Hints For An Easier Do-It-Yourself Epoxy Garage Floor

I have recently applied epoxy to 2 types of garage floors; one with new concrete the other an existing 20 year old floor that has never been painted.

There are several epoxy coatings for residential garage floors on the market. Some are water based and others are solvent based. Water based is effective and easier to handle. Whatever the product, some manufacturers will tell you to apply to a moist concrete surface while the majority will instruct you to be absolutely sure the floor is completely dry. Therefore, always follow instructions and do good pre-planning research. Whatever the choice of epoxy product, a new epoxy surface definitely makes a significant difference in appearances and makes the cleaning of a garage significantly easier. Don’t overlook the fact that a finished garage surface makes for more appeal when trying to sell your home.

The product I have used repeatedly is Rust-Oleum Epoxy Shield that is water based epoxy and comes in 2 base colors-bluish gray and a tan. Either color coating generally requires only one coat. It is this coat that the colored paint chips are applied to add contrast to the base epoxy floor color. These colored chips not only add interest but also help hide defects in the floor or subsequent stains that come with normal wear and tear on any garage floor surface. But some people may not like the effects of the chips-it is your choice.

Here is the real key. If you are using Rust-Oleum, be sure to finish the color coat of epoxy with their clear coat. This adds a very high gloss look and it protects the color coat. Further, the clear coat bonds the chips to the color coat. The colored chips have sharp edges and stick to the color coat when immediately applied to a small (approximately 4′ x 4′) freshly applied color coat. That is a time consuming process when doing a 500 square foot garage floor.

Here is my list of hints: (I will NOT repeat the application instructions. These are simply hints that will make the job nicer, not necessarily easier.

  • Buy the 2.5 car garage size garage floor color kit. It appears to be an honest 500 square foot coverage kit.
  • It will probably NOT be enough to do a 2.5 car garage and the concrete foundation/footing that comes up around the garage parameter. To solve this problem, I bought 1 gallon of regular epoxy (1 part water soluble) that matched the color of the garage walls (white) and painted the concrete footing. That took 2 coats to get good coverage. Point being, the 2.5 car garage kit would not have been enough if I had used that to do the footings. Bottom-line, a 2.5 car garage kit will do 500 square foot.
  • Putting down the chips will take some practice.
  • To get good coverage with the color chips that come with the 2.5 car garage kit, you will run out of chips. So, get an extra bag of matching color chips to have enough. Most 2 car garages have extra space that needs to be covered.
  • Tape off around doors and steps (if any) going into the house.
  • Do not apply the colored epoxy out past the garage doors. Epoxy does not seem to like water,m the kind that happens with melting snow and rain.
  • Fill bubble holes in the exposed concrete footings with caulk before painting. It will make the surface smooth and keep the epoxy from running out and leaving unsightly runs.
  • To address the sectional seams in the floor… for a nicer look get self-leveling caulking and run a bead in the bottom of the seam (especially if there is a crack present). I have seen some applications of the caulk where the seam is totally filled. At $8.50 per tube that would cost about $50 of self-leveling caulk to totally fill them. But, then again that would make the floor seamless.
  • If you use the color chips you will not want to cut-in the entire garage at once; you will waste chips and most of the chips will not stick as the epoxy will start curing before you get around to throwing down the chips.
  • The Clear Coat will be applied approximately 24 hours after the color coat. Instructions say that it will take about 4 days before driving on the floor after Clear Coat application.
  • I personally do not like the look of the Clear Coat with the non-skid sand mixed in.
  • It is better to mix the color coat and clear coat with an electric drill and paddle wheel attachment but certainly not necessary.
  • Ambient air temp and humidity will dictate curing time.
  • Cutting-in the clear coat can be done all at once, but if you take that approach do not waste any time putting down the coating because it will get real tacky in an honest 90 minutes.
  • The clear coat will NOT cover a 2.5 car garage area. Expect it to cover 435 square feet, not 550 square feet. Putting clear coat down on top of the colored epoxy will not take as much material.
  • When applying one or both epoxy materials I found it best to press down on the roller to make sure the epoxy coatings get down in the cracks and holes of the concrete.
  • Stand back frequently and position yourself to see light reflections across the floor while applying the clear coat. Where you see a dull spot, that is a spot that you missed covering with the clear coat. If that spot isn’t covered it will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb later.

I have done garage floors for myself and friend’s singlehandedly, but it is a lot easier to have help. One person can cut-in ahead of the other person who is rolling on the epoxy. Also, a second person is helpful to look for missed coverage spots.

Remember these are just hints to supplement the instructions from the manufacturer. This does not replace the manufacturer’s instructions.

Materials/tools list beyond that recommended by the manufacture:

  • Brush to cut-in around the parameter and in the seams for the color coat. If you clean the brush well with water, you can use it for the clear coat cut-in process as well. The brush can be cheap.
  • Use a chalk snap line to make a straight edge at the garage door.
  • Roll of 2″ painters tape to tape against snap line and at side garage door and steps (assuming you have these).
  • Paddle stirrer (if you don’t want to stir in Part B by hand which is perfectly acceptable). I assume you already have a drill.
  • Drop cloth to sit the paint tray and epoxy cans on. Newspapers work well.
  • 2 paint pan liners (if you decide to put down a Clear Coat).
  • 1-Roller pan.
  • 2 rollers with prescribed nap length. One for the color epoxy coat and the clear coat, otherwise one will work.
  • Use latex gloves so you can pull the rollers off the roller handle without getting epoxy all over yourself and drips on the floor.
  • Roller handle and extension pole.
  • Extra bag of color chips.
  • Use a foam squeegee to help remove water from the floor after etching the concrete.

Without local taxes I would assume you are out the door at Lowe’s or Home Depot for about $240 and get a very nice garage floor. Now, don’t let your neighbors see it or you will be doing theirs.

Oh, by the way, do not drive on the new floor for and additional 5 days if the tires are hot. In essence, after driving around, the tires will become hot. So park in the driveway and let them cool down before put the car in the garage. You only need to do this for and extra 5 days after the recommended 4 full days after applying the clear coat.

One final note: One old ‘never been treated’ garage floors that have shown signs of oil stains, fluid stains, tire traffic, etc., it is critical that a thorough cleaning takes place before putting down the epoxy product from any manufacturer. Epoxy will not adhere to a surface with a presence of oil or similar products like anti-freeze. water soluble bag manufacturers

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