What Is Garage Floor Epoxy?
You may have seen floor epoxy countless times over the years in a wide range of commercial buildings. Epoxy flooring is a durable, decorative coating that is usually applied over concrete. It is well-suited for warehouses, industrial buildings and even high-traffic retail locations. This is because garage floor epoxy is impermeable to water and many other liquids. It is easy to keep clean, so it promotes a safer environment. Its unique properties make it strong enough to withstand the weight and abuse of heavy commercial machines. Specifically, epoxy is a combination of a resin and an advanced hardening agent. Numerous resins and hardening agents may be used in different types of floor epoxy products. When applied to a prepared floor, the material adheres solidly. Like floor paint, epoxy garage floor paint is available in a wide range of colors. Some of these products have a solid hue, and others have a decorative speckled appearance.
A Closer Look at Floor Paint vs Epoxy
If you think that garage floor epoxy is the same thing as floor paint, you may be surprised to learn how different these two coatings actually are. When paint is applied to the floor, it dries. The paint does not chemically adhere to the floor surface. Over time, this acrylic substance will crack and peel. This is most problematic in areas with significant traffic. In the garage, this may be the area where your car’s tires usually travel across or along the typical path for foot traffic.
On the other hand, the hardening agent in epoxy cures rather than dries. As it cures, it physically adheres to the floor surface. When it dries, it has the physical properties of a thick, durable plastic coating. You will not have issues with peeling or cracking when you choose an epoxy garage floor coating.
The Benefits of Garage Floor Epoxy
Before deciding if garage floor epoxy is suitable for your needs, its many benefits should be explored in detail. While there are several types of epoxies that you could choose, most of them share similar benefits. These include:
- Incredibly durable and capable of withstanding damage associated with heavy equipment and regular foot traffic
- A high-gloss finish and the availability of numerous colors to produce desired aesthetic results
- Decorative possibilities available with the use of patterned application techniques
- Some additives may be used to conceal damage to the floor, such as cracks and chips
- Self-leveling additives are available to address some types of floor issues
- Longevity that extends for many years despite the abuse that it is exposed to
- A fast and easy installation process
- Easy to clean with resistance to water, chemicals and oil stains
- The availability of an anti-slip additive for improved safety in the garage
- Low maintenance requirements
- Extension to the life of the concrete floor under the epoxy
Types of Epoxies for Garage Floors
Numerous types of epoxy garage floor coating products are available for you to choose from. These are generally defined by the type of solvent or fluid that is used with the epoxy. One of the most traditional types is a solvent-borne epoxy. These solvents are volatile organic compounds that can produce noxious and flammable fumes. While these drawbacks are noteworthy, solvent-borne epoxies are incredibly durable. An alternative is a water-based epoxy. Rather than using chemical solvents as the carrier, these use water. Water-based epoxies are generally safer to apply, and they can be applied in various thickness levels. The last type of epoxy does not use a solvent. These are pure solid epoxy products that are applied in thick coats. Because of its viscosity, it can be more difficult to work with. However, it is not associated with environmental concerns that may be linked to solvent-based and water-based epoxies.
In addition to the differences in garage floor epoxy based on their type of solvent or the lack of a solvent, there are other differentiating factors. Each of the three types of solvents may be available in these variations:
- Epoxy Flake Floors – The epoxy is mixed with colored flakes to alter the look of the floor. These flakes may also add subtle texture, which could promote safety.
- Anti-Static Epoxy Floors – If you intend to use your garage as a work area, the concern about electrostatic shock could be addressed with this special type of epoxy floor.
- Quartz Epoxy Floors – Colored quartz particles can be added to the resin to create a decorative floor that also has excellent durability and slip resistance.
- Mortar Epoxy Floors – This is one of the toughest types of epoxy floors available, so it is mostly used in commercial settings. However, if your garage floor has visible damage, this may be a suitable epoxy floor type to consider.
- Self-Leveling Epoxy Flooring – This epoxy type is also used to conceal damaged concrete. In addition to producing a flawless floor surface, it can be decorative, slip-resistant and resistant to chemicals, heat and other forces.
How to Apply an Epoxy Coating
Epoxy application can be completed on your own as a do-it-yourself project, or you can hire a professional to do the work yourself. The project begins when you remove everything from your garage. This is not a project that you can complete in stages, such as by working on one half of the garage at a time. The entire surface should be treated at the same time. Epoxy cannot be applied to polished or sealed concrete, which is what is found in many residential garages. With this in mind you will need to prepare the concrete for the application of the epoxy. This could be completed through acid etching, shot blasting or floor grinding. Because this step is essential in order for the epoxy to adhere to the concrete, take time to ensure that the work is done correctly. This is also the time to repair any damages to the concrete.
You will then prepare your epoxy and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Depending on the type of epoxy that you are using and the longevity desired, you typically will need to apply an epoxy primer to the floor. The primer chemically binds to the concrete. It is a moisture-proof barrier that enables the epoxy to adhere to the floor. The application of the primer will be followed by the application of a decorative color coating or the base epoxy coat. If you intend to add colored flakes or chips to the epoxy, they will be added with this color coating. Another coat is applied over this colored coat. This top layer is usually made out of polyurethane and epoxy.
While installing an epoxy garage floor generally requires minimal skills, it can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. More than that, there are critical aspects of the preparation process that must be completed perfectly for the best results. With this in mind, some people choose to hire a professional to ensure that the work is done properly.
If you are thinking about protecting your space with an epoxy garage floor coating, take time to consider the type of epoxy that is best for your space. You can then explore the application process in greater detail to determine if this is a project that you want to complete yourself. Regardless of how your new floor coating is applied, you can appreciate the stunning results for many years.