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There is an abundance of confusion today from homeowners looking to apply and epoxy coating to their garage floor. Should it be epoxy paint or an epoxy coating? Is there a difference? If so, which is best? The easiest way to figure this out is to learn the difference between paint, epoxy paint, and epoxy coatings, in order to eliminate all the confusion and be able to make an informed decision.
The first misnomer that we want to address is that an epoxy coating is not paint. Garage floor paint is a latex acrylic product. Many of the well-known paint manufactures do offer paint with a small amount of epoxy in the mix and refer to them as 1-Part epoxy paint. This allows for better adhesion and durability than standard acrylic paint, but it is not an epoxy product.
The term “epoxy paint” came about when epoxy manufactures took notice of the terminology that people were using when searching for epoxy coatings. The DIY public was intermixing the term “paint” with “coating”. So a marketing decision was made and many well known DIY epoxy flooring manufacturers that you see in home improvement centers decided to brand their products as “epoxy paint” since that is what consumers seemed to be calling it.
As a result, it has only made things more confusing for the consumer. Chances are that when you see something advertised as epoxy paint for your garage, it could be acrylic paint or it could be an epoxy coating. This has led to many people buying a paint for their garage floor when what they thought they were purchasing was an epoxy coating.
What is an epoxy floor coating?
Epoxy is a two component product consisting of one part epoxy resin and one part polyamine hardener. You are required to mix the two parts together prior to application. After mixing you are limited by time and temperature as to how long you have to apply it. With colored epoxies it is the resin that is tinted to give the epoxy color. If it’s not tinted, then it goes on as a clear coating.
Epoxy coatings cure and do not dry like paint does. Unlike paint, the mixing of the two components starts a reactive process that creates cross-linking of the components while it cures. This cross-linking provides a very hard and durable surface that seals the concrete and is resistant to staining, abrasion, and chemicals. The amount of resistance and performance of the coating is usually determined by the quality and solids content of the epoxy.
The ease of application and thickness of the epoxy is also dependent on the volume of solids content. This is always displayed as a percentage. In other words, 100% solids epoxy means that you have 100% of the product on the floor after it cures. 50% solids mean that you will have 50% of the product remaining on the floor after it has cured. The reason for this is that the carrier agents (water or solvents) which are used in the lower solids product evaporate out as the epoxy cures.
As an example, a 100% solids epoxy applied with a roller has an approximate wet film thickness (WFT) of 10 mils. Once it cures, the dry film thickness (DFT) remains at 10 mils. A 50% solids epoxy will have a wet film thickness of approximately 6 mils. Once it cures, the coating is reduced to a dry film thickness of 3 mils.
100% solids epoxy is harder to work with during application because of the thicker viscosity and limited time to apply it. Epoxy with a lesser solids content has less viscosity and is easier to apply.
Many of the inexpensive “DIY” epoxy paint kits that you can buy at the local home improvement centers and online have as little as 48% solids. This means that it is easier to apply as well as cheaper to buy because the solids content is much lower along with the quality. It goes on the floor almost as easy as paint does.
In fact, easy application it is one of the primary marketing points that makes these kits so popular to purchase. They can be applied to your garage floor more easily compared to the more premium epoxy coat systems.
Keep in mind that this also means you have much less of it on the garage floor resulting in a much thinner coat. This affects the performance and durability of the coating when compared to epoxy brands with a higher solids content.
Does this mean that these epoxy paint kits are bad? No, it just means that you are getting what you pay for. Many of these kits cost under $70 and cover up to 250ft². Two kits will cover a typical two-car garage. They are usually available in either grey or beige with a semi-gloss finish and include a small bag of paint chips to add if you like.
The more expensive kits tend to be marketed as epoxy coatings, though there are some exceptions. They come in multiple colors, have a higher solids content, and result in a thicker, more durable surface that lasts years longer.
When ever in doubt about what you are purchasing, always review the TDS sheets. These will detail exactly what type of product you are purchasing as well as other very important information regarding application and durability.
So don’t fall for the epoxy marketing name game when deciding on what you want to apply to your garage floor. As you can see, epoxy paint and epoxy coating generally mean the same thing. They are both an epoxy coating. Do your research first, as this will help you to understand the type of epoxy you are purchasing and what kind of results to expect.