The Concrete Network

Garage floor coverings can be installed over most concrete garage floors, providing they are properly prepared.

Preparing the Garage Floor to Receive the CoatingBefore installing any system to your garage floor, it must be clean and free of any debris that may prevent bonding, such as dirt, oil or sealer. Scrub the floor with detergent and a power scrubber. Acid wash with a solution of four parts water to one part acid, then neutralize the surface with a solution of one part ammonia to ten parts water. Work the neutralizer into the surface with a stiff-bristled brush then rinse with a high-powered washer.

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Pay special attention to cleaning any cracks that may be in the floor, as they must be dealt with prior to installing your garage floor covering. Small working cracks can be filled with a 100% solids epoxy paste then scraped level with the floor. If the crack is large, overfill it with the epoxy, then grind the epoxy to floor level after it's dry. Stokes recommends using 100% solids epoxy or fast-drying cementitious material to fill in any deteriorated spots or rough areas. For tooled control joints, Stokes suggests applying a thin bead of simple latex caulk to seal the bottom of the joint. This will provide a smooth joint for your garage floor system, resulting in an easy to clean floor. For saw cut or expansion joints, he recommends filling them with a polyurethane caulk.

If you suspect your garage floor has moisture issues that will prevent your new flooring system from bonding, there is a simple test you can do. Cut out a square piece of plastic sheeting, approximately 2 ft. by 2 ft., and tape all edges of the sheeting to your floor. If water collects on the underside of the plastic, you have moisture vapor transmission. A good vapor barrier will need to be put down before the primer coat. Discuss this option with your installer.

A good garage floor system will consist of a primer, a base coat and a top coat. A primer coat is necessary to ensure a good bond. Apply the primer with a roller according to manufacturer's directions and allow to dry. When the surface is dry to the touch, apply the epoxy or urethane base coat. Broadcast the color flakes evenly into the wet base. The flakes can be applied lightly to show the base color or heavily for increased coverage and durability. Blow or sweep off loose flakes. Scrape the floor using a metal floor scraper to ensure no paint chips are sticking up then blow the floor again. Next seal the system with a finish coat. Stokes recommends a two-part aliphatic polyurethane, which he says is preferable to simple epoxy coatings. "They're the Cadillac of systems," said Stokes. "They are UV resistant, so they won't yellow or fade in the sunlight like epoxies do." Allow floor to dry for 48 hours before allowing foot traffic and up to five days for vehicle traffic. Two sealer coats may be required if a full broadcast is applied.

To further customize your garage floor, options include additional slip resistance and framing the floor for a more finished look.

For additional slip resistanceSlip resistant aggregates can be added to the finish coat to increase traction and reduce slip-fall issues. The aggregates are available in different sizes, and issues such as climate and the degree of slip resistance desired must be taken into account when choosing the proper additive. In the Southwest, for example, a 40 to 60 grit aggregate is common, while in the Midwest, a 30 grit is the preferred size. Be sure to discuss the options with your contractor and have him or her show you a sample.

Framing the floor for a more finished lookThe stem walls, those four-inch borders that go around the perimeter of the garage, can be covered with your chosen garage floor system for a cleaner, more finished look. Apply system as you would for any horizontal surface.

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