Buyer's Guide: Garage Floor Paints
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A garage floor sees a lot of wear and tear between the traffic in and out-people, cars, bicycles, even push mowers wheeled in for storage-and the types of do-it-yourself tasks that take place here. Though durable, the porous concrete surface will eventually reflect the abuse it takes. Water or extreme temperatures might cause it to crack, while vehicle fluids and other chemicals might leave behind stains. Eventually, these defects will sully the overall appearance of your garage floor and put it at risk of more severe damage, such as crumbling or fires.
Fortunately, you can restore the looks of your garage and protect it from these threats by finishing your garage floor. Though both roll on, the two most popular types of garage floor finishes-garage floor paint and epoxy paint-are quite different.
Types of Garage Floor Paint Finishes
- Paints marketed as “garage floor paint” are cans of water-based latex or acrylic paint developed for use specifically on concrete floors and heavy-duty use. Some garage floor paints known as “1-part epoxy paints” incorporate a small amount of epoxy into their formulas, but these products shouldn't be confused with true epoxy.
- True epoxy paint, sold in buckets or kits as a “two-part” formula consisting of epoxy resin and a polyamine hardener that must be mixed together before application.
Unsurprisingly, then, they also vary in terms of application, cost, looks, durability, and maintenance. With an understanding of what to expect from each finish, you can narrow your options and find the best garage floor paints to safeguard and style your garage floor.
Factor in the following criteria to hone in on the right floor finish for your garage.
- Cost: Garage floor paint is cheaper than epoxy paint, 15 cents (or less) per square foot of coverage versus anywhere from 20 cents to $1.50 or more per square foot of coverage.
- Appearance: Garage floor paint is generally runnier and less sticky in consistency than epoxy paint when applied, then it dries into a less slick and lower sheen finish-ideal if you don't want to draw focus to the floor. Epoxy, on the other hand, goes on thicker and stickier, then cures into a glossier finish that provides an ultra-polished look.
If you're more interested in specific colors than gloss, you may have better luck with garage floor paint; it's sold in a wide range of colors, whereas epoxy is solid in more limited colors and in clear varieties. To change the color of epoxy, you'll need to tint the final coat of epoxy with color flakes.
- Traction: Epoxy coatings being slicker, they're also more slip-prone; if this is a concern, look for an epoxy kit that includes anti-slip/skid compounds to offer more traction underfoot. Flat or matte garage floor paint will still offer the most traction underfoot.
- Application: Epoxy requires extensive floor preparation, including power washing the floor with a degreaser, etching it (i.e. opening up the pores in the floor to prepare them for the epoxy) with either muriatic acid or an included etching compound, and repairing damaged concrete with epoxy paste. Afterward, you'll need to apply epoxy primer, generally at least two coats of epoxy with a brush or roller-with color flakes added if desired-and a clear top coat (usually urethane-based).
Applying garage floor paint is more straightforward: Power-wash the concrete with a degreasing solution, then brush or roll on one or more coats of the paint. You often don't need to etch or prime before getting started.
- Durability: A makeover with garage floor paint usually lasts one to two years at most-paints without any epoxy require the most frequent reapplication because they eventually flake off, chip, or stain from chemicals. One-part epoxy garage floor paints offer the best impact and stain resistance of any garage floor paints, but not as much as true epoxy. Being non-porous and chemical-resistant, epoxy coatings can hold up for three to five years without flaking or chipping-even with exposure to extreme temperatures, vehicles, machinery, heavy foot traffic, and fluids or chemicals typical to a garage setting.
Both epoxy-coated and painted garage floors are susceptible to hot-tire pickup, though, meaning that when the finish delaminates it may lift off the floor and onto your vehicle's hot tires. If you live somewhere with regularly warmer climates, look for epoxies or garage floor paints labeled as resistant to hot-tire pickup.
- Maintenance: You can keep both painted and epoxy-coated garage floors dust-free by dry mopping or sweeping them weekly. For deeper cleaning, though, you'll have to be pickier about which solutions you apply to epoxy coatings than garage floor paint. Two tablespoons of dish soap and a gallon of warm water applied with a foam mop works for cleaning up garage floor paint, but soap can cloud the glossy finish of epoxy. Stick to soap-free and acid-free cleaning solutions for these reflective floors, such as a half-cup of ammonia diluted in a gallon of warm water. They will reward you: Slick epoxy surfaces require the least elbow grease to wipe or mop down, while flat or matte garage floor paints have more friction and therefore take more time to clean.
Weighing the factors mentioned above against consumer reviews and garage floor paint recommendations from independent reviewers, we've identified a handful of top-rated garage floor finishes available on the market today. Check out the best garage floor paints below.
BEST TWO-PART COLORED EPOXY: Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield 2-Part High-Gloss Epoxy Garage Floor Coating Kit
A Popular Mechanics top pick among garage floor paints, this two-part waterproof and water-based epoxy kit boasts 4.2 out of 5 stars in reviews from Home Depot customers. What makes this one special? The kit includes a stir stick, etching compound, and two gallons of floor finish-plenty to cover a 500 square feet or a two-and-a-half car garage. Plus, once the two parts of the formula are mixed, applied by brush or roller, and cured, the long-lasting coating protects your from garage floor from unseen threats at home or carried in from the road, such as road salt caught trapped in your tires that would otherwise cause corrosion; gasoline, motor oil, or antifreeze leaks or spills; hot-tire pickup; and foot traffic. The high-gloss sheen of the coating, coupled with the decorative chips also included in the kit, are bound to boost the beauty of a “blah” garage. Available at Amazon.
BEST ACRYLIC GARAGE FLOOR PAINT: Behr 1-Part Epoxy Concrete and Garage Floor Paint
Offering better durability than an ordinary latex paint, this no-mix ready-to-use water-based acrylic paint with epoxy in the formula handily keeps hot-tire pickup, scuff marks, fading, cracks, and paint blisters at bay. While the potent paint's impressive resistance to chemicals and vehicle fluids such as oil and gasoline reduces the need for frequent cleaning, its smooth satin finish makes chemical spills or accidental paint overspray a cinch to wipe or mop back to spotless condition with only soap and water. Rated 3.7 out of 5 stars by Home Depot customers, the gallon-sized paint can cover up to 500 square feet in a wide range of preset colors or a custom hue selected via computerized color-matching at the store. Available at Home Depot.
BEST LATEX GARAGE FLOOR PAINT: DryLok Latex Concrete Floor Paint
Who needs primer? This latex concrete garage floor paint is ready to brush or roll on straight out of the gallon-sized can without a foundational coat, yet still manages to best ordinary floor paints in longevity when exposed to hot tires, heavy traffic, frequent washings, extreme temperatures, or either acidic or alkaline spills. Home Depot customers rate the paint 4.3 out of 5 stars for its no-fuss application, generous coverage area of up to 500 square feet, and ability to serve as an ideal paint for creative stenciling on the garage floor. While the white hue of the product can be tinted, the paint is sold in multiple colors, from Persian Red to Dover Gray, to add bold or subtle glamour to your bare or previously painted personal carport. Available at Home Depot.