One of the occasional questions we receive is how to remove tire marks or tire stains from epoxy garage floor coatings. This is usually followed up by the second question of why does this happen. After all, it can be a bit frustrating to put down a nice coating to discover that your car is starting to leave ugly black tire prints – usually right where you park every day. So let’s take a look at what causes this to happen and what can be done to remove those offensive tire marks.
What causes tire marks on epoxy
The process that causes tires to leave black marks on your garage floor coating is called “plasticizer migration”. Plasticizers are a combination of polymer compounds and other chemicals that are used in the tire industry to create a more flexible rubber compound. This flexible compound will give a tire more traction and help to keep it soft and pliable in cold weather.
When a tire heats up from driving, these plasticizers tend to relax and leach out of the tire. This leaching effect is what leaves brown looking tire marks on the epoxy coating. Tire marks tend to be more prevalent with high performance tires and good quality all-season tires.
This difference in tire construction is why some people comment that one car in the garage has a tendency to leave marks or tire stains and another car will not. If a car tends to sit for long periods of time in one spot, this same plasticizer migration can occur, but at a much slower pace.
When a coatings cure, it creates a cross linking pattern that gives the coating its strength as well as density. The greater the cross linking, the stronger and more dense it will be.
This is why commercial quality epoxies, polyurethanes, and polyureas resist tire staining much better than lessor quality coatings such as your home improvement store DIY garage floor coating kits.
High performance clear coats, such as polyurea and polyapsartics in particular, tend to resist tire staining the best. The cross linking is especially dense and makes it harder for the plasticizers to migrate into the upper layer of the coating.
How to remove tire marks
So how easy is it to remove tire marks from your garage floor? Well, it depends on the quality of your top coat and how long the marks have been left there before attempting to remove them. The key is to keep your eye out for any sign of tire marks. The sooner you tackle cleaning them, the more successful you will be.
Generally, the easiest way to attempt removing these marks is to soak the area for a few minutes first with a good cleaner such as Simple Green or a concrete degreaser. After it has soaked, use a semi stiff nylon bristle brush to scrub the tire marks. Be careful about using a scrub pad as these will sometimes degloss the finish.
It may take a bit of scrubbing and a second soaking to remove it all depending on how long you have let the marks build up. Another product that people have had success with is Goof Off. You can usually find it at your local home improvement centers or auto parts stores. Again, be careful with the scrubbing.
If the tire marks are not cleaning up well or there has been a long period of buildup, then there is a commercial product that is designed just for removing tire marks on coatings.
This product is called NAB Black Streak and Tire Mark Remover. It’s produced by North American Bioindustries and is available in a sample size to try out, as well as a 32oz. size containers. It has been used successfully to remove stubborn tire marks on factory floors for years.
If you have a car that is leaving tire marks on your epoxy garage floor, the best thing you can do to prevent any permanent tire stains is to not let the marks build up over a period of time to begin with. Routinely cleaning your garage floor coating is great preventative maintenance that helps to prevent these issues.
Lastly, if you have a car that sits for long periods of time, you may want to park each tire over a small scrap of cardboard, carpet, or similar material that you can later discard.