Technology is quite amazing, as each day new products provide solutions to our problems. This is no exception when it comes to the development of Garage Floor Coatings. The evolution of garage floor coatings provides us with a range of choices to consider when selecting a coating. From paints, stains, epoxies, polyurethane, polyurea, and polyaspartics, it can be difficult to know what’s right for your application. This article addresses the pros and cons to the different materials available. But before selecting and appropriate garage floor coating, there are several things to consider:
- How you use your garage
- How long do you need the coating to last
- The current condition of the concrete surface
- Is there a moisture issue
- How soon do you need to be back in service
- Is the garage subject to UV rays
- Is a top coat necessary
- Latex or acrylic based garage floor paint is the first type and least costly garage floor coating available. These paints are sold at hardware and home improvement stores as porch & patio paint, or labeled specifically for garage floors and sold as a single part application. These types of floor coatings are often associated with lifting of the paint where your hot car tires are parked. Latex and acrylic paints are not as abrasive resistant as epoxies and poly based products, so expect the floor to scratch easily and the mechanical bond to concrete to be less strong than other types coatings. I recommend using garage floor paints only if need to spruce up a floor to sell a home. Otherwise, expect that at minimum a yearly touch-up will likely be needed or even sooner. This will be especially true if your garage sees heavy traffic, is subjected to automotive chemicals, or winter debris (salt, mud and water). Garage floor paint requires a minimum drying time of 72 hours prior to driving on it.
- Garage Floor Masonry Stain is about the same price point as latex floor paint. Masonry stains wicks into the concrete substrate creating a unique finish that is on the dull side, but is also slip resistant. It will act much like uncoated concrete when wet or dry. Be sure you thoroughly clean and degreased the concrete before the stain is applied. Ideally, the surface should be mechanically profiled using a shot blaster grinder as preparation for staining. Any imperfections or stains in the concrete will show through the semi-transparent stain after application. An advantage of stain is it can be touched up easily. If the surface of the garage floor becomes worn, simply reapply some more stain to the affected area. This saves you from having to recoat the entire floor, or even a whole section. With stain, there is also no worries the product will lift from hot tires, nor bubble or peel due to moisture creeping through the slab. Stain makes a great option if your floor fails the moisture test. Your garage can return to service the following day after application of garage floor stain.
- Epoxy Paint is available to the Do It Yourselfer in professional grades like Wolverine or Ucoat-it, as well as inexpensive 1 and 2 part kits like Rustoleum sold by the big home improvement stores. Any of these kits will be more durable than concrete paint or stain. Most of the kits available require mixing two components together in the proper ratio (part A and Part B). These two components are a hardner and the actual epoxy resin. The less expensive kits will have more water or solvents that evaporate as the product cures. This means the resulting thickness of the cured product will be less than if you were to apply professional grade 100% solids epoxy. The epoxies have a short working time once the product is mixed and will require inexperienced installers to work with smaller batches covering smaller areas until they get a feel for the working time of the product. Garage floor epoxy coatings are rolled out in 2 coats, a primer base coat, and a top finish coat. Most epoxies are not UV stabilized and can fade or change color when subjected to sunlight through garage windows or doors. It is recommended that a protective top clear coat of polyurethane be applied to epoxy coated surfaces. You can expect epoxy floor coatings to look good for 2-3 years with normal traffic and even longer in some cases. The beauty of these floors is you can sand the surface and reapply a clear coat to renew the finish to it’s original luster.
- Polyurea is a plural component elastomer – basically a hybrid product based upon polyurethane. An advantage to polyurea in it’s purest form is it’s massively rapid curing time. Polyurea is typically sprayed from an industrial spray gun and cures almost instantly (OK – within 5 minutes). This material typically is used for spray-in bed-liners in pickup trucks. Polyurea is UV stable and unlike polyurethanes and epoxies, Polyurea is hydrophobic. This means polyurea is affected very little by damp or cold surfaces during application. This makes it a suitable material to apply in many different environmental conditions. Since polyurea gels so quickly, it can be built up in layers to any thickness in a single application, even on vertical and overhead surfaces. So if polyurea is sprayed on using special equipment to create pond liners, truck bed liners, and explosion proof the pentagon walls, how does fit into your garage? Well there are hybrid roll-on polyurea, such as Poly-Granite that some installers are applying. I just want you to be aware because I experienced some difficulty with this form of coating. Even though this product is super durable in it’s plural spray application form, I am not convinced it’s formula is proven in residential roll-on applications just yet.
- Polyaspartic Garage Floor Coatings is considered the new kid on the block. Polyaspartic is quickly becoming a favorite of many professional garage flooring installers. They are quick to tell you the Polyaspartic finish is 4X more resistant to abrasion than epoxy floor coatings, but this isn’t the real reason they like this product. The primary reason Polyaspartic is the installers choice, is the rapid curing time. Epoxy applications can stretch several days while you wait hours between coats, however, Polyaspartics cure rapidly allowing multiple coats to be completed in a single days application. Installation are generally completed in a single day with your contents being returned to the garage within hours of the final coat. Expect to parking on your new Polyaspartic floor the next day.
- Polyurethane may be applied as a protective clear coat over epoxies, stains, and other compatible floor finishes. There are four advantages to this clear coat protection. The first is it will provide a layer of UV (ultra-violet) light protection. Polyurethanes are inherently UV stable and will filter the UV rays protecting the coating beneath from color fade. Second, the polyurethane is a softer material than epoxy or polyaspartics and will act as an absorbent buffer preventing some scratches. Third, it provides a high gloss wear surface that can be refinished as needed with a simple sanding and reapplication. Finally, if you have decorative vinyl chips on your floor surface, polyurethane will seal them, bonding them permanently to the coating below.
Most of these materials can also be enhanced by applying a decorate vinyl fleck containing a mixture of several colors to the top coat before sealing. There are specific techniques for broadcasting the flakes that you should read about here on the GarageEpoxy.org website. These flecks can also provide a level of slip resistance to the floor coating in addition to products such as H & C Shark Grip Slip-Resistant Additive.
This is just a brief overview of each of these products. Keep in mind that floor preparation is probably more important than the coating itself. I encourage you to review the floor preparation advice found on this website and others to assure you have a beautiful floor to be proud of for many years. .