The process of applying an epoxy coating to your garage floor is first about preparation. If the floor is not properly prepared, then all the work you will do after that will most likely fail.The first step in proper preparation of your concrete floor is to remove the top/surface layer of the concrete. The reason for doing this is to ensure the epoxy coating we apply later will have a good surface to adhere to. This is called “profiling the floor”.
There are two main ways to accomplish the removal of the top/surface layer of your concrete floor; acid etching and mechanical grinding. To learn the pros and cons of each method, check out our article on Grinding vs Acid Etch for Concrete Garage Floor.
Once the proper CSP (Concrete Surface Profile) has been achieved, the next step of the process is addressing any cracks and/or chips in the concrete. A concrete filler or resin is used to fill these cracks so the finished product will be clean and smooth. There are many different types of fillers that can be used. The main things to look for in choosing a filler is its ability to properly bond to the concrete and hold up over time.
When the garage floor is completely prepared, it is time to apply the primer or skim coat. This allows the epoxy to fill in all the minute pores of the concrete and translates to a much more even and smooth finish. To apply the primer coat, simply pour the chemical in quadrants on the floor in relation to the size and amount of chemical needed to completely coat the floor. We then use a large squeegee to apply the chemical evenly across the floor. Remember, this is a skim coat so it can go on very thin,
It is also important to do a primer coat on the concrete along the sides of the floor, which is called the “stem wall”. Simply use a good quality paint brush to apply the chemical making sure to get the corner, or the point where the floor meets the wall, well coated. This will be key for good, even coverage when the flake is applied.
After there is a nice primer coat, it is time to begin the main coat of your “base” chemical. We prefer to coat the stem wall first before coating the main floor. To do this, simply apply a thick coat of base on the stem wall while a worker applies the flake directly behind so it adheres nicely. Once the stem wall is coated with flake, clean any excess flake that may have fallen on the floor.
For the main floor coating, it is virtually the same process as the primer coat, except you want to ensure a good mill thickness of chemical across the floor so the flake will adhere nicely. This is achieved with the help of a person coming in behind the squeegee with a large paint roller. This person makes sure the chemical is applied evenly and, with his roller, makes the chemical smooth and ensures no areas were missed. This makes sure that the chemical is ready to accept the flake.
Once the roller operator is satisfied the chemical is the proper thickness and evenly coated, another worker will begin to apply the decorative flake. This process is achieved by tossing the flake directly onto the wet chemical. You want to ensure an even dispersal of flake so that the floor will look uniform. We accomplish this by tossing the flake high in the air so it falls in a somewhat even fashion. We refer to this is “feeding the chickens” method. Funny term, but it is the best way to describe this technique. We perform what’s referred to as a ‘full broadcast” of flake. This is where the entire floor is covered with flake. For information on flake coverage options, see our article on Partial Flake vs Full Flake Broadcast.
As soon as the garage floor is completely coated and all the flake is down, the dry time begins. The dry time depends on the type of chemical used, temperature of the concrete, ambient temperature and humidity. With the products that we use, that is typically 2-3 hours. With low-end epoxy coatings, this can be as long as 5-7 days.
When the chemical is cured and the epoxy is completely dry, it is time to move on to the next step in the floor coating process. Since we perform a “full broadcast” with the flake, there will be a bunch of loose flake laying on top that will need to be collected. A simple way to do this is to use a leaf blower to blow it all to one corner then sweep it up with a clean broom and dustpan.
After the excess flake has been removed, scrape the floor with large, flat scrapers. We perform this process to get any flakes that have adhered but may be sticking up unevenly. We want a nice smooth surface. Run the scrapers across the floor in both directions, front to back and side to side. Now go around the “stem wall” with a broom and brush off any flake that is sticking up. Then repeat the process with the blowers and broom to collect the loose flake. Finally, use a vacuum, preferably with a brush vacuum head, and fully clean the entire floor.
Now it’s time for the final coating of chemical, the top coat. As expressed earlier, the proper floor prep is very important. Equally important, if not more, is the top coat. This is where the rubber meets….well, the floor coating. Choosing the best top coat for your garage floor is vital for a successful garage floor coating. This is what will protect the floor and give the floor its final appearance. This is applied in the same method as the base coat, starting with the stem wall then moving on the main floor. Again, it is best to use a large squeegee and a roller to ensure a full and even coat across the entire floor.
Once completed, the final dry time begins. At this time, it is best to close off the garage floor area to prevent any stray particles from falling or floating into the clear coat. This is the final coat so if anything foreign gets on this while drying it will adhere to the surface. Again, depending on temperature and the type of chemical used, dry time will vary.
Once the garage floor is completely dry and cured, you can now enjoy a fantastic looking garage floor coating for many years to come!