The answer to the question of how hard it is to apply epoxy to your garage floor lies, not in how well you apply the epoxy instead how well you have prepared the concrete. As it’s said, if the foundation isn’t sturdy, neither will the building be. Applying epoxy is not even time-consuming when compared to the prepping time of your garage floor.
However, a good quality epoxy will not only uplift the way your garage looks but also save your concrete from scratch marks and permanent car-wheel imprints.
In this article, we will show you the correct way to prepare your concrete and to, obviously, apply a perfect layer of epoxy. We will also be talking about what you must do to increase the life of your epoxy.
Performing the Moisture Test Before Applying Epoxy on Your Garage Floor
This is the most important step towards having a long-lasting epoxy layer on your concrete floor. Moisture is a hardcore enemy of anything that is adhesive in nature. If you have a moist surface there is no use applying the epoxy. The epoxy might dry up for the time being but within a month or two, you will see cracks all over the surface.
This cracking happens because the epoxy layer has to forcibly absorb the moisture under it and this leads to expansion. The expansion causes cracks over the epoxy layer as it isn’t, in any way, flexible to withstand it. So, perform the moisture test and save yourself from any further complications.
- Sweep off the dust over a small area of the concrete surface.
- Take a plastic food wrap and cut it in a square shape.
- Use strong hardware duct tapes to secure the edges of the plastic wrap against the surface.
- Make sure you don’t leave any air bubbles in.
- Let the setup stay for a day or two.
- Finally, remove the plastic wrap and check for any condensation traces. Check if there are any water droplets on the wrap or on the concrete surface.
If you do notice some wetness or condensation on the concrete surface or the plastic wrap, congratulations! You just saved yourself from a week’s hard work of applying the epoxy. Call up the nearest hardware store or any construction-oriented company to get the surface fixed for you.
If you do not notice any kind of wetness, then follow the steps provided further in the article to get perfect epoxy-covered garage floors.
Steps to Prep the Surface
There is still a lot to do and consider before it is epoxy time! To prep the surface for epoxy simply means to make it more cleaner and vulnerable for the epoxy to nicely sit and dry over it.
There are a lot of chemicals and acidic substances we will be exposed to in this process, so make sure you have your rubber gloves and boots on. The acid we will be using is highly concentrated and volatile, so get yourself a cool pair of safety goggles and let’s get right into it.
Preparing the concrete surface:
- Clear out all the items off the ground. Remove all boxes, tables, and other items that, in any way, touch the floor. Start brooming from the inside to the outside. Make sure you get rid of all dust particles on the floor. Take a power wash spray and spray water, covering the entire floor.
- There will be certain areas or spots wherein water gets quickly absorbed. Pour some spot degreaser over them while you scrub the floor at the same time. Ask somebody to spray water over the surface while you pour and scrub the spot degreaser.
- Make sure you scrub the entire floor. Use a power washer to get out all the water after scrubbing. The floor has to be a little wet for the next step to be a success.
Apply a layer of acid:
This process is also called etching. You pour a gallon of concentrated acid into two gallons of water for perfect dilution. Usually, brands recommend you dilute the acid first and then pour it on the floor but not diluting it, and instead of pouring water and acid separately works well too.
- Since it is acid that you are dealing with, make sure you have rubber gloves and boots on. Wear a mask and safety goggles to avoid splashing. Now that we are done with the safety part, let’s move on to a little bit of science.
- You will mix the acid and the water in a plastic sprinkler or a plastic container. Please do not mix them in a metal container as the acid reacts with metal and degrades it while making the solution unfit for its purpose.
- Always pour the solution, in a direction, away from your body and at ground level. This will reduce the possibility of it splashing back towards you. Repeat this process in order to cover the entire floor.
- Let the acid rest on the surface for a minute or two. Start scrubbing from the back of the garage, out to the front. Spray more water and scrub harder to get rid of the acid entirely.
The floor has to be wet before you pour the acidic solution for a successful chemical reaction to occur between the acid and the concrete. The white residue you see is nothing but the salt formed due to the reaction. It is easy to remove the liquid residue while you get rid of the water but the solid residue is only visible once the water is all out. To get rid of the solid residue:
- Make sure the floor is just a tad bit wet with no water accumulated anywhere.
- Use a wet vacuum to pull out the residue.
- Divide the floor into sections and do not forget the corners.
Final prepping touches:
Use portable fans as a way to get the floors dried up quickly. You can also wait it out. Start the next process tomorrow or the day after.
Applying Epoxy to Your Garage Floor
When you shop for epoxy, you’ll either receive two cans of liquid or a pouch-like container with two sections. Only when you mix the two liquids, will it form a perfect consistency of epoxy.
If the container is a pouch:
Press down on the pouch to break the division between the two liquids. Shake the pouch and, if required, knead it like you knead the dough. Mix it thoroughly.
If there are two cans of liquid:
Open the cans of both the liquids and mix the content in the smaller can into the larger one. Use a wooden or plastic spatula to mix them thoroughly. Make sure there aren’t any lumps left.
After mixing the two liquids thoroughly, let the mixture rest for half an hour. Epoxy has a liquid life of 120 minutes. This means the epoxy will start to harden within two hours of exposure to direct sunlight. So make sure you do not pour a ton lot of epoxy at once. Only pour as much as you need and start painting.
- Buy a flat brush if you don’t already have one and start painting the edges first. Boundary the floor with a thick line of paint.
- Buy yourself a good-quality paint roller. To take the frizz out of the roller, stick a tape and wax it all out.
- Pour the epoxy into a paint tray and dip the roller into it.
- Start painting from the back of the garage and work your way out. First, go parallel and then perpendicular to the wall on the left.
- Repeat the process to cover the entire floor.
There you go! You just applied an entire layer of epoxy without any professional help. Some products mention that applying one layer of epoxy is more than enough but some advise double coating it. Read the instructions on the back of the product and do as said. Wait a whole day to apply the second coat.
After Applying Epoxy to Your Garage Floor- Steps to Improve its Longevity
This step is optional but it does go a long way in maintaining the look of epoxy and ultimately maintaining how your garage looks. Every pack or kit of epoxy comes with a small packet of color flakes. They are small and colorful pieces that you spread over the last coat of epoxy.
- Before applying the last coat of epoxy, section the floor out.
- Paint one section and before it dries up, sprinkle the color flakes.
- Rip the color flakes packet open and sprinkle it over the epoxy while it’s still wet.
- Make sure you sprinkle them, first, away from your body as the lighter ones are going to fall near you, for sure.
- Select smaller sections that will make it easier for you to sprinkle the flakes away from you.
- After you cover the entire floor with color flakes, let the second coat dry.
The reason behind why we recommend adding color flakes to the, still wet, second coat is because of the contraction factor of the epoxy. When it dries, the molecules come closer and fix themselves next to each other. This provides a certain kind of adhesion, enabling the flakes to stick to the surface of the epoxy layer.
The color flakes also hide any imperfections in the application of epoxy. It prevents the epoxy from getting in direct contact with the wheels of the vehicles. You can hide any cracks or dents using color flakes and people won’t even notice it!
Is this Method Environment Friendly?
This method of applying epoxy is one of the most common methods out there. What is not common is taking into consideration whether this technique is eco-friendly or not. The products used in this process are directly washed away with water and enter underground drains.
The only way to make this method environmentally friendly is to use natural and biodegradable products. Acids that are used in this process need to convert themselves into proper bases in order to be called ‘biodegradable’.
Summary and Some Important Points
- It is important to get everything and anything that is on the floor, off the floor. Make sure you have a surface with no obstructions.
- Use a leaf blower to quickly get rid of dust particles. A broom would also do the job. Make sure you get all the corners and the edges.
- Remove any kind of sticky residue on the concrete floor. Check for any dried glue or petrol stains and remove them if possible.
- While etching and applying degreaser, use a squeegee to get rid of excess water. A good quality squeegee is a great investment.
- While mixing solutions, take care not to have lumps in them. Crush any kind of lumps and mix thoroughly.
- Fill in any holes your concrete has. Use a grinder to smooth out the edges. Use Rust Oleum Concrete Patch to fill in the holes. Wait for at least eight hours before you sand it down to the floor level.
- Don’t simply start applying the epoxy. Use the small brush to fill in corners and trace a boundary around the garage.
- Use a good quality paint roller to cover the entire surface with epoxy.
- Make sure the thickness of the epoxy layer is consistent throughout the room.
- Check the temperature and the weather where you are working in. Usually, companies attach a temperature warning sheet with the epoxy package to let you know the correct temperature to apply them.
- Wait for at least three days before you roll in your car. Give the epoxy time to set itself on the concrete.
Applying epoxy will only be hard if you don’t perform the moisture test. You can’t help it if your concrete surface gives out moisture all day long. Use the above mentioned products to go through the entire process smoothly, as smooth as the finished epoxy surface!
Wear your safety gloves, boots, and goggles. They are a must when you’re dealing with any kind of chemicals. Make sure you don’t splash any liquids on the surface. Simply place the container at floor level and push it forward. The best way to pour any liquid chemical is by using a plastic water sprinkler can. Never use a metal one as acids react and corrode metal. All in all, we hope this article has helped you understand the entire process of how to apply epoxy over your garage floors.