There are times when epoxy is not the best garage flooring option. This post will review some of the circumstances and environments where alternative flooring options, such as tiles or mats, should be used in place of epoxy.
Garages with Extreme Moisture Problems
Do you have a damp garage? If your garage is in a low-lying area that is prone to regular flooding, epoxy is not your best option. This situation rarely occurs with attached garages. It’s an issue that is mostly seen in detached garages, especially those that are set-back from the main residence, near lower elevations on the property.
In one case, I inspected a garage that was located directly adjacent to a wetland (prone to flooding). A clear water line was evident approximately two-inches up from the garage floor. Storage boxes were off the floor and placed on old crates. Nothing of any value rested directly on the garage floor. I asked the owner about it.
The garage owner indicated that each time there was a period of sustained, heavy rain, the water would spill over from the wetland property located next door. He informed me that in the ten years he had owned the property, the garage had flooded three times! He went on to explain that the water was never more than an inch or two deep, and would usually recede within a few days. Epoxy should not be used in these situations.
Even in cases where there is excessive concrete moisture (concrete sweating), I would advise against the use of epoxy. Repeated exposure to moisture and standing water in a damp garage will not only damage epoxy finish, but the bond between the epoxy and the concrete will likely fail. The best option in these environments is flow-through or floating garage floor tiles.
Grated flow-through tiles will not be damaged by these extreme conditions. Standing water will eventually recede or dry out, leaving the tiles dirty but undamaged. Like tiles, garage mats are another option that will perform better than epoxy in high-moisture conditions. However, unlike tiles, surface cracks can appear on rubber (and some plastic) mats after continued exposure to prolonged standing water. Either way, it’s best to avoid using epoxy if you know standing water or flooding is a real problem.
Garages in Year-Round Freezing Environments
Don’t use epoxy in consistently cold northern climates that experience prolonged freezing and sub-zero temperatures. The vast majority of the continental United States does NOT fit this description. Areas of northern Canada and Alaska do fall within an area where I would not use epoxy.
Constant, prolonged exposure to sub-zero temperatures can make epoxy brittle, leading to increased chances that either the clear coat or epoxy finish will experience chipping and cracking. On a microscopic-level, the epoxy becomes constricted. This weakens both the surface finish, as well as the bond to the underlying concrete.
Don’t use rubber floor mats either; mats will wear down faster in freezing environments. Chipping and cracking will occur due to constriction and moisture. Your best flooring option in freezing and sub-zero environments is floor tiles, especially tiles that allow for the movement of air and melted snow.
Grated or flow-through garage tiles are the best option. Water from melted snow and ice will move through the tiles and out of the garage (provided the garage floor is properly pitched). Air is also allowed to circulate around and through the tiles drying any remaining surface moisture on the concrete beneath.
Where Garage Floor Epoxy Performs Best
Epoxy performs best in non-extreme environments. Exposure to prolonged moisture or freezing temperatures will shorten the life and durability of the epoxy; avoid using epoxy in these situations.
Epoxy is still the best option for low-moisture, mild temperature environments.
Epoxy provides a seamless durability and professional appearance that is not achievable when using either tiles or rubber mats. With proper preparation, application, and maintenance, epoxy will outlast all of the alternatives.