Question #1 Aren't all garage floor coatings the same? Can't we just get a DIY kit from a big box store?
Yes, and No. Some of the big box stores sell kits that are a one-part system. This is really no more than acrylic/latex paint with some epoxy in it (to help it stick). Then they do have 2 part systems in some DIY kits. These will last a bit longer, but no where near as long as a professional floor application. Why? Preparation and tools involved.
These box kits come with an acid etching system to make the concrete porous and ready for the epoxy paint. This will be good enough only for a few years before the paint starts wearing down, or flaking up.
What the professionals do is use a diamond grinder wheel with a buffing machine, which you’d have to rent, if you wanted the epoxy to really stick to the concrete. That’s an added cost, and learning how to use a buffer machine without wrecking your walls is another thing.
Professionally installed epoxy flooring lasts upwards of 20 years.
Question #2 What is epoxy paint vs epoxy flooring?
Epoxy “paint” is an acrylic or latex based paint with some epoxy in it to help it stick to the concrete. It usually is just a one-part system paint, meaning you don’t have to mix it with something to activate it.
Epoxy Flooring on the other hand is a 2-part system. There is a the epoxy and pigments, then there is the hardener that is added to it to start the chemical reaction. The temperature in the room can affect how much time you have to work with the flooring to get it applied.
Temperature is important because epoxy flooring doesn’t dry, it cures. So, for every 10°C increase, the curing time gets cut in half. Where as with epoxy paint dries in a few hours, epoxy flooring cures in days.
Also, to be considered “Flooring”, the material must be over 2 millimeters thick. Paint is much less than that.
Question #3 Can I just sweep and mop the floor to get it ready for epoxy?
No. Not even in the DIY kits can you just sweep and mop and make it ok. The garage floor must be swept, wet/dry vacuumed, acid etched, washed again, and wet/dry vacuumed again. The you have to wait more than 24 hrs to make sure it’s bone dry. And that just for the DIY kits. What happens if you run into broken concrete, cracks, and cut expansion joints?
Professionals use a diamond cutting wheel on a buffing machine to grind off a top layer of the concrete. This removes grime, high spots, and anything that has accumulated on the surface. Then they fill in all concrete cracks, patch all holes and broken concrete. Then they wash it down, and wet/dry vacuum the whole floor.
This leaves the floor clean of grease, oils, and any other chemicals that would prevent the epoxy from sticking to the concrete.
Question #4 Why do garage floors have to be redone every 1-3 years?
They don’t have to be, if they were professionally done. The reason why some flooring needs to be refinished is usually because the preparation work wasn’t done properly.
As described above, preparation work is quite a chore, possibly taking a few days to get right. When something involves this much work, the DIY’er may not be
up to it. If the preparation step is not done properly, the floor will fail in a few years. This is why, in the long run, it’s better to have your epoxy flooring professionally installed.
Question #5 Why are professional garage floors expensive?
The average cost to install a professional epoxy floor is anywhere from $3 to $12 a square foot. In comparison, a tile floor goes for between $5-$10, and you can’t drive on it or drop heavy things on it or it’ll crack. So, is it really that expensive?
What goes into a professionally installed, epoxy floor? Preparation, application, and finishing are the 3 main phases of any epoxy flooring project.
Preparation: We covered most of this above but, I’ll go over it again. The floors have to be scuffed up with a diamond cutting wheel, so that the epoxy flooring will stick to it better. Then all cracks, and holes must be filled. All broken up concrete must be repaired. Then everything that you don’t want epoxy on, painters tape gets applied to these areas.
Then the entire floor is vacuumed, and wet/dry vacuumed again. The floor must be dust free.
Application: So called “Garage Coatings” are just a coating of paint with little epoxy in it. Whereas professional epoxy flooring is applied at the minimum of; 2 millimeters thick. This is the real difference in “garage coatings” and epoxy flooring. The thickness makes the difference.
In addition to the thickness, the cost also depends on what you’ve discussed with your contractor. Will the design be a straight solid color? Will there be multiple colors in the floor? Do you want it to have a 3D effect? All of these factor into the price too.
Finishing: After the epoxy is allowed to fully cure for a few days, the floor is polished to a brilliant shine. Any imperfections are corrected and re-polished. Depending on the size of the floor it can take quite a while to buff and polish the floor, adding to the cost.
If these are some of your questions about epoxy flooring, we hope you have a better understanding of them. If you have other questions, please ask us anytime.
If you want a DIY painted floor that will last only a year or 2, go for the DIY kits. But, it you want a professional floor with epoxy swirls and designs in it, and you want it to last upwards of 20 years, you have to go for a professionally installed, garage epoxy floor.