Difference between “Do-it-Yourself” and Professionally Installed Epoxy Systems

Do it Yourself Garage Epoxy Systems

Big box hardware chains like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards or even Sears will sell you an epoxy garage floor coating kit for a two car garage for about $99.

a.) There is NO warranty with these products other than returning the unopened product for a refund.

b.) The surface preparation product usually included is a mild citric acid which must be scrubbed in manually with a stiff brush and then washed off thoroughly. Acid washing will NOT remove previously applied curing agents, sealers, mastics or paints so the epoxy surface will peel off sooner or later.

Also there is no provision in the kit for oil stain removal or crack repair. (Not correcting these problems will lead to early peeling of the surface and ugly crack lines and holes remaining.)

c.) The epoxy density (a measure of its durability) with these kits is normally about 30-40% solids. The rest is water or solvents which evaporate during the application and drying process. The manufacturers dilute the density of the resins in the coating material to cut down on the cost of the $99 kit.

d.) Usually the only colors available in these kits are tan and gray.

e.) These kits only contain a small 2 lb. plastic baggie of 1/16″ decorative chips for a 400 square foot 2-car garage. IF you can spread the chips evenly, that means only about 1 tiny chip every half inch or so.

f.) There is NO sealer supplied in the kit to protect the surface, seal down the decorative chips and provide a durable and high gloss finish. The store personnel usually can’t even suggest an appropriate sealer product to use with these kits.

g.) When using these kits, the manufacturer usually recommends that you not drive on the surface for 5 – 7 days after application to avoid “hot tire pickup”.

h.) If you do the job yourself with the kit, don’t plan on the surface looking very good after a year or so.


Professional Installations

a.) Professional installers carefully evaluate the surface of your garage floor. They may use degreasers to remove oil stains, soy-based products to remove old paint or carpet mastic and/or grind off the surface with a diamond grinding wheel to achieve maximum porosity. These techniques will allow the epoxy system to sink deeply into the concrete and adhere aggressively. (Professional installers have an incentive to take such care since they will be supplying you with a much longer warranty.)

b.) Cracks, holes and eroded areas of the concrete will be ground out with a diamond grinding wheel, filled with a 2-part epoxy “crack welding” system and ground smooth as soon as the epoxy is cured. This procedure will provide a secure and smooth floor surface.

c.) Professional installers use a 2-part epoxy binder which contains 95 – 100% solids. This epoxy is self-priming, grabs deeply down into the properly prepared surface and provides excellent adhesion and durability. Because of the higher solids content, it creates a much thicker and more durable coating than the watered down hardware store or department store kits.

d.) Commercial epoxy coatings usually come in 15-20 different colors. White, black, deep green, red, blue, chocolate, mocha, light or dark tan, light or dark gray etc. If the installer applies a 100% coating of decorative chips you probably won’t even see the underlying colored epoxy. It will just be a subtle background color. Its main function is to penetrate and seal the concrete surface and to provide a “glue” to hold down the decorative chips.

e.) Professional installers will normally apply about 50 pounds of ¼” or 1″ decorative chips to a 2-car garage. This provides for a much richer granite-like look and makes the surface much easier to repair to its original appearance should something extra-ordinarily bad happen to the floor. Since the chip coverage is nearly 100%, any minor defects in the floor will disappear in the original installation and with any later needed repairs.

f.) Professional installers will coat the surface with any one of several tough, easy-to-clean and glossy clear sealers. These are selected specifically for your garage situation and will comply with your local Air Quality Control District regulations which strictly limit harmful chemical vapor emissions. They will also be highly UV resistant so that your floor will not yellow or turn blush white from sun exposure.

g.) The professional materials will cure within 24 hours after installation of the sealer which will allow you to drive into your garage the next day. (No “hot tire pickup”) Full chemical resistance will develop in 5-7 days.

h.) You should expect a warranty from professional installers for your new garage floor. Your warranty should include protection from color loss, yellowing and peeling or flaking of the coatings. (The floor will probably last for the life time of your home.) Exclusions will be unexpected damage from earthquakes, tree roots and earth settling. (Your installer should have already corrected for water intrusion problems.)