Modular flooring systems have become all the rage these days. Their popularity supports at least three U.S. manufacturers, one being MacNeil Automotive Products, Ltd., which manufactures TechFloor®" brand products along with its many other WeatherTech® products in a plant located at Bolingbrook, Illinois.
TechFloor is an affordable, "medium-duty", modular flooring product which can change the aesthetics of most any room. It can be installed anywhere there is a reasonable amount of everyday foot traffic such as laundry rooms, basements, everyday usage residential garages, show rooms, customer service areas, "mancaves or "womancaves", mud rooms, utility areas, storage sheds and more.
The Corvette Action Center picked MacNeil's product to evaluate for two reasons: 1) our favorable past reviews of products in its "WeatherTech" line of automotive accessories such as: FloorLiners™, Cargo Mats™, LampGards™ and Side Window Deflectors and 2) of the three major players in the modular flooring market, RaceDeck®, Swisstrax and TechFloor, MacNeil Automotive's product offers more options in tile sizes, colors and styles. Having numerous sizes available makes installation easier. With the other two brands, you may need to cut larger tiles to fit because smaller or different-shaped tiles are unavailable.
The first step in a TechFloor installation is to measure, then, measure, again. Double-checking will prevent ordering too much of the product. We found the hardest part of the project was using our measurements to figure how much of each type of smaller TechFloor tiles we needed. To aid those having trouble figuring how much tile is required, the TechFloor web site has an interactive "floorbuilder" page.
One attractive feature of this product is that, as mentioned above, different sized tiles are available which allow the DIY to exactly fit small or oddly-shaped areas. For example, the standard tile is 12x12-in., however most styles of tiles are, also, made in 1/4 sizes (6x6-in.), 1/16 sizes (3x3-in.) and in "edge strips" 3x12-in. There are also expansion tiles, 3/4-in and 1.5-in trim tiles, three different lengths of beveled edges, inside- and outside-corner beveled edges. The point of all these optional sizes is to make most TechFloor installations possible without any cutting or sawing of tiles.
TechFloor competitor, RaceDeck's® "CircleTrac®", has nothing but 12x12-in tiles and 12-in. beveled edges. Swisstrax's "Cointrax" tiles, the other TechFloor competitor, are all 13x13-in. with 13-in. beveled edges available. Both CircleTrac and Cointrax need cutting if the space into which they are installed has dimensions which are not a multiple of their tile size. For example: let's say your space is 10'6"x15'3". With tiles 12-in. or 13-in. on a side, you will likely be doing some cutting. This makes the installation more time-consuming and may require special tools. In fact, at the start of RaceDeck's installation video, viewers are shown a jig saw, table saw and a circular saw, presumably, because the DIY needs one or more of those tools to properly cut RaceDeck tiles. The Swisstrax web site states in its FAQ that, if tiles need to be cut, a circular or table saw should be used. With TechFloor, you just buy some of the smaller tiles or shorter beveled edge sections.
Our modular flooring project was atypical in that we only did one section of the little shop we use at the CAC for product evaluation work. While TechFloor can support any car or light truck sitting on its wheels, it is not a heavy-duty flooring system typical of what might be used in commercial automotive service facilities, manufacturing plants, industrial workshops or other areas where heavy objects are placed on or moved across the floor. As a result, MacNeil Automotive suggests caution when lifting or supporting vehicles on floor jacks, bottle jacks, or jack stands on TechFloor. The tiles may have limited durability under those conditions depending on how small an area to which weight is applied. The WeatherTech people recommend putting squares of plywood under floor jack rollers, jackstand frames and any piece of furniture having legs which concentrate a lot of weight on a small area. As the main reason we were installing TechFloor was not to beautify the floor underneath the cars on which we work and we didn't want the hassle of cutting a lot of plywood squares, then having to deploy them anytime we used our jacks or jackstands, or having to put them under industrial shelving and workbench legs; we decided to leave our small shop's work area as-is and lay TechFloor down on the foot traffic area adjacent to our tool boxes and work benches. No one's looking under the cars or our toolboxes, right? We, also, decided to cover the floor in an adjacent laundry area. Admittedly, this makes for a somewhat oddly-shaped installation of TechFloor but, because of the wide variety of sizes and shapes of the product, we were able to complete the installation with only one small place where we had to cut anything. We liked that simple installation a lot. We could not have put down modular flooring the way we wanted without the flexibility of TechFloor's various tile sizes.
TechFloor comes in 88 different combinations of color and style. In contrast, RaceDeck CircleTrac offers eight colors and one style and Swisstrax Cointrax offers six colors and one style. For our TechFloor, we chose a blue/black checkerboard pattern with all tiles being the solid, raised-square style.
TechFloor tiles interlock using a loop-and-tab system. Tiles connect by matching and aligning tabs with loops then snapping the tile in place. Once tabs and loops are aligned, they are locked by pushing straight down. A small rubber mallet makes installation easier. Also, a pair of kneepads makes the job more comfortable.
We began our TechFloor installation "by the book". We started at top left and worked left to right. MacNeil suggest doing one row at a time and their recommendation of a rubber mallet is spot on. We used a small rubber-tipped hammer to tap each tile such that it locked. It was as easy as laying the tile on the floor, engaging the tabs and loops then giving them a modest smack with our little rubber hammer. Our floor job only required only one small cut with a utility knife. We had to run beveled edge around part of a circular foot on a workbench leg. As no beveled edge section had a round "cutout" we had to make one and it took only a few second using a utility knife with a fresh blade. None of the power tools which may be necessary when installing competing products were required.
It took us about four hours to install TechFloor on the sections of our garage shown in the imagery and that includes cleaning the concrete before we began. We had TechFloor parts left over and found that the WeatherTech people gladly accepts returns for credit as long as you pay the shipping to send it back. TechFloor's direct sales channel will sell small quantities of the product, too, so, let's say you run one tile short–you don't have to buy a whole box of 10. You call WeatherTech, place a phone order and they'll ship you a single TechFloor tile.
TechFloor is tolerant of spills from most liquids. The only common substances you need to be careful about are gasoline or kerosine exposure for a long period. You don't leave puddles of flammable liquids on any floor–right?. Finally, strong acids or bases will damage TechFloor. What's best to clean it? The WeatherTech people told us they use a "Swiffer" to clean normal dirt/grime off the surface of TechFloor, but we found a Swiffer does not work well on the raised-square tiles we have. We found an old-fashioned sponge mop was a better choice.
More colors and styles. Available smaller tiles and narrower tiles as well as big tiles. Easy to install. Friendly return policy. In our opinion, that makes TechFloor the best medium-duty, modular floor covering system on the market right now. Pricing starts at $2.99 per square foot. For more info see the TechFloor web site.