Tutorial: How To Seal Your Garage Floor

Sealing the Garage: Step 11Hey folks. You ever been in someone’s garage and they have that really nice sealed floor? Yeah, well that’s what I’ve got in my garage and I absolutely love it! So when we got another house, one of the first things we wanted to do was seal the floor. And this time we wanted to make it look really nice! After all, you guys know how much I love my cars and my metal working projects, so I like to spend a lot of time in the garage.

Now believe me, this is something that anyone can do! It doesn’t matter if your house is brand new, or 100 years old. If you’ve got a concrete floor that can be painted, it’s fair game!

Quikrete 2 Part Epoxy Garage Floor CoatingOk, so the first thing you need to do is head on down to the local hardware store, which in my case is always going to be Lowe’s (never Home Depot!). Over in the paint department they carry concrete cleaners, sealers, and epoxys. They also have a kit made by Quikrete called the “Epoxy Garage Floor Coating kit”. (I found the Epoxy Garage Floor Coating Kitlowest price on Amazon so you might just want to have it shipped to you.) It comes in two base colors, one is tan, the other gray… but here is the trick! They can actually custom tint these base colors in a wide range of additional colors! Amazingly, the people over at Quikrete don’t even have this stuff on their Web site. Unbelievable.

Anyway, I picked up two of these kits because basically each one will take care of one standard sized car garage. We’re going to do a 2 car garage for purposes of this little tutorial.

Now the first step is that you’ve got to start out with a clean and unobstructed floor. This part is obvious, right? You can’t paint your floor if you can’t get to it! So, start by sweeping it out really good and removing anything that might be stuck to the floor like chunks of concrete or debris. You can get a heavy duty floor scraper from Lowe’s for this. Just ask anyone in the store and they’ll point em out.

Sealing the Garage: Step 1

The next step is actually to hose down the concrete thoroughly. You want to wash off any lose dirt, and also get the concrete nice and ready for the next step… where all the fun begins!

Sealing the Garage: Step 2

The first step of sealing the floor is actually an etchant (think ACID!). You have to get a plastic watering can, and dilute the etchant by using one bottle to one gallon of water. It’s important to be wearing rubber gloves and boots as well as eye protection when you’re messing with this stuff!

I’m sure they would recommend that you do NOT wear shorts like I was, but hey… I’m a rebel. What you see in the photo below is the foaming that occurred on contact as soon as the acid hit the floor. There were also lots of fumes, so clearly, the garage needs to be well ventilated.

Sealing the Garage: Step 3

As you pour the etchant in small sections of the floor, it’s important to use a stiff bristle brush to really scrub the concrete good to ensure that the etchant is getting into all the cracks and crevices. The goal here is for the acid to eat away any oil or other buildup to ensure that the epoxy can make a strong bond with the clean surface.

Sealing the Garage: Step 4

After etching the entire garage floor, you need to rinse it thoroughly, and then leave it to dry for a full 24 hours. Oh, and in case I forgot to tell you, you need to make sure the temperature outside is above about 50 degrees. This stuff isn’t going to work well if it’s really cold outside, so make it a spring project.

Once the floor has been etched and dried, it’s time to mix the epoxy and start rolling it onto the floor. A couple of things to keep in mind here…

  1. You’re going to want to keep the garage door closed, because otherwise dirt will blow into your wet paint.
  2. There are going to be lots of fumes, so you might want to seriously consider getting a 3M filtered painting mask. Those things are great and it’s cheap protection for your lungs.
  3. Remember to start in the far corner because you are going to need to basically end where you are able to exit the garage. You don’t want to literally paint yourself into a corner.

Also, before I started, I put painter’s tape all around the walls and the garage door so that if and when I accidentally bumped up against them, I wouldn’t get paint on them.

Sealing the Garage: Step 5

The Quickrete kit we used to do this floor not only allowed us to pick this beautiful deep blue color for the floor, but it comes with little sprinkles that you shake onto the paint to add texture and color. You basically paint a section of the floor, then sprinkle till you get the coverage you like, then repeat.

Sealing the Garage: Step 6

One thing that I kind of learned the hard way was that you really need to put the epoxy on thick. In the beginning I was worried that I might run out, and I was putting it on a little thin. As I realized that it was going further than I thought, I increasingly laid it on thicker and thicker. In the end I still had at least a half a gallon left which I wished I had used up front.

The lesson from this is that I’d recommend getting an extra kit up front, and just lay the paint on really thick. You probably won’t run out, but if you do it’s better to go thick than thin. The color looks nicer in the end and the cost isn’t really that much more.

Sealing the Garage: Step 7

As you complete sections and move on, the epoxy already begins drying. You can see from this next photo that as it dries it actually gets darker and darker.

Sealing the Garage: Step 8

Eventually, once you’ve finished the entire floor it’s just a waiting game. The epoxy is going to be dry enough to actually walk on it after about 24 hours. But I recommend giving it 3-4 days minimum before you start putting anything at all on the floor – especially cars.

The thing is, when you are driving around your tires actually get hot (go ahead, next time to stop somewhere touch one of your tires). Those hot tires parked on paint or epoxy can actually melt it and pull it right off the concrete. For this reason, you want to give the epoxy enough time to really bond with the concrete (another reason for the initial acid etching). Once it’s fully cured though, don’t worry, your tires aren’t going to damage it at all!

Sealing the Garage: Step 9

After you finish the job and give it time to completely dry, you’re left with an absolutely gorgeous floor that you can be proud to bring your friends over and see. A floor like this will make any car you park on it look twice as good, and it’ll improve the appearance of your home, most likely even translating into a little better resale value.

Sealing the Garage: Step 10

So what are you waiting for! That floor ain’t gonna paint it’s self… Remember, you can get that kit over on Amazon by following this link.

Sealing the Garage: Step 11

Article Written by
John P.

John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Comments

  1. Stephanie M says:

    Thanks for this article, my husband and I plan to do this to our garage. We have temperatures during the day at 60 degrees but at nights it gets down to 30 degrees. Do you suggest we wait till Spring before doing this project?

  2. Pauline Mccolgan says:

    My garage floor was in excellent shape. I swepted it well then used a heads up duty blower to it as well I used BEHR paid to from home depot. Left it to dry 10 days, when I finally used it tires were wet…big storm.
    Paint peeled off where tires sat. Sand those areas down then painted it. Same thing happened after 7days of drying. Tires were no wet this time. Any advice?

    Pauline

    • John P. says:

      Pauline,

      What you are describing is exactly why I use the Quickcrete 2 part epoxy paint. You can’t trust anything else. I hate to say it, but that Behr stuff isn’t going to work in the long run and you’ll need to do it again with the good stuff.

      John P.

  3. John W says:

    I have used this product to coat my floors 10 yrs ago, now would like to redue then where after time I can see areas where the tires that have worn off, is there any way possible short of grinding them down to do that? I love the product look and 10 years is pretty good, any way to cover over top existing coating without a ton of work first?

    • John P. says:

      John, the good news is that if you used this 2-part epoxy the first time you should be able to pressure wash it and just re-do it right over the top. That bottom layer isn’t going to come up, so you should be good to go!

  4. santo albano says:

    I have spots on my garage floor where the smooth layer of cement has come off and the underlying rocks and pebbles are exposed. How can I treat those areas before I begin the epoxy process?

    • John P. says:

      That is a REALLY bad situation. It means you have some very weak concrete. There are two ways to deal with it. 1) rip up the old stuff and pour new concrete. 2) get some concrete filler at your home improvement store and fill it in. Let it dry for at least a couple of weeks before coating it. But it’s probably going to come apart again – if not in that spot, in another.

  5. Matt says:

    Thanks for the article, clear and simple!! Can I apply a new coat of epoxy over a previous coat? If this is acceptable, there are some spot where the existing epoxy has come off the concrete. Is that a problem?

    • John P. says:

      The general rule is, if you can’t pressure wash the coating off of the floor you’re probably safe to coat over it.

  6. ARC says:

    I had a couple of questions on the sparkles:
    1. Did you sweep away the extra sparkles that did not stick after applying it and waiting for it to dry? If you did, how many days did you wait before you swept?
    2. I am assuming you did not apply a clear coat on top of the paint+sparkles. I just got my garage floor done with epoxy + sparkles like yours, but I am concerned that given I can feel the sparkles with my hands, when I park cars etc on top of it, it may come out

  7. Terry A says:

    I just cleaned my garage floor with plenty of soap and water. let dry then painted with floor gray from lowes!! looks good, guess we will see how long it last.

  8. Jeff M. says:

    John,

    My cousin saved me some time and used soy gel to get off the previous paint. After that was done, I just used the epoxy, no etching. I seemed to put on the epoxy a little too thin. This seems to take away from the floor-room sheer. Was wondering if you had heard about anyone sealing the floor after it has been epoxied to get that nice wet looking shine?

    • John P. says:

      Jeff,

      I’ve personally epoxied over an old coat on two occasions. The first step is to pressure wash the old floor extremely well. Basically you’re trying to remove any paint that you can get off. If it doesn’t stick to the floor anyway, it needs to come off.

      After you’ve removed everything you can, just do the seal right over it. Lay it on really thick! Its better to spend an extra $50 or $100 and have it done well than to save the money and waste your time – as you’ve found out now.;-)

      John P.

  9. Terry M says:

    Thanks for enlightening & enthusing me with your article!
    I REALLY want to do this project but I too am worried about the acid rinsing down my driveway. I just bought the house and driveway has slate decorative tiles in laid in the driveway. Diluted acid but still… And what about the rinse-off going into the storm water drain that heads to the creek, river, bay?
    I am in Australia and have to find a kit stockist here.
    Then stage the coating project in advance of the full move-in… :-)

    • John P. says:

      First of all, lets deal with the diluted acid going into the storm water. I’m not going to tell you it’s “good”, but I don’t think its that “bad” either. With swimming pools when they PH is too basic you pour undiluted muratic acid into the pool to bring it in line. Then swim in it. :-) So, acid in the water isn’t really that much of a problem, because it becomes very dilute and can be easily neutralized at the water treatment facility.

      Having said that, if you have decorative tiles you might want to spot treat on one first. But if you don’t leave it on too long, I don’t imagine it will do any real damage to any sort of stone. Its mainly just going to eat away any kind of oil or grime, then you scrub and rinse it, and begin the sealing process. Good luck!

  10. John G. says:

    My garage is fairly full and I don’t have a shed, can I do half of the floor one weekend and the other half the following weekend?

  11. Jim Wheeler says:

    Hey John I just painted my garage floor with the 2 part epoxy and it looks great. But I was wondering , I wanted to add a shin to it and purchase the premium clear epoxy coating from Quikrete. But they dont sell it in my county for some odd reason. Is there something else I can use?

  12. James T says:

    When rinsing the garage out, should I be worried about the etchant coming in contact with my driveway concrete? As I rinse, with a hose I’m presuming, whatever is on the garage floor is going to end up on my driveway. Your thoughts?

  13. Paul says:

    John,

    Great article. I’m thinking about doing this for my garage floor, but am concerned about the pitting (Illinois uses a lot of salt in the winter.) and cracks in the floor. Can you just lay the epoxy on thick enough to fill those in or do you need to fill in those spots first with something else before applying the epoxy? And if you do need to fill them in first, what do you recommend for doing that?

    Thanks.

  14. Glenn says:

    John P.,

    Thanks for the advice. Fortunately I have a gas powered pressure washer. Going to try it this weekend. On another topic (lots of home projects!), any advice on how to remove stain and varnish from a outside wood door.

    Glenn

    • John P. says:

      Glenn,

      I’ve had to remove stain and varnish from several things, and it depends on the project. In some cases its best to use chemical varnish or stain remover, and in some cases it’s easier and cleaner to just get a palm sander and literally sand the stain off by hand.

      The other question is whether the door is worth the time and effort. If it’s just a normal door you might be better off replacing it than spending all that time, energy and money in refinishing it. If it’s a special one… prepare to invest a lot of energy in the project.

      Good luck,

      John P.

  15. Glenn says:

    Thanks for the article. My garage floor has several coats of floor paint. Any advise how to remove this before starting on your project?

    • John P. says:

      I had to deal with that once Glenn. The best option is to use a pressure washer with the smallest tip. It’ll take the paint off a CAR, so it works great on concrete. But you’re going to need a gas powered one that is pretty expensive. Unfortunatly the only other option is to use a heavy duty scraper. You can get one at Lowes for about $20, but it’s going to take you all day to scrape it off!

      Good luck,

      John P.

  16. Pinky says:

    Thank you for your review…very helpful. How durable ARE the specific “Gargage Floor Paints” that you seal afterward? I believe you can paint and seal without the acid step. But you say they really won’t hold up, huh? Also… I really don’t care for the look of the “sprinkles”. Are there any color choices in that area? Thanks for your help.

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