An Installation Guide to Epoxy Floors in Garages

Epoxy is frequently used for garage floors because it’s strong, reliable, and easy to apply at an affordable price. When choosing the best type of epoxy for a garage, it’s important to consider the condition of your concrete base, the weight you need your flooring to hold, and what color/design you prefer your flooring to be. Epoxy comes in a range of colors and styles, but the most popular choice for a garage is a plain, block color. The more flakes you have in your epoxy, the more expensive it can be.

Epoxy flooring is not the same as epoxy paint (sometimes referred to as floor paint). Epoxy is a mixture of resin and polyamine hardener that cures to create a new, thick layer of flooring. It can last a long time, is chemical-resistant, and does not scratch easily. Whereas epoxy paint is simply a highly durable paint that’s more resistant to abrasions than wall paint. As expected, it’s easier to apply, but won’t last as long.

Keep reading to learn more about epoxy floors, whether it’s good to use in garages, and how to apply epoxy flooring in a garage.

Is it Good to Epoxy Garage Floors?

Epoxy is resilient, long-lasting, and offers many benefits for garage floors. It can protect your entire floor from mold, mildew, moisture, and stains. It’s also affordable, long-lasting, and easy to lay yourself. When applied with resins or color flakes, epoxy can be an affordable, aesthetically pleasing flooring for a garage. 

Despite its downsides, epoxy flooring in garages has a whole host of benefits that make it ideal for most households, including that it’s:

  • Longlasting & durable
  • Easy to apply yourself
  • An affordable flooring solution
  • Withstands mold & mildew
  • Available in different colors, finishes, and thicknesses

However, there are some reported downsides to using epoxy as a garage floor coating. Firstly, it requires intense preparation before applying to become a durable, long-lasting garage floor. It also needs to be routinely maintained with a clear coat, hardener, or sealer, like a polyurethane layer, to prevent cracking, peeling, or brittleness. 

A polyurea solution can often be viewed as a better alternative to epoxy, particularly for garages with heavy foot traffic or large/weighted appliances and machines.

How Much Does It Cost to Epoxy a Garage Floor?

The cost of installing epoxy floor coatings can vary depending on the type of product you purchase. According to Home Advisor USA, an epoxy garage floor costs the average homeowner around $2,300 for both the product and installation. 

Solutions will cost more if you prefer a shiny (metallic), graveled, flaked, or colored epoxy product, compared with a plain mortar solution. Water-based products are around 30-40% cheaper than solid-based solutions. Thicker epoxy coating (between 1-5mm) is also more expensive than thin coatings (between 300-600 microns). 

Other factors that can impact the cost of a garage floor epoxy installation are:

  • Size: Costs can range between $3-12 per square foot
  • Labor: Excluding material costs, labor charges are generally between $1-7 per square foot
  • Concrete floor repair: Between $25-250 for small repairs, and $2,100-7,500 for significant structural repairs (this work is essential if your concrete base is in poor shape, as epoxy will not stick to concrete in disrepair)

As a general guide (according to Home Advisor USA), you can expect to pay between the following figures for different-sized garages:

Garage SizeAverage Cost
Water-Based EpoxySolid-Based Epoxy
Standard Two Car Garage$1,200-$6,000$1,500-$7,800
Standard One Car Garage$750-$3,000$1,000-$3,900

How Long Will Epoxy Garage Floor Last?

Assuming it’s been suitably applied, epoxy garage floors generally last between 3-5 years before they start deteriorating. However, with routine maintenance, your coatings should last between 10-30 years, sometimes longer, depending on the type of epoxy you use and how well it’s applied. 

Epoxy floors are highly durable, which is why they’re a popular choice for garage floors. To make your flooring last longer, you should:

  • Prepare the surface properly before application (poorly applied epoxy mix will crack or decay)
  • Apply a thick coating, especially if you’re using it for industrial applications
  • Finish the flooring with a topcoat, like urethane, to protect it from scratches
  • Apply enough coats suitable to the environment (two coats is often best)
  • Don’t apply it in areas with high sunlight exposure (epoxy is not resistant to ultraviolet rays and can turn powdery)
  • Fix damp issues before application (epoxy can handle moisture well, but can peel when damp issues exist in the concrete under-surface)
  • Keep it clean with a suitable degreaser (epoxy can handle exposure to oil, bleach, chemicals, and even acids, but it should be cleaned routinely, and chemicals should not be left to sit on surfaces for prolonged periods)

What Types of Epoxy are Best For Garage Floors?

Epoxy coatings come in different types, thicknesses, and finishes. The different types of epoxy vary in terms of strength, durability, and style. The best type of epoxy for garages is a thin self-leveling mortar epoxy in liquid form, with a thickness of between 300-600 microns. The most common types of epoxy floor coatings are:

  • Mortar: The most common type suitable for most environments (including garages) which comprises of 100% solid epoxies and graded sand
  • Flakes: Contains decorative flakes, are available in a range of colors, have grooves that create better grip, and are ideal for showrooms, venues, locker rooms, and clinics
  • Graveled: Contains graveled specs and comes in a range of colors/styles for better aesthetics, often used for restaurants, waiting rooms, and showrooms
  • Metallic: Contains a metallic additive that gives it a shiny, swirly finish, often used in living rooms, dining rooms, showrooms, or clinics
  • Self-leveling: The most aesthetically basic type of epoxy floor that smooths damaged or uneven surfaces, best used for garages, workshops, or home gyms

These types of epoxy can range between 300 microns to 5mm in thickness. Thick epoxy flooring systems (considered 1mm and above) are generally only required for work environments with frequent forklift traffic, or commercial showrooms with heavy foot traffic.

You can use any epoxy for garages, but it’s often not worth spending more on a highly durable type (like one suitable for industrial applications) when a less expensive product will perform just as suitably. 

Can You Do Epoxy Flooring Yourself?

Yes, installing epoxy floors in garage areas is a relatively simple DIY project you can do yourself. However, because epoxy hardens quickly after mixing, it’s best to have 2 people involved in applying the first coat. Installation should take no more than 2 days when applying the coating yourself or with another person in an average-sized garage. 

Most professional companies should also be able to lay epoxy flooring in 2 days. The only reason installation will take longer is if the concrete floor in your garage is in poor condition and requires significant preparation before application. 

It’s recommended you do not attempt installing an epoxy floor in a day, as preparation of the surfaces can take time. If you’re applying multiple layers, you’ll also need to give the surfaces at least 12 hours to dry between coats.

How Many Epoxy Coats Does a Garage Floor Need?

Generally, it’s best to apply 1-2 coats of epoxy on garage floors. Naturally, the more coats you apply, the better, so two coats will offer more protection and durability than one coat

As a general guide, here’s how many epoxy coatings are needed for different surfaces:

  • Low foot traffic (like garages): Between 1-2 coats, with 2 coats offering maximum protection
  • Heavy foot traffic (like showrooms or clinics): Between 2-4 coats, depending on the thickness
  • Frequent forklift traffic: Between 2-4 coats, depending on the thickness
  • Industrial settings: Between 2-4 coats, depending on the thickness

How to Apply Epoxy Floor Coatings in a Garage

Applying epoxy coatings to a garage floor is easy, but preparation is key. Choosing the best product for your garage floor will ensure you get the most out of your surface. It’s also important to ensure you apply epoxy floors according to the recommended guidelines. This will prevent cracks and ensure it lasts.

What You’ll Need

  • Suitable garage floor epoxy product (like self-leveling mortar of 300-600 microns)
  • Stirring stick
  • Mixing paddle attachment and drill
  • Large container
  • Water
  • Vacuum/broom
  • Primer (optional)
  • Anti-slip (optional)
  • Duct tape (optional)
  • 3-inch paint brush
  • Lint-free short or medium pile roller
  1. Prepare Concrete Floor For Epoxy

Before applying your epoxy coating, you need to assess the quality of the concrete surface you’re applying it to. If the surface is not suitably prepared, your epoxy will not stick properly and won’t perform as expected. 

Firstly, you’ll need to perform various checks on the surface to ensure it’s ready for application:

  1. Check for damp: Perform a basic moisture test to ensure there are no damp spots on your concrete floor. Because epoxy is impermeable to water vapor, moisture beneath the surface will quickly lead to peeling.
  2. Check for contaminants: Grease, oil, sealer, or solvents will disrupt the epoxy flooring from sticking to the concrete and need to be removed. Test for sealants by thoroughly inspecting the floor or dropping water on the surface and seeing if it discolors. 
  3. Check for cracks, chips, or other damage: Any imperfections to the concrete will need to be properly repaired before epoxy flooring can be applied. Inspect the surfaces for cracks and repair as necessary.

One of the best ways to prepare your surface is to acid etch the concrete, grit blast it, or undertake surface scrabbling. These etching solutions break down the concrete and reveal its voids. 

Once completed, you’ll need to flush the surface with water to ensure the concrete does not dry out and no dust remains. When dry, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the surface to remove all dust. Sweep and vacuum until no dust remains. 

If your flooring contains contaminants or damp, you can apply a primer to the concrete. Ensure you use an epoxy flooring primer that is compatible with the epoxy solution you’ve purchased. 

  1. Mix the Epoxy Paint

Epoxy flooring usually comes in two parts: a base and a hardener. The two solutions need to be mixed together before application to concrete.

First, open both tins and stir. Next, pour both products into a large container. Mix thoroughly using a mixing paddle attachment and a high-speed drill. Keep mixing until the epoxy floor coatings are streak-free.

If you want your epoxy floor coatings to be non-slip, add your anti-slip additive and mix again for 1-2 minutes.

Once mixed, you’ll need to lay the epoxy floor coating within 30 minutes to prevent it from hardening. If your garage floor is considerably warm, this could happen faster and you’ll need to lay the epoxy even quicker.

  1. Apply the Epoxy Coating

Before applying the epoxy flooring, it’s a good idea to apply duct tape around the wall edges to prevent wall stains. 

Next, cut in around the perimeter, applying the mixture around the garage door and interior walls using a 3-inch paintbrush. 

Pour segments of the epoxy mixture onto the floor, starting with a corner of the garage. Spread the mixture evenly using a lint-free short or medium pile roller.

When spreading, it’s best to use the cross-rolling method, which involves applying the mixture section by section and rolling the coating vertically and then horizontally. This ensures an even coat and removes air bubbles.

Because the epoxy floor can harden quickly, it’s best to enlist help during this stage of application, so one person cuts in while the other applies.

  1. Apply a Second Coat

After 12-48 hours, your first coat of epoxy flooring should be dry enough for a second coat. 

Even if the flooring feels dry sooner, never apply a second coat after less than 12 hours. It’s also not a good idea to apply the second layer more than 48 hours after the first, as this can disrupt how well it bonds together.

Repeat the previous step to apply the second epoxy floor coating, pouring the mixture section by section and cross-rolling. Cutting in should not be necessary.

Once done, the epoxy floor should take several days to a week to dry fully. It will typically be dry enough to walk on within 1-2 days after application, but should be left 1-2 weeks before parking cars on it or loading heavy appliances. 

  1. Clean Tools After Application

Finally, clean your tools with hot soapy water. Because the epoxy floor coating is prone to hardening, rollers and brushes will typically need to be discarded after use.

Conclusion: Things to Remember

Remember, the most important things to do when applying epoxy floors in garages are:

  • Never apply epoxy flooring to damaged concrete or concrete with damp issues, as it will not last long 
  • Once mixed, epoxy hardens quickly and will be unusable if not laid within 30 minutes of mixing
  • Epoxy can harden quicker after its mixed in summer or if your garage floor is very hot
  • Enlist the help of a second person when applying epoxy, so one person cuts in around the walls while the other person rolls
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