More than any other part of the house, garage floors see more than their fair share of spills, chemicals, and stains. Not to mention that any time you want to have a side project or experiment with something that’s not entirely safe to do under the roof of the house, the garage seems like the only reasonable option. So naturally, you’d consider epoxy floors for your garage. But are they worth it?
The short answer to this is a definite yes. Appearance-wise, epoxy is more professional and brighter than other floors. It is also more affordable and has a high resistance to water, heat, oil, grease, gasoline, cleaners, brake fluid, and bleach. Not to mention that epoxy is durable and lasts longer than other types of floors while requiring less maintenance. And if that isn’t enough, epoxy flooring also comes in various colors to match your garage cabinets.
Epoxy is a thermosetting resin that has two compounds, the epoxide resin and the polyamine hardener. It has more advantages and fewer drawbacks than any other flooring option you can have, it’s no wonder more and more people are using it to cover not just their garage floors but their homes as well. That said, here we’ll cover both the pros and cons of using epoxy in your garage. By the end of this article, you’ll know enough about the epoxy coating to help you make an informed decision.
How Long Do Epoxy Garage Floors Last?
On average, you can expect epoxy garage floors to last anything between two and three years. Of course, that depends on the amount of traffic and wear and tear the garage floor goes through. If you use your garage to handle heavy machinery and spill copious amounts of oil and bleach on the floor without proper maintenance it won’t last for long.
But compared with other garage floors such as tiles or cement, epoxy tends to withstand harsh treatments and still come out shining. It doesn’t damage as easily either. That’s what makes it a popular choice for garages.
In fact, you can even make your epoxy floor last longer than that. Daily sweeping and weekly mopping will keep it in good condition. You can also recoat it as often as you like and every coating will add to its longevity and durability.
Why Should You Epoxy Your Garage Floor?
When the compounds in epoxy are mixed together, a chemical reaction starts and unlike paint, epoxy doesn’t dry, but cures. But once it’s cured, the finish is unlike any other flooring you can get.
Besides its appealing surface, epoxy has a high tolerance to chemicals, stains, impacts, scratches, and chipping. If you drop something heavy on the floor you won’t see as much as a crack in the epoxy. And when that transmission fluid spills all over the garage, cleaning it off the hardened resin is much easier.
Another advantage of having an epoxy coating for your garage floor is the fact that it can cover any imperfections in the cement floor. Cracks and small holes, especially where the floor meets the wall are common in garages. And these can become homes to spiders and other insects. Epoxy covers all these holes and gives the floor a professional and clean finish.
If you live in a humid region or it snows a lot in your area, then moisture must be one of the problems you have to deal with in your garage. It leads to mildew and mold breakouts and attracts pests. Epoxy is highly resistant to moisture and you can clean road salts and icy brines off it with little effort.
How Much Does it Cost to Epoxy a Garage Floor?
The answer to that depends on many variables. For one, the size of the garage is a major factor in deciding the final amount you can expect to pay. Another is whether you’ll do it yourself or you will hire professionals to do it. For the DIY-minded person, epoxying your garage floor might be cheaper than you think since you’re factoring out the labor fees.
But on average, the material needed to epoxy the garage floor will cost you between $2 and $5 per square foot. This includes the needed equipment as well. The wide variance here has to do with your geographical location. Buying the material online might be the cheapest option.
If you’re planning to hire a professional to handle everything from getting the material and equipment to labor fees, then you can expect to be charged a minimum of $3 per square foot. This rate will go up if you live in a large city and you might have to pay $12 for every square foot of the garage.
Is Epoxy Flooring Cheaper than Tile?
People often like to compare tiles against epoxy. Each side has its own advocates and they each come up with very good arguments to justify their floor preferences. And one of the points of contention often raised is which one is cheaper.
To answer that question we’ll have to look at it from different sides. As we all know, buying something cheap doesn’t mean you got a good bargain. You have to know how long it would last and whether it will cost you more in the long run or not. So when we compare epoxy versus tiles we need to know which one is more durable, lasts longer, needs less maintenance and can withstand the harsher treatment.
When we look at it this way, it becomes clearer that epoxy is a more cost-effective option than tiles. Come to think of it, the professional finish and the variety of colors that epoxy has (more on that later) makes it worth every cent you spend on it. Not to mention that it’s easy to recoat your garage with epoxy while retiling the floor is always a hassle.
Is Epoxy Flooring Durable?
There are many advantages to epoxy that make it an attractive option to garage owners. But perhaps its high resistance to scratches, chipping, and other corrosive liquids is the reason for its longevity. Having a long lifespan makes epoxy flooring a good investment in the long run.
It’s true that concrete is also durable, but concrete is not as resistant to damage as epoxy. Stains and chemical spillage will ruin a concrete floor while an epoxy coating protects the garage and the flooring under it.
Epoxy has yet another advantage over concrete and that has to do with anti-fatigue. While foot traffic leaves its scars on a cement floor, epoxy remains looking sleek for longer period of times. Besides, epoxy doesn’t need glue or mortar to bond with a cement floor.
Are Epoxy Floors Toxic?
While epoxy had many chemicals and when mixed together, these chemicals produce fumes, there has been no indication that these fumes are not safe. In fact, the chemicals in epoxy are not more dangerous than a can of paint if not safer.
That said, it’s always to put safety first when applying a coating of epoxy on your garage floor. This means that both during installation and for the duration it takes the flooring to cure, it’s better to keep the garage ventilated. Opening windows and doors if any will prevent the fumes from causing any irritation to the lungs or eyes.
Also make sure no pets or children are around during the process of epoxying the garage floor. While the chemicals themselves are not dangerous, it’s always best not to expose children or pets to them directly.
What is the Advantage of Epoxy Flooring?
There are undeniable benefits to using epoxy flooring in your garage. We mentioned some of them already, but we’ll list all the benefits here in one place.
- Low maintenance: Epoxy doesn’t need as much care and time as other floors. It is easy to clean since it resists stains and the glass-like surface doesn’t interact with chemicals.
- Safety: Epoxy protects the floor against damage, impact, fire, and slippage. Even high temperature won’t affect the floor.
- Strength: Once it cures, the polymer can withstand impacts and pressure. It doesn’t crack even when heavy tools fall on it.
- Easy installation: Unlike other floors such as cement, and tiles, epoxy is usually hassle-free. It rolls easily on cement floors and doesn’t need a professional to do it.
- Durability: An epoxy flooring can last for years with proper maintenance. After a few years another coating will render the garage floor as good as new.
- Color variety: Cement is always gray and drab. Tiles don’t come in different colors or designs. But epoxy has as many color options as your interior designer can think of.
How Long Does Epoxy Take to Dry?
Unlike paint or cement, epoxy doesn’t dry. The chemical process that turns the resin into polymer is called curing. If you’re doing the epoxying yourself then you should take notice of the weather conditions. There are two ways to cure epoxy, warm and cold.
Warm curing is the best way to get a hard and durable flooring. Make sure it’s dry since high levels of humidity can affect the curing process. For best results, allow 72 hours from the time the flooring has been installed. Keep the garage ventilated during this time.
Cold curing doesn’t render the same strong flooring and might take longer to finish. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t allow pressure or stress on the epoxy flooring before it has fully cured. Doing so can lead to undesirable results.
Can You Put Epoxy Over Epoxy?
The answer to that is yes, but. Normally, you can apply a new coating of epoxy over another coating that has cured. For example, if you don’t like the color of your epoxy flooring and would like to change it. In that case making sure the current coat is fully cured before applying a new coat is perfectly fine.
But there are situations where it’s not advisable to apply epoxy over epoxy. If the current epoxy coating is deteriorating and peeling off. In that case you’ll need to scrap it off before you apply a new coating. Also if the epoxy flooring is worn off and concrete is showing from beneath it, then it’s better to remove the old epoxy before applying a fresh coating.
Is Epoxy Waterproof?
For the most part, epoxy is waterproof. But since there are many types of epoxy, you’d better double check that the one you purchase is water resistant. Also take into account the film thickness. If you’re worried about vapor and moisture in the garage, then you might need a thick coating.
Another point to consider is curing time. The brand of epoxy you buy will list the suitable time to cure. Usually those epoxy products designed for immersion will require about 7 days and warm and dry conditions to cure. In addition, make sure that the surface you’re applying epoxy on is dry. Even if the product claims to be suitable for both dry and wet surfaces, it’s better not to take chances as far as humidity and vapors are concerned.
What Does Epoxy Do to Concrete?
While a concrete flooring might look sturdy and durable, the surface itself is porous. This means that water, chemical spills, and other stains will stick to the floor and make cleaning it rather difficult. This is why epoxy flooring is a popular solution for concrete floor.
Epoxy resin seals the cracks, holes, and porous surface of the cement flooring and make it water resistant. This means that even if the floor is flawed, epoxy can cover all these defects and protect it against wear and tear. Moreover, unlike cement, epoxy is dust resistant. With proper maintenance, an epoxy flooring can provide a clean environment for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma.
How Strong is Epoxy Flooring?
Let’s just say that a floor which is already covered with concrete gets another extra layer of strength in the form of a mixture of a resin and a hardner. Such floor will be tough to crack. It’s not just that, but with every epoxy coating you apply, you make the floor extra strong and impact resistant. They can handle heavy traffic, heavy loads, strong impacts, and harsh environments.
That said, every floor has its breaking point. And while epoxy is by far the strongest flooring you can apply to your garage, it’s always best to remember that wear and tear can reduce that strength as well as lack of maintenance.
Is Epoxy Flooring Safe for Home?
Epoxy has been around for years and it is mainly used for garages and commercial buildings. However recently more and more people are using it in their homes as well. Naturally, the products designed for garages shouldn’t be used inside the house and vice versa.
A good rule of thumb is to check that the epoxy product you want to use in your house doesn’t contain solids and volatile organic content. Those two ingredients often produce fumes that would irritate those who inhale them. After the epoxy floor fully cures it becomes safe to use.
Are Epoxy Floor Slippery?
Since epoxy does a good job of sealing cracks and porous surfaces, that means its glossy finish is slippery. This can be hazardous when the floor gets wet. However you can reduce the sleekness of the epoxy floor by using silica sand, shark grip, or an aluminum oxide additive.
You can also make an epoxy floor less slippery with containment mats. Line a few of these mats next to your car so that when you get out, the mat will absorb all the moisture and road salt off your shoes.
An anti-slip grit can be added to an epoxy coating to increase traction and make the surface less slippery. The additive is only applied to the epoxy mixture for the final coating. The finished surface is soft enough to walk on without slipping even when wet.
Is Epoxy Flooring Scratch Resistant?
The floor of the garage takes a lot of punishment from vehicles, tools dropping with a thud, chemicals spilling all over the place, and plenty of stains. It is important that the epoxy flooring can handle all of that and much more.
We all have seen how epoxy is durable. But how is it when dealing with scratches and chipping? Since the epoxy resin coates concrete you can be confident of its ability to handle impacts and scratches more than other floorings. However you still need to be careful when dragging heavy objects on the floor since it can still crack with enough force.
How Bad are Epoxy Fumes?
The simple answer to that is they’re very bad. Inhaling epoxy fumes can be a health risk, especially for children and pets. Even adults can feel a burning sensation in their noses, lungs, and throat if they’re exposed to the fumes. Other symptoms include inflammation and irritation.
Long and repeated exposure to epoxy fumes can lead to asthma and sensitization. But it’s not just the fumes, even the dust from partially cured epoxy floors can cause health hazards. This is why it’s recommended that you keep your garage ventilated both during the installation of epoxy and while the floor cures. This prevents the health risks of the fumes and dust.
Is Epoxy Harmful?
There are many sides to this question. One of them has to do with the health risks involved with inhaling epoxy fumes and dust from partially cured floors. We already covered that in the previous section. But there are other side effects that have to do with dealing with and installing epoxy.
As we all know accidents happen. And when handling chemicals such as epoxy, it’s important to take precautions. Exposure to epoxy can come through the mouth, skin, or inhalation. While epoxy is considered non-toxic, it can still cause problems, especially if a child ingests the substance.
Epoxy has an irritant effect on the skin and can lead to dermal complications such as eczema. It can also trigger allergic reactions and skin lesions. It’s important to wear gloves when handling the resin.
Does Epoxy Cure in Cold Weather?
Yes but it will take a longer time to cure compared to warm weather. But first we need to define cold weather here. When we say cold, we mean temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the curing process slows down considerably.
If it gets even colder, then you’ll have to allow the resin more time to cure. Since this is a chemical reaction that leads to the epoxy hardening, it requires a warm temperature to get fast results. In cold weather, you can expect epoxy to take at least a full weak to cure.
Does Epoxy Dry Hard?
That’s the very definition of epoxy curing. Unlike paint which gets dry, epoxy cures which means it gets hard. This is due to a chemical reaction between the resin and polymer compounds. As we mentioned in the previous section, the temperature of the garage is important for the curing of epoxy.
This is why it’s recommended that you install your epoxy flooring during the warm months of the year. The time it takes for epoxy to cure varies with each type and product. You’ll find a recommended time on the package, but that often refers to the working time not curing time. You should give the floor more time than what’s specified on the package before you use the floor.
How Thick can Epoxy be?
As thick as you like. Some epoxy products are designed for thin coatings, which means if you’re looking to apply a thick coat to cover flaws or cracks in the cement floor, then you should choose the right epoxy type.
That said, and since it’s possible to put epoxy over epoxy, you can use thin layers of the resin on top of each other. Just remember to let each coating cure fully before you apply another layer. That way you won’t have bubbles between the layers and avoid any cracks in the finished floor.
Can I Recoat My Epoxy Floor?
Indeed you can. In fact, that’s one of the advantages of using epoxy. You can apply a coating when the old one gets worn out or the cement starts to show. Some people recoat epoxy every time the sheen of the surface loses its luster. Others do it for practical reasons.
Just make sure that the old coating is still intact before you apply a new layer of epoxy. If too much cements shows from beneath the worn out epoxy or the floor is cracked, then you would need to remove the old coating first.
Is Epoxy Permanent?
If by permanent we mean it’s a flooring solution that can last for years with proper care and maintenance, then, yes, epoxy is a permanent resin. Once you apply it on the floor it will serve you faithfully for years. And you can recoat it to get that sleek and glossy surface again.
But epoxy just like everything else shows cracks and signs of wear and tear with time. So, while the flooring is durable and resists impacts and stains, it will get old after a few years. In which case you will need to apply a new coating.
Does Epoxy Bond to Concrete?
One of the best things about epoxy is that it bonds with the concrete floor beneath it to create a sturdy surface that can take a lot of punishment. While epoxy is curing, it bonds with the concrete. Both the resin and the hardener bond together and both of them bond with the slab of concrete.
This is why it’s often hard to remove a coating of epoxy that is worn out. Just to show you how tough bonded epoxy and concrete are, a coating of cured epoxy over concrete has a strength of 5,800 psi. Epoxy not only bonds with concrete, it makes it even stronger.
How Do You Maintain an Epoxy Floor?
Maintenance of an epoxy floor is the best guarantee that it will last for years of good service. Here are a few tips to help you take care of your epoxy floor and keep it clean and glossy.
- Clean the epoxy floor regularly with a dust mop or a soft bristle broom.
- Use a paper towel or soft cloth to clean minor spills or car leaks.
- For heavy stains, clean off the dust with a broom first. Then use a mop, hot water, and clear ammonia.
- In cold weather, epoxy can get a hazy film after cleaning. Get rid of that film with a brush and hot water.
- Difficult stains such as rust might require a little scrubbing. Never use an abrasive scrub on an epoxy floor.
- When cleaning the floor don’t use cleaners that contain acids such as citrus or vinegar.
- If you have a motorcycle, place a pad under the kickstand to protect the floor.
Can You Epoxy Wood floors?
While epoxy is more suitable for concrete floors such as in garages, more people are using it on wood floors. Since epoxy bonds well with a lot of materials, it works well on wood too. However, the wood floor needs to be prepared well in advance.
To get your wood floor ready to accept epoxy, make sure the wood is sanded to remove any varnish or sealer. Next coat the bare wood with a layer of an acrylic latex primer. Now you can apply epoxy on your wood floor. Make sure you apply epoxy on the floor in one session since it hardens quickly.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare