Gravel Garage Floors: Are They Worth It? [Pros, Cons, and Costs]

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If you’re building a new detached garage, you have a variety of different flooring options. Here’s one you might not have considered: a gravel garage floor. 

While they’re less common in attached garages, gravel garage floors may be the perfect choice. 

In this article, we’ll explore specific types of gravel, such as pea gravel, crushed stone, and decomposed granite, discussing their pros and cons. We’ll also evaluate the costs associated with installing a gravel garage floor and guide you through the step-by-step process of preparation and maintenance.

This article will equip you with the knowledge you need to decide if a gravel floor is right for your garage. 

Gravel parking area in front of residential garage

Why Choose a Gravel Garage Floor?

Affordability and easy installation are the two factors that make most people consider installing a gravel garage floor. Unlike more expensive options like concrete, gravel is cost-effective and can be easily installed with minimal tools and labor. 

Gravel also has high durability, standing up to heavy machinery and severe weather conditions without cracking or warping.

It’s also extremely versatile. With a wide range of colors, textures, and sizes, you can create the garage floor that suits your individual preference.

But the advantages of gravel don’t stop there.

Thanks to its permeability, water drains away quickly and won’t pool or cause flooding on your garage floor. This reduces the risk of mold and mildew and keeps your garage dry.

Finally, gravel is ideal if the earth on your property is prone to shifting or is home to large tree roots. Unlike rigid surfaces, a gravel floor can adapt to any changes in the ground, making it a smart, practical option for your garage. 

In a nutshell, a gravel garage floor offers a combination of affordability, durability, style, and practicality that’s hard to beat.


Why You Shouldn’t Choose a Gravel Garage Floor

While gravel garage floors have numerous benefits, we also need to consider the potential downsides before installation. 

Dust is a big drawback for many people. Gravel tends to create dust and debris that may require regular cleaning to prevent it from being tracked into the house or affecting air quality. You must also consider the potential damage to your vehicles from rock chips.

Next, gravel can shift and settle over time, leading to gaps or low spots that can pose tripping hazards or make it difficult to move items or vehicles. The irregular surface also makes noise when walked or driven on, which can disturb some homeowners.

Gravel also invites a few unwelcome guests. It can be a playground for Weeds and pests. You’ll need to pay more attention to weed control and pest prevention with gravel than other garage flooring options.

Plus, gravel’s porous nature can lead to extra moisture in your garage. Retaining water can increase the garage’s humidity level, causing potential rust or corrosion issues for your vehicle or other stored items.

Some people might find gravel’s appearance unfinished or cheap, which could affect your property’s value compared to more ‘finished’ flooring options like paving stones, concrete, or asphalt.

Remember, even the best garage floor treatment won’t adhere to a gravel floor.

Finally, a gravel floor might involve extra maintenance if you live in a snowy region. Snow removal can be more challenging on a gravel surface, with the potential for damage or displacement of the gravel.


Deciding on the Perfect Gravel for Your Garage Floor

Choosing the type of gravel for your garage floor depends on several factors. These include your budget, personal preferences, and usage expectations. Here are some things to consider when making your choice:

Size matters when it comes to gravel. Small gravel tends to compact tightly and drain more slowly than larger gravel. On the other hand, larger stones generally provide better stability and allow water to drain quickly.

The shape of the gravel impacts how well it interlocks, directly affecting its stability. Angular gravel tends to interlock more securely, resisting shifting better than rounded gravel.

However, rounded rocks typically provide a more comfortable walking surface.

Color may not affect the gravel’s performance, but it can influence the overall aesthetic of your garage.

Choose a color that either complements or contrasts with your garage’s interior design elements, like the walls and doors. Gravel comes in various colors, from natural tones like gray and brown to more vibrant options like red and yellow.

Now, let’s delve into some specific types of gravel you can consider:

Pea Gravel

Pea gravel is Known for its small size (about 1/4 inch) and various colors. It’s a budget-friendly choice that’s easy to install.

However, it’s not the most stable option and can be messy. Many homeowners find it tricky to walk on, and the small stones can even get stuck in tires or shoes.

Despite these drawbacks, pea gravel can serve as an attractive top layer over other types of gravel.

pea gravel is the most popular choice for a gravel garage floor

Crushed Stone

This medium-sized (about 3/4 inch) angular gravel typically comes in gray or white colors. Crushed stone offers excellent durability and stability, although it can be rough underfoot and generate some noise.

This type of gravel compacts well under heavy loads but can also create dust or potentially damage the concrete underneath.

Despite these considerations, it remains a popular choice for driveways and garages due to its good traction and drainage properties.

Crushed stone is another popular choice for garage floors

Decomposed Granite

Decomposed granite is a finer, angular gravel, typically around 1/8 inch in size, and often comes in brown or tan shades. It creates a compact and smooth surface but can be dusty and prone to erosion.

It’s suitable for leveling an uneven garage floor or creating a natural look.

However, be aware that it can wash away or stain easily. Consider mixing decomposed granite with resin or cement for enhanced durability and stability.

A third option is decomposed granite for your garage floor

Choosing the suitable gravel requires understanding your garage’s needs and your personal preferences. 

By considering the factors listed above, you’ll be well on your way to creating a garage floor that is both functional and visually appealing.


Gravel Garage Floors: Evaluating the Costs

The cost of installing a gravel floor in your garage will hinge on several factors, including the gravel type and quantity you choose and the size and current state of your garage floor.

Despite these variables, it’s safe to say that, in general, a gravel floor will cost less than alternative garage flooring options such as concrete, epoxy, tiles, or vinyl.

According to data from HomeAdvisor, you can expect to pay between $1.25 and $1.80 per square foot when installing a gravel driveway — a task closely related to laying a gravel floor in a garage. 

This cost is significantly more economical than the average expense of installing other types of driveways (which mirror the costs of alternate garage flooring types), where prices typically range from $3 to $15 per square foot.

A gravel floor could be an affordable, practical solution if budget is a primary concern for your garage upgrade.


Preparing Your Garage for a Gravel Floor: A Step-By-Step Guide

To prepare your garage for a gravel floor, you’ll want to follow these steps:

1. Measure and Mark Your Space: Start by determining the area of your garage floor you want to cover with gravel. This can be done using stakes, string, or spray paint to establish clear boundaries for your gravel area.

2. Clear the Area: Next, remove any existing flooring or debris from the garage floor. A shovel, broom, or vacuum can be handy for this step. Make sure to clear the area of any concrete, asphalt, wood, metal, or other materials that might interfere with the gravel installation.

3. Level the Ground: Once the area is cleared, you’ll want to level and compact the garage floor. Use a rake, tamper, or roller for this task, smoothing out any bumps or dips in the floor. To enhance drainage and stability, consider adding a layer of sand or crushed stone beneath the gravel.

4. Lay a Weed Barrier: To prevent weeds from growing through the gravel, lay a weed barrier or landscape fabric over the entire area of the gravel floor. Choose a durable and permeable material that can block weed growth while still allowing water to pass through.

5. Spread and Level the Gravel: The final step involves spreading and leveling the gravel over the weed barrier or landscape fabric. Use a shovel, rake, or wheelbarrow to evenly distribute the stone over the floor, ensuring it’s compacted and level. Consider using edging or border materials to contain the gravel, preventing it from spilling or shifting.

By following these steps, you’ll have prepared your garage ground for a fresh, practical gravel floor.


How to Maintain a Gravel Garage Floor

Maintaining a gravel garage floor is essential. Proper maintenance extends the gravel’s lifespan, prevents damage to the underlying layer, enhances the garage’s aesthetics and functionality, and circumvents potential safety or health hazards. Here’s how to effectively maintain a gravel floor in a garage:

Regular Sweeping or Raking: To prevent the accumulation of leaves, dirt, or debris, regularly rake or sweep the gravel. This practice also helps maintain a level garage floor and prevents it from compacting. A compacted gravel garage floor is prone to reduced drainage and enhanced erosion.

Occasional Washing: Occasionally, you might need to wash or spray the gravel to remove stains, spills, or odors. Cleaning your gravel garage floor can refresh it and eliminate dust or fine particles that might impact air quality and cause respiratory problems.

Gravel Replenishment: Over time, the gravel might develop gaps, holes, or low spots. Replenishing or replacing the stone as needed can help maintain your garage floor’s appearance, drainage, and safety.

Comparatively, maintaining a gravel floor differs from other types of garage floors, such as concrete or asphalt.

Concrete floors are more durable and stable than gravel but can crack, stain, or warp over time. While concrete needs less frequent maintenance than gravel, it requires sealing every few years to protect against moisture and chemicals. Also, concrete is pricier and more challenging to install than gravel.

Asphalt, similar to gravel in terms of cost and installation, has its advantages and disadvantages. Asphalt is more resilient and flexible than gravel but may soften and deform in hot weather. It requires more frequent sealing than gravel to prevent oxidation and fading. Asphalt is more suitable for snowy regions as it is easier to plow or shovel.

Common challenges or problems that you might encounter when maintaining a gravel floor include:

Weed Growth: Weeds can protrude through the gravel, affecting the floor’s appearance and stability. To deter weed growth, lay a weed barrier or landscape fabric under the gravel before installation. Using herbicides or manually removing weeds that appear on the surface can also help.

Pest Infestation: Pests such as rodents, insects, or snakes might burrow under the gravel, damaging the floor and potentially posing health risks. To prevent this, fill any gaps or holes in the gravel with sand or crushed stone. Use traps or repellents to deter pests that make their way into the garage.

Gravel Displacement: Vehicles, tools, or weather conditions might displace the gravel, causing it to spill over the edges of the floor or create uneven surfaces. To avoid this, use edging or border materials, like bricks, stones, or metal strips, to contain the gravel. Avoid driving over the edges of the floor or dragging heavy items on it.


What Can You Use to Cover a Gravel Garage Floor?

Looking to enhance the aesthetic appeal, comfort, or practicality of your gravel garage floor? There are various coverings you can choose from, depending on your specific needs:

Hard Material Options: Pavers, Bricks, Stones, Tiles

These sturdy, durable materials can bring a pattern or design to your gravel floor. You can either lay these materials on top of the gravel or embed them into the gravel using sand or mortar. Incorporating pavers, bricks, stones, or tiles can add value and boost your garage’s curb appeal.

Mats, Rugs, or Carpets

Consider soft materials such as rubber mats or gym tiles for a more comfortable garage floor. These can bring a touch of warmth or cushioning to your gravel floor. They can be placed directly over the gravel or secured using tape or glue. Besides adding comfort, these materials protect your feet and tools from any sharp rocks.

That said, we do not recommend installing carpet over your gravel garage floor.

Artificial Grass

For a touch of green in your garage, consider artificial grass. This synthetic material can easily be laid over your gravel floor or attached with nails or staples. Artificial grass can create a more inviting space that is especially appealing to kids or pets. It brings a unique and playful touch to your garage without needing any upkeep that a natural grass surface would demand.


Wrapping It Up

So, there you have it – a comprehensive look at gravel garage floors, their advantages, limitations, and costs. We’ve also touched upon how to select the right type of gravel, prepare the ground for installation, maintain the flooring, and even options for covering it.

While gravel garage floors may have unique challenges, they also offer advantages like lower cost and a certain rustic charm.

The key is aligning your choice with your needs, budget, and the look you want for your garage floor. 

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.