Hey 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!
Ok, 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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
- You’re going to want to keep the garage door closed, because otherwise dirt will blow into your wet paint.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
We are in the last couple of weeks of completing a new house so we have new concrete, no vehicle stains. However there is considerable sheetrock mud. I have a three bay garage with a shop area in front of the third bay. I have a few questions.
1) I have heard that a large commercial floor scrubber with an abrasive pad can be used to remove stubborn deposits, would you recommend this?
2) I am not really interested in color. Is this product available in CLEAR? My main interest is to prevent staining of my concrete from oils, solvents and other materials that are by-products of doing mechanic work on vehicles.
3) How resistant to chemicals, oils, gasoline, and solvents is this product?
4) How long is the cure time, (how soon can one drive into and start using the garage)?
5) My garage is heated and air-conditioned, can this be used to my advantage during this process?
John P. says
Sorry for the slow reply, but here are several things to consider…
First, NEW concrete has some challenged on its own. As you are probably aware, concrete continues to cure and dry for long after we begin doing things to it. Moisture is escaping from it for at least a month after its poured, so you need to wait to coat any concrete until after that process has completed or you’ll end up with problems.
Having said that, you can indeed use a floor scrubber, essentially with a sandpaper pad, and it will take off a top layer of concrete and remove a stain. You aren’t going to “clean” the stain, so much as just sand it off. Beware that this creates a tremendous amount of dust and requires proper breathing filtration and ventilation. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have things adhered to the concrete which would prevent epoxy from bonding. And a stain isn’t a concern. We’re talking about previous levels of paint, etc.
That sheetrock mud can be a pain in the ass to get off, but I found a PERFECT solution! Get yourself a 4″ angle grinder, and a wire brush head for it. Use it to VERY LIGHTLY go over the mud and it will take it right off. I say lightly, because it will also REMOVE YOUR CONCRETE. So be gentle.
I’m not aware of a truly clear 2-part epoxy, sorry. So you’ll have to pick a neutral color you can be satisfied with.
The epoxy cures in about 72 hours on average. If its rainy and humid, a little longer. Dry and hot, a little shorter. You can walk on it after 24 hours, but don’t put a car on it for a few days. I usually wait a week just to be certain.
If you run the AC in the garage its going to help remove moisture, but not really impact cure time that much. It’s going to last for years and years, so just be patient the first few days. ;-)
Hope that helps!
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?
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?
John P. says
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 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!
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.
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.
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
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.
Jeff M. says
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
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.;-)
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!
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?
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?
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?
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?
John P. says
I lived in Maryland for several years and had the same experience. What you can do is use concrete repair sealant to fill the cracks, then just do the coating over it.
Something like this:
DuPont Caulk 7907 Concrete and Masonry Caulk, Gray 10.1-Ounce 4-Pack
Dap 31084 Concrete Patch Interior and Exterior 1-Quart
It’s pretty simple to do, so you shouldn’t have any problems!
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.
John P. says
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.
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!
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.
Kevin g says
Here’s a follow up to the project I had done for my garage floor last year. I chickened out and hired the job out after hearing stories of people who had the epoxy separate from the garage floor after doing it themselves. I’ve uploaded it to my YouTube account in 3 separate videos.
Matt Wilson says
The instructions tell you to be sure you do not have a previously applied sealer, such as a clear sealer, on or in your concrete garage floor when you apply the epoxy coating.
I am having trouble telling if I have a clear sealer already or not. My garage floor seems to have a very slight sheen to it, which makes me think it might have a clear sealer, but it’s not very consistent. I tried the water beading test described in the instructions, and in a couple of places the water seemed to sort of “stand” on the surface and then run right off without wetting the concrete, but not really bead up like I would expect. Most of the floor did seem to absorb some water, but not like the outside driveway did, which readily accepted it.
I’m concerned that I might spend all of this effort just to see the epoxy peel up due to having a previously sealed floor. Do you have any suggestions on to tell if I have a clear sealer on my floor?
Also, do you have any ideas on how to remove old sealer, in case I decide to go ahead and do that just to err on the cautious side?
John P. says
I dealt with this on my in-laws garage floor too. The concrete was older and kind of smooth. The reality though is that it’s highly unlikely that your garage is actually sealed. You probably just have a little oil and some smoothing effect because the floor is older.
The easy way to tell is to take a sharp object like a screwdriver and drag it across the concrete. Really dig into it. If you don’t see clearcoat plastic looking stuff coming up then you should be Ok.
The other slight beading effect with the water is likely just dirt and oil. This will go away with the etching and scrubbing before you ever seal it.
Besides, even if you have a spot or two come up, your floor will look much better sealed than if you hadn’t done it at all!
Does this product stand up to salt from snow and ice dragged in on the car in northern climate?
John P. says
I don’t know about that Bill since I’m in Texas, but what I do know is that in my garage I do welding and all sorts of metal working and even hot sparks haven’t damaged the floor. Also, the hot tires from pulling a car in don’t take it off, which definitely happens with normal “paints”.
This stuff is the toughest you can buy, so if you’re going to do it I recommend you stick to the 2 part system.
What if my garage is basically concreted into 4 section? Meaning I have a gap down the center of the garage and across. Do I need to fill the gaps like you would cracks?
John P. says
I wouldn’t worry about it. Just make sure you use a roller that is made for semi rough surfaces and get some of the sealant down in between the cracks. It’ll be just fine!
I am worried about the acid. If I rinse it out of the garage, will it kill all the grass outside? I would really like to do this project. Thank You.
I am going to do this to my garage, especially after reading these comments. I do have one question, though. One of the steps is to rinse the acid but if I rinse out of my garage doesn’t it affect my driveway? Hope someone can answer my question.
John P. says
The etchant used to clean the floor would not be good for vegetation, but at the same time you are going to be rinsing it out of the garage with a LOT of water. So just try and steer it down the driveway and not into the grass if possible.
I’ve done this 3 times now and have never had any grass die afterward.
I have a two day old freshly poured concrete garage floor and was wondering should I seal the floor or with it being new I would not need to seal before using the epoxy kit? Also if I don’t seal it do I still have to use the etchant since it’s not sealed? Also how long should I let the new concrete cure before using this epoxy kit on it?
John P. says
As I understand it you need to let new concrete sit for like 60 days before sealing it. And yes, you still need to use the etchant to clean the floor before using the sealant.
Jonathan P. says
Hey John, Did the folks over at Lowe’s tint the epoxy for you?
John P. says
Yes Jonathan, the folks at Lowes tinted the epoxy for us to that deep blue that you see in the photos. I think the sealant is naturally gray if I recall, but my wife wanted blue. :-)
Does the kit come with the etchant or do I need to purchase it separately? How much echant do you need for a two car garage?
And How did you apply the epoxy? IF you used a roller, what thickness or nap do you recommend?
John P. says
This kit comes with the etchant, so you don’t need to get it too. And I did use a roller to apply the epoxy. It was a standard medium thickness roller identical to what we used to paint the walls.
I would recommend you not go to smooth because the floor has more cracks and bumps than a wall and it would be hard to get the epoxy in those.
Curt Wells says
Thanks very much for the info you provide…would appreciate if you could answer a couple of questions.
– I want to do a covered porch and have patched some damaged areas with concrete patch…patches being a substantially different shade of concrete color…do you think the coating would be opaque enough to mask the patches ?
– Could you say more about how you applied it– did you use a paint roller ? heavy knap ? or a squeggee type float ? Do you pour it on then spread it ? Thanks Curt Wells, Uhland tx
Kevin g says
Thanks for the follow-up. As soon as the sheet-rock work is done I’ll get right on it.
John P. says
Oh, almost forgot. My first garage floor was done 5 years ago, and with lesser quality sealant. That is the one that has taken unbelievable abuse and still looks good. I’ve got a metal shop in my garage and even that hasn’t affected the floor. :-)
John P. says
This is the second garage that I’ve done with this technique – both in Texas. So, I can tell you that it holds up well to temperature extremes on the high end. Also, remember that inside your garage the temperature is much, much cooler than outside and the floor rarely has exposure to direct sunlight.
I don’t think you should be worried about the epoxy separating from the cement. The slab is porous enough, and after the acid etching there is nothing standing between the epoxy and those pores. It’s on there for good!
I used to worry specifically about the hot tires from my sports car sitting on the epoxy and pulling it up. Especially if I was to turn the wheels inside the garage. But I’ve now done that literally hundreds of times and to no effect. This is why I only recommend the 2 part epoxy kits, and would never use floor paint (which wouldn’t hold up to this kind of abuse.)
Hope that helps, but I can recommend you do this without any hesitation. You are going to absolutely love your new garage floor! I promise!
Kevin g says
I’m considering doing this to my garage but I’m concerned about the epoxy eventually separating from the cement and what it will look like over time.
How long ago did you do this application and does it still look as nice as when you first did it? Also, what part of the country do you live in? I’m curious to know how it holds up to temperature extremes.
Thanks for the write-up.
Oh, when doing a job like this you really need to use the “sprinkles” since they add traction, the epoxy alone will be very slippery without the sprinkles, the sprinkles also help the floor look good because they hide any imperfections….basically, don’t skip the sprinkles, if you do you will have to start over with the epoxy since the sprinkles must be applied to wet epoxy
You can keep dirt out with the door open if your driveway is clean and you wet it down with a hose, by keeping it damp any dust will stay trapped in the water, by doing this one should be able to have the main door at least 1/3 open which will really help cut down on fumes and help keep the temperature down as well, also, do the area by the main door first so it has the most time to dry, if you start in the morning before the wind picks up and you keep the driveway damp you should have no problem keeping dirt/dust/debris out of you epoxy and you will hang on to those much needed brain cells
LV Lizard says
Just to reiterate, protection is essential. In my experience the build up of fumes is immense so I’d suggest wearing a respirator and doing it with the garage door open if possible.
Great idea! It’s so simple!
Ben Pei says
Haha thats nice.. Quite surprised by the difference in result!
Lisa Marie Mary says
Ah..yep! You and Mark would definitely get along GREAT! The very. first. thing. he does when we move into a new house is ‘fix up’ the garage and I’m not kidding – when we moved into this house ….the house looked like CRAP and the garage looked IMMACULATE!!!! LOL!