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Don't Buy Epoxy Garage Floor Paint Until You Read This First

Updated on February 26, 2013

Do you know what you are buying?

A continually rising trend with homeowners today is garage makeovers. More and more people are taking the time to organize and personalize their garage to create an extended area of the home that will add value and function. As a result, garage floor refinishing has increased with epoxy floors leading the charge. However, homeowners have been going to their local home improvement stores to purchase "do it yourself" epoxy floor paint kits and are not always happy with the results. There are two reasons for this. The first is that most people don't realize what they are purchasing relative to what they want to accomplish. The second is poor floor preparation. Let's take a look at what you should know before buying one of these kits and learn why the bad reputation they sometimes receive may be unjust.

Commercial epoxy floor with a glossy clearcoat
Commercial epoxy floor with a glossy clearcoat

Commercial epoxy floor

When people think of epoxy floors, the first thing to come to mind are the glossy looking floors seen in car showrooms, custom garages, and pictures on the internet. These floors are beautiful and most are professionally done and can be installed in your home. The cost for installation is $4.00 - $5.00 a square foot, depending on materials, which is roughly $1,800 for a typical 2-car garage of just over 400 square feet. It includes an epoxy primer coat, color coat, paint chips if desired, and two clear top coats. Cost for the materials if you were to do it yourself would be $500 to $600.

Epoxy paint
Epoxy paint

Garage floor epoxy paint kit

Now, let's compare that to the epoxy paint kits that can be purchased at the home improvement stores. These generally consist of one color coat followed by paint chips that are thrown onto the top. These kits cost between $60 and $100 depending on if you buy the professional version or not. For an additional $80 - $100 you can purchase a clear top coat to add to the color coat. So obviously we are dealing with less epoxy coats for this type of flooring, but the material is substantially less as well.

What's the difference?

The reason for this difference is the solids content in the epoxies. Most professional epoxies used by contractors are 100% solids or close to it. That means that once applied to the surface, nothing evaporates and what you are left with is exactly what you put on. These epoxies have thick layers of well over 10 mils. They have a short pot life of 45 minutes (how long you have to apply it) and are applied with squeegees and rollers. In short, they can be difficult to work with if you haven't done it before.

Epoxy paints have a solids content of just over 20%. The other 80% is either water or solvent which acts as a carrier agent for the epoxy. This is why it easy to apply like paint is and has a pot life of over 2 hours. Once applied, 80% of the product evaporates leaving you with 20% left on the floor for a thickness of only 3 to 4 mils. For reference, 1000 mils is equivalent to 1 inch. So now we are comparing a professionally coated epoxy floor of over 50 mils to a floor of less than 8 mils if you add the clear coat.

What else you should know

Most complaints from epoxy paint kits are that they peel up after a while. Concrete is very porous and these pores need to be exposed for epoxy to create a mechanical bond with the floor. If your concrete has a smooth finish to it, epoxy will not bond no matter how clean the floor may be. Epoxy paint doesn't peel due to being a poor product however, but from being applied to a poorly prepared floor.

In order to expose these pores, contractors will grind the concrete prior to application in order to achieve a good mechanical bond with the epoxy. This isn't always feasible for the average homeowner, so instead you can usually get satisfactory results by etching the concrete with a good aftermarket product. After cleaning and etching your concrete you can test your floor with a few drops of water in various areas. THIS IS IMPORTANT! If the floor turns dark immediately from absorbing the water you are good to go. If it beads up at all, then your epoxy will not bond permanently and you will need to etch again. The problem with most kits is that the etching solution that is provided may not be strong enough. You may need to purchase a stronger solution from your nearest home center.

Another consideration is moisture issues with the concrete. Moisture coming from your slab will delaminate the epoxy no matter how well prepped your floor was. You can do a simple moisture test by taping a 16" square piece of plastic sheeting to your floor. After 24 hours if the concrete is not damp or the plastic hasn't collected water on the inside, then you should be fine.

Garage Floor Epoxy Paint Kits - Tell us what you think of these inexpensive epoxy paint kits!

Have you installed one of these kits in your garage?

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Final conclusion?

So to be fair, epoxy paint kits are not bad products if applied correctly and you understand what you are getting. Most failures are due to errors in preparation and application, not poor quality product. Is it as nice as the thicker 100% epoxy? No, it's only a one or two coat product that is much thinner than a professional installation and will eventually wear thin in five or six years, but it will still add value and protection to your garage floor. If you understand this before you decide to purchase it, then you will be much happier with it once it is installed.

Guestbook comments on epoxy paint floors are welcome!

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    • lucille12 profile image

      lucille12 3 years ago

      When it comes time to organize that mess you call a garage then you need to decide on which garage storage organization system is best for you and your needs.

    • IamShea profile image

      IamShea 4 years ago

      @calconcrete: Yes, I have to agree that they aren't the best product you can put on your floor - especially when comparing them to commercial quality epoxy systems. We've had to grind a few of these off ourselves. However, there is a reason why these are one of the highest volume sellers for garage flooring in the home improvement market. They are inexpensive and easy to apply. That is why we feel it's important to explain what the difference is and what to expect. It's like buying a car. Not everyone can afford a quality expensive one, but they should know what they are getting when buying the cheap one.

    • calconcrete profile image

      calconcrete 4 years ago

      All these $99 epoxy floor kits are CRAP.

      They only contain cheap materials and do not produce a good-looking or long lasting coating.

      We frequently grind off these cheap jobs to give the customer what they are looking for.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 5 years ago from Europe

      You can't escape the "You get what you pay for" rule!

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 5 years ago from Ireland

      Great info. I wish I'd known about these epoxy floor paints at my last home as my garage desperately needed some love!

    • profile image

      FashionMommy 5 years ago

      Very informative lens. Thank you so much for sharing :)

    • Sky Breeze profile image

      May Matthew 5 years ago

      Thank you for the useful information on this nice lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @TonyPayne: Check out the interlocking tiles. My garage has cracks and stains and I think these will work great.

    • IamShea profile image

      IamShea 5 years ago

      @TonyPayne: Yes, moisture can be a problem with epoxy floors and that's why there are so many options for garage flooring these days. Interlocking tiles would be a good choice for floors with moisture issues for example. Good luck with the renovation and I hope the snails don't mind the eviction!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Useful tips. We are just having our garage rebuilt, since it leaked like a sieve through the walls, the roof was covered in condensation, but the snails loved it. Since it's at the bottom of the garden and mostly used for tools, I can't see us doing this to the floor, but if we had a nice attached garage it might be worth it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is good stuff to know, thanks. Since we plan on staying in our house for quite a while I think I might need to look at something a little more substantial.

    • BlogsWriter profile image

      BlogsWriter 5 years ago

      I am glad that you have put the right tips for people who want to DIY with epoxy paints. Why not? In these days not everyone can afford to hire professionals, besides they are costly and one can save quite a dime by doing it yourself.

    • IamShea profile image

      IamShea 5 years ago

      @BlogsWriter: Thanks, that was one of my goals. You don't always need an expensive epoxy floor to make you happy and meet your immediate needs.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Good information, thank you

    • IamShea profile image

      IamShea 5 years ago

      @Anthony Altorenna: I'm glad it helped you out Anthony. People seem to be much more satisfied with the outcome of epoxy their floors when they understand what to expect about what they purchase.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      I'm thinking of applying epoxy to my basement floor, which is a large area, and I can only afford a DIY option. Thank you for quality, easy-to-understand information.

    • IamShea profile image

      IamShea 5 years ago

      @anonymous: You are welcome Margaret.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Now I know why my son's epoxy floor is wearing out.....informative article. Thank you

    • IamShea profile image

      IamShea 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I'm glad it helped you out Randy

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Good information. I was going to buy one these kits from Home Depot. Now that I know what these are about I think I will need a clear coat as well to get the look I want.


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