LESLIE: Sure, a garage is for housing your cars. But these days, it’s all so much more. Many families use it as an entrance to their home so it can only help to finish garage floor. The garage can often be a workshop, a hobby space or maybe even a home gym area.
TOM: Gosh, I wish it could be a hobby space or a home gym. I can’t even get my car in there these days.
TOM: But with the garage getting so much wear and tear, it does make sense to give the floors a protective coat that will do double duty and also beautify that space. Here to give us a step-by-step walkthrough for how to finish garage floor is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.
KEVIN: Hi, guys.
TOM: So, garage floors not only have to look good but they’ve got to stand up to some pretty severe conditions. I mean I always think of road salt sort of dripping off the car after a long drive in the winter roads. What options do we have to finish garage floor that looks good and stands up and is really stain-resistant?
KEVIN: Well, if you wanted to do all of those things, then you’re probably talking about an epoxy floor coating. And this is something that goes down just like paint. And in fact, it’s a great weekend project, great for DIYers. We showed a couple people on Ask This Old House how to do it and they’ve had good luck with it.
TOM: OK. So, it sounds like a good approach. How do we get started? What’s first?
KEVIN: So the first thing you want to do is you want to prep the surface. And you want to find out if your garage floor already has a sealer on it or not. And to do that, you simply just spread some water on it. If it soaks in, then you do not have a sealer likely. If it beads up, then you probably have a sealer. Or if it beads up in little spots, then you probably have grease in those little spots. And you want to make sure that you go out and you degrease the entire surface.
LESLIE: Now if you’re using a degreaser, is it OK if it runs down your driveway and then into your yard at all?
KEVIN: We’ve had good luck using, actually, biodegradable degreasers that are effective in doing the job and there is no harm when they run out of the garage and are washed off.
TOM: Now, after degreasing, there’s an additional step that is one that is fairly specialized to this project to finish garage floor, and that’s acid etching. What does that exactly do for the project?
KEVIN: That allows for good adhesion between the epoxy and the actual concrete. And when we’re talking about acid, that means that we’re going to need chemical-resistant rubber boots, rubber gloves and eye goggles. You want to follow the instructions that are on the container because you’re going to be mixing this acid with water and you want to get that mix right.
One little tip here is make that mix in – a plastic watering can is a good example but something plastic, not metal because you don’t want a reaction with the metal. And then you simply spread that acid down onto the floor with a brush. You’re going to rub it in and you’re going to create a physical etch in the concrete which will then wash off, vacuum up and make sure you’ve got a nice, clean surface.
TOM: OK. So once the etch step is complete, next step to finish garage floor is the epoxy?
KEVIN: Correct. And you do want to make sure that this floor is completely dry before you get to this.
KEVIN: Now, the epoxy will come in two parts. One is the paint and the second part is the hardener. You’ll need to mix them together as directed by the manufacturer. And know that there’s a chemical reaction that’s occurring that’s going to allow the paint to dry very hard and give you a durable finish.
TOM: So unlike traditional paint that air-dries, this is actually a sort of a chemical cure.
KEVIN: Right. And you’re going to have a certain amount of time to work with this. I’d say probably two to two-and-a-half hours is the pot life. So, think about once you make this mix, you’ve got to be ready to go. And you don’t want to paint yourself in the garage.
KEVIN: Bite it off in small, little pieces, maybe 2 feet by 6 feet. Do one section and then move onto the next.
LESLIE: And how many coats do you need? Is it just a one-coat kit?
KEVIN: You could do one coat but you’re going to get a much better coverage with two coats. It’s going to be a better color and there’s going to be better coverage throughout. So two coats is what we typically advise.
And the other thing that I would add is if you’ve got cracks or if you’ve got dents and divots in the concrete, you’re not going to get rid of those with this epoxy. It’s not going to fill those. It is, essentially, like paint but you can actually throw down those little flakes, those little chips in the second coat of wet epoxy. That’ll give it a little bit of texture but it’ll also create sort of a variation and you’ll be a lot less likely to see that crack running right through your garage.
TOM: Also helps hide the dirt.
KEVIN: It does help hide the dirt. It’s a pretty cool look.
TOM: Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Sounds like a great project for this weekend.
KEVIN: My pleasure to be here.