The best option for your garage floor is using an epoxy floor coating. Epoxy is not paint. It actually comes as two different chemicals that you mix together. Once they are mixed, a chemical reaction takes places which hardens the epoxy. There are many different types of epoxy floor coatings, and there are important differences between them.
What you’ll usually find in stores is water based epoxy. It’s easy to clean up, has less fumes as it cures, and can be used indoors. It’s similar to latex paint in that it’s easy to use. It’s also not as durable as solvent based epoxy, and a garage needs a durable floor. We do not suggest using water based epoxy for your garage floor.
We carry a high solids solvent based epoxy. It’s the industrial stuff used in places like warehouses that have forklifts driving on it all day. You will need a respirator when you apply this epoxy to your garage floor so the fumes don’t make you loopy. You will need to ventilate the area for a few days after you put the epoxy down. You do not want to use a flame, like a heater, in the area while it’s curing because the fumes can be flammable. It is harder to apply, but the extra effort will pay off huge in the years to come.
We have detailed instructions on how to properly prepare your concrete and apply the epoxy on our web site in PDF format that you can print and have with you while you work. Basically you’ll have a few different steps: clean the concrete, seal the concrete, apply the epoxy to the concrete, and finally apply the sealer to the epoxy. We sell complete kits with all the different chemicals needed for each step.
The most important step with epoxy flooring is cleaning and preparing the concrete. If the concrete is not prepared properly, you risk the epoxy not grabbing ahold of the concrete and peeling up. Ideally you want concrete that does not have any contaminants like oil, although that’s often not realistic, so any areas like oil stains will have to be given extra attention. It’s best to start by renting a floor grinder from a local tool rental company. Usually you will connect your garden hose to the floor grinder, along with plugging it in, and slowly work the grinder over your garage floor. Your goal is to grind down the surface of your floor so it looks about like 100 grit sandpaper. This will give the epoxy a clean surface it can grab onto. After grinding the floor, you will use the Etch and Clean chemical in our kits which is a mild acid solution to further remove any contaminants. Then you will let the concrete dry.
The next step is to seal and prime the concrete. The pre-prime chemical goes down very thin, almost like water. This will absorb into the concrete and do two things: seal the concrete from any moisture that might come from underneath the floor and set up a primer coat for the best possible epoxy adhesion.
Once the pre-prime has dried to a tacky touch, you can move onto the actual epoxy application. The epoxy comes in one gallon containers, and there is a part A and a part B that need to be mixed together. It’s best to have a 5 gallon bucket so you can mix the two gallons of epoxy in it. You are also going to want to purchase some Xylene from your local hardware store to thin the epoxy because when you mix it together it will have a consistency similar to peanut butter. If you can imagine trying to use a paint roller to apply peanut butter, you’ll understand why we suggest thinning it with Xylene. Remember once you mix the epoxy, you have a limited amount of time to apply it to the floor before the chemicals get too hard to use. Make sure to wear a respirator. You’ll also want to have spiked shoes so you can walk on the wet floor without leaving footprints. (We carry the spiked shoe attachments on our website.)
Once the epoxy is applied, and before it’s fully cured, you can apply the paint chips for some extra color. You’ll see a wide variety of colors and blends of colors on our website along with the recommended amounts depending on how you want the final color to appear.
And finally after the epoxy is cured, you’ll apply a topcoat. This topcoat is the final protective layer to the floor, and also helps seal in the paint chips. You can apply multiple coats of the topcoat if you’d like the floor to be extremely shiny, but keep in mind this also makes the floor slippery when it’s wet. If you do decide to add on more topcoat, you’ll want to apply it within three days of the previous coat.
The whole process takes roughly a week to complete because of letting things dry and cure. You will want to wait approximately a week after you completed the process before you park a car on it so that it will be fully cured. If you have any questions about using epoxy on your garage floor, please give us a call at 800-736-9308