Is it Worth it To Epoxy a Garage Floor? [Dos and Don’ts]

Often found in auto-repair shops, hospitals, and industrial-style buildings, epoxy resin is a good-looking and hard-wearing floor finish. 

While epoxy often makes a great choice for a garage floor, it’s worth doing a little bit of research first if you’re thinking about using it yourself. 

Before you commit to having an epoxy garage floor, the most important thing to be sure about is that it’s the right thing for your garage. Also, you want to know whether you should apply it yourself (and what products to use if you do) or if it’s best to get a professional to do it.

Below you’ll find out if it really is worth it to epoxy your garage floor.. Let’s get into it.

Epoxy Garage Floor Finishes in Summary

The main features of epoxy as a floor finish are that it looks good, it’s highly durable, it’s easy to clean and it’s good at protecting the concrete beneath. 

  • Epoxy resin finishes are a good way to completely revamp an old, damaged or tired concrete floor. 
  • Epoxy can also be used to improve the look and feel of a normal concrete garage floor. 
  • Provides good protection for a concrete garage floor, giving it a longer life. 
  • An epoxy resin finish to a garage floor will be useful if the floor is likely to be heavily used. This is particularly true if the floor is likely to have things dropped on it, chemicals or oil spilled on it, or if things will be dragged and moved across the surface. 

That said there are a couple of things to look out for, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you commit to an epoxy floor finish in your garage. 

Pros of Epoxying Your Garage Floor

Durability 

Epoxy floor finishes are highly durable and can withstand most things that get thrown at them. While they do wear over time (like any floor surface finish will) they are good at withstanding chipping, impacts, abrasion, and chemical spills. 

One thing that makes epoxy so useful in a garage/workshop setting is that it is resistant to staining from chemicals, including oil. If your car leaks oil onto an epoxy floor you’ll be able to clean it off without too much trouble. This compares to a concrete floor which may become heavily stained. 

If you want to stick with concrete as an option, you can decide to look into the best concrete sealer for the job. 

If you’re planning on using your garage as a workshop of any kind or if you’re concerned about oil leaks from your car or machinery that you store in there, an epoxy finish will stand up to virtually everything and be easy to clean. 

While your epoxy floor fights off the impacts, the chipping, and the staining, your concrete garage floor will be protected. Having your original concrete garage floor protected underneath epoxy will give it a longer life and help to avoid the need for expensive repairs. 

Look

Epoxy floor finishes can look great. Nice, shiny, and decorative finishes can be achieved using epoxy. 

Epoxy is a great way to revamp an old or damaged concrete floor. While you’ll need to do some prep work to end up with a nice finish on old concrete, an epoxy finish will give it a whole new lease of life. Your garage will get that “professional aesthetic” look that you’re likely after.

Price

Epoxy is an affordable way to finish a floor. It’s not gonna break the bank, even if you get a professional to finish your floor. 

It Can Be Done DIY 

With enough preparation, a lot of care and with good grade epoxy, it’s possible for DIYers to do the work themselves. 

That said, it’s best if you’ve got some experience of doing something similar. You’ll at least have to plan very carefully and make sure that you’re using professional-grade epoxy if you do decide to do it yourself. 

Cons of Epoxying Your Garage Floor

Epoxy Has Certain Weakness

One situation where epoxy can be a poor choice is on a garage floor that is prone to damp rising up from the ground beneath. 

Many people don’t realize that water can actually move through concrete. If the concrete beneath the epoxy gets damp, then this can cause delamination. This is where the epoxy splits in layers and separates from the concrete.

Epoxy doesn’t cope with heat as well as concrete and other materials. 

If you’re planning on welding, grinding metal or doing other work that can cause hot material or sparks to land on the floor then your epoxy finish could become damaged. If you can’t just cover it at those times, then it might be worth looking at an alternative finish. 

Another heat problem that epoxy can suffer from is known as hot tire pick up. This is when hot car tires sit on the surface and then cool down. When they arrive on the surface hot they heat it up and soften it, but as they cool down and shrink they can grip onto it and pull it away from the concrete underneath. Again, this can cause delamination. While this can be a problem, it’s more commonly a problem with cheap epoxy resins.

UV light can cause epoxy to turn yellow over time (usually over a few years). Known as ‘ambering’, this effect causes the epoxy to look old and slightly decayed. While this is the case, it can be counteracted by using high-quality epoxies, by mixing in a heavy concentration of colored vinyl flakes, or by using a polyurea surface finish

It Can Be Slippery

Epoxy can be slippery when wet. If your garage floor is likely to be wet then make sure that you choose an epoxy with a non-slip surface finish. In some cases it may be better to look into using something else. 

Commitment and Maintenance

An epoxy floor is a long-term commitment. 

Once you’ve had your garage floor finished with epoxy, you’re in it for the long term. While it is possible to remove it, it isn’t easy. In fact, you’ll probably need professional help or you’ll have to get special tool to remove the epoxy.

After you’ve removed an epoxy finish, the floor underneath will never be the same again. You’ll probably have to refinish it with epoxy or find an alternative because of the effect that it will have had on the concrete floor beneath. 

Epoxy surfaces require maintenance and often more frequently than concrete surfaces do. While the frequency of maintenance will vary from floor to floor, depending on the quality of the epoxy finish and the amount of use, a good time between maintenance episodes is 10-15 years. 

DIY Epoxy is Difficult

It’s very important to make sure that epoxy is applied correctly in the first place. For most people this will mean hiring a professional. 

Average Cost of Garage Floor Epoxy

For most people it’s better to go to a professional for help. An epoxy floor is a long term commitment and for what you get for paying a relatively small amount for professional help it’s often best to get someone in. 

If you do decide to go DIY, make sure that you do your research and you know exactly what you’re doing before you start because once you start putting the epoxy down there’s no way back. Another thing is to… make sure that you use good epoxy. Only use professional-grade epoxy because cheap epoxy will not last long. 

Here are the prices…

For reference, a typical 2 car garage is around 400 square feet. 

DIY Cost

The cost of a good DIY epoxy kit is just over $1 per square foot. 

A kit at this cost should include a good quality epoxy color coat, a good quality primer, color flakes and a high-performance polyurethane clear coat. 

Cost for Professional Installation

The cost of professional epoxy installation starts at around $4 per square foot with prices rising to around $7. 

The cost will rise mainly according to the amount and type of coloring that is used and the quality of the top coat. 

While professional installation does cost more, you’ll end up with a high-quality floor finish that will be guaranteed to last a long time. 

Professional Epoxy VS DIY Epoxy Kit

When I say DIY epoxy kit, I basically mean anything that you can buy from a big brand store like Lowes or Home Depot. 

DIY epoxy kits are not recommended. Normally, these kinds of kits are low quality and as a result won’t last as long as professional-grade epoxy. Epoxy from these kits will amber in the sun, chip more easily, wear away and be more prone to delaminating from heat. 

Another thing to look out for is epoxy floor paint. These are paints that have a small amount of epoxy resin mixed in with them to provide a slightly denser finish. They will provide some added protection to a floor surface but won’t be anything close to a real epoxy finish.  

Instead of using cheap epoxy or epoxy floor paint, make sure that you use professional grade epoxy from a specialist supplier.  

Epoxy VS Polyurea 

One alternative to epoxy that people often talk about is polyurea. 

Polyurea does everything that epoxy does but does it better. On the downside though, it’s more expensive. 

Polyurea is more durable than epoxy and can withstand quite a heavy impact, weight and abrasion. On top of this, it also has the quality of being able to flex slightly which makes it more durable and longer lasting. As concrete shrinks and expands with heat, for example, the polyurea will do the same thing and avoid delamination or wearing in other ways. 

Another advantage that polyurea has is that it cures very quickly. You can normally use your garage 1 day after it has been finished with polyurea, rather than 5 like with epoxy.

Polyurea usually costs $2-$3 more per square foot.    

Epoxy Alternatives

While epoxy is a common choice of floor finish, there are alternatives. 

  • As I just mentioned, one alternative is a polyurea floor coating. Doing all the same things but just much better makes this a superior finish. You’ll need the budget to cover it though. 
  • Floor paint. While epoxy floor paint shouldn’t be confused with real epoxy, floor paints can be used as an alternative to epoxy. Paint is nowhere near as strong and resistant as epoxy, but will provide protection against staining and light use. 
  • Floor tiles. Simple interlocking tiles, whether they’re plastic, rubber or porcelain, can make a good floor covering. One advantage of floor tiles is that they’re easy to install by yourself. On the downside, they’ll need to be rated for weight if you’re going to park your car on them. Also, they don’t always provide protection from oil spills. 

Verdict: Should You Epoxy Your Garage Floor?

If you need to refinish the concrete floor in your garage because it’s getting old, if you want it to look good or if you need to prepare it for some heavy workshop use then an epoxy floor covering is a good way to go. 

For most people, epoxy will do what’s needed and provide the best value for money when it’s compared to all the garage floor finishes that are available. 

Final Thoughts

If you do decide to finish your concrete garage floor with epoxy, an important thing to remember is that you get what you pay for

When it comes to the grade of epoxy that you use and the company that you use to install it, in the long run it will usually be better to spend a bit more for a better quality epoxy floor.

Image Credits: Theconcreteprotector.com

About Roy Cohen

I'm Roy, founder of Hack My Garage. I started out like most not knowing how to hammer a nail, but now I know more than most people about home improvement and DIY. I want to spread my wealth of knowledge with the world and hope to make it a better place.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]