Do-It-Yourself Garage Floor Epoxy System
By Kirk Muhlhauser
If you’ve ever considered using a garage floor epoxy system to protect and enhance the look of your garage floor, there are a few things you should know before purchasing one. Most home improvement stores carry epoxy floor kits designed for the do-it-yourselfer and you’ve probably heard differing opinions on how well they work. Some will say it’s an excellent product and others will tell you not to waste your money. Well, there is usually an easy explanation as to why this product fails for some floors.
One reason for failure is not every concrete floor is ideal for applying an epoxy coating. Many floors have too much hydrostatic pressure, meaning water moves from the under the slab up to the surface in a process called capillary action. Moisture then collects on the surface, which breaks the bond between the concrete and the epoxy coat. If the floor “sweats” even when it’s dry outside or there are areas that seem to stay moist for long periods of time, then an epoxy coating will almost certainly fail. It will gradually chip and flake away. Even if you don’t think there is a moisture problem, it’s a good idea to apply an efflorescence or salt blocker before the epoxy. This will help prevent moisture from causing problems.
The most probable reason for failure is improper surface preparation. The floor must be completely clean and stripped of all other coatings. Any stains or foreign substances (oil, grease, paint, etc.) will prevent adequate bonding between the concrete and epoxy, resulting in chipping and flaking. Most contractors will apply a coat of sealer to a garage floor after installation. It can take several years for the sealer to wear off completely. This sealer must be removed for epoxy to last. Although acid etching is an important step, it will not remove sealer and most stains. Etching will only open up the pores of bare concrete, therefore you must do all cleaning and stripping before etching with acid.
Before purchasing a garage floor epoxy system, you need to first decide if your floor is right for it. If it sweats often or there are areas that are constantly wet, then forget about it. Be sure that you are willing to take the time to prep the floor properly, as this is the most critical part. It also helps to put one or two coats of clear concrete sealer on top to serve as a wear coat. Water based acrylic sealers are ideal for indoor residential use. Despite any bad reviews you’ve heard about the do-it-yourself garage floor epoxy system, it can be a successful project if it’s done correctly.
Kirk Muhlhauser offers ideas and instructions for enhancing your home's concrete surfaces. Find information on concrete stains, paints, and sealers at http://www.all-things-concrete.com
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