This diy epoxy garage floor tutorial will show you each step you need to take to successfully apply an epoxy coating to your garage floor.
The steps I will cover in this tutorial are:
STEP 1. Evaluate your garage floor (Is it a good candidate for an epoxy coating?)
STEP 2. Check for moisture issues
STEP 3. How to properly prep the concrete
STEP 4. How to repair cracks, holes, and spalling
STEP 5. What epoxy to use and where to get it
STEP 6. What tools and supplies do you need
STEP 7. How to apply the base coat of epoxy and broadcast the flake into it
STEP 8. Scrape, Clean, and vacuum any excess flakes before top-coating
STEP 9. How to apply the protective top coating
I install a lot of epoxy garage floor coatings in my business Day's Concrete Floors, Inc.
When I figure the cost of materials for my epoxy floors, I use $2.00 per square foot to calculate my cost.
That cost includes:
The basic cost to do your own garage floor coating for a 24' x 24' garage would be 576 sf X $2.00 = $1152.00
If you have some crack repair or spalling repair to do, that will add to the cost depending on how much you need to do.
If you need to rent any tools to prep the concrete, that will add to the total cost.
That's an excellent question!
If you've never done this before, you may be wondering just how hard of a task is this going to be.
I want to be honest with you, this will require some work to do it right. If you're an avid diy'er, then you should be able to handle it.
On a scale of 1 - 10, I'd rate it a 6 with 1 being easy and 10 being very hard.
If you think you can just sweep out the garage and paint on the epoxy, then your coating will fail in no time and you'll be very disappointed.
Usually, for us, the prep and repair are the hardest parts of the entire process. Applying the base coat, broadcasting the flake, and top-coating are easier but still require you to work hard and follow each step to successfully install the coating.
I do have a complete step by step video training course that'll teach you all the steps you need to know to do a garage flake coating.
I have three different garage floors in the course I'm applying a flake coating on to teach you with. It's all in video format, so very visual and easy to learn from.
Here's the link to the course: How To Apply An Epoxy Flake Garage Floor Coating
Most garage floors are good candidates for an epoxy coating but not all of them are.
If your garage floor is in fairly good or new condition with no oil stains, no paint, or no sealer, then it's probably good to go.
If your garage floor has a few minor cracks and a little spalling, that's pretty easy to fix, so it's probably good to go.
If it's a brand new floor, then yes, good to go. Just give it 30 days to cure before coating.
If your garage floor has a lot of oil staining, big cracks (1/4" wide or more, where one side is higher than the other, white powdery stuff (efflorescence) on the surface, then it's probably not a good candidate and you should consult with a PRO before moving forward.
If you already have paint or a sealer on the concrete, that's ok, it just makes the prep work of removing it a little harder.
The above garage floor was about 15 years old and had been previously painted about 10 years ago.
The concrete wasn't properly prepared and the coating was really wearing off, especially under the tires.
We did all the necessary prep, used the right epoxy materials and the new epoxy flake floor came out beautiful (See below)
There's 3 major reasons your epoxy flake floor coating might fail and peel off.
The first is moisture coming up through your floor in the form of vapor. It's called moisture vapor transmission. If your garage floor has this issue, you need to know before coating it. (Sometimes it's not easy to see)
The 2nd and 3rd reasons are poor prep and using inferior epoxy materials. (No worries here, I'll cover these down below!)
How do you check for moisture in your floor?
Well, there's a few ways, like doing a calcium chloride test or a Relative Humidity test. But probably the easiest for a diy'er like yourself is doing a plastic (visqueen) test.
This moisture test will require you to tape down a 2 foot by 2 foot piece of plastic to your garage floor.
You can use 2 mil, 3 mil, 4 mil poly or even a trash bag. Just duct tape the edges really good. Leave the plastic on the floor for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, remove the plastic. If your concrete isn't wet, damp, or visibly darker and no moisture droplets are on the bottom of the plastic, then your floor probably doesn't have moisture problems and you're good to go.
If you see any of those issues, then I would consult with a PRO before moving forward. Moisture will blister and peel your new epoxy floor in no time.
There are moisture vapor blocking epoxies that may fix this problem, but trust me, leave that to an expert.
Being a PRO and doing epoxy floor coatings for a living, this is where I differ from a lot of others who have written diy epoxy floor coating tutorials.
I can't afford to take the chance of my epoxy coating failing for one of my customers by doing sub-standard prep.
I need my epoxy coatings to last for years and years and I want yours to last too, so that's why I'm going to show you how to properly prep your concrete and not just "clean" it.
FIRST, let's talk about what not to do.
Above we talked about what moisture in your concrete can do to an epoxy coating. If moisture will peel and blister your coating, why would you etch it, degrease it, power wash it, and rinse it out?
Concrete is like a sponge, it'll soak up all that water and be moist for days. If it's humid outside, it could take a week or two to really "dry" out.
Although it may look "dry" after 24 hours, it still has a lot of moisture inside it's capillaries that needs to escape. IF you epoxy over it, you trap that moisture. Soon you'll see some blisters form and pop, leading to failure.
I've been hired over 100 times to re-do a homeowners diy epoxy floor because of improper prep, poor installation, and using low quality epoxy products. Don't make that same mistake!
See the results of trapping moisture below.
The best way to prep your concrete floor for an epoxy coating is to lightly grind it or sand it.
We do that a couple ways. The first is with a concrete floor grinder, either a hand grinder or a walk behind grinder attached to a vacuum.
The second is with a floor buffer and a diamabrush attachment that'll lightly sand the surface and clean it at the same time.
I made a couple videos of each way to show you how we do it. See below
The Diamabrush tool is an attachment you put on the floor buffer. Most rental stores will have both the Diamabrush and floor buffer available for you to rent.
If you don't think you can use a grinder like above, then this is the 2nd best way to prep your floor.
Unless your garage floor is new, there's probably something you'll have to repair before you coat over it.
Fixing a crack, hole, chip, or some spalling isn't as hard as you might think.
I use a product called CrackWeld to repair my garage floors. They have an easy to use diy kit made just for homeowners and diy'ers.
I use it to repair cracks, spalling from salt damage, chipped areas, and small holes.
See the video below for a tutorial on now to use it.
I like to use epoxy2u.com's floor coatings for my garage floor coatings.
They have very high quality epoxy that'll stand up to the abuse of car and truck tires, shop tools and equipment being dropped on it, and just regular wear and tear of a basic garage floor.
The base coat and top coat I use are:
You can also purchase your flakes from them. They have about 14 different colors to choose from.
Here's what I use for coverage rates on my floors:
BASE COAT - I figure 220 square feet per gallon. So on a 24' x 24' garage, I'll get a 3 gallon kit.
TOP COAT - I figure 130 square feet per gallon. So on a 24' x 24' garage, I'll get 5 gallons.
FLAKES - I figure 12 lbs per 100 square feet of floor. So for a 24' x 24' garage, I'll get 75 lbs. (This is for a full broadcast floor which is what I always do.) I don't recommend sprinkling on just a few flakes. The flakes add to the durability of the coating and offer some slip-resistance too.
All the finished garage floor pics on this page are full broadcast flake floors.
You've seen some of the prep tools you need in the above videos.
The tools you need for the coating are:
You'll mix your epoxy base coat according to the manufacture's mixing instructions. E2U's is a 2:1 mixing ratio, so we mix 2 Quarts of Part A to 1 Quart Part B in the 5QT measuring bucket.
Use the battery drill and mixing paddle to do this and mix at a slow speed for about 2.5 minutes.
3 Quarts of epoxy will cover about 180 square feet of floor. (Remember, 220 sq ft per gallon)
Ribbon out your epoxy around the edges first and cut in the edges using the chip brush. Then use the 4" roller and roll the edges.
Ribbon out the rest of the epoxy in the first 180 square feet of floor space. (I measure out 180' sections of floor and use blue tape on the wall to mark each section.)
Roll out the epoxy as even as you possibly can in this area. Roll it North & South, then step right in it and roll it East & West. It's very important you have a nice and even coating with no thick or thin areas.
Continue to mix and apply the epoxy like the first section until you cover the entire garage floor.
Now, grab your bucket of flakes and walk back into the garage where you started. Grab a hand full and throw them slightly up in the air so they fall down into the epoxy.
Continue to do this until you completely cover the base coat. The higher you throw the flake into the air, the more evenly they will spread out and fall into the epoxy.
Once a section is completely covered, keep moving and cover the entire floor the same way you rolled on the epxoy. You will throw some excess flake, this is normal.
If after broadcasting the flake you see a "wet" area of some base coat, just throw on some more flake in that area. (Once the epoxy dries you're going to vacuum up any excess flake before you top coat)
After the base coat is dry it's time to scrape and vacuum the flake to prepare for the top coat.
Most epoxy coatings will take 4 to 8 hours to completely dry before you scrape and clean them. Check your epoxy specifications to see the dry time on the one you use.
We use a rapid cure epoxy that dries in 1.5 hours so we can do the whole project in 1 day.
You'll need a floor scraper, small leaf blower and a good vacuum for this part.
In the picture above we're using a 12" floor scraper to smooth the flake and remove all the excess flake.
Scraping the flake like this is kind of like sanding it. You want to cut off any sharp pieces of flake sticking up out of the epoxy. Plus you remove all the "over broadcast" flake at the same time.
We scrape North to South like in the picture, then pick up and save all the flake (you can re-use it).
Then we'll scrape East to West to get the flake quite smooth but it still has a slight texture to it.
Then we vacuum really good to remove any residual flakes and flake dust. Then I take a leaf blower and blow any remaining flakes out the door. This leaves you with a really clean flake floor to top coat.
If your epoxy floor kit doesn't have a protective top coat, then you're using an inferior epoxy floor coating in my opinion.
We always apply a protective top coat of clear polyaspartic over our garage flake floors.
The polyaspartic coating is much more durable, chemical resistant, and scratch resistant than epoxies are. (That's one reason we don't have problems with our installs.)
Plus, epoxies tend to turn yellow in direct sunlight. (I bet the big box stores don't tell you that)
If you protect the epoxy flake coating with a polyaspartic top coat, it won't turn yellow over time.
I use the E2U's Polyaspartic 85 and apply it at 130 square feet per gallon.
I mix 1 gallon at a time, 2 qts part A to 2 qts part B using a paint stick to mix with for about 1 minute.
I measure out my 130 sq ft of floor space and mark it with blue tape.
I ribbon some around the edges and cut and roll the edges just like the base coat.
Then I ribbon out the rest and evenly roll the polyaspartic in the 130 square foot section.
Once I have it completely rolled out in that section, I walk back into it and start at the top of the section going from Left to Right make one last roll without stopping. (wall to wall)
Then I set down my 18" and go Right to Left, wall to wall. I call this back rolling. I continue to do this until I finish that section. Now that section is done.
Do each section this way until you roll on all the top coat. It ensures you evenly roll on the top coat and don't have any puddles or thin areas anywhere. "Like a pro"
I wrote this page to help you diy your own epoxy flake garage floor. It's a little more of a process to successfully complete than some will make you think.
I also made a very thorough video course that'll teach you just how to do this properly. I have three different garage floors in the course that I'm using to teach you how to apply a flake coating on.
One of the floors has quite a bit or repair so you'll really get a good idea how to fix your floor if you have some repair to do.
You can check out the course here: How To Install An Epoxy Garage Flake Coating
Watch us apply a garage flake coating in the video below!