How to Paint a Garage Floor

You can call in a professional or follow our step-by-step guide to applying long-lasting epoxy.

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How to Paint a Garage Floor

If you have one, you know garages are indispensable. Not only do they protect your car from wear, tear, and the elements, but they offer great storage, too. Over time, though, your garage floor will begin to show its age with cracks, ugly stains, and flaking. But painting your garage floor can transform the surface and extend its lifespan. "Applying a garage floor paint improves durability and makes clean ups easier," says Mike Routon, owner of Five Star Painting in Spokane, Washington. And by 'paint,' he's not referring to the same stuff you use on your walls, but special garage floor epoxy. "Regular paint just sits on the surface, while garage floor epoxy products wick into the concrete and create a stronger bond," he explains.

Regardless of the age of the structure, most concrete garage floors can be painted with epoxy paint, says Routon. But there are some basic preparatory steps necessary for how to paint a garage floor. "Like any painting job, you've got to prepare the surface properly," says Routon. "If you take your time and do all the preparation thoroughly, you can save money by doing it yourself."

You should do basic repairs on your concrete floor, such as filling in cracks, before painting. "If you don’t fill cracks first, the epoxy can get in there and bubble up," says Routon. Then, choose the proper type of paint. Shop for an epoxy product that’s specifically designed for garage floors because regular latex paint will peel off, lasting only about 6 months to a year before you’ll need to redo it.

One thing to keep in mind is that this isn't a quick job. If you aren't detail-oriented and don't have the patience to do all the prep, it may be better to hire an epoxy flooring contractor, says Routon.

Hiring a contractor starts from approximately $4 to $10 per square foot, depending on where you live and the products used. That's about $3000 to $3500 for a two-car garage. Contractors usually complete a job in a day. These products often are warrantied for a period such as 15 years.

On the other hand, DIY kits start around $225, plus additional equipment and supplies such as brushes. Some kits also include decorative color chips that are scattered over the wet paint. Most homeowners can do the job in about three to four days. Just keep in mind that the lifespan of a DIY job usually is about 3 to 5 years, a fraction of the professional warranty.

If you love a project and think you're up to the challenge, read on to learn how to paint your garage floor:

Study the product instructions before starting, and make sure you're wearing protective clothing before applying; some products are latex-based (which can be cleaned up with soap and water) but many require solvents to clean up. Then, wait for the right conditions; many products recommend you apply them only when relative humidity and air temperature are within a certain range.

First, clean the floor and "rough up" the surface so that it's ready to receive the epoxy, says Routon. You can rent a grinder you walk behind to prep the floor, but that’s messy, dusty, and awkward. It's much easier to use a lawn and garden pump sprayer to apply muriatic acid to etch the surface.

Put on boots, gloves and protective eyewear, then spray muriatic acid all over the floor. Finally, use a deck brush to rub it in with a back-and-forth scrubbing motion. You're aiming to make the surface less shiny and more porous and to remove oils that would interfere with the adhesion of the epoxy, says Routon.

Once the floor is prepped, use a garden hose to rinse it well; it's okay if runoff flows into the driveway because the acid has been well-diluted after reacting with the concrete and being washed away, says Routon. Rinse until the water runs clear, then let the floor dry thoroughly for a day or two.

Use a squeeze tube of polyurea joint filler to fill in any cracks. Follow the tube instructions, and once it dries, cut off any excess blobs with a utility knife. Drying time is usually an hour or less. Don't worry about patching areas that have spalling, or flaking; those don't need to be corrected because the epoxy will fill in and self-level in those areas, says Routon.

Just as you would when painting a wall, cut in the edges and corners of the floor with a paint brush. Then, pour out the epoxy, which will have the consistency of pea soup, in the center of the floor. Roll it out toward the edges with a roller. Move quickly; the product tends to dry fast, and the warmer it is, the faster it dries, says Routon.

"You want a thin layer, so roll it out front to back and right to left to make it even," says Routon. Make sure you work your way from the inside out so you don’t paint yourself into a corner! Let the surface dry for a day or two; temperature and humidity may impact how long it takes to dry completely.

Many DIY kits also contain a polyaspartic topcoat, which provides durability and UV protection; you will apply it in the same manner as the epoxy. Consult the manufacturer's recommendations for drying time, but typically, you'll need to let the surface dry for a few days before driving on it. Now, enjoy your clean, new floor!

Arricca Elin SanSone has written about health and lifestyle topics for Prevention, Country Living, Woman's Day, and more. She’s passionate about gardening, baking, reading, and spending time with the people and dogs she loves.

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How to Paint a Garage Floor

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