Are you planning a DIY garage floor epoxy installation? If so, consider this a “must read” if you want to avoid the most common errors that people make when applying a garage floor coating. From peeling epoxy floors to bad finishes, these 5 mistakes will cover 95% of all problems associated with either epoxy floor failure or appearance issues.
Day after day people install their own garage floor coatings and with great success. After the anticipation of creating a nicely coated garage floor however, nobody wants to go through the headaches and heartaches created when your floor doesn’t turn out like you expected.
So take a few moments to look over our list of common epoxy installation mistakes in order to insure a successful floor coating for your garage.
1. Poor floor preparation
This is the most common reason by far for epoxy floor failures and/or bad finishes. Many times when doing an epoxy garage floor coating for the first time, people underestimate how important it is to prep the concrete properly. It involves much more than making sure it is clean. Epoxy will not adhere to a smooth surface.
Not only does the surface have to be free of all oils, waxes, and other contaminants, the pores at the surface of the concrete need to be opened up properly. This usually involves acid etching at a minimum. Grinding the concrete in preparation for epoxy is even better, but it isn’t always feasible for the average homeowner. You can learn more about which method is best for you here.
The most common problem associated with poor floor prep is peeling or delamination of the epoxy.
Fisheyes is another problem. This is created by contaminants in the floor, such as grease or oil that causes the epoxy to pull away from the concrete while curing. It forms a circle in the finish resembling a fisheye.
2. Moisture in the concrete
This common mistake usually happens from not allowing the concrete to dry sufficiently after acid etching. Depending on temperature and humidity, you need to allow for a minimum of 24 hours, sometimes longer, for the concrete to dry. If not, moisture that is still trapped in the pores of the slab will rise to the surface and create bubbles in the finish.
Some water based epoxies and primers allow for application to concrete that may still be damp however. Contact the manufacturer for further information if you are unsure.
Not performing a moisture test is another mistake. Moisture under the slab can create hydrostatic pressure that will actually cause the epoxy to separate from the surface, sometimes taking pieces of concrete with it. You can avoid this problem by doing a simple moisture test first to determine if your floor is suitable or not for an epoxy coating.
3. Stretching out the epoxy
Stretching the epoxy out in order to cover the entire floor when you are running low will result in areas with a much less glossy surface and a distinct difference in color appearance. It also creates a weaker coating. This is a common mistake that is made with the single coat epoxy paint kits such as those from Rust-Oleum and Quikrete, but can also happen with premium epoxy products as well.
If you have a 400sf² garage floor for example and purchase a kit that has a coverage rate of 300-400sf², you will not have enough epoxy. A properly prepared floor is porous and will absorb some of the coating. You will run short.
Many manufacturers state in the fine print that you can expect up to a 15% material loss due to product left in the container and first coat applications. Most DIY installers are not aware of this. You can avoid this problem by making sure not to underestimate the amount of epoxy that you need.
Also, when pouring the freshly mixed batch of epoxy onto the floor or paint tray, do not scrape or try to get every last drop from the mixing container in an attempt to get the best coverage rate. The very bottom and sides of the container are never fully mixed properly. Doing so may result in spotty areas of the coating that will remain soft and not harden.
4. Faulty mixing of the epoxy
There are many problems associated with improper mixing. The most common of these issues is mixing too fast with a paddle mixer and trapping air in the epoxy. If this happens, you will get air bubbles in the surface during application. You can easily avoid this by not pumping the paddle mixer up and down or running the mixer too fast near the surface creating a vortex and sucking in air.
Other issues are not mixing the Part A resin and Part B hardener correctly or getting the ratios incorrect. Pay close attention to the mixing instructions. Some epoxies require the newly mixed batch to sit for a specific time before application. This is called induction time. If you don’t allow for this then the epoxy may not cure and harden properly.
5. Not following temperature and/or humidity restrictions
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended instructions for temperature and humidity. Epoxy applied at low temperatures or below those recommended may not cure and harden correctly.
If applying epoxy in high temperatures the pot life (time available to apply the epoxy) can be reduced by half or more. This can make the epoxy unworkable before you get it all applied as well as create bubbles from outgassing due to the warm temperatures.
High humidity levels can create a microscopic layer of moisture at the surface of the concrete that you cannot see. This will cause adhesion issues resulting in delamination or peeling of the epoxy. High humidity can cause some epoxies to blush at the surface as well.
Achieving a successful floor coating isn’t that difficult. Many of these epoxy application errors can easily be avoided by thoroughly reading the manufacturer’s instructions. If ever you are in doubt, contact the manufacturer for clarification. Most problems could have been avoided this way. Also keep in mind that a bad batch of epoxy is extremely rare. The majority of problems associated with epoxy coated garage floors are due to these 5 common mistakes.
If you take the time to research your project, prepare your surface correctly, and make yourself familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions, you should be able to avoid these common mistakes and enjoy a successful garage floor coating that you can be proud of.