If you’re looking to upgrade the look of your garage, there’s no better way to start your upgrades than from the bottom-up. Even if you have finished walls in your garage, the one thing that keeps the typical garage feeling more like storage space and less like an extension of the home is the standard concrete floor.
But thankfully, there’s an affordable, practical solution to improve the look and longevity of your garage: an epoxy coating. Epoxy coating, which you’ve likely seen in professional garages and even some commercial gyms, can be an easy way to both enhance the aesthetic of your garage floor and add some beneficial water-resistance and stain-resistance to the concrete floor beneath it.
Even better, although professionals may quote you a price in the thousands of dollars, this is one garage upgrade that can be a simple DIY project that turns out great with a little planning and research.
Choosing Your Epoxy-Coat Floor Finish
In most cases, epoxy-coat finishes can fit into two categories: flake finishes and metallic finishes. As you can see below, just because there are only two main categories doesn’t mean there isn’t a wide variety of possibilities for the final look of your garage floor.
Pictured here, you can see that flake finishes can be applied in light, medium, or heavy flake densities, which can drastically change the overall look of your garage floor in combination with the color variations of the main epoxy color, which can range from light to dark.
Metallic finish epoxy floors can also vary greatly, from subtle, neutral shades to electric and vibrant hues, like the bright blue epoxy-coated floor pictured below.
You can get even more creative and created a marble floor look by mixing multiple solid colors. As long as you make sure that whatever finish you choose complements the other elements of your planned garage upgrade projects, your new epoxy-coated floor will elevate the look of the space while also providing moisture and stain resistance to keep your garage floor in good condition for much longer.
Prepping Your Garage Floor
For your garage floor to accept and bind to the epoxy coating well, you need to make sure that you thoroughly prep its surface. The following steps are what help the coating apply evenly and allow it to last for a long time.
The five main steps for prepping your garage floor for an epoxy coating are:
- Removing any sealant or paint on the garage floor
- Clean up any grease or oil that may be on the floor.
- Repair any cracks or fissures in the floor.
- Expose the pores on the surface of the concrete through grinding.
- Sweep and vacuum the dust made from grinding to clear the floor.
Removing any sealant or paint that may have previously been applied to the floor is critical because any section where they remain won’t properly bond to the epoxy coating. You can check for these substances by putting a small amount of water on the floor.
If the water beads up on the surface of the floor, you’ll need to use a grinder to break down and remove the layers. Then, clean up the floor using a degreasing agent to remove any grease or oil from your car, lawnmower, or other sources.
Next, inspect your floor carefully, looking for cracks and fissures in the concrete. Epoxy-coatings are generally self-leveling, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll adequately fill and even out extensive gaps in the floor. Repair this type of damage using concrete patch materials, but make sure to allow the filler to cure fully before grinding it down to make the top surface even.
Additionally, if your floor has extensive damage, you may want to go with a heavy density flake finish, which can disguise any unevenness left on the floor after your prep work is done. Finally, you’ll need to keep the grinder out for the next prep step, which requires you to take your grinder to the garage surface to fully expose pores in the concrete’s surface.
This allows the epoxy to fully bind with the concrete throughout the floor (although acid etching is also an option). As your final step before applying the coating, sweep and/or vacuum the dust generation from grinding the floor until most of the dust is removed.
Then, apply painter’s tape (making sure to get a wider version) all along the bottom edge of the walls in your garage. Now you’re ready to start mixing the epoxy coating.
Mixing the Epoxy Coating
Before you start this stage of the process, you must get out the tools need for coating the garage floor. Depending on the specific epoxy coating kit you buy, you may need to apply the epoxy fairly quickly to get the best result, so you don’t want to be wasting time gathering supplies you should have already have reading to go.
In general, the tools you’ll need include:
- Gloves (latex or nitrile)
- Tarp (to lay supplies for mixing)
- Calibrated measuring containers (1, 2.5, or 5 qt sizes)
- Drill (variable speed)
- Mixing paddle
- Paint mixing sticks
- Paint roller frames (18”)
- Lint-free paint rollers (18”)
- Paint roller tray
- 5-gallon bucket
- Spiked shoes (if you’re applying a flaked finish)
- Acetone (to clean up epoxy)
- Painter’s rags
Once you have your supplies ready and laid out on your mixing tarp, review and follow the mixing instructions for your epoxy coating can or kit, using the calibrated measuring containers to add precise amounts of each element in the 5-gallon bucket.
Next, attach the mixing paddle to your drill and use it to thoroughly blend the epoxy mixture in the bucket as indicated in the product instructions. If the coating you’re using is particularly fast-acting, you may want to have a helper at hand to get the work done as quickly as possible.
Applying the Epoxy Coating
Once your epoxy coating is properly mixed, check the product specifications and measure out an amount of the mixture that is meant to cover and surface area smaller than your garage’s space.
Then, use the paint rollers and tray to evenly and quickly spread your first coat over the garage floor. Different epoxy coating kits will specify whether you’ll start with a primer layer versus a color layer as well as whether you’ll apply 1 or more color coatings. One critical component to pay attention to is the temperature and humidity during and after each application.
Variation from the “ideal” weather conditions listed on the product container may mean that you have to allow the coating to cure for longer between each layer applied. The ideal temperature tends to range from 70 degrees to 80 degrees, and cooler temperatures and higher humidity will slow down the curing process. Try to avoid starting this project when humidity is projected to be over 85%.
Also, remember that roughly half an hour after each application, you’ll need to remove the painter’s tape from the wall and apply new tape before additional coating, as fully cured epoxy coating won’t let you cleanly remove the tape.
The epoxy mixture will tend to separate the longer it sits, so make sure to repeatedly blend the mixture using both the mixing paddle with the drill as well as with the paint sticks, to make sure to incorporate any color pigments that have likely settled to the bottom of the bucket.
Finally, if you’re using a kit that is meant to provide a flake finish, you’ll need to pre-load your chip brush with the vinyl flakes that you’ll be using. The flakes will go over you’re final color layer, so, if you’re working with a partner, have one person roll the painter rollers back and forth over sections to remove any lingering air bubbles, while the other starts to add flakes using the pre-loaded brush (if you’re working alone, tossing flakes and rolling over them may work better).
Depending on how dense you want to flakes to be, you can apply 1 or more coats of the vinyl flakes until you get your desired look. After that, you’ll need to wait until the coating fully cures, which can take 24 hours before you can walk on it and at least 72 hours before you can bring your car or other heavy equipment back into your garage.
Once that waiting period is over, you have a brand new floor that will match any other upgrades you decide to make to your garage!