The beautiful appearance of a garage floor coating is what convinces most homeowners to take the time to treat their garage floor. Garage floor coatings are manufactured in a number of great looking colors, and you can add flaking materials to give it more traction and a classier appearance. Not only that, garage floor coatings extend the life of your garage floor. Most are made of a high-grade epoxy which repels water, oil and other materials, resisting the contaminants that eat away at your garage floor and eventually cause it to fail. Not to mention they make clean-up a lot easier. There’s a reason that auto shops are one of the prime commercial customers when it comes to this innovating garage flooring solution.
Considering getting a beautiful and long lasting epoxy flooring for your garage, here is the COMPLETE GUIDE to EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW about Garage Floor Coating:
Chapter 1. Garage Floor Coating – Basics 101
What is Epoxy Garage Floor Coating? Are Garage Floor Paint and Garage Floor Coating the Same?
An epoxy garage floor coating is NOT same as garage floor paint. Garage floor paint normally is a latex acrylic product. Some paints will have a small percentage of epoxy added to the mix to make it more durable than standard paint, but it is still paint.
Epoxy is an actual thermosetting resin that is applied as a coating. It is formed when you mix one part epoxide resin with one part polyamine hardener. The hardener acts as a catalyst and is what gives epoxy its strength.
Unlike paint that has to dry, epoxy cures. When the two parts are mixed, a chemical reaction is started which creates an exothermic curing process. This curing process produces polymer structures that are closely cross-linked giving epoxy its superior strength and durability. The end result is a coating that is much thicker than paint and bonds tenaciously to a properly prepared surface.
What is 100% Solid Epoxy Coating
When coatings are applied, two thickness measurements are taken. One is a wet film thickness (WFT) and the other is a dry film thickness (DFT). The coating is measured once before it has dried, and once again after. The percent solid refers to the percentage of coating thickness that remains after the coating has finished drying, or the difference between the WFT and DFT. Usually, a percentage of the solid is lost and thickness is reduced during the drying process. 100% solid epoxy coating will maintain the same level of thickness between the time they are applied and the time they have dried, hence the name 100% solids.
There are three main types of epoxy coating: 100% solid epoxy, water-based epoxy coating and solvent-based epoxy coating.
Water-based epoxy coating is considered to be an “Green” option but least durable. Unlike two-part 100% solid epoxy coatings, water-based epoxy coatings contain only about 40% – 60% epoxy. They are thinner and are thus easier, quicker and more convenient to apply.
Solvent-based epoxy coatings are slightly stronger, thicker and more durable. Like water-based epoxy, they are easier to apply. However, the use of respirators is required because of their high VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) content.
100% solid epoxy coating is the toughest and most durable of these three. These are two-part coatings that result in very hard and thick flooring. 100% solid epoxy coatings are commonly used in professional garages for their ability to resist hot tires, scratches, oil and chemical spillage. They are also prized for their longevity and can last up to twenty years.
Another Garage Floor Coating Option – Polyaspartic
Polyaspartic garage floor coatings are more expensive but gaining more recognition today. The two biggest advantages of a polyaspartic garage floor coating are temperature and time. Polyaspartic coating cures very fast, with a pot life of 10 to 120 minutes depending on the formulation. Typical polyurea and polyaspartic floor coatings are applied in just two coats. This means a complete flooring system can be installed in one day and returned to service the next. In addition, polyaspartic coating can be applied in temperatures as low as -30F to as high as 140F depending on the formulation, which means you can coat your garage floor all year long. Performance-wise, polyaspartic garage floor coatings are considered to be more durable than epoxy coatings. Although they are thinner than epoxy coatings, they are also more flexible and thus can better absorb impacts. In terms of maintenance, polyaspartic garage floor coatings will last as long as the epoxy coatings while requiring the very least of maintenance.
But there are a few major limitations to consider also for polyaspartic coating:
The advantage of a fast cure can become a nightmare if the material sets before application is complete. If these coatings happen to cure before application is complete, trapped bubbles, blisters, and lap lines can be visible and ruin an otherwise perfect job. Therefore, well trained professional floor coating installer is highly recommended to install polyaspartic coatings.
Polyaspartic coatings can be very slippery when wet. The material will meet the ASTM coefficient of friction when dry, but will not when wet. This is especially important to consider if they are going to be used on exterior surfaces or on surfaces that may get wet frequently. Under these scenarios, if you are not applying full paint chips to add texture, it is advisable to add a slip resistant aggregate into the top coat to increase the anti-slip properties of the coating.
Hard to Remove
Polyaspartics are not foolproof, and should be installed by professionals who have extensive floor coating experience. Polyaspartics are tough materials, but that quality also makes them tough to remove or repair if problems occur during application.
How to Clean and Maintain Garage Floor Coatings
Since dust and dirt do not stick to the coated floor, just use the dust mop once a week (or sooner if needed) to keep the floor clean. It only takes a few minutes. Dust mop even works well for floors that have a polymer anti-slip additive in the surface. For floor coatings with an aggressive anti-slip aggregate such as aluminum oxide, a soft bristle push broom is the better choice.
If you have contraction joints or saw cuts in the floor that are exposed, vacuum these out monthly or use a broom to sweep them clean of debris.
Spot cleaning for spills and fluid leaks from cars are easily wiped up with a soft cloth. You can usually clean the area with a shot of Windex if the spill has left a film.
Chapter 2. Garage Floor Coating – Pros and Cons
Like any other flooring, garage floor coatings have both advantages and disadvantages. The positive characteristics of garage floor coatings are:
- Visual effect – One significant advantage of epoxy garage floor coating is it will enhance the look of your garage. Manufacturers offer large variety of epoxy flooring colors and styles. Whether you’re looking to brighten up your garage with a bold solid color, create a terrazzo or granite look with a flake floor, or wow everyone with a metallic epoxy, you’re sure to find a floor that fits you and your taste.
- High strength – Epoxy is virtually impervious, and highly resistant to oil, auto fluids, gasoline, acids, grease and other chemicals such as bleaches and daily cleaners. For the very same reason, the floors are considered good for industrial sectors as well as for home. when properly installed, epoxy floor can serve at least 15 years of age, without changing its color.
- High abrasion and scratch resistance – Rolling tool boxes, jacks, and jack stands will not damage the floor. It withstands heat, cold and wet or dry weather conditions. It makes for easy cleaning of icy brines and road salts that can collect on the floor during the winter. Slip resistant aggregate can also be added to the final coat that will create a non-skid surface.
- Easy maintenance – garage floor coatings has no seams, joints, cracks, pores and gaps make the flooring is absolutely immune to any kind of dirt, dust, water and chemicals.
- Safe and hygiene friendly – Epoxy floor coatings does not accumulate dust and do not create a favorable environment for a variety of pathogens / bacteria. Epoxy floor materials used have no odor and corrosive fumes, and are safe for human health, which is mandatory and confirmed by the manufacturer certificates. It is important also that epoxy materials are very resistant to high temperatures such as in the event of fire.
The Drawbacks of epoxy garage floor coatings:
- Hard to install and take time to cure – professional contractor and equipment are usually needed to properly install epoxy garage floor. It takes 1 to 3 days, sometimes even longer to be fully cured depends on the environment.
- High cost – sure, there are contractors offer to do the job at a very cheap price. DIY the garage floor paint is also possible if you are very handy. However, if you want to hire a trustworthy contractor to install a beautiful floor that lasts, the cost is not cheap comparing to other the garage floor options. Good coating materials themselves are not cheap either.
- Cold floor – floor coatings is as cold as tiles or concrete, so you should consider where best to use them.
Chapter 3. Garage Floor Coating – How to Install
Installation of garage floor coatings requires a lot of experience and does not tolerate even the slightest error, so the best option would be to hire a professional contractor. Advance Industrial Coatings has extensive experiences installing epoxy/polyurethane floors, feel free to contact us at 904-425-7307 to request a free consultation and project estimate.
Here is our best practices to properly install the garage floor coating:
- Test the slab for moisture and vapor emissions. Moisture can cause adhesive failures, promote mold, mildew growth and result in curling or bubbling.
- Fully prepare the substrate surface. Use diamond grinding tools to prep the entire concrete floor which removes loose cement paste, removes surface contaminants, opens the pores of the concrete and imparts a rough surface to promote adhesion and bonding. This is a critical step and cannot be skipped. Most of the coating failure are resulted from improper surface prep.
- Patch as needed so there were no cracks, no bevels and the entire surface must be perfectly smooth. Make sure to cover and tape the surrounding area.
- Auto scrub and vacuum the floor to completely clean the surface.
- Check the humidity. It is important that humidity throughout the area does not exceed 4%, otherwise in a week or two the beautiful newly installed floor will peel off.
- Apply the epoxy primer with the 1st broadcast of Decorative Flake (if selected).
- Scrape and vacuum loose flakes.
- Apply second coat with the 2nd broadcast of flakes.
- Scrape and vacuum loose flakes.
- Apply clear Epoxy, Polyurethane, or Polyaspartic top coat based on the floor functions desired such like UV stable and slip resistant etc.
- If necessary, apply a top coat protective sealer.
Chapter 4. Garage Floor Coating – How Much It Costs
The installation of epoxy garage flooring is a complicated and lengthy process and usually takes 2-5 days.
The epoxy garage flooring price depends on many factors such as substrate condition, total square footage and system complexity etc. The durability and lifespan are also two major factors to determine the price. High grade and more durable epoxy floor materials would be more expensive.
In average, garage epoxy coating flooring installation costs $4-$7 per square feet which includes the proper surface prep, patching and coating materials and labor. A complicated system such like multiple broadcasts decorative flakes system or a slip resistant system will require more work and a higher cost of installation. The smaller the area of the floor, the more expensive the cost will be.
Chapter 5. Garage Floor Coating – Frequently Asked Questions
Why choose a floor coating instead of carpet, tile or linoleum/sheet goods?
Garage floor coatings have distinct advantages over carpet, VCT, ceramic tile, hardwood or linoleum/sheet goods. These advantages include:
– Not stained by splash spills
– No grout to maintain, lower maintenance
– Greater strength
– Greater impact resistance
– Greater scratch resistance
– Ease of cleaning
How long will the floor coatings last?
Longevity of any floor coating system will depend upon a number of factors, such as:
– Type of system installed
– Type of normal wear and tear
– Chemical and UV exposure
– Type and frequency of cleaning
A correctly installed garage epoxy floor with proper maintenance should last more than 10 years.
Do I have to have a new concrete floor?
No, both new or old concrete floor can receive floor coatings. Old softer or porous concrete may require additional steps of prep, special treatment / repair and coatings process.
How long does the concrete have to cure before applying a floor coating?
While the exact amount of time varies based upon concrete mix construction, time of year and curing conditions, the general rule of thumb is 28 days from date of pour.
Can the coatings go over existing tile?
With the special prep and process, it’s possible to apply coatings over tiles if the tiles are not loose and in excellent condition. Our coating experts have extensive experience dealing with situations like this. They will need to look at the actual conditions and give you advice.
Can the coatings go over tile mastic or carpet glue?
Proper Prep is the key. All mastics and glue should be removed preferably by diamond grinding prior to installation of the first layer of coatings.
How long does installation take?
Installation times vary by job size, but for a typical residential garage, it will take two days for installation. Different contractors have different approach. Use our process as an example, on day one, we prepare the floor and apply the prime layer of coating and the first flake layer if selected. On the second day, we apply the rest decorative layers and other layers of topcoat, providing additional protection and a smooth, glass-like finish. If non-slip features are desired, they will also be incorporated into the flooring system on the second day.
How long before I can use my garage floor again?
Normally the floor will be ready for light foot traffic within 3-4 hours after installation. Please wait 24 hours before moving items back onto the floor. Some systems will allow for vehicular traffic within 24 hours, but others may require up to 72 hours.
If I have new concrete, does it still need to be prepped with a floor grinder or can we skip that step?
Floor diamond grinding gives epoxy a rough surface to bond with and decreases the chances of your floor coating delamination. At AIC, We grind every floor, new or old, to assure the best quality possible. Whether you work with us or not, we recommend choosing a contractor that does things this way.
What if I don’t want flake?
No problem! We have many solid color epoxy options. Flakes adds a decorative element, but more importantly, it helps mask imperfections in your floor.
What about hot tire pick up?
This is caused when hot tires from your car soften lesser quality coatings. The tires then cool down and contract, making the tread literally grab and pull at the surface coating, causing delamination. A professionally prepared and properly installed good coating system eliminates hot tire pick up completely.
Why Go With a Pro for Epoxy Garage Floor Coatings?
A vast majority of DIY products sold at home improvement stores are merely epoxy fortified. Industrial grade coatings products used by professional contractors are more durable and if installed correctly, will last for years. Epoxy fortified products, on the other hand, are susceptible to flaking and peeling meaning routine patchwork down the road, or worse, total replacement.
Also, Epoxy garage floors require good floor preparation which is critical for a successful coating. This usually involves some forms of either floor diamond grinding or light shot blasting to profile the concrete for the epoxy coatings. It’s very critical that it is done right or the epoxy coating will not adhere properly. Patching or repairing any cracks or other damage to the concrete with specialized material before the epoxy is applied is required as well. Preparing and repairing the garage floor requires the use of specific tools such as diamond grinders and professional experiences.
Advance Industrial Coatings prides itself on using only the highest quality, industrial grade coatings products. We diamond grind every garage to properly prep the floor. And we strictly follow our proven process which ensures that our epoxy coatings bond to the concrete to create perfect, permanent adhesion.
Contact us today! We’d like to help!