Using the Right Garage Floor Epoxy
If you’ve decided to protect your garage floor with epoxy, then you should definitely be congratulated on making the right choice. From here, however you need to do your part to makes sure that the installation is not only solid, but that you get the right type for your floor. There are several different types out there, and you will be pleased to find that they can all be applied by hand without calling in professional help. So how do you do it? What is the best garage floor epoxy on the market, and when should you start applying it to your floor?
Let’s take a look at the three major types of garage floor epoxy so that you can make the right decision and most importantly, make it stick.
The Water Based Variant
Generally, this type is referred to and advertised as epoxy paint simply because it has some epoxy elements in it and can be applied as easily AS paint. That being said, DIY enthusiasts around the world love their water based epoxy when first applied. It really is a crowd pleaser due to their low cost. Some of the most popular brands are made by RustOleum and Quickrete, and you can easily find them in your local home improvement store. However there is the low durability factor to worry about, of course, and at the price point this really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to you. If you want to increase your durability, you might look for something a bit stronger that offers a top coat in addition to the epoxy layer, increasing thickness from 2-3 mils to a minimum of 14-20 mils or more. It’s a little more expensive, of course, but if you’re looking to do some heavy duty work in your garage or shop, you can be rest assured it will pay for itself the very first time you drop something on your floor or roll in with hot tires on your vehicle.
Pros: Water based epoxies are cheap, easy to install, name brand
Cons: Older formula, low resistance to chemicals/stains, low durability, lose their gloss very quickly and prone to peeling from hot tires.
If the water based epoxy isn’t quite enough for you (and it shouldn’t be, honestly) then you might want to take it to the next level by looking into the high solid based epoxy. This variant has stain resistance, and it can also withstand both chemicals and abrasions of nearly any kind. In addition to that they have the best solids content, with some actually being 100% solids epoxy. When buying 100% solids epoxy, stick to the Aliphatic type. Aliphatic are superior to other Hybrid 100% solids epoxies in many ways.
You want to avoid single coat systems. Since one coat cannot provide all the critical ingredients you need, sort of the jack of all trades and master of none sort of thing. Multi layer epoxy systems are much thicker than the water based and single coat solids versions. As a matter of fact, it will cure to about 14 mils to 25 mils.
The shorter the pot life the better quality the epoxy is. Water based epoxies have pot lives of up to 3 or 4 hours which is why they are low quality. Good epoxies have a pot life of about 45 minutes. The shorter the pot life the better the epoxy, a long pot life or a wait time is tell tale sign of an inferior epoxy.
This particular type is not generally meant to be used on its own, but rather as a topcoat on top of a quality solids epoxy. This will add both durability and thickness, in addition to giving your floor a deep gloss and shine that you crave when you’re coating a floor. Before you apply this type of coating, you may want to consider adding paint chips in the epoxy coating to add to the character of the floor. Also keep in mind that the broadcast will give the floor more thickness, and therefore more durability in the long run. The chips give you both functionality AND aesthetics.
Pros: Thicker, great topcoat, highly durable, anti-slip surface
Cons: Slightly more expensive, generally only works as a topcoat, highly recommended.
Installing the right garage floor epoxy coating is without a doubt one of the best things you can do for your concrete floor. It will definitely cost you a bit to get started, and even more so if you choose one of the higher quality resins. Once you do have it installed, however, you will find that your floor is perfectly protected, and that it will be so for the foreseeable future. The great thing about a garage floor epoxy coating is that it takes any abuse before your concrete floor does, meaning your original flooring will remain perfectly intact. Ideally, the concrete below should never see the light of day. It would be a good idea, in that regard, to make sure that you’re dealing with a top coat that’s easy to maintain, won’t yellow or fade, and one that you can handle looking at for the next ten to fifteen years. It’s time to stop relying on your old concrete floor to hold up, and time to give it the help it’s going to need to handle the hard knocks. Look for a topcoat that has an abrasion rating of 20mgs or less for garages, 8mgs or less if you do work in the garage or for a commercial floor and 4mgs or less for industrial applications. It’s time to cover up.