Planning Your Repaint
Painting your garage floor takes several hours, spread over the course of a few days. When planning your project, you should therefore allocate a weekend where you can dedicate the time to prepping, cleaning and painting your garage floor. Bear in mind that you may need to leave several bulky items, including your car, outdoors over this period. So if the weather forecast is bad, you may need to reschedule. Keep an eye on the temperature too – for floor paint to set, the surface should be above 13*c, with an air temperature of no more than 30*c. It’s therefore an ideal project for Spring or Autumn.
You should also carefully research the type of paint you want to choose for your project. This will depend largely on the surface itself, and the use of your garage. Although there is a range of garage floor paints available, including water-based and solvent-based solutions, epoxy floor paints are generally preferred for their resistance to grease, oil and chemicals.
The application of epoxy floor paint does require a little more preparation, but its hard-wearing durability makes it worth the extra effort in the long run. Waterproof, non-toxic and easy to clean, epoxy paint is available in a range of colours, with anti-slip additives available for additional safety benefits. For the purposes of this article, we will be exploring the preparation and application of epoxy paint, and how to achieve a lasting finish.
Prepping Your Garage
Before you get to work on cleaning and painting the floor, it’s essential to de-clutter your garage to leave the floor space completely clear. By doing so, you’ll easily be able to access all areas of your garage floor, and you’ll create a safe working environment for your project.
Then, thoroughly sweep the floor to remove any dirt and grime, paying particular attention to corners and hard to reach areas. Start at the back of the garage and work towards the front, so that dirt can easily be swept out of the exit. If you want to protect the walls from chemicals and water, apply a protective layer around the lower areas of the garage walls, to prevent paint and solutions from splashing onto these surfaces.
Next, remove grease and dirt by cleaning the concrete floor. Identify areas with significant grease stains and grime, and target them with a bleach solution or a dedicated concrete cleaner. Allow this to soak in, before rinsing the entire floor thoroughly. If you have access to a pressure washer, this is an effective way to quicken the process. Remember, when working with chemicals, ensure that your garage is well ventilated, and that you are wearing safety equipment such as goggles and gloves to protect you from the spray of chemicals.
After allowing the surface area to dry completely, spend some time inspecting the floor for cracks and dents. For a smooth and even surface, it’s essential to fill these in before you apply epoxy floor paint. Choose a concrete filler to address these imperfections, and leave to dry completely before you move onto the next stage of your project.
Etching Your Garage Floor
Etching is a crucial part of the painting process; as concrete surfaces are naturally smooth, they often struggle to absorb paint. Etching creates a more uneven surface to which the paint can cling, improving the finish of your paint application. Muriatic acid and phosphoric acid are widely used for etching, with a range of acid etchers available on the market. However, be particularly careful when using the former, as acid solutions can be highly abrasive and dangerous when they come into contact with skin. Always wear safety equipment when etching your garage floor, and again keep the area well ventilated.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for specific information on how to apply etcher to your garage floor. Usually, you are required to lightly dampen the surface, before evenly applying the solution onto the concrete – this can be done with a low-pressure hose or watering can. To encourage the etcher, you should then use a brush to gently scrub the surface in alternating directions. Afterwards, thoroughly wash the floor once again to remove any excess chemicals, and allow to dry completely before commencing on the paint application.
Applying Epoxy Floor Paint
Epoxy paints come in two parts – the resin and the hardener. These must be mixed together before application, to kickstart the thermosetting process. Many retailers sell two-part epoxy floor paint as standard, meaning that the appropriate ratio is already measured out for use. Bear in mind that once the paint and hardener have been mixed together, you will have to complete the paintwork within a two-hour period. Ensure that you have an appropriate timeslot to complete the work, and that you buy a dedicated tin for each coating.
For best results, you should apply two coatings of epoxy floor paint to your garage floor. When applying to bare, uncoated concrete, diluting the first coating with about 10% of clean water will allow for better absorption. To ensure an even and thorough application, use a brush rather than a roller to paint the floor. This may take a little longer, but for the crucial first coating it will encourage the solution to absorb into the surface. Remember to work from the back of the garage towards the exit, to avoid walking over the freshly painted surface!
It’s essential that the first coating has fully dried before you get to work on the second application, so leave a minimum of 12 hours between coatings. After 24 hours, you can be confident that the surface is ready for its second coating. This time, you don’t need to dilute the epoxy paint with water, and if you prefer to use a roller to quicken the process you may choose to do so. Make sure that you are completely happy with the coating before you finish, so that the surface dries to showroom standards first time.
Now comes the waiting game. Although your garage floor may seem dry to the touch after 24 hours, moving vehicles and scrapes could easily damage the paintwork in the first few days. If possible, wait at least 48 hours before returning your belongings and car into the garage, so that you can be sure it’s fully set and resistant to wear and tear.
Follow these instructions, and you should be able to achieve a showroom garage floor that stands up to the test, with a DIY solution that can easily be done within a weekend. Set aside a few days where the weather and temperature is suitable, and spend some time planning and preparing your garage for its makeover. By putting in the extra effort to properly clean, etch and paint your garage floor, you’ll be rewarded with a smooth and even finish. Resistant to grease, dirt and water, when applied properly epoxy floor paint can create a practical and attractive space for any purpose.