Epoxy Coatings are one of the best flooring solutions for residential garages. They are inexpensive to install yourself, provide a super resistant and durable coating, and are fully customizable to your liking. With hundreds of epoxy products and DIY systems, the possibilities are endless. Installing an epoxy coating is not as hard as it may seem. For starters in 2017 64% of United State homeowners who have an epoxy coating in their home installed it themselves. This is not because 64% of homeowners are professional floor installers but because there are many reliable and easy to install DIY products on the market making it cost efficient for virtually anybody to install. Below we will discuss the standard process for installing an epoxy coating and show you how easy it really is to do yourself!
1. Epoxy Paint
2. Top Coat
3. Shop vacuum
4. Extension Cord/s
5. Garden hose
6. Long-handled brush
7. Stiff-bristle brush
8. Acid Etching Solution (Acid Magic or Muriatic Acid)
9. 9” in or 18” Roller Frames
10. 9” in or 18’ Nap Rollers
11. 3” in Handled Rollers
12. Rolling Stick Pole
13. Garbage Bags (Industrial)
14. Power drill
15. Metal Mixer
16. Wooden Mixing Stick
18. Spike Shoes
19. Gorilla or Duct Tape
20. Paper Towels
22. Red Painter Paper or cardboard
23. Plastic Sheeting
25. Latex Gloves
26. Respirator or Dust Mask
27. Instructions from your paint manufacturer
28. Mixing buckets
29. Bucket Liners
1. Read through the Instructions
2. Prepping the floor
3. Workstation Setup
4. Mixing the Epoxy
5. Apply First Coat of Epoxy
6. Throwing the Decorative Flakes
7. Let the Epoxy Dry
8. Mixing the topcoat
11. Final Product
Before starting any floor coating project the most important piece of information is your instructions. Please read them carefully before beginning. There are hundreds of epoxy, urethane, novolac, and polyspartic floor coatings on the market and coating application steps will differ from one another. It is vital that you carefully read the instructions that come with your floor coating product before applying to ensure you have all the necessary materials on hand. Failure to read instructions and ensure you have a proper working environment can lead to failing floors after application.
Aside from reading your instructions the second most important step is prepping your garage floor. Make sure that the area you are coating is clean of debris and clutter. Unless you plan on coating around an object (immovable walls, pipes, hot water tanks, machinery, etc.) then the entire floor must be cleared. Depending on what prep process you choose make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment. If you are diamond grinding or shot blasting please ensure you have protective gloves and goggles. If you are acid etching then ensure that you are wearing protective gloves, goggles and clothing (no shorts or sandals) at all times as acid etching solutions can cause skin and eye irritation. Now it’s time to prep the floor with your desired prepping process. Make sure to follow all the instructions for the proper prep technique.
Acid Etching – You will first power wash the entire garage floor to remove any dirt and dust. While the floor is still wet you need apply the acid etching solution (mixture of water and acid solution, follow the instructions per your acid etching solution) to the floor using the stiff bristle broom. It will need to sit for up to 45 minutes after you have thoroughly scrubbed the entire floor. Wait until the acid etch solution stops foaming and rinse the floor well to neutralize the acid solution and water mixture. Make sure to let the floor dry for at least 24 hours. Depending on air circulation, coarseness of the floor, and temperature, drying time will vary from a couple of hours to a full 24 hours (please ensure the floor is COMPLETLEY dry!). The epoxy needs to bond to the floor and will not be able to do so if the floor is wet.
Diamond Grinding/Shot Blasting/Sanding – Make sure to choose the best option for your garage floor. If you need to remove old paint, dirt, and grim then diamond grinding will be a great prepping option. If you need to remove glue, adhesives and any other guck then shot blasting will be the most efficient prep method. If the floor is in pretty good shape and only needs to be scratched up then using a sander or dimabrush type tool (with a floor buffer) will work well. Remember, the goal is to “open up” the floor to allow your coating to properly bond to the surface. After you have prepped, make sure you thoroughly remove all the residual dust and debris from the floor. Any residual dust left on the floor will get coated over if not removed before application. This can lead to uneven finishes and irregular high spots in your final coating. Time to setup your workstation!
Once you have cleared out all of your prepping materials and tools you will need to find an area to set up a workstation from. It is important to note workstation setup needs to be an easily accessible area that has exit routes away from the area you are coating. The best workstation is right outside of the garage. Lay down duct tape or gorilla tape to create a seamless finish where your floor coating will end. (insert picture)
Ideally, this will be where the garage door meets the concrete. If working indoors then make sure to setup your station near a doorway so when you are working your way toward the station you can easily clean up the workstation and coat the area you were working from (remember you will need an outlet to plugin the drill to so be sure to scope the nearest outlet). Lay down a plastic sheet. Make sure to tape down the edges so it does not blow way or get crumbled from applicators stepping on it. You will want to lay down the sheet so it is up against the seamless duct tape line you just put down. This is done so when you are walking to and from the workstation area you are not tracking paint onto your driveway! Roll out the painters cardboard on the plastic sheet. This is where you will mix your paint. If you are using an old sheet, or painter’s cloth then make sure to designate an area of it for mixing and lay down some cardboard on top for the designated mixing area. Lay out all of your tools. This will include your floor coating product (the epoxy!), 9” in or 18” Roller Frames, 9” in or 18’ Nap Rollers, 3” in Handled Rollers, Rolling Stick Pole, Garbage Bags (Industrial), Power drill, Metal Mixer, Wooden Mixing Stick, Paintbrushes, Gorilla or Duct tape, Paper Towels, Rags, Gloves, and Xylene (in case you spill and used for cleanup of your tools). You will want to tape the border of your garage floor with blue painters tape. Put the tape up against the wall so it meets the seam between the floor and the wall. You will put this down around the entire border of the garage as well as any poles, walls, machinery, or hot water tanks that are immovable. Once set up its time to start mixing that paint!
Note: If you are doing patch work on the floor such as filling expansion joints, hairline fractures or dings in the floor this would be the time to do so. Use your desired repair material but please be sure to read the instruction beforehand. Epoxy Central sells a special Crack Repair Epoxy Putty that can be coated over while still wet. Check it out here! (insert link)
Before you mix its important to make sure all of your painting sticks and rollers are set up and easily accessible so you do not waste time setting these up while the paint is mixed and hardening. Most coatingm anufacturers pre-measure the paints they sell. Depending on if you are using a 1, 2, or 3, part flooring product, mixing ratios will differ. Attach the metal mixer to the power drill. Pour your epoxy into a bucket with a liner (We suggest using bucket liners so you can reuse the bucket when you apply a second coat or topcoat) at the correct ratios. For instance, if you are using a 2:1 mix ration then mix 2 Parts A with 1 part B and begin to mix as directions state. Make sure to mix thoroughly! Any unmixed material will not harden. Move the power drill up and down and from side to side to ensure all materials are mixed properly. Once mixed your working clock is now ticking because the epoxy is already beginning to harden from the chemical reaction caused when mixing the parts together. Most floor coating products do not have long working times (appx 30 minutes but this can vary from product to product. Check the product SDS or MSDS for accurate info). Time to put that paint on the floor.
If you are using a painter’s pan then pour the epoxy into the pan. Carry the pan or the bucket to the farthest corner of the garage. Dip the stick into the pan or pour the epoxy onto the floor and begin to roll the paint in an M and W pattern (Insert Photo) ensuring that you fully cover every part of the floor. Repeat this process until the entire floor is coated and you have evened out any of the spots that have accumulated the paint. Put on your spike shoes. Make sure you have your decorative flakes mixed well. Walk on the floor and begin to throw the flakes into the air letting them float onto the floor. Think about how heavy of a flake design you desire. Walk around the floor carefully and cover to your desired broadcast. Remember, if your floor is extremely porous or was in bad condition before starting the installation the decorative flakes can be used to hid imperfections in the floor. Go a little heavier if you floor is beat up as this will help give your floor a more aesthetically pleasing result. Once finished carefully walk off the floor and be sure not to leave any skid marks or tracks from the spike shoes. Clean up your used materials and discard into garbage bags. Make sure to double bag garbage that has paint contents in it. Let the drying process begin!
Drying times will vary depending on many factors but most flooring products will dry within 24 hours. You will want to close your garage overnight to prevent any debris, leaves, or outside dirt from getting into the garage. Put a rock or brick at the base of the floor, where the garage door meets the concrete and either pull, if the door is unlatched, or close it using the door opener.
Note: If your floor is not dry within 24 hours you may have improperly mixed your coating and will have a big headache on hand.
To ensure that the floor is ready to be top coated you can walk on the floor to make sure it is dry.
Note: If you see any signs of areas that are still moist, wet or not fully cured DO NOT TOPCOAT yet. Contact your paint provider immediately as they can instruct you on the next best steps.
Your workstation should still be set up from the day before but If you cleaned up or were working inside then simply set up the workstation the same way you did when you applied the first coat. Mix your topcoat per the instructions. If you are using a non skid additive then mix per the instructions given. This will either be mixed into the topcoat or will be applied using a similar throwing technique like the decorative flakes.
Apply the topcoat using the same process you used for the first epoxy coating. Since most topcoats are clear you will want to make mental notes on where you coated to ensure you did not miss any areas. Once finished do a visual inspection of the floor. The floor should look glossy and wet. If see any areas that looks non glossy then go back over it with the topcoat to ensure you have coated the area.
Once finished top coating you will let the floor dry overnight. The topcoat will need 24 hours to fully dry and cure. Clean up your workstation and put any unused paint in a cool environment to save for a later date to do touch up work (only save if the mixture is unmixed or a 1 part product. If the product is a 2 part then any unused paint will need to be thrown into the garbage. DO NOT throw it down the drain or sewage pipes as this will harden and cause issues.
Check out your new floor! The floor should be fully cured after 24 hours and can be walked on. Do not put vehicles or heavy equipment/items for at least 48-72 hours. While the floor is hard, it still is curing. Moving heavy vehicles back onto the floor before 48 hours could lead to floor failure.
Now that you have a basic understanding of epoxy coating are installed it’s time to decide if an epoxy coating is right for your flooring needs. Our friends at Epoxy Central have some of the most affordable and reliable DIY coating Kits on the market. They sell complete “Job on a Floor” Kits that come with everything you will need to install a flor yourself. Starting from just $0.99 per sq.ft.
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