If you have a home workshop, you want it to be extremely durable, easy to install, relatively attractive, and most of all, cheap. Many types of floors fit a number of those categories. But it's hard to find one floor for your shop that fits the bill across the board. Learn about the best floors for your shop that generally work best—without costing too much.
Rustic-Grade Unfinished Wood
Rustic- or utility-grade unfinished wood flooring is true solid hardwood from top to bottom, so it's great for high-impact environments.
The kind of solid hardwood that you see when you first enter the flooring store is usually premium or residential grade. Yet lower grades of hardwood flooring may be best suited for your shop. Rustic hardwood's surface is perfect for a shop because it can be sanded and sealed, and it's smooth enough that lost nuts and washers can easily be found. With its low number of openings and knot-holes, it sweeps off well.
One catch is that rustic-grade hardwood flooring does need to be nailed or stapled down. For this, you'll need to rent a floor stapler.
Where to Buy
Lumber Liquidators supplies rustic and utility-grade oak flooring. This flooring may come with defects, along with blue marks that can be difficult to remove. Still, the product is a good choice relative to its price and application, so it gets good marks from buyers.
Moving away from oak, another utility-grade flooring is Lumber Liquidators' Clover Lea Pine. Pine, while softer than oak, allows for the manual face-nailing that you would not be able to do with oak. The chief value of this pine is that the boards come in 8-foot lengths; thus, less piecing together of small boards.
Hurst Hardwoods supplies unfinished red oak in short boards for around the same price as Lumber Liquidators.
Unfinished and perfect for shops
Can be refinished numerous times
Knots, broken tongues, and splits
Burn marks from the saw
Many unusable boards
OSB (Orient-Stand Board)
Orient strand board (OSB), an amalgam of resin-bound wood chips, is a plain and cheap dense option for your shop floor.
OSB chips off easily and swells with prolonged contact with moisture. Not only that, the rough surface can be hard to sweep. OSB is good only as a sub-surface for other floorings.
But when OSB is painted, it's stronger, smoother, and more moisture-resistant. Paint also helps make this functional board look a bit more attractive.
For flooring, many types of tongue-and-groove OSB are available.
Plywood is a strong and dependable choice for shops, much like OSB.
Also like OSB, you can find tongue-and-groove plywood to help minimize seam interruptions.
One downside is that durable and cheap plywood is prone to splintering. It is recommended for areas of heavy use (storage of lawnmowers, shovels, and sledgehammers, or more).
Pre-Finished Wood Flooring
At one time, if you wanted solid hardwood, you got it unfinished and it was your responsibility to site-finish it. Better techniques evolved for pre-finishing wood flooring. Urethane-based coatings meant that manufacturers could impregnate the wood with a nearly shell-like finish, enabling the finishing process to happen in a factory, not your home.
While pre-finished wood flooring is usually better suited for living areas than for work areas, it can be used if your shop is used for light-duty work: hobbies, crafts, art, and more.
One issue with pre-finished flooring is that this urethane finish must be chemically stripped before you can refinish it.
To give your shop a unique look, consider using wide-plank pre-finished wood flooring.
Rubber Stall Mats
Not so much a flooring as a floor covering, rubber stall mats are intended for horse stalls. These large sheets, about 4-foot by 6-foot, are 3/4-inch thick. They're soft enough to make it easy to walk around and stand for long periods of time, but hard enough to resist wear.
Rubber stall mats are sometimes used as a cheap, effective alternative for home gym flooring.
Shop Flooring Ideas to Avoid
- Laminate Flooring: Highly damage-prone, laminate isn't wood; it only looks like wood. Slippery and easily damaged, laminate flooring is a poor choice for shop flooring.
- Engineered Wood Flooring: Engineered wood, with its thin, top wood veneer, isn't good protection against falling hammers. Expensive and requiring nail-down installation, engineered wood flooring isn't a great choice for shops.