If you have a vehicle with low ground clearance, you’ve probably scraped your front spoiler on the curb once or twice. Driveway aprons help the transition from the street to the curb, but what about the gap from your driveway into your garage?
That’s where garage aprons come in.
What are garage aprons, and how can they help stop damage to your car?
Let’s find out.
What is a Garage Apron?
A garage apron refers to the flat area of concrete or another hard surface that extends beyond the garage door opening. The size and construction vary depending on the garage’s design and the homeowner’s specific needs.
Some garage aprons are purely decorative or provide dedicated areas for vehicles in front of the garage. In contrast, others slope slightly away from the garage to promote proper drainage and prevent water from pooling near the door. However, most garage aprons help prevent your vehicle from bottoming out while transitioning between the driveway and the garage.
Garage aprons are handy for homeowners who own cars with low ground clearance.
For example, many sports cars, like the Chevy Corvette, have between 4 to 5 inches of ground clearance. Depending on the slope of your driveway, that can easily cause the car to scrape as it enters your garage.
Be aware that making your garage floor higher with epoxy coatings or interlocking garage floor tiles may increase the slope needed for your garage apron.
How Much Slope Should a Garage Apron Have?
Your garage apron needs to have the proper slope so your car can enter your garage without scraping. It will also help ensure good drainage and prevent water pooling near the garage door.
The recommended slope for a garage apron typically ranges from 1 to 2 percent, or about 1/8 to 1/4 inch per foot.
A 1 percent slope means the garage apron should rise 1 inch for every 8 feet horizontal distance. Similarly, a 2 percent slope means the apron’s height should increase by 1 inch for every 4 feet of horizontal distance.
These are general guidelines, however.
The exact slope for a particular garage apron depends on several factors, such as the size and shape of the apron, the overall grade of the property, and the height of the garage floor slab.
What Size is a Typical Garage Apron?
Generally speaking, a typical garage apron is between 3 to 4 feet long and extends the entire width of the garage, which is usually between 10 and 20 feet wide.
That’s not always the case, however.
Some homeowners may install an oversized garage apron to provide additional parking space or accommodate larger vehicles, such as RVs or boats. In these cases, the size of the apron may be customized to meet the homeowner’s and the property’s specific needs.
Other homeowners install a combination of garage apron and parking pad long enough to accommodate a parked vehicle while allowing another vehicle to access the garage.
When constructing a garage apron, it’s important to follow the local building codes and regulations. When in doubt, consult with a professional contractor or engineer.
Should a Garage Apron be Concrete or Asphalt?
The most common options for garage aprons are concrete and asphalt, but decorative pavers are sometimes used.
Each material has advantages and disadvantages, so the choice may come down to your specific needs and preferences.
Here are some key factors to consider:
- Durability: Concrete is generally more durable than asphalt and can withstand heavy loads without cracking or breaking. However, concrete can be more susceptible to damage from freeze-thaw cycles, which can cause cracking and spalling. Asphalt is more flexible and can better withstand temperature changes, but it is more prone to damage from heavy loads.
- Maintenance: Both concrete and asphalt require some maintenance to keep them in good condition. Concrete may require occasional sealing to prevent cracking. Asphalt must be resealed every few years to avoid UV rays and moisture damage.
- Cost: Concrete is generally more expensive than asphalt but has a longer lifespan, making it a better long-term investment. Asphalt is usually cheaper to install but requires more frequent repairs and maintenance.
Choosing a material that will provide a stable and level surface for your garage door and withstand the wear and tear of regular use is essential.
When in doubt, consult a professional contractor who can help you make an informed decision.
Does a Garage Apron Need Rebar?
Rebar is a system of reinforcing steel bars often used in concrete to strengthen and stabilize the structure. Using rebar in a garage apron can help prevent cracking and shifting of the concrete over time.
However, most garage aprons don’t need rebar. It all depends on the size of the apron and the expected load it will need to support.
In general, the weight of passenger vehicles is not significant enough to damage the concrete, making rebar unnecessary.
However, rebar may be recommended to provide additional stability to larger aprons used for heavy-duty vehicles, such as RVs or trucks, or in areas with heavy freeze-thaw cycles or unstable soils and strength.
Ultimately, the decision to use rebar in a garage apron will depend on the specific circumstances and requirements of the project.
Why Don’t Some Houses Have a Garage Apron?
While garage aprons are common in some areas, many houses lack this feature.
There are several reasons why a house may not have a garage apron, including:
- Property Age: Older homes may not have had a garage apron installed when they were built. Other homes may have had aprons that have deteriorated over time and were never replaced.
- Property Design: Homes with garages set back from the street may not need a garage apron. Alternatively, the slope of some driveways may make installing a garage apron impossible.
- Cost: Installing a garage apron can be an additional expense for homeowners, which may be difficult to justify. Sometimes, homeowners may install one later if necessary or if they decide to sell their property.
While a garage apron can provide several benefits, not having one doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem with a home.