Epoxy paint is a two-part, coating "system" widely used for industrial and commercial floors due to its durability, strength, light reflectivity and protecting concrete from wear and tear from high volume motorized traffic, chemicals and other harsh elements. These are the same reasons it’s now popular for painting garage floors, painting basement floors and other indoor living areas like patios, laundry rooms, etc.
Epoxy paint offers many advantages over other flooring options. Since epoxy acts as both a filler and a coating, it can be applied to rough or uneven surfaces fairly easily. It is also waterproof and highly resistant to rust, acid, chemicals, heat, and corrosion. Epoxy also is easy to clean and will not stain when exposed to most substances. It’s also a good idea to put epoxy down before laying carpet in a basement or indoor patios as it creates a moisture barrier.
Epoxy paint is extremely durable and long-lasting in comparison to its relatively low cost. Be sure that when comparing costs that there are several types of epoxy and most stores carry only water-based epoxy. 100% solids resins epoxy is the best as there are virtually no fumes, have zero volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.’s) and can sustain heat from tires and resistant to salt and chemicals. Whereas water based epoxy is not durable and will need to be re-applied at some point due to it peeling once exposed to these elements. Even when painting basement floors or other indoor areas, it’s better to choose the more durable product as it will provide a lifetime finish.
Two-part Epoxy Paint system
In order to properly install an epoxy floor system, it’s helpful to learn why it’s called a system. The system applies to both the two-part "product" system and the "preparation" and "application" systems.
Epoxy is classified as an adhesive and is a two-part system. That is, epoxy comes is two-parts - Part A is epoxy resin and Part B is the hardener. The two components of the epoxy paint are kept separate until just before use. When mixed together, these components undergo a chemical reaction that forms a nearly impenetrable bond to create an industrial strength floor which has a high abrasion resistance, has excellent bonding characteristics and is moisture resistant.
Epoxy Floor Paint Preparation System
The surface preparation and installation or application process can also be defined as a "system" as there are critical steps to follow to ensure your epoxy floor not only looks professionally installed, but is durable as well.
Prior to applying epoxy to concrete, the surface must be clean, porous and not have any sealer, oil, paint, wax or mastic on it or the epoxy won’t adhere to it.
When painting a garage floor, you will need to remove oil or auto fluid stains by using a degreaser to wash the floor prior to using EpoxyPRO’s Floor Prep Solution. Once the floor is degreased, apply the EpoxyPRO floor prep solution to etch the cement to allow for proper bond adhesion. If the stains are still highly visable after watch and using the prep solution, use EpoxyPRO Oil Stop Primer or some other similar product from your local hardware store. Obviously the concrete surface will be wet after degreasing and it will need to dry for at least a day or use a floor dryer or fan to speed up the process.
Although epoxy is also a filler and will cover hairline cracks, it will not completely fill expansion joints and large cracks that many garages have. If you want a seamless, monolithic finish, these areas can be filled with EpoxyPRO 100% Solids Patch Kit. Another option is to purchase Laticrete or another cementitious powder which when mixed with water produces a free-flowing, self-leveling mortar to fill in cracks and fill in areas of exposed or shifting concrete.
However, if perfection is not the goal or time or money are factors, you can squeegee the epoxy a little more heavily in those areas during the application process but you must be sure that you have enough epoxy to finish the job.
Floors that have had the cracks patched, have previously been painted or have heavy oils stains, also need to be sanded (or profiled) with an upright floor sander to provide proper bond adhesion for the epoxy and provide a smooth finish.
When painting a basement or other indoor floor or patio, you may have carpet or paint to remove. Carpet and tile mastic are probably the easiest to deal with. To prep the floor you will need to get an adhesive stripper from your local hardware store and follow the directions. Proper ventilation, respirators, safety glasses, gloves, scraping tools and disposal of the waste are critical for this do-it-yourself job. However, most basements floors should be ready to paint and floor preparation will most likely be limited to washing with an all-purpose cleaner or etching with EpoxyPRO floor prep solution.
Epoxy Floor Paint Application System
Once the concrete has been properly prepared by etching or sanding (if necessary) and completely dried (or cured for 30-45 days if new cement), setting up a work station and putting your tools into position is the first step of the application system.
Purchase a small roll of rosin paper from your local hardware store, roll out a sheet a little longer than the length of the garage (or work area) and tape down with duct tape. You have a decision to make here when painting a garage floor with epoxy: do you want to epoxy up to the edge of the interior side of the garage door or to the edge of the expansion joint outside the garage door when closed? It’s a personal preference if you want part of the epoxy floor showing once the garage is closed or to have cement showing. Next, tape the trim or cove base of the floor or if you’re going to install a new cove base or paint the base trim after painting your garage floor, this step can be omitted.
Once this step of the application process is complete, set up your EpoxyPRO Part A and Part B, drill, mixer, and buckets on the rosin paper so that you have a mixing station established. Next, attach your squeegee to a pole and place in a front corner of the garage (or work area) so that it will be nearby you once you pour the epoxy on the floor. Also place the paint brush next the squeegee as you’ll need to quickly cut in the corners before you squeegee after you pour out some of the epoxy. Next, put the roller cover on a roller, attach to a pole and place in the opposite front corner of the garage (or work area if other than garage) so that it’s ready once you pour and spread the epoxy with the squeegee. Lastly, open the decorative fleck and aluminum oxide so that it is ready to be applied once the epoxy has been rolled on the floor.
Begin by putting your safety goggles on and inserting the mixing wand into a 3/8 inch drill motor and tightening. Add the Part B can to the Part A that’s in the mixing bucket (use the scraping stick to get all of Part B into the mixing bucket). Turn the drill motor on medium and mix for three minutes (too high of a speed with create unwanted air bubbles in the mix).
Next, pour a little epoxy a few inches away from the corners of the floor and use the paint brush to cut in the corners. Remember, this is epoxy and it will "flow" into the corners so you’re kind of pushing it versus brushing it. Repeat in all of the corners and around the base of the garage door frame (this will also protect the aluminum from rusting). Next, take the bucket to the corner where you placed the roller and while moving to the opposite corner where your squeegee is, pour a line of epoxy the length of the floor using just enough to cover that section (about 8"-10" wide). Place the bucket in the middle of the floor behind you and grab the squeegee. While slightly angling the squeegee about 20 degrees, pull and/or push the epoxy squeegee to spread the epoxy over that area. Along the walls you will need to let the epoxy flood the edge and cut in using the squeegee.
Once you squeegee the area with epoxy, use the roller to paint the floor by going over the area you just covered. This step will go very fast as the epoxy will easily cover the area without lines that you normally get when using a paint roller on a wall. Next, take the decorative fleck bag and place about a quarter size amount in your hand and in an underhand motion, toss the fleck up in the air so that it falls evenly on this surface. Repeat until you cover the area with the desired amount of decorative fleck – some people prefer a lighter application rather than a heavily flecked floor. When near the walls, toss the fleck against them so that the edges get covers. If there is wind, you may need to through the fleck with the wind to adequately cover the area. Once this section is covered, repeat the process with the aluminum oxide (if a garage). Ideally, a hand spreader for fertilizer is an excellent tool to evenly distribute the sand-like material. Put on a little heavier near doors and traffic areas.
Repeat this process one section at a time while moving back towards the garage door or exit area of the room you are covering.
Wearing spikes during in the installation process provides great advantages and is worth the low cost. By using application spikes you can complete the application process for the whole floor versus one section at a time. With the spikes you can apply epoxy over the entire floor with a squeegee but still apply a section at a time as described above. Once you spread the epoxy with the squeegee, carefully walk back over the surface with your spikes on to back roll the epoxy. Next, carefully walk over the floor to first apply the decorative fleck and then the aluminum oxide.
If you’re not wearing spikes, you will be painting the floor, applying the decorative fleck and aluminum oxide (non-slip additive for garages) one section of at a time. Therefore, you’ll need to be prepared due to the work time of the epoxy when Part A and Part B are mixed together.
Once the floor is complete, roll up the paper, remove the roller cover for the roller and place in the mixing bucket and place the mixing bucket in the box to complete the clean-up process. You can wipe the squeegee with mineral spirits to use for the next time you paint a cement floor.
Tips – don’t close your garage all the way after applying epoxy as the garage door will adhere the floor. If rain is in the forecast, roll out some more resin paper and tape to garage door so that it covers the door opening or place a tarp over the area until dry.