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How to Prep a Garage Floor For Epoxy

A close look at a garage floor being prepared for epoxy.

If you have a new garage or you want to give your old garage a new fresh and clean look, the best way to do it is by using an epoxy coating.

It provides all the benefits you will need to keep your garage looking it’s best and is durable enough to provide the protection you need that is hard-wearing and long-lasting.

Not only does it upgrade the look of your garage, but it also will increase the resale value of your home in the event that you may be looking to sell it any time in the near future.

It’s not a hard DIY project, but you are going to want to make sure you take all the necessary steps to ensure a flawless end result.

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What is Epoxy?

Epoxy is kind of like paint, but the compounds are completely different and require different application methods. Epoxy floor coating is a combination of epoxide resin and polyamine hardener.

The chemical reaction of these compounds creates an extremely tough and durable epoxy coating. This coating is used so often for garage floors because of the heavy wear and tear a garage floor can be subjected to, as opposed to any other area in your house.

Whether your garage is a workspace, primarily for your vehicles or for a little bit of everything, you want to be sure the flooring could withstand any potentially damaging things that are likely to happen in a garage like dropping tools, leakage from vehicles, heavy machinery, etc.

Concrete Floor Preparation

This may not be relevant to everyone given the condition of the floor you are working with, but it is extremely important, nonetheless.

This is an absolute necessity if you want your floors looking even and flawless, so make sure you don’t skip this part during the preparation process. If you are starting with brand new concrete, you probably won’t need to focus on this step too much, but definitely give your floor a once over before you start cleaning it to make sure it is in perfect condition.

If you are preparing an older concrete floor, you want to make sure you can get your concrete as close to perfect as possible. The more flaws you have in your concrete floor, the more imperfections you will be able to see when it is finished, so do your best to take care of whatever you can.

3M High Strength Large Hole Repair Kit with 12 fl. oz Compound, Self-Adhesive Back Plate, Putty Knife and Sanding Pad

If you have minor cracks or chips in your concrete floor, they can very easily be repaired with a concrete patching product. You can use a repair kit with a spackling compound if you choose and with a putty knife you will be able to easily spread the compound over any minor holes or cracks and then sand it down until it is completely smooth and even with the rest of the pavement.

You can also use a spray rubber sealant that has adhesive in it to seal up the spaces between the cracks by filling them in with the adhesive, preventing the crack from being visible once you epoxy the floor.

A pre-mixed concrete patch is also another option. It comes in an easily squeezable tube for you to seal up any holes or cracks to the concrete and easily cleans up with water around the area before it dries. It also dries concrete color to make it uniform with the rest of the floor.

This is a close look at a garage floor being repaired.

Step-By-Step Cleaning Preparation

Prepping your floor for epoxy is definitely the most important step in the process to have the best possible end result. You will have professional looking flooring in your garage in no time if you follow these simple steps:

Step One: Remove every single item from your garage that is possible to move. This includes refrigerators, heavy machinery, lawn equipment, bicycles, toolboxes, etc.

Step Two: If your garage floor is already painted, you have to sand it down using a power sander for faster and easier results.

Step Three: Thoroughly sweep and wash the floor with floor cleaner and then completely rinse. Allow drying for at least 3 hours.

Step Four: Vacuum the entire garage floor from corner to corner to remove as much dust as possible. For difficult to reach areas you can use an old paintbrush or small broom.

Step Five: Etch the floor by mixing water and etching solution in a watering can and then wetting the floor with water before pouring the solution over the entire floor from the furthest point inside all the way out to the entrance.

Step Six: Use a scrub brush with thick bristles to scrub the floor with the etching solution in the same pattern as the solution you are pouring until the entire garage floor has been scrubbed clean.

Step Seven: Completely rinse the garage floor with water and allow at least 4 hours until it is completely dry

Once you are finished with these 7 steps, your floor should be fully prepped and ready for your epoxy coating!

3 Main Garage Floor Prep Options

Acid Etching

This method is the most DIY friendly and doesn’t require any heavy machinery as the other methods do for your concrete floor. You will first apply the acid solution to your floor and spread it evenly with a brush or scrubbing tool.

Once that sits for about 10 minutes, you want to thoroughly clean the floor to remove all the acid. It is best to use a power washer to be sure you are thoroughly cleaning the entire floor and there is no acid or debris left behind.

Once the floor is completely washed and dried, you should vacuum the entire floor. The last step is neutralizing the remaining acid residue by diluting simple green in the water, about 4oz. of solution per gallon of water.

Diamond Grinding

This method is a way to restore the concrete and make sure it is all completely smooth. You will need a floor grinder with the appropriate attachments for your floor and use a side-by-side swaying technique until the entire surface is smooth.

Once this is done, you will vacuum very thoroughly until there is no residue left behind. It is important to always keep the grinder in motion and not let it sit in one spot or it will grind circular rings or uneven spots into the floor.

Shot Blasting

This method requires machinery to flatten out the surface by pelting tiny metallic beads into the floor to blast away any stains or damages.

With this technique, you will most likely not have any residue leftover when you are done because the machine sucks it all up, unlike acid etching and diamond grinding. However, it does require some skill and is really only practical for larger-scale jobs as opposed to your home garage.

Other Preparations

When you choose the epoxy, you are going to use it before starting your project, you will have to know the coverage area you have so you are sure you buy enough.

Generally, a gallon of epoxy should cover an area of about 200-350 sq. ft. and if you are using a two-part mixture, you’ll be able to cover between 400-700 sq. ft. with the two gallons, you have prepared.

A two-part epoxy consists of a hardener and the paint mixed together just before application. Most times you will buy these separately, so if you are mixing it on your own, you will want to stir the paint and then begin pouring the hardener in slowly as you continue to stir.

Once they are both in one container, keep mixing slowly and steadily for another two to three minutes to ensure they are thoroughly mixed. There are some places that will custom mix your epoxy for you, so you should ask your local representative if that is an option.

It is also optional to use decorative flakes in your epoxy. This is totally a preference and definitely not needed.

You will also want to degrease the floor with a stiff brush if you have oil or other liquid stains on the concrete from vehicles or any other work you were doing in your garage. Any oils or grease could affect the way epoxy reacts to those areas of the floor and might not seal securely.

Once you scrub degreaser over any problem areas and they are clean, wash it away with water and allow the floor to completely dry before actually prepping the entire floor for epoxy.

You may also want to protect your walls or other areas of your garage that may be secured in place and not movable, such as workstations.

You might want to hang sheets or paper covering over the walls and cover other areas in case there are any splashes during the epoxy process. Just make sure if you do cover the walls you do not cover them all the way down to the floor because you don’t want to risk the epoxy adhering to the covering and then not being able to remove it once the epoxy dries.

Be mindful that once you start applying the epoxy, you will have no more than two hours to completely finish the application process and even less if the weather is extremely hot and dry.

You should always keep the area well-ventilated while applying epoxy and until it is finished drying. You can use paintbrushes for the edges and should have a 9-inch roller with a roller cover and extended handle.

You should also try to keep a wet edge by rolling over edges of epoxy that you previously covered so you can be sure you are evenly coating the entire surface, working from furthest inside the garage all the way out.

If you intend on applying a second coat if you want a darker color or because you want an added layer of protection, you should wait at least 12 hours between applications so you don’t risk stepping on any areas that may not have fully dried yet and creating dents in your new epoxy floor.

A close look at a bucket of concrete being poured onto the garage floor.

Suggestions for the Perfect Epoxy Flooring

GE Sealants & Adhesives GE012A All Purpose Silicone 1 Sealant, 10.1oz, Clear
  • Always be sure to give your floor another good look after cleaning before applying the epoxy to be sure there are no spots you may have overlooked.
  • It is always best to measure the humidity and moisture before you start to be sure the conditions are right.
  • Make sure you remove all the acid residue before it dries.
  • You should never use an all-purpose silicone sealant to repair unwanted cracks or minor dents on your concrete floor because this type of sealant is not designed to be painted over and won’t work well with the epoxy.