Choose the right garage floor coating for your needs
If you are reading this, chances are you are in one of the following groups:
- A homeowner trying to determine how to choose a garage floor coating for the first time.
- A homeowner trying to determine why your DIY epoxy paint kit failed and what to do about it.
- A home builder researching garage floor coatings to offer as an option in your new construction or remodel projects
Why should you coat your garage floor?
A garage concrete floor is not unlike the carpeted, tiled or wood floors inside the home. Better materials and proper maintenance allow for years of use and enjoyment. Your garage floor does not have to be different. Install the correct garage floor coatings and you can have years of driving into a garage that will put a smile on your face. The alternative is watching the floor become increasingly stained, damaged by chemical attack and dusty from breakdown of the near wear surface.
Follow these 3 steps in determining which garage floor coating is the best choice for your garage:
What is the condition of the floor now?
We don’t pay much attention to the condition of the concrete floor in the garage. We often pull into the garage and don’t look under the vehicles to see the mess. Taking a detailed look will identify the current condition of the surface, such as the amount of staining, cracking, dusting, surface wear or pitting.
Why does it matter?
Before a proper garage floor coating can be considered, the condition of the existing concrete will determine the surface repair and preparation required, along with the proper type of coating system. Surface conditions can exist for a number of reasons, such as concrete mix design, types of installed joints, and amount of stone base under the slab. Some conditions are introduced by contractors or homeowners, such as sealers, chemical spills and snow melting agents.
What are your Desired Look & Performance RequirementsGarage floor coatings are not all the same. The coatings can reflect the homeowner’s sense of style. They can show off the homeowner’s favorite color. They can even be tied to a favorite brand or team colors. Since so many choices are available in garage coatings, answer the next two questions:
Ask yourself what you want the garage floor coating to look like.
Garage floor coatings come in a range of looks. That final look may have something to do with the actual performance, but it may just be an aesthetic of the floor system. Four common systems for residential garages are chip/flake, metallic epoxy, solid color and a color quartz. When determining the desired look, keep in mind that:
- High performance coatings last a long time, so the look of the coating should be something that you won’t tire of.
- For resale value, a choice that compliments the home may be more desirable than a choice made based on your favorite color or team.
What type of performance do I want from my garage floor coating?
The options in garage floor coatings are not just about final look, but also the performance that the coating system will provide.
Garage floors are exposed to more harmful chemicals than other floors in your home. The concrete is subjected to splash spills of gasoline, oil, car cleaning products, fertilizers and snow/ice melt chemicals.
As concrete is naturally high in pH, it is subject to attack from any materials that are acidic. Over the years, acids etch the surface of the concrete and decrease the durability of the wear surface.
A garage floor coating system should have topical layers that are designed to withstand short or long term exposure to a variety of chemicals. The coating system should be unaffected by chemicals used for winter road treatment. It should tolerate the intermittent exposures to weak acids, petroleum based substances and liquids which contain solvents. High performance coatings last a long time, so the look of the coatings should be something that will will be satisfied with for years to come.
Garages may or may not have windows, but often have a fair amount of lighting installed. A good floor coating system must be able to withstand period exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Most epoxies do not have high UV resistance, which is why most decorative floor coatings make use of urethane based technologies, as these chemicals have UV inhibitors or are UV stable (do not yellow from exposure).
A garage floor coating takes a lot of abuse from vehicle traffic. Small stones and grit on the tires comes in contact with the top of the coatings. Snow melt off introduces debris that can be repeatedly driven over,until removed. These contacts can de-gloss the surface, causing it to look worn or damaged.
Much like the UV resistance, higher scratch (abrasion) resistance is normally achieved with the use of urethane based technologies.
Ease of Cleaning
Coating systems can have different textures that greatly impact the ease of cleaning. Most garage coating systems can just be swept free of debris and kept shiny with an occasional mopping.
No garage floor coating lasts forever. But unlike paints, most professionally installed garage coating systems have a thick enough top layer of the coatings to allow them to be mechanically sanded. Once properly prepared, a new protective layer of coating can be applied to the existing system.
While the need for this rejuvenation may not occur for many years, once it is needed, it will not require the large investment of replacing the entire system.
Paints and poor quality, epoxy coatings often peel off the garage floor where the tires come into contact. This peeling is due to poor bond strength.
Garage floor coatings must adhere to the concrete with a strength that exceeds the adhesive pull from hot tires. Also, the system must have great enough “inter coat” adhesion so that the layers are not pulled apart by hot tires.
The bond strength of a garage floor coating is also dependent upon the floor surface being properly prepared prior to the coatings application. While there are many ways to prepare the concrete surface, the process that is used must ensure that it adequately removes loose materials, imparts a sufficient concrete surface profile and opens the pores of the concrete.
Selecting the right garage floor coating system for your needs
This step is often the most difficult. The systems differ on look, performance and price. While there is no one right answer for selecting a garage floor coating system, the following are three popular
Decorative Chip/Flake• Hides dirt and debris
• Emulates the look of real terrazo
• Available in hundreds of combinations
• Available in many sizes of chips or flakes
• Easy to maintain
• Hides normal wear and tear longer than most flooring systems
Solid Color• Great for working garages where small
items may be dropped
• Available in many colors
• Typically the least costly system
• Shows dirt and debris
Metallic Pigmented• Creates a one of a kind floor
• Available in a multitude of color combinations
• Usually requires several days for this floor coating installation
Final points to consider when choosing your garage floor coating system
• Is the garage floor coating system widely used or installed in residential garages?
• Does the coating system carry a warranty that actually has real meaning?
• Is the warranty provided by the installation company, not just the coatings manufacturer?
Jordan Group Construction will help the homeowner to understand the PROS and CONS
associated with different options; ensuring different systems are evaluated properly against one another.