Without a coating, concrete floors will become stained, and also chip and crack over time. There are different types of floor coating for protecting concrete.
Epoxy floor coating can be applied to a new floor or used to fill in chips and cracks in an old one.
Epoxy floor coating comes as a primer and a topcoat. The epoxy topcoat can be clear or pigment can be added to it; decorative flakes can also be added. It provides a smooth surface.
There is also the option of adding an epoxy stipple coat over the topcoat, which provides a surface much like an orange peel. Epoxy floor coating is resistant to automotive fluids and chemicals. It takes about three days to set up. Epoxy floor coating is often used in hospitals, detention centers, factories, and warehouses.
For people interested in home improvement, there are now DIY epoxy floor kits as well. They should come with everything needed for doing the job. Here is a short tutorial for that as well as a little guide on how to do epoxy garage makeover.
DIY epoxy floor kit
Many DIY people wind up having their epoxy floor kit crash and burn their first time because they didn’t realize that they had to prepare the floor first. However, every kit has specific prep instructions to ensure that you receive the best results for their brand.
At a minimum the floor should be cleaned, and power washed, although your product will tell you the exact steps that you should take.
First check for moisture
Some builders do not include a vapor barrier for their poured concrete surfaces. While you wouldn’t know this without checking, additional moisture seeping up will ruin a brand new epoxy floor.
Checking for moisture issues is easy, albeit a little time-consuming. Simply tape a small square of plastic over the concrete surface for a 24-hour period. If moisture has appeared on the plastic within that time, you’ll need a moisture barrier installed first.
Another thing to take note of is the weather. Before you begin, make sure that the weather isn’t going to adversely affect the temperature or the moisture levels in and around the cement surface. If the concrete becomes too cold or too wet, it will ruin the epoxy before it can even dry.
Remove the concrete’s sealer before beginning
Although most concrete, especially in home garages, is unsealed, a sealed space will not take epoxy. Epoxy needs the raw, porous type of cement to stick to it, and a seal will prevent that from happening.
If your concrete is sealed, the seal will have to be removed first. Chances are, you won’t be able to pour a seal remover on simply; a mechanical grinder will more than likely be needed to scrape it away.
Expose the concrete pores
Once the site has been properly prepared and cleaned, it will be time to bring out the pores in the concrete, also referred to as profiling. Profiling the concrete will increase the strength of the bond developed between the epoxy and the floor, giving it a better finish and a longer-lasting coating.
This can be done by etching the cement with muriatic acid; however, if you’ve already ground away from the initial seal of the concrete, you may as well continue scraping the bare floor to profile it. Whichever way you’ve chosen to profile the concrete, be sure to clean it again; otherwise, dust or toxic residues will stay behind and leave you with a poor quality finish.
Correct problems before applying the epoxy on the concrete
If you’ve noticed significant cracks or chips taken out, now is the time to repair these problems. Just be sure to avoid using a latex-based product in your repairs. Doing so will hurt the bond between the floor and the epoxy, and over time, the latex may even shrink and create a dip or depression in the floor. If your floor needs a new surface, check this guide on using a concrete floor leveling compound.
Use the kit when you’re ready
Follow the specific directions found on the container to ensure the best results. If you are using color chips, make sure to go heavy on them to make sure that they’ll be visible. Also make sure to have all the tools you need before you start, as you won’t be able to pause in the middle of the application. You should also know where or not you need to thin the epoxy down; straight solid epoxy will take longer.
Be sure there is no rain coming or any other danger of water. It will ruin the floor if there is moisture on the surface before you apply the epoxy or if it rains on it before it starts to get solid.
Tips on maintaining epoxy floors
Now your epoxy has hardened into a solid floor. These floors feature a very thick finish that makes them durable and relatively easy to care for.
Keeping your epoxy floor looking beautiful and resistant to damage does, however, require some maintenance. By following some simple guidelines you can provide the proper care for your floor and maintain its benefit for many years to come.
Make sure it is sealed
The first step in maintaining your epoxy floor will actually be taken while the floor is being installed. If you followed this guide and used a DIY kit, you might have one that came with it.
If you didn’t get one with the kit, make sure that a high-quality sealing coat is applied over the floor to ensure that it is properly sealed, protected, and finished. Do not settle for just a thin coat, or for no sealant at all. This is a necessary step if you want the beauty and usability of your floor to last.
Sweep it off
When cleaning your epoxy floor you will start by simply sweeping away dirt and debris. This can be done with any basic broom or a dry mop. Make sure that you do this frequently because although epoxy is durable, constantly treading over small bits of dirt or other material can cause these particles to become embedded in the flooring and cause damage.
A basic household cleaner is perfectly appropriate for cleaning your epoxy floor. There are certain stains and spills, such as tire tracks or hard water whitening, that need to be tended to prior to this washing. Do not use harsh chemicals, however. A simple rubber eraser can be used to effectively remove tire marks, and the white residue left by hard water pools can be rinsed away with a wipe of plain white vinegar.
Be sure to mix the household cleaner that you choose according to the directions and scrub with a sponge or cloth. Do not use a wire brush or other highly abrasive tool. Also never use dish soap or a body soap of any kind to clean an epoxy floor. These can create a dangerous and unsightly build up on the surface that will be nearly impossible to fully remove.
Immediately after you have finished scrubbing the floor you must rinse it thoroughly. This is absolutely imperative to maintaining the integrity of your epoxy floor. Use clear warm water to rinse away the cleaner and repeat until you no longer see any suds, bubbles, or residue.
Keep your floor dry
A critical aspect of protecting your epoxy floor will be to keep excess moisture away. Exposure to moisture can result in the surface of the epoxy bubbling, a defect that cannot be remedied. After you have rinsed the floor be sure to dry it carefully. Use a long-handled squeegee to pull away standing water and after that manually dry the entire surface.
To ensure the floor is protected from any other exposure to water ensure that all doors and windows leading to the outside are effectively outfitted with weather stripping to keep away the rain and snow. This will protect not only the finish but the underlying floor as well.
Epoxy is a good choice for your garage floor if you need a coating, like most of the concrete surfaces do if they are not coated. There are also some alternatives if you can’t get it or can’t use it.
Instead of epoxy, a concrete floor urethane sealer can also be used. Urethane sealers are high-gloss. They also involve putting down a primer and a topcoat. The topcoat is clear, but pigment may be added. Urethane sealers are also resistant to automotive fluids and chemicals, and they take about three days to set up. Urethane sealers are often used in retail stores and showrooms.
Another option for concrete floors is oil-based enamel paint. It resists automotive fluids. It cleans up with soap and water. But moisture or heat from tires may lift it off the floor surface. Some experts advise that you never use oil-based paint on a concrete floor.
Stains can also be applied to concrete floors. Stains have the advantage of soaking into the concrete instead of sitting on the surface of the floor. However, they don’t stand up to snow and rock salt well. The stain also needs a sealer on top of it.
Whichever concrete floor coating is used, it’s important to prepare the floor before applying it. The floor needs to be as clean and dry as possible. Use a degreaser, and, if necessary, a pressure washer. Remove all peeling paint. Give the floor several days to dry out. That way, all your work will pay off and you have a floor that will serve for over 10 years.
If you’re interested in building a garage, read about permits over here. If you don’t have one but are browsing here because you might want one it’s something you might be able to build without much paperwork depending on where you live.