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My garage floor epoxy project

My wife and I just bought a new house, so naturally the first thing to be done before moving in is painting the garage floor with epoxy. :) Epoxy provides superior protection against oils, chemicals and stains by allowing them all to be wiped up easily. Plus it transforms your garage from dull and boring concrete to a beautiful space that makes one almost sad to park cars in. This is the second garage I’ve epoxied so this post is to document my experience as well as lessons learned throughout the process.

Not all epoxies are created equal, however. The $100 2-part kits you find at Home Depot and Lowes are water-based epoxies which are thin, require multiple coats, and won’t last as long as they should. I used one of these kits at my first house almost 10 years ago which turned out ok for the most part but there are areas where the epoxy pulled up from the concrete. This time I wanted something better: 100% solid epoxy. This is the premier epoxy flooring material which is much more expensive to manufacture than water-based epoxy and is also several times thicker than its off-the-shelf equivalents. The three manufacturers of solid epoxy that I considered for my project were Epoxy-Coat, Wolverine, and U Coat-It. Not only is solid epoxy several times the thickness of the water-based products, but it’s several times the price as well. You get what you pay for.

After doing hours of research and countless searches on garagejournal.com I decided on Epoxy-Coat for my project. Most people are very pleased with the results plus they recently signed a deal with Lowes who will distribute their products. While not readily available off-the-shelf in all stores, Epoxy-Coat can be special-ordered by Lowes in both full and half-kits at a price less than what you would pay direct from the MFR (the better deal is the full kit!).  As stated, a full kit can cover 500sq-ft and a half kit 250sq-ft each at 9.7dft (Dry Film Thickness). This equates to roughly 4 batches with the full kit and 2 batches with the half kit. Each full kit comes complete with a 6-gallon mixing bucket, 2 parts base coat/hardener, acid etch, squeegee, roller fill, mixing tool, gloves, paint chip flakes (3 colors), aluminum oxide (non-slip additive), and a video CD-ROM (also available on their website).

The base color and flake colors can be customized but I opted to use standard grey for the base with no flakes. Just a personal choice. If you like the confetti look and want to lay down flakes, you should also consider applying a clear coat to UV-protect the flakes which will fade over time otherwise. The clear coat will add roughly 50% to the per kit cost of your project.

Prep

Surface preparation is key and will directly correlate to the quality of floor you ultimately lay down. The garage I am working with is a 20-year old 3 car garage that has some minor surface cracking and grease stains. Luckily there was no previous sealer or that would have to be removed first. A floor can be prepped in two ways: washing/etching or diamond grinding.

Diamond grinding is what the pros do and can be done by you via a grinder rental at your local DIY store. These machines are large “walk behind” style machines with either single or dual heads. Edco is the brand that I’ve seen most recommended. The advantage of diamond grinding is that you will create a very consistent profile across the floor removing all surface imperfections and contaminants. You could also use a 4” or 7” diamond cup wheel attached to an angle grinder for small or tight areas. Either way be prepared to deal with a lot of dust. Pictured below on the right is a 7” Bosch with a dust muzzle that attaches to a shop vac.

            

Washing/etching is a more involved process that can also create a suitable profile for epoxy but requires much more elbow grease. This is the method I opted to use. First remove all loose material by sweeping/ leaf blowing. Remove surface contaminants like paint splatter using a scraper tool. Apply degreaser to oil stains and scrub with a stiff bristled brush. Wash thoroughly.

Pour the contents of the muriatic acid bottle (supplied) into a bucket and mix with 1 gallon of hot water. Pour into a plastic sprayer. Work in 10’x10’ sections spraying the acid on the floor and scrubbing with the stiff bristled brush. You should see some foaming which is the acid reacting with the concrete. Work over the entire floor and once complete, pour baking soda over the treated areas.

Triple rinse the floor with a garden hose ensuring that all materials are removed. Let the floor dry completely, depending on the outside temperature and humidity this could take a day or two. If the floor is even a little wet when you go to lay the epoxy you will have bubbles. Use a leaf blower to expedite the process. Once the floor is dry you can fill any cracks that you have with an adhesive acrylic caulk (NO SILICONE!) and a tape blade. While epoxy can be used to fill holes and cracks, it doesn’t work like you’d expect. Unless you specifically try to fill holes and cracks they may not cover completely from a normal application. Let the caulk dry completely then remove any drops or peaks along the cracks. Leaf blow the floor one more time and we’re ready to pour the epoxy.

Anti-slip additives

Epoxy-Coat sends you a bag of aluminum oxide (AO) which is a very hard glass granule looking substance that is added at the end of the application process. While AO is extremely effective, from what I’ve read, it is super hard and super SHARP. People report that a floor treated with AO is extremely hard to clean because it will literally shred your mops and rags. Squeezing a piece in the bag will cut you. If you work on your garage floor changing oil etc, guess what else it shreds? Pants, skin, elbows, kids…

I came across a product called SharkGrip made by H&C and sold by Sherwin Williams. It has the consistency of talcum powder and is mixed into the batch before it goes on the floor. Many people rave about this stuff because it adds good traction to an otherwise slippery epoxy floor plus leaves the floor cleanable and skin friendly. I opted out of using the AO and picked up a 16Oz bottle of SharkGrip for ~$15 from my local SW. They also sell a smaller 3.3Oz can that is intended to be mixed with 1 gallon of sealant/epoxy. Just to make sure, I asked Epoxy-Coat about SharkGrip and they have no issue using it with their product.

Application

Set up a mixing area and lay out all materials on a leak-proof drop cloth. Use the supplied measuring stick that has lines for where to pour A and B parts in a double or single batch. The B is the hardener which is clear, this goes in first. The base gets poured into the hardener. First mix the A base coat in its own bucket for 2 minutes with the mixing tool. This is when I added the SharkGrip. Since the A part is 2 gallons in the full kit, I poured in ~6oz of SharkGrip. Per the single batch measuring lines, this will create enough product to do a 10’x10’ area before you need to mix another batch. Add the hardener, then the base, and mix for 3 minutes. I sprinkled in an additional measure of SharkGrip at this step as well.

Pour all the mixed contents in a line on the floor at the far corner of the room. Consider which wall you will pour against because you have to first squeegee the epoxy perpendicular to the pour line to spread it out, then back roll in the same direction that you poured the line with the supplied roller. Some guys end up buying or constructing spike shoes to walk across the wet epoxy without dragging it everywhere. I didn’t need to use spikes because of the lip that goes around half of my garage so I was able to walk around without getting wet.

Epoxy-Coat recommends doing a 10x10 section, pouring another 10x10 section then going back to the first section and back rolling it again. By yourself this is a lot of hustle. I read in the forums that you can also do a section, wait 10 minutes then back roll it again before pouring the second section. This is what I did. During that 10 minute waiting period I used the cut brush to paint the lip “step” around the garage with the epoxy left in the mixing bucket. Worked like a charm. The epoxy pours and spreads more fluidly than you would expect. Keep pulling that squeegee across as far as you can to spread it out! The finished floor will be the thickest along the areas that you pour, keep that in mind.

I tried to fill a few holes with epoxy but you can’t back roll those areas or the product will get pulled right out. There was some fill here but I’ll need to go back and add more.

 

Towards the end I started to run out of base coat (A), although I had plenty of hardener (B). While mixing the last batch I came up just short of part A so poured everything into the A bucket to try to maximize the output. I figured this would result in having an excess of hardener so I would need to work fast to finish. I should have sprung for the extra half kit initially because this last batch ended up going on too thin. It did cover the entire floor but there was a clear disparity between the first few sections and the last. As you can see below, the top portion of the floor is thick and there is a distinct line between the lower half.

Not being able to settle with such imperfection, I set out to do what I should have originally and bought an additional half kit. Had I done this originally the A parts would be combined and mixed first to ensure color consistency. I would have to take my chances. To apply an additional coat of epoxy after the 24-hour window, the floor first has to be roughed up with 120-grit sandpaper. I picked up a pole sander and a pack of sanding sheets. Christine at Epoxy-Coat said that you only need to knock the shine off the floor before adding another coat. I went over the thin areas and areas that would over lap using about 3 sheets. With a damp rag I mopped up the dust and let it dry.

The rest of the process is the same for the second coat but I was much more liberal with my shark grip this round. I just poured and poured. The floor leveled up nicely and luckily the color match was almost dead on. The one thing that stands out now is the brush marks of the second coat against the area I did not re-coat. In hindsight I should have sanded the whole floor and just ran the roller over the old area to ensure a consistent profile. It still looks good. I am at peace with how it turned out because I am NOT touching this floor again!

The floor looks really slick but thanks to the SharkGrip it isn’t! Just to test I poured water on the thickest part of the floor and had my wife and kids try to slide through it. We couldn’t! Dry leaves are slippery coincidentally. Overall I am very pleased with the product and the results. I question the “3-4x stronger than concrete” claim as I was able to scrape up some epoxy overspray on the un-etched lip which came up fairly easily and was surprisingly pliable. Maybe with the clear coat it is much harder? It is no doubt miles ahead of the water-based solutions and I have no regrets except for the delayed second application.

Lessons learned

  • A single roller is not enough and will start to fall apart towards the end of the application. Plan on buying at least one spare and switch it out before it starts coming apart in your wet floor.
  • The supplied squeegee will not thread on the pole properly, you have to keep tightening it.
  • Bugs and leaves are a pain. Bugs you can’t do much about but get all possible leaves far away from your driveway so they don’t blow in during application.
  • A sharp chisel and hammer work well to open the container seals.
  • Put the baking soda down after etching BEFORE washing the floor. This was not very obvious to me from the instructions the first time through.
  • Epoxy is self leveling which is much more evident on thicker areas. Your brush strokes should disappear. Don’t expect holes and cracks to be filled perfectly, however.
  • Squeegee, squeegee, squeegee! Keep pulling it back and back as much as you can. You really need to thin the line you poured as much as possible.
  • Just like caulk, if you tape an edge to provide a nice line, pull the tape up while the product is still wet. If you wait too long you will get a raised edge.
  • If you are alone, do a 10’x10’ section, wait 10 minutes, then back roll it again before moving on to the next section.
  • Epoxy sets up much faster in warm weather so apply when cool if you can.
  • Plan how you will roll out the floor ahead of time. Don’t paint yourself into a corner.
  • Spike shoes are not an absolute necessity but will definitely make your life easier if you can get them.

11 comments:

  1. Such a nice blog on epoxy floor coating which is one the best Curing compound in building organisation that can renovate to the future expansion also this is one of the solution for warehouse use..

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, epoxy be one of the most popular and widely used today for housing as in garages, hospitals, sports arenas, etc.

    Commercial grade for coating

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, epoxy always be the most favorite in addition to traditionally used nowadays regarding housing such as garages, doctor's offices, sports activities sides, and so on.

      Delete
  3. Kudos for doing such a great on your floor guys! It was a lot of work, and you got a little helping hand in the process which makes the finished product better. How is it now? You can always check with trusted sellers for products that not only help clean your garage, but also your entire house as well.

    German Zollinger

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am interested in an epoxy floor in my garage. It seems convenient to use. Thanks for the lesson learned section. I thoroughly enjoyed the article! http://www.cretecoatings.com/#!epoxy-broadcast-floors-nc/c10cs

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think this kind of flooring looks really nice. That's great that they have non-slip additives that you can put in as well. I've never heard of SharkGrip before, but maybe I should look into it. I'm a fan of having things be skin friendly. http://www.nulookfloors.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have been thinking about applying epoxy to my garage floors and your article has inspired me to try it. Your step by step list of the process you used make the process seem fairly easy. Epoxy floors look great and I love the protection against stains that it provides. http://www.floorshieldinc.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm impressed that you were able to do this whole project on your own! It definitely seems like a long, complicated process. I can't even begin to imagine how frustrated you were when you had to deal with all the bugs and leaves that you mentioned. My dad does a lot of work in his garage and we're thinking about getting his floor coated. Hopefully we'll be able to find a nice service to help us out. Thanks for the post! http://garagefloorepoxy.org/garage-floor-painting-daytona-beach

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very nice post, impressive. its quite different from other posts. Thanks for sharing.

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    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks so much for sharing! Lots of thanks for this post.I think it is a very good post. It helps us many away. So many many thanks for this article.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Impressive! What if I use epoxy in my house instead of garage?

    ReplyDelete

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