Garage Floor Paint vs Epoxy

The title of this article means more to me than to most people, because I have learned the hard way, the difference between ordinary floor paint and epoxy resin floor paint.

I have an insulated room which I wanted to have a wash clean floor in. I had heard about epoxy resin floor paint and had read about it on google, but it always seemed very expensive and hard to price, as the quotes seemed to vary wildly for some reason.

I had found suppliers quoting up to $100 per square meter which seemed expensive for me to spend on a floor. I did want a good floor but I didn’t want a floor at no expense – something that costs so much money that it just doesn’t make sense.

I knew that the big brands in home and industrial paint made floor paint so I thought I’ll look into a big brand trade or Industrial floor paint. I went into my local trade paint centre and asked the man behind the counter if he could help me. I told him I wanted a hard wearing floor paint that I could wash clean if needed, and asked him if he had anything he would recommend.

This man has worked in the paint industry, advising and mixing paint for at least 20 years and is knowledgeable in the paint sector. He told me that the floor I was standing on (a grey painted floor in the shop) was a certain brand Trade floor paint and that it was down 10 years and still looked good. I told him I wanted it to be able to be washed as he said it would be no problem.

 

What is the difference in price of ordinary floor paint vs epoxy resin?

A 5 litre tin of ordinary floor paint was quoted as costing $50 and covers 20 square meters which is about $2.50/ square meter versus Epoxy resin which I saw online quoted at $100 per square meter….so I thought this ordinary floor paint is a good brand – I’ll buy it and see how it turns out.

The attendant told me to thin down the first coat and use it as a primer – this will help it soak into the concrete and get a good grip, then apply 2 undiluted coats on top.

It took quite a while to put the three coats on over a period of days and it looked great when it was done so I was like “Great Job!” so I closed the door and left.

Is ordinary floor paint waterproof?

About a week later I went into the room and noticed a pale patch in the floor so I went to see what it was. A week after the floor was put in I had fitted a sink to wash my hands and there was a tap which had a slow leak underneath – just a kind of drip,drip, every couple of seconds.

It turns out, where the water was falling onto the floor and running down to a drain the yellow paint was peeling up from the floor! It felt soft and wet, even though the week previous, the floor was dry and looked good.

I tightened the connection and that fixed the leak. It was annoying that the floor had a bit of peeling where the water was but I thought – “When it dries I’ll patch it up with new paint and it will be ok”.

A week or two later I came back into the room and noticed that it felt a bit damp- I had made the room with insulated walls and doors, but It had no ventilation. The floor seemed a little dirty so I washed it with ordinary washing up liquid and cold water and left. I went back into the room later that week and the floor was a mess! The paint was soft and peeling and I could easily scrape it off the floor with my finger nail.

Unsatisfied with the state of the paint. I checked the manufacturer’s data sheet, and predictably it said “Do not expose to environments where more than 80% humidity is present”.

I realised this ordinary floor paint was going to be no good for me as the shed is outside, has no heating and will always be damp and at times could have standing water on it. It was my own fault for not checking the manufacturer’s instructions, instead of taking someone’s word for it.

When I was forced to find an alternative for my situation, I found out that almost all standard floor paints are completely useless unless they are used indoors in the dry with no standing water on them and the room must be dry not damp.

I then found out that the only type of floor paint which can tolerate damp environments, or have water lying around on it is an epoxy resin floor paint.

Can epoxy resin be bought online?

After some time searching I found out that the price was not so bad after all. The company I found online had a double garage floor pack which consisted of a primer and two top coats, the hardener and all the tools needed for the job for around $12/ square meter.

The high price I had found online of $100/ square meter was for materials and fitting – companies charging people top price for applying the paint to the floor- doing something most of us are capable of with a little planning and organisation.

Now I had 30 square meters of three coats of floor paint to remove before I could even apply this epoxy resin!

I sprinkled a dairy cleaning detergent which is a strong alkali on the floor ( I had seen this lifting paint on the floor where it spilled out of the bucket) and sprayed it with water and waited for an hour or two.

When I returned I rinsed the detergent off the floor so it wouldn’t splash into my eyes and began to use an electric power washer to lift the paint – waste of time. It didn’t have the power to remove the paint fully and I had to work at snail’s pace.

Then I brought in my petrol power washer which was is a lot more powerful. So I filled it with petrol and connected the hose, started it up and BINGO! – totally blew the paint to bits and I was able to rip through the floor in no time – Success!

Petrol power washers are much more powerful than electric ones – no matter how much hype the electric one has on its packaging. Always check the rated psi output of the pressure washer before you buy.

Will a pressure washer lift ordinary floor paint?

Small electric pressure washers are usually rated around 1500psi and cost around $100 these are not powerful. Usually the best electric pressure washer will give you 2000 psi maximum and these cost from $200 to $300.

An engine driven portable pressure washer is usually from 3000psi and costs around $400 these are great value for money. There are also portable gas pressure washers which can produce 4000 psi but these cost over $1000 and are more for everyday professional use.

Next I rinsed the floor and walls and roof from the remnants of all the paint flakes and let the room dry out.

I researched online to see what I needed to do to prepare the floor for the epoxy resin because I definitely did not want to have to do this again.

Preparing concrete for epoxy resin

I phoned the resin manufacturer and the first person I spoke to told me I should use a floor grinder to prepare the floor- ok what’s that? I googled it and thought ok let’s speak to someone at the local hire shop.

I called in and explained what I wanted to do and the man said “no way far too abrasive” and he took me out and showed me it working – this thing has diamond blades which can take a ¼” layer off the concrete floor. It seemed overkill to me as my floor had been left power floated and if anything it was smooth enough I just needed something to rough the surface.

The man then told me that they had a floor planer but that the shaft was broke and to call back in a couple of days. I was a bit disheartened that I didn’t get to make headway and get this job finished so I went home and googled “floor planer” –WOW! Not what I need. The floor planer or scabbler takes chunks out of the floor – way too abrasive for my needs. So I was then thinking good job I didn’t get it, but what now.

Painting garage floor with epoxy

I called the resin company again and spoke to another person who told me if the floor is power-floated (which it was) it will be ok with just using our primer. So I made a compromise and got 40 grit sandpaper to rough the surface of the floor using a sanding pole and it cost about $5 and a bit of elbow grease.

How does epoxy resin work

When my epoxy resin arrived I swept any dust from the floor and left it ready for the primer. I laid out the contents of the pack in the three stages,

  1. Primer tin A and hardener tin B
  2. Ist coat Paint tin A and hardener tin B
  3. 2nd coat Paint tin A and hardener tin B

First thing I did was made a plan of how I was going to do the floor. It is best if you have someone help you as the manufacturer states the mixed paint needs to be painted within about 20 to 30 minutes before it hardens. Epoxy resin sets when you add hardener to it – it is not like ordinary paint at all.

My father helped me do the floor by going around the edges and cutting in while I rollered the floor.

I followed the instructions the resin manufacturer gave me below..

I mixed the primer paint tin for 90 seconds using the paint mixer attachment on a cordless drill. I then added the hardener tin to the primer tin whilst keeping mixing for another 90 seconds.

This is now ready to apply to the floor. The paint looks like paint in the tin but when you go to apply it you soon find out that it does not behave like paint. It is more like paint with glue in it.

It is really sticky and tacky to apply- which is initially alarming because it is quite hard to spread with the brush but then you realise it is really good because it has such a sticky strong body unlike ordinary floor paint which is actually dirt compared to epoxy.

So my father continued around the sides with the brush and I rollered the bulk of the floor. Using the roller on the floor is easier than the brush to apply although I would add that the paint tray I was using – supplied to me by the resin company was of the bucket type and it was really annoying to use compared to the flat normal paint trays.

This was because the flat tray you can distribute the paint evenly over the roller before putting it on the floor, but with the bucket type paint tray which has the grooves on the side, when you try to distribute the paint all over the roller. I would advise you to get a flat type tray like this one. Most resin kits do not supply the pole so remember to get one of those also.

I was worried that I would not get it down in time but it was fine and I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough but I did so the primer went down ok.

Epoxy resin top coat

The 1st coloured coat goes down between 24 and 48 hours and when I went to apply it 24 hours later the floor was still too tacky so I left it to about 45 hours and applied it then.

The second coat (1st top coat) went down without issue as I had already knew the route we had planned and I had some left over when we put down the primer so I didn’t have to skimp on the application of it.

I also knew how fast it dried- I had plenty of time. The whole floor was done within 45 minutes and the paint didn’t harden. The temperature outside was 14 degrees celcius at the time we applied it – for your reference.

The third (2nd top coat) and final coat went down without any issues and looks great

VOC of Epoxy Primer

The epoxy resin I used was VOC free told to me by the manufacturer, which when I opened the paint tin this was correct as it had little or no smell, but when I opened the hardener tin this did not seem VOC free to me.

I just wanted to make you aware of this as it had a very strong glue type smell, and I would advise good ventilation in the area where you are applying it.

Summary

My floor looks great now and can tolerate all the damp, wet, spills and traffic I will ever have on it.

I would strongly advise anyone who needs the floor of a garage or an outbuilding to use epoxy resin instead of ordinary floor paint. There is no comparison between them.

The epoxy is like a layer of hard plastic on the floor and it looks and feels great. It can withstand traffic and spills of different types of liquids and chemicals. Even if you have a warm dry garage I would advise buying epoxy resin. It makes the floor look like a professional job and you will want to show everyone.

I would not be put off by a company telling you that you need special tools and equipment or special training. You can buy it online and It will be delivered the next day – some even supply the tools needed and provide a short video showing you how to apply it.

It is just like applying really tacky glue/paint to the floor and it goes on with a normal roller. Easy!