Best Garage Floor Coating
Garage floors are an especially difficult painting problem. Extreme durability is required to withstand constant abrasion, items being dropped on it and chemical spills. The paint must be extremely hard, while still maintaining some flexibility to overcome this combination of dangers. For this reason, epoxy paint is normally used.
Epoxy paint is essentially a thinner, tinted version of epoxy adhesive. It is normally a two-part paint product, just as epoxy adhesives are. However, there are a few one-part epoxy products on the market which are specifically designed for use as garage floor coverings. I don’t understand how they can be one-part products, but still be epoxy. Nevertheless, their manufacturers label them as such and sell them as garage floor coatings.
Epoxy cures as a chemical reaction; which is different than other paint products. Almost all other paints dry by evaporation of the solvent that is in the paint. This is why VOCs are such an issue with oil-based paints. The solvents used in these products are VOCs. They must leave the paint by evaporation for the paint to dry. Due to increased regulatory requirements, more and more of these paint products are being replaced by water-based products; as water, by definition, isn’t a VOC.
Likewise, more and more epoxy paints are becoming water-based paints. From what I’ve seen, this has not reduced the quality or durability of these paints, as the epoxy still cures by a chemical reaction. Unlike other paint products, water-based and oil-based epoxy paints are extremely similar.
What makes an epoxy paint good is the percentage of solids that it contains. The more solids, the heavier and more durable a coat of finish it puts on the floor. High solids epoxies also soak in less, providing better coverage.
Coverage is a major issue for these products, as concrete is highly porous. A certain amount of the material soaks directly into the concrete, reducing the coverage area. This is hard to predict, as concrete used for garage floors varies considerably. The way that the concrete is finished has a part to play in coverage as well. The good news is that the more the epoxy seeps into the concrete, the better it bonds with the substrate.
Before using any garage floor coating, it is essential that the floor be totally clean. This is actually a bigger challenge than applying the floor covering, as garages typically have stains from oils and other chemicals. All of these, especially the oil, will reduce the adhesion of the epoxy to the floor. If the floor isn’t cleaned and prepared adequately, the covering will not last, but will flake and peel from the floor.
For this reason, it is best to apply an epoxy floor coating to new cement, before the garage is used. However, that is not always possible. If the coating is to be applied to an already existing garage floor, then it is important to take the time to thoroughly cleanse the floor.
Finally, remember that two-part epoxies have a limited working time before they cure. Check the working time for the epoxy product that you purchase and ensure that you can finish the application in the time available. Once it starts to thicken, effective application is almost impossible.
It is possible to mix only part of the product, rather than mixing the whole kit. However, when this is done, there is a very high risk that the second part won’t be exactly the same shade of color as the part already applied. Without exact measurement, it is impossible to maintain color consistency. When measuring to separate part of a kit out for later application or touch-up, remember that a 1:1 ratio may not be exact. Verify that both containers have the same amount of product in them, so that your measurement will be accurate.
ArmorClad Master Epoxy Floor Coating Kit
Epoxy-Coat Full Floor Coating Kit
Rust-Oleum 203373 Professional Floor Covering Kit
Quickrete 02-50020 Floor Epoxy Kit
SealKrete 962001 Low VOC Epoxy Seal Paint
With its high price tag, you’d expect ArmorClad’s epoxy floor covering to be a quality product and it definitely is. This epoxy product is 100% solids, providing a much thicker finish than other, lower cost products. The kit also comes with six pounds of decorative color chips, made from epoxy, to make a finish that is not only durable, but looks like more than just a paint job. The finished epoxy floor covering looks like a custom floor.
This product also meets military specifications, which we all know require the best possible quality, regardless of expense. Due to its durability, it is used by many garage chains and factories to provide a superior, chemical resistant finish in their facilities.
The kit includes everything you need to cover up to 600 square feet; including three gallons of epoxy, etching solution and clear topcoat. It also has all the tools needed, such as roller, pads a squeegee and even rubber gloves. If a larger surface needs to be coated, then an add-on kit can be purchased, which adds additional material without all the extras.
Epoxy-Coat is a similar product to ArmorClad, coming in a full kit, with all the necessary materials and tools. It also has an instructional video to show you how best to apply it. This product has three gallons of epoxy in the kit, providing coverage for up to 600 square feet. It comes with epoxy flakes to put in the finish, in a color to compliment the base color of the epoxy. Like ArmorClad, it is a 100% solids epoxy, providing the thickest possible coat, for maximum durability. One coat of Epoxy-coat provides a thicker finish than five coats of regular paints. A zero VOC product, Epoxy-Coat is environmentally friendly.
If the kits already mentioned are beyond your budget (nor surprising), then perhaps Rust-Oleum's epoxy floor covering will meet your needs. This is a smaller kit, with only two gallons of epoxy, not the three we've seen in the other kits. Nevertheless it still comes with the colored epoxy chips to make a nice finish. It is also available in a variety of colors. One thing you need to know is that this is a "high solids epoxy finish" and not a 100% "solids epoxy finish" like the more expensive finishes. So, while it will give an excellent quality finish, it won’t be as thick as the full solids ones are. It also doesn't cover as much (due to the smaller volume); but only covers a maximum of 400 square feet. That might not be enough to finish your two-car garage.
Yes, Quickrete does more than bags of concrete– they also provide the finish for the concrete, although it might be manufactured by others for them. This is a water-based, two part epoxy, with two gallons of material in the kit. That means that it will cover 300-400 square feet, like the Rust-Oleum product. Like the others we've looked at, it also comes with complementary colored epoxy flakes, making a nice finish for your floor. This kit does not come with all the necessary tools for application; but, then again, it’s much less expensive than those that do.
This is a one-part epoxy, which actually means that it is an epoxy fortified product. Epoxy resin is added to the paint, in order to give it a tougher finish. That’s not the same as epoxy and isn't as durable as epoxy, but it is much more durable than any other paint product. It is also much less expensive than epoxy paints, making it a good choice for those whose budgets don’t allow the high dollar epoxy coatings. While durable, you really can’t expect the same lifespan out of it that you can a true epoxy coating. However, with the lower cost, it can be repainted.
Before embarking on the current stage of my life, I spent 15 years as a Manufacturing Engineer in both the medical equipment field (medical electronics) and automotive engineering (city transit buses). After that, I owned a small construction company, mostly doing residential remodeling and commercial tenant finishes. I am no longer in either of these fields, but still get my hands plenty dirty as a consummate do-it-yourselfer; working on everything from remodeling my own home to rebuilding my car’s engines. My hobby (when I can find the time) is woodworking; making everything from toilet paper holders, to shelves, to music stands for my own home. My wife long ago gave up the idea that a two car garage is for parking two cars; it is my workshop.
While I cannot claim to having worked professionally with all types of tools, I have worked professionally with some. This comes from my previous careers, where I had to specify, buy and at times live with those decisions. Additionally, I would have to say that my engineering background has given me a thorough understanding of the construction of such tools. So, while I may not have used a particular type of tool personally, I have the knowledge to cut through all the advertising hype and statistics; in order to get at the truth of how well a tool will operate and last.
In my current career as a writer, I've written over 90 books. This includes my own titles and those I've written on contract. I've also written a complete website on how to build your own home.