biggest problems you face is: Where are you supposed to keep all your junk while you run through all of the steps from prep, prime, paint and protect, and of course drying time?
Consider too the issue of timing: What if it’s too hot, too cold or too humid? We kept putting off the entire job because the weather was never quite right (we hadn’t actually decided on which product to use either). Autumn ran into winter and into spring and then into summer and still no floor covering! We couldn’t get the color we really wanted or the right product – it was just a frustrating mess.
But then I discovered G-Floor by BLT (Better Life Technologies)!! [www.g-floor.com / www.bltllc.com]
Could it be that this was exactly what we were looking for all along? For starters – it’s specifically for garage floors and other industrial areas. It’s easy to install and works as a vapor barrier as well as an insulating factor.
It offers cushioned seamless coverage, is easy to cut for that custom finish, and - surprise – it can easily be removed should we decide to take it with us. You can even take it outside to clean it! This stuff is tough – it stands up to corrosives like antifreeze, oil, salt and even battery acid!
It was just what we needed. With a variety of styles and colors to choose from, we decided on the Levant pattern – a leather-look textured pattern. Because the whole purpose of this project was to turn a garage into a photography studio, we had to get something that was going to work with the photography and not against it.
Just over a week after we ordered it – it arrived at our door. Three heavy rolls weighing in at around 227 kg’s were delivered – enough to cover the 9.7 meter-wide by 7.7 meter-deep garage (minus the mini studio) with a bit left over. (I forgot to mention – this is a double car and-a-half garage we’re working with – so there’s a lot of space to cover)
Arriving bright and early at the studio the next day – 11am - we gave the garage a final sweep with a stiff broom and started on the project (Note: we had previously decided to give the floor one really good scrubbing with water and detergent to rid it of a lot of concrete dust and bits, and allowed it to dry over a two day period). The flooring went down quickly and easily.
My wife and I are equally perfectionists, so the cutting along the walls and around the doors took us a bit of time – it had to be just right. While the flooring lay virtually flat immediately, the instructions said it could take 3 days for the flooring to completely relax and lay flat. We chose to lay the flooring using the special fabric tape that is available because we didn’t want the floor moving or curling up at the seam – it had to be seamless and we didn’t want to make any mistakes as we lay the next rows. (However, it is noteworthy that this product is touted for laying flat without the need for adhesives or tape – we were just being extra cautious).
Fortunately for us, it didn’t take three days for the floor to look absolutely PERFECT! We had one seam that was a little stubborn, but having left it for the night, we returned the next day to find the entire floor had “relaxed” and it looked even better than the previous evening. The worst gaps between the seams were less than a millimeter at most.
We had hoped the G-Floor was going to be easy to install and look good enough for the studio as well as the garage. To say we are ecstatic with the product and the results would be an understatement. The floor looks fabulous and makes the garage and the photo studio look like a million bucks! My wife even commented that it looked like carpeting from some angles when you enter.
Considering we started installation 11 am, stopped for a leisurely lunch and dinner and didn’t rush to do the job – it took us a grand total of 7 hours from start to finish. The car, tool boxes, studio equipment and any other items that came out for the day were returned to their resting places before the sun had even set. Try doing that with an epoxy floor or painted finish! Good luck to you! We even had the car drive in and turn around so we could get pictures of it – just minutes after laying the floor.
When making your decision on how to finish your garage floor, and as you’re weighing the options and prices, ask yourself one key question: How much is my time worth?
If it takes 3 or 4 days – even up to a week to complete the project, is it worth saving a few bucks on the product? When you could finish the entire project in less than 7 hours with G-Floor, with virtually no prep work and the result being the most durable – why would you paint or use anything else that would tie up your garage and all your worldly possessions for days at a time? Also, where would you store said worldly goods while waiting for the floor to cure? Even vinyl flooring has to be left for 24-48 hours before putting something heavy on it – and I won’t even get into the gluing aspect.
Another good point to mention is that even if we’d gone with painted flooring options … and if they worked … we’d be forever paranoid about chipping or scratching the finish! Especially after paying good money and spending endless hours on it!
Since I’m sure there are probably a few of you out there that are in just such a situation, if you’re looking to protect that beautiful painted or epoxy finish, G-Floor is STILL for you! If you don’t want to ruin your floor and would feel much better with an extra measure of protection, check out G-Floor’s clear flooring product that’s meant just for you!
I don’t know how better to conclude than to say, G-Floor is quite simply the best flooring option we could have chosen! To say we are 100% satisfied with the result would be an understatement. The look is better than we imagined and the fact that the product photographs so black is just what we were after for our studio.
The compliments we’ve received already are endless, and everyone wants to know where they can get some of their own. So, to all of our envious friends, family, neighbors and readers, G-Floor can be purchased direct, or through some Costco locations (limited selection).
(For complete details, pricing and options on G-Floor and BLT please visit their website at www.g-floor.com / www.bltllc.com
*This American-based company is looking for European Distributers.
In closing, if you’re fortunate enough to have good size left over pieces from trimming for your floor space, G-Floor has many more uses for small spaces!
G-Floor is an exceptional product to be used as a runner in the winter over carpets and other floors, great for using in the trunk of your car, fantastic for slipping under a classic car when at the shows…the uses are endless … just be creative!
Tools Needed For the Job:
Broom – to sweep the floor as prep work and to push the bubbles out once the floor is down.
Heavy Duty Box Cutter Knife – for cutting the flooring. Don’t cheapen out on the blades – use Olfa blades. I ran out of my Olfa blades and had to use cheaper off-brand blades – what a nightmare.
The product is easy to use and cut when you use the right product for the job.
Straight Edge – to make nice clean straight cuts.
Knee Pads – you definitely need those!
Copyright © 2009 by Iain Shankland – www.twitter.com/Road_Test
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