After organizing my garage, I decided to install an epoxy floor. I documented the process here.
Why Put in an Epoxy Garage Floor?
I've been on a mission to organize my garage. I've gotten rid of tons of junk, bought garage shelves from Costco, organized all the tools, and installed a bike rack. I thought I was done—but the garage floor looked terrible. It had oil stains and large cracks. I wanted to repair the floor since my wife and I work out every day in the garage, and I thought that after all the work I did on fixing it up, putting in an epoxy floor would be the finishing touch.
It took two days for my floor to be installed by professionals. Here is how they did it.
Step 1: Grind the Floors
After the garage was fully emptied, they used an electric hand grinder on the floor. They ground down some of the high spots and evened out areas around the cracks. The grinding process is essential so the epoxy and sealer will adhere to the floor. For garages with harder cement, they may need an upright (more powerful) grinder.
After the floor had been ground, they used a high-power pressure washer and cleaned the entire floor. As soon as they finished the pressure washing they used squeegees to get all the water out. This part of the process went really quickly.
Step 2: Fill the Cracks
To fill the cracks in the garage floor they used a quick drying product called SpeedFinish. They smoothed out the cracks and blended them into the floor. They assured me that the Epoxy would stick to the new cement by being absorbed while the finishing compound dried.
Step 3: Apply the Epoxy
They started applying the epoxy by using paint brushes and painting all around the edges. Then they used rollers with long handles to finish putting it on.
Quality of Epoxy Varies
I learned through my research that the quality of epoxy varies a great deal. I originally started researching vendors to put in the floor and found a few people through Yelp since I felt that the Home Depot products weren't going to hold up to the hot tires on my car. They used two products on my floor that are rated for medium industrial use.
- 4195 Direct to Concrete Epoxy
They use this product because it contains primer and it's designed to accept the plastic chips that give it a speckled look. NOTE: The chips look great, but what they really do is provide some texture on the floor so it's not nearly as slippery when wet. It is highly advised to add a chip. If you don't use a chip, you should use another product.
- 4800 Clear Epoxy
They used the 4800 to seal the flakes. This product is supposed to be UV resistant, although the literature says it's "mildly UV" resistant. The installer said it would hold up on the small lip that is exposed to the outside under my garage door.
Step 4: Sprinkle the Flakes
The flakes they used on my floor was a medium flake system. They wore shoes studded with spikes (similar to cleats) and walked all over the floor while it was wet and sprinkled the flakes very lightly by hand. It's amazing how evenly they were able to distribute the flakes.
It was about 30 minutes after applying the epoxy paint that they started tossing the flakes on to the floor.
How Long Does It Take for Epoxy to Dry?
They painted the epoxy on in one day and the next morning it was dry enough to walk on. If you think about it, it has to be able to dry in one night because the next day they were rolling on the sealer.
Step 5: Seal the Floor
After leaving the garage door open all night to help the floor dry, they came back the next morning and painted the epoxy sealer (4800 clear epoxy) over the first coat and the chips. I asked them to put on a thick coat because to make the floor a bit smoother. We work out in our garage, so I didn't want the floor to be too rough to the touch.
What You Need to Know About Epoxy Floors
If you are going to put an Epoxy floor in your garage or house a few things you should know.
- First, the products I mentioned in this article are intended for garages. Research what products are best for inside a home.
- Second, the chemicals used in the epoxy smell really strong. Our house sits above the garage and that may make it worse. Unless you like inhaling fumes, I suggest making sure the house has plenty of fresh air or staying out of your house while it's installed.
- Quotes vary a great deal. We got two quotes. One was from a national chain called Premier Garage and the other from OTEPoxy in the Bay Area. Premier Garage was $5 per square foot with the chips while OTPoxy was $3 per square foot.
When can we walk on it and drive on it?
So, now that we have a fresh floor in the garage, the question is when can we use it?
- One day after the sealer coat is applied it is OK to walk on it, but not drive or have heavy equipment on the floor.
- Five days after the sealer coat is applied it is OK to drive on with the products used for this floor.
Note: Timing varies by the type of epoxy and sealer used on the floor!
DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
The products used on my floor were likely a few hundred dollars worth of materials. I watched them do the floor and I could do it, but it would have taken me a lot longer to do. They had three installers working about two to three hours a day who were very efficient.
The workers I hired also brought their own tools:
- Pressure washer
- Spike shoes
- Brushes and rollers
They had a few other tools that most people don't have. I think I would have had to spend $400 to $500 on additional tools. A good cement grinder can easily cost over $300.
So, let's say you have the tools. Then it comes down to self-evaluation. Do you have the time and skill? I strongly considered doing it myself, but ultimately I hired OTEpoxy and I think they did a great job.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Extreme Epoxy Coatings from Fresno on April 30, 2018:
I appreciate the detail in this article. Well written and too the point!
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on March 22, 2013:
I think they would use another product inside a house. I think this stuff is pretty toxic. They wear gas masks when they apply the Epoxy sealer.
gredmondson from San Francisco, California on March 22, 2013:
I love the garage floor now! That was a nice color selection. Did you also do the adjacent storeroom?
How would that floor do INSIDE a house?
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on March 22, 2013:
I wouldn't use the product from Lowes. The industrial products will last a lot longer, although they may be more difficult to apply. I have to say, I love how the floor looks in the garage.
drbj and sherry from south Florida on March 22, 2013:
What a difference, Paul. Like night and day. Thanks for the info. And the illustrative photos.
Ginny from Arlington, VA on March 22, 2013:
Outstanding. I want to do this on my garage floor, but was thinking of using the products from Lowes. I did not know about an industrial application, but I will now.
moonlake from America on March 21, 2013:
The floor look great. What a nice way to finish a garage. Voted up and more.