Why should I apply a clear top coat to my epoxy garage floor coating? This is a reasonable question that pops up from time to time for the average home owner looking to save some money. The real question however ought to be why wouldn’t you apply a clear coat? After all, there are many benefits to adding a clear top coat over the color coat for a garage floor.
Anyone who has installed a garage floor coating properly will tell you that the hardest and most time consuming part is prepping the floor for the epoxy. Applying the epoxy goes fast and for many, it is the fun part of the job. So after all that work of getting the concrete ready, why wouldn’t you want to spend a little more time and money to ensure a longer lasting and even more beautiful floor coating?
With various clear coating options to choose from, epoxy or polyurethane is the most common choice. The same benefits can apply to the use of polyurea or polyaspartic floor coatings as well. So to answer these questions, let’s take a look at the top 10 reasons why you should apply a clear top coat to your epoxy garage floor.
1. Adds durability and wear
A clear coat will add durability to your garage floor coating and create for a longer wearing surface. The additional coat also adds thickness to the floor coating which helps to eliminate hot tire lift and absorb impacts better.
2. Protects the color coat
Because the clear coat acts as a sacrificial layer, the epoxy color coat will be protected. Without it, the colored epoxy coat can lose its luster from wear. Though resistant to most chemicals, some oil spills or leaks that are allowed to sit for long periods can discolor the coating depending on the quality of epoxy you applied.
3. Protects the color flakes
If you applied paint chips or color flakes to your floor, the clear coat will protect them from peeling up and collecting dirt. Since the color flakes are partially embedded into the epoxy, dirt and grime can collect in and around the edges of the flakes making it harder to keep clean depending on how much color flake was applied.
Cleaning of the floor and other activities can also cause color flakes to pull up or chip away. When a clear coat is added, the color flakes are protected by the layer of clear that is over them.
4. It is easier to clean
With a clear coat over the color flakes, the floor is also easier to clean. Dust mops can just glide over the floor without catching color flakes as it goes. This is especially true if you have a heavy flake coverage on your floor. It also allows for aggressive scrubbing if necessary without worry of losing color flakes or dulling the color coat.
5. Adds depth to the floor coating
The additional layer of a clear top coat actually adds depth to the look of the garage floor. This creates for a richer looking surface that appears more luxurious and much thicker than it really is.
6. Creates a glossier looking finish
Depending on which type of clear coat you decide on, the clear will add a glossy shine to the floor that will reflect light even better than the color coat. Polyurethane coatings are sometimes available in different levels of gloss.
This is a great benefit for projects in the garage or for working on cars simply because it creates more light. It may also mean that you will not have to purchase more overhead lighting like you thought you might need.
7. It hides scratches better
All garage floor coatings will develop microscopic and sometimes larger scratches in the surface of the coating. A clear top coat helps to hide or camouflage most of these scratches so they are less noticeable and do not detract from the looks of the floor. The reason for this is that the clear top coat will act as the sacrificial layer and prevents the color coat from being damaged.
8. It’s a good medium for anti-slip additives
Anti-slip additives are hidden much better in a clear coat. Since most additives are translucent in color they will not stand out. Without a clear top coat they are added to the color coat instead. This makes the anti-slip granules much more visible as little bumps resembling sandpaper on the garage floor.
9. Can be recoated to look new again
After many years of use, an epoxy garage floor coating can start to show its age depending on how much activity it has seen. If it had a clear top coat of epoxy or polyurethane, it can easily be roughed up with sandpaper and have a new coat of clear applied.
The sanding of the old top coat removes any blemishes, scratches, and other imperfections that the floor coating acquired over the years. Once the new clear coat is applied, your garage floor coating will look brand new again.
10. It just looks awesome!
When you compare a color coated epoxy garage floor that has a top coat of clear to one that does not, there is no question about which looks better. The clear coat is what gives the garage floor that extra depth and showroom shine that screams “look at me!”
So if you’re on the fence about whether or not to add a clear top coat to your garage floor coating, think about all the benefits that it will provide in the long term. Yes, it will cost a little more money and yes, it may mean one more day of being without your garage. However once you do, you will be rewarded with a garage floor to be proud of for years to come and you will be glad that you did it.
Update – Please read
There is one important note to make. Clear coats are designed for application over 2-Part resinous coatings and some single part moisture cured resinous coatings. Do not confuse garage floor paint or 1-Part epoxy paint as a floor coating. These are latex based paints that will not form a chemical bond with a resinous coating.
Technically, you could rough up the finish of dried floor paint and apply a water based epoxy as a clear coat. It will have a limited increase in durability of the floor coating however due to the fact you are limited by the initial properties of the base paint underneath. Most other clear coats are not suitable due to their solvent base. They can actually soften these paints upon application and cause them to pull up from the concrete.