How to Paint a Garage Floor
LESLIE: Well, more and more people today are treating their garage like an extra room and go that extra mile to really make it an attractive, warm and even welcoming place for their car and let’s face it, themselves.
TOM: That’s right. And an easy place to start this project is by painting the garage floor. There are many very attractive options to choose from and here to fill us in is Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.
TOM: Besides making the garage more attractive, a properly finished floor is actually a lot easier to maintain, isn’t it?
TOM SILVA: Yeah. It’s a lot easier to maintain and it feels good when you walk in. A nice, clean space. But there are a lot of options out there. I think that most people know that – of the epoxy flooring. You go in and mix the two parts together and paint the floor. But if you don’t prep it right, it isn’t going to last.
TOM: And that is the key, preparation, especially when you’re dealing with something that’s not new concrete. Who knows what’s gotten into that floor?
LESLIE: And it’s super-filthy.
TOM: Filthy, oil stains, you name it.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Yeah.
TOM: So, you mentioned the epoxy products. I’ve noticed they typically come in kits and they have all of those materials with them, correct?
TOM SILVA: Right. Everything comes in the kit. You can even choose a little sprinkly thing to go on it that’ll change the plainness of the floor. You can put the little black flecks on there or the gray-and-white ones.
TOM: So you get a bit of a pattern to it when it dries.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Well, what that does is it also hides a lot of the imperfections of the floors, so it really is a nice feature.
LESLIE: And really, the prep part of those kits that you can get, is that enough or should I be pressure-washing the floor first to try to get up some of that gunk that’s in there?
TOM SILVA: You’ve got to get it up. There’s all kinds of ways to get it up. In the directions, they will give you products that you should be using. And there’s a lot of environmentally friendly products that will allow you to degrease that floor. Use them, take your time. Do it right or it isn’t going to stick.
LESLIE: Yeah, I think that’s really important.
What about a different type of flooring for the garage? Is there something that can handle the weight, still be attractive and be easily installed?
TOM SILVA: Sure, they have like floor tiles that will set right on top of the floor that you can use. They have plastic ones. They don’t feel – that you wouldn’t think that they’re strong but they’re meant to drive on. And they’re 12×12. They also have an interlocking floor. Then you can also get mats that roll over the floor. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can even get a vinyl floor and roll that over on it. And you may have to change it.
The trick to letting a floor last in a garage is if you have to go in the garage and you turn your wheel back and forth, that turning of the wheel – the steering wheel – where your wheels turn, that tears up the floor. So I had a friend, years ago, paint his garage floor and he thought he did such a great job with the epoxy. And he waited a day before he drove his car in. He drove his car in and when he backed out, all the paint was stuck on it.
TOM: He took up all the …
TOM SILVA: Because he didn’t prep it right.
TOM: Right, exactly. And preparation is the key.
So let’s just back up for a second and just explain exactly what those steps are. So we’ve got to clean it; we talked about that. Is there a primer that goes down next?
TOM SILVA: Yes. You’ve got to – basically, it’s like a two-coat system, really.
TOM SILVA: You put it on, you roll it out, you let it set up, you let it dry. And usually the next day, you can go back – or that afternoon, depending on the product - and then you roll it again. While it’s wet, you sprinkle on that vinyl chip, for example. And then you – and the more chips you put on it, the more it’s going to hide the paint below.
And then there’s a clear coat that can go over that and that seals them all down. So, once you sprinkle the chips, you basically roll it out with a dry roller, push them down nice and tight. Sometimes you sweep them up and then go over that again with a clear coat.
LESLIE: So this really needs to be a well-thought-out process. Because if you’re painting, say, from corner edge of your garage to the door and you are painting an area and sprinkling and sweeping and dry-rolling – you’re doing all of these things – you really need to be prepped to do that one area, in all of those steps, before you work your way out.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, you should have everything ready to go and you need to work fast. And don’t get ahead of yourself. Because when the professionals do it, they actually wear these spikes on the bottom of their shoes that they actually can walk on the paint when it’s wet, so they can go back and sprinkle it, you know?
TOM: How interesting. The wet paint.
TOM SILVA: And there’s a little – it’s like a golfer spike only much longer. And they just click them on the bottom of their shoes and then they roll the floor out really fast. And then they walk across and they throw a lot of the sprinkles on. And they walk back with their roller and they push it all down hard. You, as a homeowner, don’t have that …
LESLIE: Right. I’m just picturing Joe Homeowner holding 14 things next to him.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Well, he can use his golf shoes, yeah.
TOM: Wearing his golf shoes.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. And a 9 iron, whatever.
But I mean you’ve got to work fast and you’ve got to make sure that you follow the directions. You have to follow the directions. Because if you don’t, it’s not going to work right. It’s going to come up, it’s going to peel.
TOM: Good advice. Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. That is a fun weekend project that just about anybody can do.
TOM SILVA: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some step-by-step videos on many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by State Farm Insurance. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.