I'm thinking of buying an old church (2200 sq ft, built in the 60's) to convert into a woodworking shop. The building is over a crawlspace and currently has carpet which I'll definitely want to replace so I can have a chance at keeping the floor reasonably clean. The plan right now is to make stuff and store inventory between shows in the building, but it's zoned commercial so I might consider opening a storefront at some point so I'm mostly concerned about functionality but aesthetics are worth considering.

Most shops are in a garage or feature a concrete slab as the foundation while this building would feature a traditional subfloor. I've read mixed results about pouring self-leveling concrete or epoxy over subflooring due to movement over time resulting in cracking. Laminate, linoleum, and tile are both possible slipping hazards in the presence of dust. Rubber mats could make moving tools around difficult and wouldn't necessarily be easy to clean.

Given the subflooring over crawlspace vs concrete slab, are there other solutions I've not considered? Am I overthinking elements of this?

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    feels like a very opinion-based Q. There are multiple solutions, from hardwood flooring to laminate (plus wood dust management) Jul 22, 2023 at 0:02
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    I would check how solid the sub floor is first. Church plus carpet on sub floor might not be as solid as you want. Most people who need to work standing on concrete, usually start complaining about their legs/knees hurting after a time. Most tiles floors require an inch plus sub floor, compared to the usual 1/2 or 3/4 inch floors.
    – crip659
    Jul 22, 2023 at 0:02
  • What's the floor under the carpeting?
    – gnicko
    Jul 22, 2023 at 0:43

1 Answer 1


Plywood, preferably tongue and groove, which might be what you find under the carpet is a perfectly good shop flooring. Or use the 1/4" birch underlayment plywood. Standard mill flooring used to be planks of Southern Yellow Pine before concrete took over. It's kind of a pain to find dried SYP these days, as most of it seems to go for pressure treated applications. But whatever you can find in cheap local planking would work so long as it's not Balsa. Dents are not a big deal in a working shop floor.

Concrete is not a great choice, and tends to need rubber mats for worker comfort and other reasons. You can roll rubber mats up when you need to move machines, though. If you choose the rubber correctly it's easy enough to clean. With that much space, machine moving should be rare. If you drop a chisel on bare concrete, it takes a long time to fix it. Concrete floors are common in garage shops because they are common in garages, nothing more.

Commercial Vinyl Tile (or Vinyl Composition Tile) is not particularly slippery if you don't wax it to a mirror shine.

When or if you go retail you'll want a partitioned off showroom area with different flooring needs than a working shop area. You do not want customers loose in the working shop area. Nor will your insurance company.

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