The automotive service business can be brutal on a floor. As the heavy impacts and harsh chemicals of the mechanic shop will quickly destroy an exposed concrete floor, facility managers must decide whether to coat it or cover it.
A driver who buys a cheap car thinking he got a great deal often learns the error of his ways, as repair after repair adds to the long-term cost of owning the vehicle. For the same reason, a cheap floor may be the most expensive mistake your auto shop makes.
A thicker, harder wearing floor will cost more at the outset but will cost less per year to own over the course of its life. The lifespan of any floor depends upon what is happening on it – a dealership showroom floor will not wear as fast as its service bay floor because it is not subject to the same chemical and mechanical loads. This is the reason it is so difficult to nail down the lifespan of many floor coatings – they may last as long as 20 years under light traffic but only three years under heavy use.
Argelith tile is available in thicknesses of one-half inch, three-quarters inch, or five-eighths inch to protect your concrete slab. Ceramic tile never wears out; a quality installation is likely to outlast every piece of equipment installed on it. Fully vitrified tile is extremely hard and dense, so it resists breaking even under intense pressure and sharp impacts. In the unlikely event a tile does break, a qualified contractor can remove and replace the damaged tile without affecting the rest of the floor.
The most obvious stress automotive flooring must endure is vehicular traffic. Whether you are flooring a service shop, car wash, or auto body shop, choose a floor that has the thickness to sustain heavy rolling loads and the abrasion resistance to prevent visible wear. Visible scratches, gouges, or worn paths in an auto shop floor are more than unsightly – they are weak spots in the floor covering where it is less resistant to water or chemical penetration.
A service shop or car wash floor is routinely exposed to harsh and hazardous chemicals. Oil, brake fluid, and caustic degreasers can all react with flooring materials on a molecular level. These chemical reactions can create weak and dusty concrete; peeling and popping coatings; and stains that seep all the way down to the slab.
Vitrified tile is naturally chemical resistant. There is no need for solvent-based topcoats; ceramic is an inert substance that simply does not react to acids or alkalis. Fully vitrified tile also does not absorb oil, water, or other fluids. The vitrification process presses the ceramic molecules closer and closer together, leaving no room for fluid molecules to penetrate. Argelith’s fully vitrified tile has an absorption rate of about 0.1 percent or less. Spills simply sit on top of the tile until they are cleaned away; if the tile is installed correctly water in wet areas like car washes flows easily to drains without puddling or forming channels.
The weakest part of a tile floor is the grout, which is made of the same material that is the strongest part of most coated floors. Tile should be laid by a qualified installer experienced in the automotive industry. Your installer will recommend a grout and adhesive designed to handle the demands of your business. Argelith tiles’ butt-jointed design reduces exposed grout lines to around one-sixteenth of an inch wide and further protects the subfloor.
Hot tire lifting is a common concern in mechanic shops with coated floors. When a vehicle is in motion, friction heats up the tires, causing the rubber to expand. Once the hot tires are parked, they begin to cool and contract. A coating without a strong bond may stick to the hot rubber and lift off the floor as the tire shrinks.
Hot tires are not a concern on a tile floor, as there is no surface coating on the tile. The tiles themselves are also resistant to thermal shock and will not soften or change under hot equipment or welding sparks.
Visual aesthetics may not seem like a prime consideration when flooring an automotive service shop, but they can play a significant role in the productivity of your workforce and in the confidence of your customers.
A bright, clean floor makes it easy for workers to locate small dropped parts. A floor that is easy to clean and free from cracks and stains contributes to employee pride. The unique baked finish on Argelith tiles is specially formulated to reduce friction and enhance cleanability, for floors that stay bright and skid resistant.
“The ability to clean every day and make it look like you are walking into a new shop every morning makes our staff feel proud to come to work,” says Jim Mueller, service and parts director at Laurel BMW of Westmont. The dealership’s service shop and service drive are paved with rectangular Argelith tiles in light grey and anthracite.
Because tile is non-staining, nonabsorbent, and chemical resistant, it is easy to clean when compared to other flooring options. Often when Argelith account representatives are told a customer is having trouble cleaning their floor, the culprit is actually too much soap.
An attractive, well-lit shop is also a customer confidence booster. Your customers should feel comfortable at your shop; repeat business is the lifeblood of auto repair. A clean, well-maintained garage assures customers they are leaving their vehicle in professional hands. Auto dealers have even more at stake: 74 percent of customers who visit a dealership for service are likely to return to purchase their next vehicle.
“We wanted to focus so much on our new shop and tile, we built windows into the shop from the customer waiting area,” Mueller said.
A shop’s flooring design is also key to keeping employees safe. Using colored tape or floor paint to mark danger zones is like serving dinner on paper plates – it gets the job done for a while but isn’t built to last. Marking zones with different colors of tile creates clear, permanent visuals letting employees and customers know when they have crossed from one zone to the next.
Slip resistance is another vital feature of automotive shop flooring. With all the oil, fluids, and water on the floor, there is a grave risk of employee and customer slip-and-fall accidents. Argelith tiles are available in varying degrees of slip resistance. At each level, a textured pattern is pressed more deeply into the surface of the tile to provide traction that does not wear or peel off.
Is industrial tile a good fit for your business? Connect with one of our knowledgeable account managers for a free one-on-one consultation.
“Argelith tiles are a key component of many Penske Automotive facilities. Their strength and durability are second to none. I trust Argelith to keep our service areas safe, easy to clean and looking great. This is a premium quality product.”
Jeff Anderson, Director of Corporate Construction
Penske Automotive Group