Garage floors deal with a ton of abuse, from hot tires and dripping oil to sawdust and dirt. It’s no surprise that after a couple of years, a pristine concrete garage floor can look wrecked. A worthwhile home upgrade is painting your garage floors, which will protect them from all manner of gunk and make cleanup much easier.

Oil stains are the worst as they work their way into porous concrete and leave a slick residue that picks up dirt and is easy to track into the house. If you’re fortunate to have a vehicle that doesn’t have an oil leak, your garage floors are still subject to other fluids that are commonly stored in a garage including gasoline and antifreeze which can leak or spill and damage your floors.

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Reasons Why You Should Paint Your Garage Floor

Most often a popular choice for both residential and commercial applications, an epoxy coating, will do a lot more than making your garage floor look beautiful. It also acts as one of the strongest, durable and long-lasting coatings that you can apply to your garage floor.

Garage Tips

It helps to keep your garage and cars clean. 

Most people don’t realize that a good majority of the dust that is deposited on your cars, workbenches, laundry machines, and storage items comes from the concrete itself. Bare concrete can be a dust factory. It slowly breaks down into microscopic dust particles every time you walk on it, drive on it, or even sweep it. This dust easily becomes airborne the moment air movement is presented, such as your garage door opening, walking, or pulling a car in or out. This dust then settles on everything in your garage. This is all presented with a simple coating of paint on the surface of your garage floor.

It’s easy to keep clean. 

All it takes is a simple dust mop to run over the entire floor – that’s it! Since the concrete has been rendered dustless with the coating of paint, you will accumulate much less dirt on the surface, and the smooth finish easily cleans up.

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It helps to keep the inside of your home clean. 

Concrete harbours dust and dirt in its pores to be collected by shoes and bare feet. With a coating of paint on the surface, that dust, dirt, and grime won’t collect on the floor because it’s so easy to keep clean. As a result, much less dirt gets tracked into the house, especially if you have children.

Moderate to good floor protection. 

Depending on which type of paint you choose, your concrete will now be resistant to oil stains, chemicals, water, mould, and mildew. Oil can we wiped right up without the fear of it staining the floor. Tougher spills can be cleaned up with a sponge and a little detergent or cleaning agent. You should never have that spot riddled garage floor again.

It is light reflective. 

One of the first things that people notice is that the garage seems to be brighter. Bare concrete tends to absorb light while a painted surface does a better job of reflecting it. As a result, the reflective light tends to brighten the garage.

It’s cheap to do. 

Concrete floor paint is inexpensive, and the two-part epoxy paints for a two-car garage can be purchased for less than $70. If you are on a budget, then this is the coating for you. It costs more to fill your car up a couple of times than it does for the materials to paint your garage floor.

It looks good! 

There is no denying that a painted floor completely changes the look of a garage. More and more people utilize this space as an added room to the home. Make it something you can be proud of when you see it every day instead of shuddering over the looks of it.

Remember; don’t forget to do a quick and easy moisture test before you decided to start your project. Applying this type of coating to your garage floor is easy and inexpensive, but it does take some work. You do have to take steps to clean your concrete properly and plan on a weekend to get the project done.

If you are worried about repairing areas of your floor, it’s not necessary, but it isn’t that hard to do. Just the paint alone makes a big difference in the maintenance and looks of your garage. And if it’s in your budget, a two-part epoxy paint kit will last over twice as long as standard latex acrylic paints.

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How to paint a garage floor?

Clean And Prep The Floor

Concrete is very porous and will easily collect dirt and grime, so cleaning with a power washer or floor buffing machine is best. Do not skip this part!!! If your pressure washer allows it, you can add a degreaser to the water as well to get things cleaned. Allow drying well

For those of you that do not have access to a power washer, you can use a stiff-bristled scrubbing brush {on a broom handle} and a hose with a high-pressure nozzle as an alternative. You will just need to use a lot more elbow grease to get that dirt out of there! Use either a degreaser, TSP, or laundry detergent for added cleaning power and, for extra dirty floors, allow the cleaner to sit for a few minutes before giving it a final scrubbing. Just make sure that you do not allow the cleaning solution to dry on the concrete!

Fill In Any Cracks In The Concrete

There are various products on the market to help you fill in the cracks. For smaller cracks, you can use a concrete/mortar repair compound; however, you will need a concrete patch for thicker cracks or holes. If it is a deeper crack, you will need to fill the crack in layers allowing adequate dry time between layers {this can take a while!}. Wipe the access product off the crack with a wet rag or scraper to level it out and create a smooth surface. Be sure to read all of the manufacturer’s instructions on your repair product for recommended cure times before painting. Ours was supposed to be a week while some others recommended up to a month.

Etch The Floors

Depending on the surface of your concrete floors, you may need to etch the surface. {We didn’t have to do this part.} Etching opens up the pores of the concrete to allow the paint to absorb better. To test if your floor needs etching, drop a small amount of water on the floor and see how quickly it is absorbed. If it is absorbed quite quickly, you likely do not need to etch. If it tends to pool on the surface of the floor, using a commercial concrete etcher is recommended. Allow drying thoroughly.

Apply A Bonding Primer

The primer is a pre-treatment for porous concrete and is designed to promote the adhesion of the paint. We just used a paintbrush to cut in on the edges around the garage and used a roller for the rest. It goes on a little milky, so you can see where you are painting, but it dries clear. Let it sit for at least 4 hours {and no longer than 30 days} before applying your paint.

Apply The 1-part Epoxy Paint

The paint went on smoothly and covered well. As with the primer, we just cut around the edges using a brush and then rolled on the rest. It looked pretty good after just one coat, but we did end up doing a second coat just to be safe. It was recommended that the second coat be applied in the opposite direction than the first coat {i.e. if the first coat was applied lengthwise, the second coat should be applied width wise}. However, due to the layout of our garage, it was much easier to apply it lengthwise, and we just did it that way for both coats. Although we were walking on the floor after about 24 hours, it’s recommended to wait at least a week before driving on it.

Garage Floor Paint Colors

When choosing a garage floor paint colour, think about what’s important to you. If you don’t want to see tire marks and want to try and hide any stains, go with a darker colour. If you’re looking to lighten up your garage space, try a lighter grey.

Concrete floor paint is either latex and oil-based. Concrete floor paint is just a tougher version of the paint that goes on walls and is by far the least expensive coating for a garage floor. You roll it on just like other types of paint; there are no tricky, unfamiliar steps. It’s also easy to touch up damaged areas or re-coat the floor completely.

Latex floor paint is easier to apply and clean up than oil-based paint. It dries to a low-sheen, flat finish while oil dries to a high gloss. Oil-based paints must be used with a primer coat and are generally more durable than latex. Overall, floor paint isn’t as tough as other garage floor coatings and is especially vulnerable to road salt and other chemicals. Under typical conditions, you’ll have to touch up areas of the garage floor every year or two.

What is the Best Coating for Garage Floors?

In addition to garage floor paint, consider these other garage floor coatings:

Concrete Stain

Concrete stain is a translucent decorative colouring that soaks into the concrete and creates a pigmented, marbled appearance that resembles natural stone. It typically requires two coats and is applied with a roller or sprayer and then immediately worked into the concrete with a nylon scrubbing brush.

The stain itself doesn’t protect the concrete, so after it dries, you rinse the surface and then apply one or two coats of urethane sealer to protect against moisture, chemicals and stains. Depending on the traffic your garage floor gets, you may need to wax the sealer annually and touch up the stain and reseal the floor every two years.

Concrete Sealer

Concrete floor sealers come in clear and tinted versions. Sealers are like floor paint, but tougher. After paints, they’re the least expensive coating, and they’re very easy to apply with a brush or roller. They dry to a clear satin or semigloss finish depending on the product. There are water-based and solvent-based concrete floor sealers.

“The product cost is going to vary based on the type of concrete sealer that is used. If you are using a decorative concrete sealer, like acrylic or urethane, the product cost can vary anywhere from 25 cents to 50 cents a square foot. If you are using a penetrating concrete sealer, the cost ranges anywhere from 20 cents to 75 cents a square foot,” according to Concrete Sealer Reviews.

Acrylic/Latex Concrete Sealer

Like floor paint, acrylic/latex sealer is vulnerable to chemicals. It isn’t as tough as an epoxy product, so it’ll benefit from an annual protective waxing or reapplication every few years. Acrylic/latex sealer will stick better to a concrete floor than urethane sealer, which is why it’s sometimes used as a primer for oil-based floor paint or epoxy.

Urethane Concrete Sealer

Urethane sealer is significantly tougher than acrylic/latex sealer, but it doesn’t bond well with bare concrete. It provides a clear, high-gloss finish that resists chemicals better than epoxy alone and is less likely to yellow in sunlight, which is why it’s used as a seal coat over epoxy and concrete stain. However, urethane sealer is more expensive than acrylic sealer, and solvent-based versions require the use of a respirator during application.

Garage Floor Painting Options:

If Rust Bullet is too expensive, but you still want to paint, I understand. It’s still a reasonable thing to do:

  • It’s an inexpensive way to go. 
  • It can look good, keep the dust down and help protect the floor. 
  • You can keep the hot tire lift at bay by using tire mats and just keep up after the dings and scratches with some touch-up paint.

Epoxy Paint vs Latex Acrylic Paint vs Two-Part Epoxy Kits 

Latex acrylic paint is by far the cheapest of the options and will deliver a good bang for the buck. If you want to prevent a slippery when wet surface, scuff it slightly after it drys with a buffing pad or adds an anti-skid medium to the paint. Normal traffic will eventually create those micro scratches as well if you can wait.

Be sure to clean up oil stains promptly as they will stain the floor. Brake fluid will cause the paint to pucker. All the warnings about hot tire pickup and chipping mentioned earlier apply to this kind of paint so be prepared to touch it up yearly.

Epoxy paint (also known as one-part epoxy paint) is very similar to the latex acrylic paint but is stronger and bonds better to the concrete. It should last twice as long as latex paint. Some brands even include an anti-skid additive.

Two-part epoxy kits are not painted. You mix the resin and the colour and as the water evaporates the resin hardens, forming a beautiful glossy finish. You will do two coats with a kit like this. The benefit is that you get a stronger bond and harder finish.

What are concrete densifiers and sealers?

Garage dust is fine concrete particles coming off the floor. As concrete hardens, the water rises to the surface. This extra water closer to the surface makes that concrete less dense. The less-dense concrete creates more dust and is more vulnerable to chipping and cracking. 

A lithium densifier gets absorbed into the pores of the concrete, forms a bond and hardens, making it stronger and more resistant to cracking and dusting.

A silicate sealer also penetrates and gets absorbed but creates a moisture-resistant bond with the concrete making it more resilient to fluids.

The combination of sealer and densifier gives you the best of both worlds, so I see no reason to do one without the other.

The silicone sealer gets absorbed closer to the surface and makes the floor more fluid resistant. What you want is a LITHIUM SILICONATE densifier sealer such as PS104 made by ConcreteSealers USA. This is available on Amazon here. The company is really good about answering questions and if there is such a thing as concrete nerds this company is full of them.

Before you apply a densifier sealer, be sure to clean your floor and get rid of all stains. Any stains on your floor will become a permanent feature. You can use cheap kitty litter to absorb oil stains. Be sure to rub it and grind it in very well and use enough so that there is no hint of moisture left where the stain is. It can take a while, so leave it alone for a day. 

If the kitty litter doesn’t finish the job, there are a few other things you can try. Read more details here as I go over a few different ways to tackle oil stains.

I hope I gave you some things to think about when it comes to your garage floor. As you can see, the possibilities go way beyond just painting, and there are some good reasons to pursue these other avenues. Regardless of which one you wind up choosing, there are some very good reasons to cover or treat your garage floor:

  • protect it from road salt, oil and other fluids
  • keep the dust down (protects your car and keeps your home clean)
  • protects it from cracking and chipping
  • improve the look of your home

Hopefully, we have shed some light on the many options available to you and helped you to narrow down your choices. Remember that beyond the initial cost, the degree of difficulty and ongoing maintenance should align with your ultimate project goals.

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