Overview: Garage Floor Coatings
When it comes to garage flooring, picking out the right product can be a challenge. In this article, we outline a few guidelines for people considering a garage floor coating.
First, Talk to the Experts.
The first thing that people need to understand is that no article, product page, or podcast will cover everything they need to know. We highly suggest talking to someone who knows the products and can help you make a decision. Feel free to call or chat with us – we are experts and here to help!
Next, people need to take a personal audit.
- Are you equipped to repair and prepare the floor, which typically involves acid etching or grinding as well as repairing cracks?
- Are you handy enough and technically minded enough to install chemicals like epoxy or Polyurea on your floor? In the case of epoxy, you should be prepared to work quickly and accurately measure multiple parts or risk the floor not curing.
- What are you willing to spend?
Now, Look at the Garage.
What condition is the concrete in – does it need minor repairs such as filling cracks? If so, can you do those repairs and be happy with the surface texture? Does the concrete need major repairs? If that is the case, you may consider a concrete resurfacing. Another choice is to coat an imperfect floor and hope for the best. For example, Tom’s Epoxy Project. While this is not the correct way to go, it is often done out of necessity.
If the floor is in good shape, we generally suggest a polyurea garage floor coating. Polyurea is much more friendly for the DIY crowd. It does not require exact chemical mixing and does not have a pot life. Generally, it is more durable, much more UV resistant, and tends to be more chemical resistant. People can do a single coat of clear to seal and bring out the concrete’s natural look, a standard two-coat system, a three-coat system, or even a full-broadcast system. Anything two coats or less can be done in a day and will be usable within three days during the summer months. Generally speaking, Polyurea is usable in about ½ the time as epoxy. As a side note, people looking for white floors should absolutely find a way to use the Polyurea.
There are two significant downsides to Polyurea. It stinks – literally. While the solvent is gone in 3 days, the odor can linger for a week or so in some cases. The other downside is Polyurea does not hide any damage or poorly-done repairs.
The more traditional garage floor coating is an epoxy. Suppose you are looking for a good quality epoxy. In that case, you want a 90-100% solids product paired with a primer and a good aliphatic urethane. We suggest epoxy when the price is a concern, for certain industrial applications, and where a higher Mil thickness is necessary to cover a little damage or imperfect repairs. The primer is basically a watered-down epoxy. It penetrates the concrete and gives good adhesion. The high-solids or 100%-solids epoxy provides your main coating. The urethane is a sacrificial layer that can be easily repaired while providing some chemical and UV resistance. Generally speaking, a good high-solids epoxy is easier to work with than 100%-solids, with minimal performance difference.
Cheap Floor Coatings
That’s all well and good, but let’s face it. Every once in a while, we have a situation where someone is looking to coat their floor quickly and cheaply. In most cases, you are way better off using a couple of coats of a good epoxy primer or a product like our water-based epoxy from a reputable flooring company than purchasing cheap epoxy system with no support. The big issue with some of the inexpensive systems in pretty boxes is not that the product is bad but that the marketing literature and information greatly under-estimates what is needed. The customer has to really dig into the technical documents.
In a nutshell…
That’s a really broad birds-eye view. In a nutshell, go with Polyurea unless there is a damaged floor, industrial application, or the primary concern is the price.
The Coating Lingo:
It’s also important to understand some of the words that get thrown out there:
Random Broadcast: A coating system with some flake in it
Full Broadcast: A coating system where flake or other media covers the entire base coat
Mil: 1/1000 of an inch
Dry Film Thickness (DFT) How thick your floor will be after it cures
Wet Film Thickness (WFT) How thick it goes on
Percentage of Solids: If you take a 1 gallon can, the percentage of solids represents how much usable material is in that can. So if you get an epoxy that is 90% solids, you have 90% epoxy and 10% water or solvent. The percentage of solids accounts for the difference between how thick a floor is wet versus dry. A good epoxy will be 90% solids or more. A good Polyurea will be 68% solids or more.
Lastly, there are a few more things to consider. There is not a coating out there that will not be damaged by molten metal like welding slag. Protect your floor. If the coating process seems like too much work, there are other solutions out there, like garage floor tiles.