Let's talk about your garage. Do you park in it? Is it a catch-all for your extra household items that you can't store inside? Is it a "man cave" area or work space?
Most garages in our area have cracks and oil in or on the surface. Maybe you have been thinking about sprucing up the floor. You MAY have even looked at those garage floor kits they sell at the big box stores and thought "that looks easy, I can do that". I'm going to give you the lowdown on those kits and why they may not be such a bargain after all.
Most of these kits contain similar products:
*A cleaning/etching solution for floor prep
*Two part epoxy base coat
* Color chips
* Top coat (on some systems)
Let's start at the beginning with why I don't love these kits. Rarely do they address the kind of prep work that is actually needed to give you a good floor. Just like any other project, proper prep is essential to an amazing finished product. Do you refinish a piece of furniture, cabinets or a car by just washing it with a cleaner before resurfacing? No? That's basically the instructions given in the box. They suggest you power wash and use the citric acid "etching" solution to clean.
Oil stains are not going to come out by power washing. What needs to happen is mechanical grinding of the concrete. If there is a lot of oil, it may need to be burned out or chemically removed. You should never install a "liquid floor" over a contaminated surface.
Cracks should be filled. Sometimes you have to make the cracks bigger (a procedure called "crack chasing") to widen them enough to fill them. Cracks that are not filled can (and usually will) come back through your finished surface. We use a mixture of 2 part epoxy and sand to fill cracks. Once the epoxy has hardened, we grind off the top surface to make sure it is level with the floor.
They also fail to stress the importance of a moisture test and/or application of a moisture barrier. Epoxy doesn't love moisture. It really, really doesn't. Not even enough to be considered a "frenemy"
Once these steps are completed, the power washing begins. This is not a gentle spray with a garden hose. Squeaky clean is what you are going for. Once clean, the floor has to be completely dry before proceeding.
Now let's talk about their epoxy bond/base coat. Most of them are around 50% solids by volume. Think about this for a minute. If they are 50% solids, what's the other 50%? It's either water or solvents that evaporate during the drying process. So what this means is you end up with half the thickness when dry. If you started out at 7ml, you will be at 3.5 when it fully dries. Half the thickness, half the strength, protection and longevity. All the heartache when and if it fails.
So on to the color chips. Most of these kits give you a 2 pound bag to cover 500 square feet (average two car garage size). So when you break that down you end up with one small flake to cover each 1/4 inch area. This is going to be minimal coverage. The color choices in these types of kits is also sparse. Usually you can get a gray or tan base with a few colors of chips. The chips and the coverage rate determine the final look that you get. There's nothing wrong with blue. white and black chips if that's the look you want. But I promise you when you see the difference in their coverage and ours you will understand what I'm saying. We also have several different sizes of chips to choose from to further customize your space. Earth tones to your favorite team colors, glitter to colors that glow in black lights, we have you covered!
Top coat. Some of these kits don't even recommend a top coat. This makes me crazy. So basically you throw down this 50% (or so) solid epoxy and sprinkle some chips in it and viola, you are finished! No, friends....just, no.
A top coat is absolutely necessary. Trust me when I tell you those chips are not going to stay firmly planted in that thin epoxy without one.
There are different ways of top coating. We can use epoxy or a polyaspartic. The needs of our client determine the choice of top coat.
I'm sure you are getting the idea that we do things differently. We know that proper prep work is crucial to your floor having the longevity and durability that you are investing in it. We want you to have an amazing floor that you can enjoy for years.
Oh, did I forget to mention that those kits have no warranty? None - zero - zip - zilch - nada. You are on your own if their system fails.
Atlas Decorative Concrete gives free estimate and design consultations. There are hundreds of color chip combinations you can choose from to coordinate with any style. And of course, we offer a warranty on our work.
Call us today to schedule! 850-206-1987