There are plenty of ways to spice up your garage floor, but very few are as durable and cost-effective as a good-quality epoxy. Epoxy is available in dozens of colors and the various color flake options make thousands of color combinations possible. If you’re prepared, it should be fairly simple to get a spectacular epoxy flooring with a deep gloss, but first let’s take a look at what you need to know.
Epoxy is NOT Paint
Epoxy is a 2-part coating, consisting of epoxide resin and polyamine hardener. When mixed, the hardener reacts with the resin in an exothermic reaction, meaning it gives off heat. As it cures, it becomes an exceptionally tough plastic.
This exceptionally tough plastic tends to be thicker than other applied coatings. Two coats of industrial enamel will usually measure 4 mils thick, about as thick as a sheet of copy paper, whereas a quality epoxy floor is 10 or more mils thick.
Epoxy coatings aren’t damaged by transmission fluid, oil, gasoline, solvents or any other fluid that may drip from a car, which makes it especially suitable for garage floors. It’s also extremely wear-resistant and can take the toughest of punishments, such as rolling heavy toolboxes and floor jacks across it, dropping tools or any other damage you throw its way.
Although epoxy is extremely durable, in time it will wear much like everything else. You can expect a high-quality epoxy to last at least 15 years – some manufacturers even offer a lifetime warranty!
The design options for epoxy floors are virtually limitless. Base coats are available in a variety of colors, which can be paired with color flakes of any color combination and density.
Color flakes are available in sizes ranging from 1/32″ to 1″. One-inch flakes break apart while mixing, giving random sizes to the flakes applied. Want to take the customization a bit further? A skilled installer can even add a detailed logo to the floor!
Color flakes are covered by a layer of clear epoxy, which gives the floor a deep, lustrous gloss. This layer can be thin enough for texture to remain from the color flakes or thick enough to provide a completely flat surface. Regardless, epoxy coatings are slippery when wet, so some choose to have a slip-resistant aggregate added to the top coat to provide a non-slip surface.
First, the existing concrete must be completely cleaned. If it’s new, the concrete must completely cure – a process that takes several weeks. After the concrete’s cleaned, it’s critical to ensure that it fully dries! Water vapor released by the slab will cause the epoxy to separate from the concrete.
You can easily test the concrete’s dryness with a plastic bag. Tape the bag onto the slab for 24 hours. If water vapor is present, the spot will appear darker than the surrounding area.
After the concrete slab has been cleaned and dried, it needs to be etched either mechanically or with acid. This ensures a solid bond will be formed between the epoxy and concrete. Once the acid is rinsed away, the concrete must completely dry again. Any cracks, chips or spalls in the surface should then be filled with an epoxy crack filler, which must also have time to cure according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Starting with an epoxy primer isn’t absolutely necessary to completing the project, but it’s incredibly beneficial to the health of the floor. The base layer of epoxy should be spread once the primer has cured, with color flakes being spread on the fresh epoxy while it is still tacky. Once the epoxy has completely cured, it may be necessary to level off any jagged or protruding flakes.
We highly recommend a second layer of epoxy for extra durability, even if you don’t use color flakes. This second layer is typically a clear coat, although it can be colored according to preference. Some people even add a third or fourth layer for a deeper gloss and much more durability.
This process can take several days depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, but it’s important that they’re followed to ensure coatings are applied at optimal times. If too much time has elapsed between layer applications, they won’t bond properly and additional steps must be taken before more layers can be applied.
Epoxy floors can be applied as a DIY project, but results depend on careful preparation. If you’re going to take this project on yourself, remember that lackluster preparation can damage the floor’s appearance or harm it’s structural integrity.
Review the process beforehand to become more familiar before working with epoxy. All of the manufacturer’s instructions should be strictly followed, so don’t ignore the mixing instructions! They may sometimes seem like overkill, but should be followed for the best results.
Whether you’re looking to toughen up your garage floor or simply want to liven it with color, we strongly recommend that you consider using epoxy. Still have questions about applying epoxy to your garage floor? Our experts are here to help! At Doug Ashy, we’ll match you with quality tools and materials for all of your home improvement needs, while giving you the tips and tricks that’ll make you a DIY pro!