Choosing the Best Garage Floor Sealer
The best way to protect your garage floor and give it a great look is to apply a quality sealer to it. The first thing a homeowner will notice when they decide to seal their garage floor is just how many different types of products there are available. Each type of garage floor sealer has its pros and cons. Before you set out to invest in a garage floor sealing product, you should first understand exactly what you are getting into.
Let's kick this discussion off by starting with the Cadillac of garage floor sealers - the multi-coat epoxy. When most people familiar with epoxies think of these products, they usually think of them as being a mixture of two or more compounds. The multi-coat epoxy requires a primer and multiple top coats that will affect the final look.
The multi-coat system will last for a very long time and offer excellent durability. Since you are using several layers of colors, you can also get some pretty interesting effects with this kind of a system. While the average garage floor sealer may last five to 10 years, the multi-coat system can last as long as 20 years or longer.
Since the multi-coat system is the best available, it is also the most expensive by a very wide margin. Homeowners will have to see if this kind of product fits their budget before deciding to make the investment. Applying a multi-coat epoxy is also extremely complicated and may not be the ideal DIY project.
At the lower end of the garage floor sealer spectrum are water-based epoxies. Unlike the other types of garage floor products, water-based epoxies are almost 50 percent water. The challenge here is that, if the epoxy is not applied properly, it can show wear after less than a year. But when it is given the proper time to cure, then this offers a very nice and cost-effective option.
Along with being relatively inexpensive, water-based epoxies are also very easy to apply. You may even see the word "paint" on your garage floor kit in place of the word "epoxy." The consistency of these products is such that applying it is as simple as rolling on a coat of paint.
Despite its easy application, water-based epoxy products do present some issues. A floor has to be properly etched for the epoxy to bond completely and the process of applying a water-based epoxy can take several days longer than a solution-based product. When applied with patience and care, water-based epoxies can last anywhere from five to 10 years.
High Solids Sealer
As you move up the garage floor sealer ladder from water-based products, you come across a product segment called high solids sealers. These are actually commercial grade products that are made of 100 percent solid materials. That means that there is no water or solution in these products at all.
These kinds of garage floor sealers can dry to be as much as 10 mil thick. To get an idea of how thick that is, go to a home improvement repair store and find the 10 mil poly commercial garbage bags and see how thick they are. Now imagine your garage floor covered in that kind of protective coating. These epoxies are also the ones that can be easily customized with color flakes and other effects. When these compounds dry, they leave a glossy surface that is not unlike a shell over your floor.
High solids are extremely heavy and can be difficult to apply. If you decide to go with high solids, then you will want to spend a little time getting used to the consistency of the material before applying it. High solids also need to be stirred frequently, which can slow down the application process considerably.
Clear Top Coats
It is difficult to classify clear top coast because, in reality, they are part of a high solids application. Despite its shell-like consistency, high solids still need a little help in retaining their look and protecting your floor. The clear coat is also the part of the high solids application where you add the color flakes.
When it comes to color flakes, you have two choices. You can mix the flakes in with the clear top coat and apply the mixture to the high solids floor, or you can apply the clear coat and the broadcast the flakes over the top of the drying clear coat. The difference is that broadcasting the flakes creates a texture that many people like. The choice is yours and it is just another way that high solids make a great choice for your garage floor sealing project.
Some Tips For Your Project
Read The Instructions
Always fully read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for each type of epoxy that you use. In the case of water-based epoxies, always double the wait time in between steps and wait at least seven to 10 days before using the garage floor.
Never Stretch Your Epoxy
The manufacturer's label will tell you how much of an epoxy you will need to cover your floor. Never try to stretch a single kit to do the job of two kits. When you stretch out an epoxy kit to try and save money, you wind up with a coat that is too thin to protect your floor and you will also get splotchy color results.
Clean And Etch Before Applying
The need to remove all debris from your garage floor before applying epoxy cannot be overstated. Oil and other debris left on your floor will not allow the epoxy to bond with the floor properly and you will not like the results you get.
Etching your floor is also critical to the process. If you do not etch your concrete garage floor before applying your epoxy, then it is like applying paint to a plastic cup. The epoxy has nothing to bond to and it will peel and flake away.