How to Install Epoxy Flooring

Use tough-as-nails epoxy coatings to convert concrete floors into stylish yet durable surfaces that stand up to spills and stains.

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Epoxy floor coating—a two-part mixture of resins and hardeners—enlivens, protects, and updates concrete floors in garages, basements, sunrooms, and patios. Rolled on in multiple layers, epoxy coatings create seamless stretches of flooring that withstand grease, scuffing, moisture, and chemicals. Epoxy coatings—which require blending two separate components before application—firmly adhere to concrete and are unlikely to chip or peel like regular garage floor paints.

Durability and their non-flammable nature make epoxy coated floors a good choice for garages and basement work spaces. They are strong enough to withstand dropped power tools, carry the weight of rolling and parked cars, and stand up to spills of all kinds. In fact, when properly applied, epoxy floor finishes can endure for as long as 20 years.

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Choose the Right Epoxy

Epoxy floor paints are tough resin-base paints that come in two separate parts mixed together before applying. There are three different types of epoxy paint: solid, solvent-base, and water-base.

Solid epoxy: Epoxy that is solid is the purest form of epoxy. It doesn't contain solvents that evaporate. These products are expensive and difficult to handle because they harden very rapidly. This finish should be applied by a professonal.

Solvent-base epoxy: Solvent-base epoxies contain from 40 to 60 percent solids. They penetrate the concrete surface and adhere well. They are available in wide range of colors. Because the solvents are powerful and potentially hazardous, you must wear a respirator when applying the finish. You'll also need to ventilate the garage and keep people and pets away from the garage.

Water-base epoxy: Like solvent-base expoxies, water-base epoxies also contain from 40 to 60 percent solids. The benefit of this type of epoxy is there are no hazardous solvent fumes. These epoxy finishes are sold at most home centers and hardware stores, and are becoming increasingly popular alternatives to solvent-based finishes.

Pre-tinted and metallic epoxy floor coatings expand decorating options—especially when it comes to stylish flooring inside and outside living areas. Some epoxy floor coating systems provide colored flakes, which are scattered as the second layer of coating is applied, to create speckled patterns in the surface.

Coverage Considerations

There's nothing difficult about applying epoxy floor coatings—it's almost as simple as rolling paint on a wall or across a porch floor. But before you begin, you need to thoroughly clean and patch the floor to be coated. You should also carefully calculate how much mixture is required to cover the area you wish to coat with epoxy. Many floor epoxy kits supply only one coat of coverage, and you'll need a minimum of two layers. Measure the square footage of the area to be coated, and compare that with the coverage supplied by your preferred floor epoxy kit.

Time is of the essence once the epoxy paint and the hardener components are mixed—the epoxy mixture is only workable for about 2 hours. Consider this time frame as you determine how you will paint yourself out of a garage, patio, or room.

Want to hire out the work? Cost analyzers at How Much Is It say having a professional lay down an epoxy floor will cost you between $5 to $13 a square foot, with an average two-car garage floor costing anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 to complete. The folks at Angie's List recommend you ask contractors how they plan to prep the floor, what type of epoxy they will be using, and how many coats they will be applying. It is recommended that professionals should apply three layers of 100 percent epoxy with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Get multiple quotes, and check the contractors' references.

Prefer to tackle it yourself? Read the epoxy floor coating manufacturer's instructions before you start, and use these step-by-step instructions as your guide.

Potential Drawbacks

Although their benefits are many, epoxy coatings require a good deal of surface cleaning and preparation up front, as well as multiple applications with curing times of at least 12 hours for each coat. For optimum curing, concrete surfaces should be bone dry and at least 55 degrees, and air temperatures should be between 60 and 90 degrees. Plan on at least a day of prep time (more if you have to fill holes and patch cracks in the concrete floor) and at least two days of painting time to complete a garage floor.

Epoxy floor coating finishes are naturally shiny, which makes them easy to clean but slick when wet (anti-skid additives can be added to give surfaces more traction). There are some concrete surfaces—such as those that suffer from dampness or those that are already sealed—that are unsuited to epoxy floor coatings. New concrete must have cured for at least 30 days before epoxy coatings can be applied.

How to Apply Epoxy Floor Coatings

What You'll Need

  • Two-part epoxy paint
  • Flat-edge shovel or scraper
  • Shop vacuum
  • Garden hose
  • Power scrubber with brush attachment or long-handled acid brush
  • Stiff-bristle brush
  • Rubber squeegee
  • Plastic sprinkler can
  • Drill with stirring bit
  • Paintbrushes
  • 9-inch medium-nap roller and roller pole
  • Duct tape
  • Plastic bag
  • Cleaning/degreasing solution
  • Rubber gloves
  • Respirator
  • 32-percent muriatic acid

Step 1: Clean Concrete Surfaces

If necessary, use a flat-edged shovel or scraper to remove hardened debris. Then, vacuum the garage floor. Prepare a cleaning/degreasing solution according to manufacturer's instructions. Wearing rubber gloves, use a stiff-bristle brush and the solution to scrub off any grease or oil stains.

Step 2: Wet Flooring

Use a hose to wet the entire floor with water. Working in 5-foot-square sections, use a power scrubber with a brush attachment and the degreaser to clean the entire floor. Use the stiff-bristle brush to scrub the corners and along the walls where the machine can't reach. After the floor is clean, use a rubber squeegee to pull soapy water into a central area. Remove the solution with a wet-dry vac. Check with your county's environmental office to see if you are allowed to dispose of the solution by flushing it down the toilet.

Step 3: Prepare Acid-Etching Mixture

Pour a gallon of water into a plastic sprinkler can. Wearing a vapor respirator, pour 12 ounces of 32-percent muriatic acid into 15 cups of water (for smaller or larger amounts, use 1 part acid to 10 parts water) in the sprinkler can. Mix the solution for a few seconds with a paint stirrer. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over a 10x10-foot area.

Step 4: Scrub and Etch

Power-scrub the 10x10-foot area for 10 minutes or use a long-handled acid brush (to save on equipment rental). Repeat the sprinkling/scrubbing process until the entire floor is acid etched. Rinse three times to flush acid residue. Let the floor dry overnight.

Step 5: Mix Epoxy Coating

Following manufacturer's instructions, use a drill and stirring bit to mix together the two epoxy solutions. To ensure complete blending, pour the mixture into a second bucket and power-mix the paint again.

Step 6: Apply Along Perimeter

Using duct tape, tape the area directly beneath the garage door, then brush a 4-inch strip of epoxy against the tape and along the garage walls.

Step 7: Roll on Epoxy

Use a 9-inch-wide roller with a medium nap to paint the floor. Attach the roller to a pole. Then, dip the roller into the bucket of epoxy so only the bottom half of the roller is covered. (This loads the roller with the right amount of epoxy.) Working in a 4-foot-square area, apply epoxy to garage floor in a large "W" pattern. Backroll to fill in the pattern and remove any roller marks. Make sure edges remain wet as you move from section to section to prevent noticeable seams from forming. Let the first coat dry per manufacturer's instructions.

Step 8: Apply a Second Coat

If you don't want a glossy floor (they are slippery when wet), add a non-skid floor coating into the epoxy for the second coat. Stir with the drill and stirring bit. Repeat Step 7. Want to add color flakes? Scatter them lightly while the area is still wet—add more flakes until you create your desired pattern.

Step 9: Finish

Mask off and paint the bottom 4 inches of garage or basement wall with the epoxy mix used on the floor. This border creates a cohesive look that also acts as a protective baseboard.

Maintain Your Epoxy Floors

Angie's List recommends the following maintenance tasks: Vacuum or sweep up debris, immediately wipe away spills with a soft cloth, and deep-clean soiled floors by mopping with a mixture of ½ cup ammonia to a gallon of water. Lift rust stains by gently scrubbing with a kitchen scrubbing pad and hot water; never use an abrasive cleaner, acids, or chemicals on epoxy-coated floors. The easiest way to clean epoxy floors? Hose them down and dry them with a squeegee on a pole.

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