Don't Buy Epoxy Garage Floor Paint Until You Read This First
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
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.
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?
Epoxy Garage Floor Paint Kits
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.
Learn more about flooring for your garage
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