Garage floor coverings can be installed over most concrete garage floors, provided they are properly prepared. Barefoot Concrete recommends that a professional install the epoxy floor rather than DIY.
Before installing any system to your garage floor, it must be clean and free of any debris that may prevent bonding, such as dirt, oil or sealer. Scrub the floor with detergent and a power scrubber. Acid wash with a solution of four parts water to one part acid, then neutralize the surface with a solution of one-part ammonia to ten parts water. Work the neutralizer into the surface with a stiff-bristled brush then rinse with a high-powered washer.
Pay special attention to cleaning any cracks that may be on the floor, as they must be dealt with prior to installing your garage floor covering. Small cracks can be filled with a crack repair kit and then scraped level with the floor. If the crack is large, overfill it with the crack repair mortar, then grind the epoxy to floor level after it’s dry.
A fast-drying cementitious material can be used to fill in any deteriorated spots or rough areas. For tooled control joints, a thin bead of simple latex caulk can be applied to seal the bottom of the joint. This will provide a smooth joint for your garage floor system, resulting in an easy-to-clean floor. Saw cut or expansion joints can be filled with a polyurethane caulk.
If you suspect your garage floor has moisture issues that will prevent your new flooring system from bonding, there is a simple test you can do. Cut out a square piece of plastic sheeting, approximately 1m. by 1m, and tape all edges of the sheeting to your floor. If water collects on the underside of the plastic, you have moisture vapour transmission and you will need to put down a good vapour barrier before the primer coat. Discuss this option with your installer.
A good garage floor system will consist of a primer, a base coat and a topcoat. A primer coat is necessary to ensure a good bond. Apply the primer with a roller according to the manufacturer’s directions and allow to dry. When the surface is dry to the touch, apply the epoxy or urethane base coat. Broadcast the colour flakes evenly into the wet base. The flakes can be applied lightly to show the base colour or heavily for increased coverage and durability. Blow or sweep off loose flakes.
Scrape the floor using a metal floor scraper to ensure no paint chips are sticking up then blow the floor again. Next seal the system with a finish coat of polyurethane, which is UV resistant and won’t yellow or fade in sunlight. Allow the floor to dry for 48 hours before allowing foot traffic and up to five days for vehicle traffic. Two sealer coats may be required if a full broadcast is applied.
For additional slip resistance, you can add slip-resistant aggregates to the finish coat to increase traction and reduce slip-fall issues. The aggregates are available in different sizes, and issues such as climate and the degree of slip resistance desired must be taken into account when choosing the proper additive. Be sure to discuss the options with your contractor and have him or her show you a sample.
You can also frame the floor for a more finished look. The stem walls, those four-inch borders that go around the perimeter of the garage, can be covered with your chosen garage floor system for a cleaner, more finished look. Apply the system as you would for any horizontal surface.
Finally, maintaining your garage floor
Maintaining your garage floor coating is simple. For daily maintenance, a soft broom or dust mop works well. For thorough cleaning, simply wash the floor with a neutral cleaner and follow with a good rinsing.
To eliminate those inevitable tire marks from your garage floor, use a gentle cleaner or any other citrus degreaser. Be sure to check the labels and stay away from anything harsh.
Although garage floor systems are resistant to many substances, they’re not impervious. Certain substances may damage the floor system if left to stand, so it’s important to clean up any spills immediately. Battery acid is especially harmful to finishes and may cause them to bubble; so if your new garage will house golf carts that need to be recharged overnight, make sure to put a plate under the battery compartment.
With a little prevention and minimal maintenance, your garage floor system can be enjoyed for years to come.