If you have thoroughly cleaned and prepared your concrete garage floor, you are now ready to apply a tough-as-nails coat of epoxy.   You’re excited to see the transformation from dirty old concrete floor to high-end garage showroom, right?  There are a few last-minute things you should do before you apply garage floor epoxy.

Garage Floor Epoxy – Pre-Application Considerations

If you have readied the garage floor, be absolutely certain that the concrete has thoroughly dried. Do not rush this step!  If the epoxy coating is going to properly adhere to the concrete, it must be completely dry. For this reason alone, you should wait at least 24 to 48-hours after completing my prep-work to apply the epoxy coating. You want a strong, lasting bond.  Once you have allowed ample time for the concrete to dry, move on to the next steps.

Garage Floor Epoxy ProcessWith the concrete floor dry, verify that a thin layer of dust has not settled on the surface. You could sweep the floor again or use a leaf blower to blast out fine dust particles that may have settled on the surface. Be sure to clean the blower first; you don’t want to be introducing leaf dust to your already cleaned garage.

A thin layer of dust or debris can cause you trouble down the road.  Dust and dirt particles can weaken the bonding agents in the epoxy coating. If you want to apply epoxy the right way, get all of the dust out!  The more thorough and detailed you are about this, the longer-lasting your epoxy coating will be.

Be sure to take the weather into account prior applying epoxy. If the weather report is calling for extreme cold or heat, wait for a day or two until the forecast improves.  Avoid applying epoxy coatings on days when the forecast calls for excessively high humidity. The humidity in the air can weaken the epoxy’s bond and slow down the drying process.

After taking all of the previously stated considerations into account, continue with the epoxy application.

Follow the Epoxy Manufacturer’s Instructions and Guidelines

how to epoxy instructionsRead through all of the documentation that came with your epoxy coating.  Take the time to read the instructions.  Many people have the urge to dive right in and get started, but don’t do it. Read the manufacturer’s instructions!

Homeowners who fail to read the instructions may fail to add the epoxy bonding agent (one very important half of the two-part epoxy mixing process). Paint without epoxy will not last and the finish will look terrible in no time.  Don’t waste your time and money on a botched epoxy application.  Read the instructions!  Follow the instructions.

How to Apply Garage Floor Epoxy

Applying garage floor epoxyWith the epoxy properly mixed and set (as instructed by the manufacturer), begin applying the epoxy coating. Plan to finish the entire garage floor in one application. Use painter’s tape to protect any surface where the epoxy finish may accidentally be applied (walls, etc).

Applying epoxy is very much like painting a wall in your home.  It is best to paint the edges and seams of your garage first. Do so using a decent quality (but not high-quality) synthetic brush. Generally, I will edge the epoxy in using a 4″ wide brush. I wouldn’t use anything thinner than a 2″ brush as you will only make more work for yourself than necessary. With the edges and seams of the concrete garage floor epoxied, move on to the larger surface areas.

short-nap epoxy rollerUsing a short-nap roller head attached to an extension rod, soak up a hearty amount of the epoxy from the paint tray. Begin in a corner of the garage and work your way in towards the center. If you are using colored paint chips, be sure to have those handy. Apply epoxy to no more than 5’x3′ section at a time. Sprinkle the paint chips as you go.  Be sure to maintain a constant wet edge, doing so will ensure a uniform, properly bonded finish.

Do not rush this process, you will be rewarded with an awesome-looking epoxy finish that lasts!

Finishing Up

Allow ample time for drying and curing (refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the particular coating you are using). Stay off the garage floor! Your next step will usually be the application of a clear coat surface protector.  If you are required to apply more than one coat of epoxy, wait until the second coat to sprinkle your colored paint chips.

More from GarageFloorHQ.com:

It’s best to keep in mind that the best garage floor repair is the one you don’t have to make. Preventing damage and maintaining your garage floor will ensure that it holds-up to years of wear-and-tear.  These are the most common garage floor problems and and how to repair them.

Common Garage Floor Repairs

Garage Floor Stains

cleaning garage stainsStains are undoubtedly the most-common problem for homeowners.  It could be years of accumulating grease, grime, dirt, and road salt that causes surface discoloration, or it could be the result of an oil-change gone wrong.  What matters is how you make the repair.

Unfortunately, unsealed concrete is porous and soaks up oil and other liquids like a sponge, drawing the liquid in. The deeper the stain is drawn into the surface of the concrete, the more difficult it is to remove the stain.  Additionally, the longer the stain has to set and cure, the harder it is to get out.

Fresh stains and spills should be cleaned up immediately. Do not let the stain set into the concrete!  Contain the stain or spill as best as you can. Try to limit the amount of garage floor surface exposed to the stain (I always have an ample supply of shop towels and cardboard available to pick up the spill). Once you have the bulk of the spill cleaned, use a scrub-brush and dishwasher detergent to remove any left-over material.

When it comes to tough, set-in stains, you’re going to need tougher tools to remove the stain.   Some of the best tools to combat stubborn concrete stains include pressure washers, chemical degreasers, sanders/grinders, and muriatic or citric acids.  Always keep personal safety in mind when making any garage floor repair, especially when using any of these tools or chemicals to remove stains .

It is important to periodically clean you garage floor. Periodic cleanings keep potential stains from setting into the concrete. Cleaning will wash away residual grime, oil, sale, and residue that may be on the surface of your garage floor. At the very least, if you have no plans to apply an epoxy coating on your garage floor, you should apply a good concrete sealer. Sealing concrete fills in the microscopic pours within the concrete, and will keep stains and liquids from penetrating deep into the concrete.

Repairing Pooling & Low Points

puddle in garageYour garage floor may have areas or points where the concrete has settled lower than the rest of the floor. These low-lying areas make it difficult for water to drain and encourage water to pool into puddles. Unfixed, these pools of water will eventually lead to other problems (cracking, chipping, and pitting) and potentially more expensive and extensive garage floor repairs.  Obviously, you’re going to want to repair these low-points prior to applying epoxy or installing any other type of flooring.

There are products, such as Jasco Floor Leveler, that are made specifically to address this problem. Be sure to remove all loose concrete from the low-point prior repairing the low point in the floor. Apply a high-quality bonding agent and floor-leveling product to effectively fill the low-point. Next, use a smooth, straight board (such as a spare 2×4) as a screed to remove and excess fill material and to make the filled area level to the existing garage floor. Allow the repair to set and cure as directed by the manufacturer.

Concrete Cracks & Pitting Repairs

crack in garage floorThis common problem is usually seen in older garages. Years of wear-and-tear and tough environmental conditions can take a heavy toll on your garage floor. Cracks and pitting are caused by everything from seasonal changes (rapid freeze/thaw cycles) to moisture problems, and problems with the material consistency of the original concrete pour. Not only are cracks and pitting unsightly, they create a potential trip hazard and lead to more extensive garage floor problems.

Concrete damaged by cracking and pitting are both repaired by similar methods.  Begin by removing all of the loose material from the damaged concrete. A stiff wire brush works well to remove dirt, pebbles, and concrete material from cracks. A firm bristle-brush will be sufficient on pitted areas. Follow-up by using a dry paint brush to sweep away any remaining dust or other fine material. The area to be repaired must be clean and completely free of dust.  Use a shop vac with a dust filter to finish cleaning these areas.

pitting in garage concreteOnce thoroughly cleaned, apply a high-quality epoxy bonding agent to the pitted concrete. Next, use an appropriate floor-leveler or concrete patching material to fill the pitted area. Follow all manufacturer instructions and recommendations!

For cracks, once cleaned out, apply a flexible crack filler (usually sold in a tube similar to caulk). Be sure that the filler is properly rated for use on concrete specifically. There are many crack fillers on the market that are made for blacktop applications; these will not work for garage floor repairs!

You can get more detailed information about repairing cracked and pitted concrete here.

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