Painting a garage floor can transform the garage. Bare concrete shows oil stains, dirt, dust, and more. A painted floor, on the other hand, can repel stains, add color and style, and make clean up a breeze.
Liquid garage floor finishes are easily applied to a garage floor with a simple paint roller or paintbrush, straight from the can. They bond to the concrete surface while filling small cracks and open pores, creating a smooth surface that makes sweeping or mopping up less of a chore and finding dropped items less of a challenge. You can buy concrete sealers, surface paints, and epoxy.
Concrete sealers are usually clear acrylic or polyurethane. Floor paints may be oil-based, modified acrylic, or water (latex) based. A minimum of two coats is required to ensure coverage, but, because raw concrete is porous and tends to suck up finishes, especially first coats, you may need to buy and apply more.
Surface finishes on concrete are problematic. They look great at first, but both paints and sealers wear off over time, and they wear unevenly. They also can be very slippery when wet. Sand may be sprinkled onto a wet finish to offset this, but it will wear away before long.
Another big problem with most floor paint is that a car’s hot tires will lift it right off the floor, no matter how well the paint is applied (or what the paint manufacturer claims). Solvents also attack most types of paint, and in a garage much of what is spilled usually contains some type of solvent.
If your garage floor has a water problem—that is, if water seeps up through cracks or mysteriously appears under items left lying around—surface finishes are probably not a good option for you. The hydrostatic pressure that forces underground water up through the floor will also prevent the finish from adhering.
If you can imagine a paint for your garage floor that bonds like it’s welded to the surface; resists oils, acids, and just about anything else spilled on it; always looks like new and never wears off, you’re probably thinking of epoxy garage floor paint. These finishes have been around for years, but epoxy is notoriously difficult to mix and apply, so in the past you were better off hiring a pro to do it.
Today, there are do-it-yourself epoxy floor finish kits that are much easier to work with, and they offer an affordable alternative to lower-cost floor paints and expensive tiles.
You can buy single-part epoxies or two-part epoxies: With the latter, you still have to mix in a catalyst and work quickly to prevent the material from drying before you complete the job, but the process is more forgiving and the results are just as professional looking.
Epoxy floor finish kits include plastic grit particles that are sprinkled onto the wet finish to prevent slipperiness. These particles generally last longer and perform better (and look more attractive) than sand additives. As with paints and sealers, preparation of the concrete floor is all important to ensure a permanent finish.