Hagerty.com

Garage Floor Coating 101: Professionals vs DIY

#1

After experimenting with rubber matting, plastic tiles, and industrial paint for my garage floor, I splurged on a fresh finish by hiring pros. The good news is that it looks great after two Michigan winters of traffic and briney slush deposits and it’s covered by a “lifetime” warranty. (Life, as defined in the contract’s fine print, is 10 years.) The bad news is that contracting PremierGarage (PG), a nationwide organization with 195 agents serving 2100 cities and a coatings palette to die for, cost $1995.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/05/06/garage-floor-coating-101-professionals-vs-diy
#2

Great comparison. I’ve been thinking about getting my floor done, but I may just try the DIY method now.

#3

Great Article. In 2005 we had our garage built and concrete floor. I had to wait 90 days or so to finish the floor. We used “U-Coat It” from the Detroit area and over a weekend, My wife and I cleaned, prepped and applied the 3 layers of coating along with the ‘Sharks Teeth’ non-slip additive. 14 years later and it still looks good, some wear from the winter stones and salt.

#4

I can’t speak to existing or older concrete floors that need cleaning, but if you’re dealing with new construction, DIY is the way to go. I used ArmorPoxy and it was awesome. 24 x 36 garage about $700 in materials and free labor.

#5

I had a painter friend recently do my BMW toybox and it was…well…a small disaster. One third of the are didn’t get prepped enough and it turns out he was using the kit from Sherwin Williams that I could have just as easily bought. The prep is EVERYTHING. On new concrete, it’d have been a snap to do. For anyone. But the 15 year old oily spots under where my cars had been repeatedly leaking over the years proved to be something that had to be scrubbed over and over again. And again…Rinsing and acid washing needed many steps. I ended up with a huge peeled layer that all came up easily with a putty knife. I simply washed it again and again and carefully re-rolled the light grey epoxy I there and then let it sit for a good solid week before touching it. That’s the other key. It needs to harden for a LONG time before touching. I’ve got the tire marks to prove it on some of the rest of my grey floored garage. I’m happy now, and also happy that I didn’t do any color flakes. I can really see what’s under the cars now and where the floor needs a cleaning. I went with the one-step system that is only the grey layer. A couple friends have mentioned that the two layered system, with the flakes in between, ends up fading and peeling away in places from traffic of cars and heavy tools. One trick I learned is to use Mother’s polish with a rag and you can really re-shine areas that tires smudge up. But not the marks from where you park when the epoxy isn’t dry enough. It cleaned the black/brown marks, but left some dull footprints, even after a lot of rubbing.

Another garage project I did recently was with a new system with a Diamond grinder and polishes/epoxy from Husqvarna. I rented a grinder and re-surfaced an old rough crusty concrete floor for a weekend, and the 1 1/2 car garage project only cost 500 dollars. The final polishing heads, mixed with the solution they provide, left a super hard, semi-shiny (call it Satin) surface that looks like natural concrete. It also fills old holes and pores in the surface, over incredibly rough surfaces that I had before. One of the “middle steps” with the machine is with a medium grit diamond head and it takes the dust of what you grind, mixed with one of their solutions, and builds a past/filler that then gets ground and pushed into all of the pores. After another buff step with another set of polishing heads, it is impenetrable to oils and solvents and looks great! It is very smooth yet not slippery when wet. And it cleans up in a breeze. The 3 headed monster grinder was a blast to operate. It just involved a lot of dust removal via sweeping and vacuuming. Google Husqvarna Hiperfloor for more info. It’s great!

Before…

#6

I did a single car garage at our summer house that came out nice, but it was a project. I also
painted the walls and ceiling, installed new shelves, etc, etc.
We’re moving to a new winter home with a 3 car garage and I’m hiring the pros to strip & paint
this garage floor.

#7

I am no fan of these coatings. If you want a real durable surface, do what Lowes and Walmart do: Bring in a pro to fill cracks, grind the floor super smooth and flat. Then they use a chemical to harden the surface and can also stain it any number of colors. Read closely here: There is NO BUILDUP, no coating at all to flake off. Like anodizing aluminum, you are only altering the upper layer of the concrete. I know of motorcycle museum that used this system and after ten years it looks just the same. They went for a kind of marbleized splotchy look that resembles stone and really hides oil leaks from old bikes! Cost is about the same or as much as half the price of the coatings, if you shop around for this commercial service.

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#8

Sherwin Williams “tile clad” is also an awesome product and reasonably priced. I did a 4000 sq ft shop for a little over $1000 4yrs ago. The floor was from the late 40s and had a rough life. A good commercial equipment rental store will rent you a floor grinder for less than $100/day (but that was 4 yrs ago, your results may vary). I’d say about 80-90% of my floor looks good after 4 years of all sorts of general car restoration work. Would I do it again? Yeah, imagine the cost reported above for 4000 sq ft…:open_mouth:

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#9

It really depends. My car sits in the garage for a week or two at a time and then all through a New England winter. I did the floor 12 years ago. The floor was originally poured in 1962. That’s 45 years prior to my epoxy application. After 12 years there is no sign of any wear or paint lift anywhere. I also cheated on the prep. I had painted the concrete twice in the preceding years and the epoxy paint was applied over the old failing polyurethane floor paint. I tried to really clean the oil soaked area under the leaky air cooled flat four engine area. The epoxy adhered very well and now I just wipe that area with mineral spirits and it cleans up perfectly. I used the Rustoleum DIY stuff. I would think that a DIY application with any name brand epoxy floor paint would be fine with lightly used garages. Daily traffic or heavily used floors would probably be best done professionally.

#10

We have used professionals to do 2 floors, excellent results. What colors show dropped small parts best? One garage floor is gray with white, silver & black chips, almost impossible to find small screws or small o-rings, etc. Any suggestions as to color choices? We are getting ready to do a brand new 1,000 sqft garage.

#11

Yes, preparation is everything !
I was involved during construction of 80 aircraft hangars. The floors were poured, then a couple of months after they had cured, diamond sanded and coated with epoxy. They turned out well. A maintenance shop on the airfield liked them and hired the same group to do the floor of his shop, about 20,000 square feet. The painters did an insufficient job removing the oil soaked into the floor and it peeled significantly within a year. He ended up scrapping it all off and went back to a bare cement floor.
I was told to wait a minimum of a month!! after getting the floor wet before painting on the epoxy. This is Toronto, where is is quite humid.
One more thing. Since we were doing the floors in many hangars, we researched first. We painted 3 foot square areas with no grit, some grit and lots of grit, to compare how slippery each was. Counter-intuitively, the grit made no difference at all to the slipperyness of the floor with water on it. It merely made it harder to sweep. With water on epoxy, you tend to slide for a few inches and then your shoe sticks. With paint instead of epoxy, your shoe keeps sliding and you fall.
I haven’t tried that with oil on the floor. The results might be different, although I doubt the grit would help then either.
Most of us opted not to include the colored flakes. I am really glad I didn’t since it makes it much easier to find a washer dropped on the floor.

#12

I used Sherwin Williams shield-crete epoxy coating on a 30’D X 50’W - 4 car garage. I allowed the new concrete floors to cure 60 days before rolling on 13 gallons of the product followed by the clear coat. It looked great when completed 11 years ago and still looks good however, in my opinion it is not as durable as most commercial products. Also the clear coat does not stand up to chemicals such as acetone and simply wears off over time and must be re-applied.

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#13

What is this process called? Or name a company…

#14

My General Contractor applied “Colortec” by Surecrete, water based epoxy after renovating the house after Hurricane Harvey. He applied it when it was raining (humidity high out-of-specification) and I don’t know whether he mixed it properly or not. It was a disaster. Two weeks later, it was still too tacky to walk on and would stick to your shoes if you stopped walking quickly. It had to be completely removed, which was very difficult. I interviewed three different professional outfits, and chose one. They prepped the area as described above, and put down an excellent coating. Interestingly, none of the companies that I interviewed would do a completely white floor, like I wanted. I settled on 25% red, 25% blue, 50% white flakes, which looks great. The one downside of the color is that it does camouflage small screws and parts when I drop them. Floor has been installed for a year with heavy use and I continue to be happy with it. Installed was “Garage Floor Experts” in Katy, TX.

#15

I bought a kit from Costco.com. It included acid etcher, the 2-part epoxy, color chips and even the roller. It was enough finish a two-car garage, however I needed two kits for my oversized three-car garage. Total cost including tax was less than $400.

My garage had been used for about 8 years but there weren’t many oil issues to deal with. Mostly the spot where I had accidentally kicked over the pan after changing the oil on my motorcycle. I used a degreaser and scrub brush and power-washed, repeating a second time to be sure it was thoroughly cleaned. I power-washed the whole floor to remove the rest of the 8 years’ worth of dirt and crud. The acid etcher was citric acid, which I applied and thoroughly washed with the pressure washer. I then waited a day before applying the expoxy finish. I had enough to do two liberal coats, adding the color chips shortly after the second coat.

The finish is bullet-proof. I don’t worry about hot tires or the coating coming off, even parking a SuperCrew truck on it. It’s been 6 years and the only thing I do is give it a light pressure wash in the spring to remove all of the winter dirt (and sometimes in the fall).

I recommend the DIY approach for saving a lot of money. Just be sure to use a two-part epoxy rather than a paint. You’ll never worry about it peeling or wearing out.

#16

I’m thinking that the biggest plus for DIY, at least in my case, is that I can do some at a time without having to empty out the whole shop. And - not all areas get the same traffic - I could handle re-doing even 20% every couple of years if need be.

#17

BTW, Don, once the clear resin was added, those paint chips no longer provide slip protection. They’re just decorative.

#18

My big question is why spilled paint will soak into concrete and last forever?.

#19

We completely remodeled a 1959 ranch in Florida two years ago - roof off - new drywall - windows, openings, plumbing, etc.

Epoxy was not an option because the home built before vapor barriers appeared in garages. I tried using epoxy for my garage floor in the past with little success, without a vapor barrier the epoxy does not last.

This time I went to Home Depot and bought gray 16 X 24 tile for $1.44 PSF and had my contractor install them with great result. His professional labor used a grinder to grind the old epoxy off. (it did not last long) The entire 670 sq ft garage floor in tile cost $1,800 ($25 per hour for labor, two guys, two days each) or about $2.70 per square foot.

I have not seen an epoxy floor look great after ten years. This floor has been flawless; however, I am not dropping heavy tools on it while rebuilding cars at night. I am happy with the result of my garage.

Last time I received a quote for an epoxy coating for my garage from a professional, they quoted $5 per square foot with no guarantee because we had no vapor barrier.

Comparatively, I had professionals pour my new concrete driveway for $7 PSF.

#20

I have done 4 garage floors over the years. I had a 3 bay 45 ft. by 24 ft. garage done by pros with epoxy paints after full machine prep. I did on single car bay with Griots epoxy. I did another single bay with Rustoleum Rocksolid from Home Depot and a 20 ft by 30 ft. 2 bay garage with Rocksolid. All are subject to jack stand legs, steel jacks, welding sparks, dropped heavy auto and truck parts. The pro job looks terrible. Chipped and holes everywhere. The Griot done bay and the Rocksolids are in much better shape. Very few chips and scrapes and no hot tire lifts. All floors were properly degreased and etched and dried thoroughly before painting. We also took the extra step of 30 day dry period before any drive on use or jacks or any destructive impacts. My view is to do it yourself but take the time to do all the prep with great care and follow instructions to the letter.