What Is The Difference Between Garage Epoxy Floor Coatings & Standard Floor Paints
The first thing you need to know is that garage floor epoxy coatings are not like regular floor paint.
So exactly what are epoxy floor coatings? Epoxy floor coatings are usually two part solids based, solvent based or water based. Epoxy flooring consists of a Resin part and a Hardener part, much like epoxy glue. Regular garage floor paints are one part oil based or water based.
High quality epoxy floor paints are neither one part, oil based nor water based and all epoxies are not the same.
What You Need to Know About Epoxy Flooring
If you are like most people you most likely have never dealt with epoxy paints before and simply consider it just another category of paint like a semi-gloss or an enamel. Placing epoxy flooring in the same category as conventional garage floor paints is like saying a Volkswagen Beetle is the same as a Ferrari because they are both cars. An epoxy floor coating is usually a two part coating that you mix together rather than a single component. An epoxy floor coating will adhere to your garage floor or any concrete floor for that matter way better than any conventional oil based, water or enamel paint, think epoxy glue type adhesion vs duct tape adhesion. Your floor will have a much more dramatic look to it with a super high gloss finish no conventional paint can match, it will also be waterproof, mold & mildew proof. A good epoxy floor coating when cured is just about stain proof and cleaning it is similar to cleaning your Teflon pan. Our epoxy coatings are available in many different colors with custom colors available for larger size floors. We also have decorative color flakes that can be added into the epoxy for a granite type look. In addition to all of the above features the best part is your ArmorGarage epoxy flooring is an easy installation and can last you up to 20 years! Below we go over what we have learned from over 25 years of being in the epoxy business and from being the largest epoxy flooring installers in the Tri State area. We've done every type of floor there is with every type of product ever invented so we know exactly what works and what doesn't work and it's a reason why we are the largest online epoxy flooring sellers.
Are There Different Kinds of Garage Coatings?
The best floor epoxies are solid based; with 100% solids being the best type. What does that mean? It means that with 100% solids you are getting 100% paint so that whatever you put down is what you get. With epoxies that are not 100% solids, whatever percentage lower than 100% is the percent of the paint that will evaporate away as it dries. The part that evaporates is either solvents in the case of solids paints or water in the case of water based epoxy paints. For example, if an epoxy is 50% solids it means that 50% of the coating you apply will evaporate away as it dries. The lower the percentage of solids the lower the quality is a good rule of thumb, with water based paints being the lowest quality. The exceptions are Primers & Topcoats, Primers usually have a lower percentage of solids because they are made thinner to kind of soak into the pores of the concrete, Topcoats should have Urethane which displaces a percentage of solids. So itís ok for primers & topcoats to be lower in solids, just try not to use water based products. If you see a WB in the product name or part number it's water based. Also one final note high percentage solids epoxies are not as good as 100% solids epoxies. Never have been never will be. 100% solids epoxy is not just for hiding blemishes it's to make sure you're purchasing the highest grade epoxy possible, place the highest build possible to avoid hot tire lifting when using chips. Polyurea coatings are similar to lower percentage solids epoxies with similar performance issues. We classify these as glorified concrete sealers.
Do I Need A Primer For The Job?
The answer is not always. A primer makes for a better job because it adds another layer of epoxy and seals the floor at the same time. For most garage floor epoxy applications a primer is not needed. Our Armor Chip & Armor Granite garage floor epoxies are self priming.
Some flooring epoxies will claim to be a primer, an epoxy and a topcoat all in one. That may be so but they will be masters of none as the saying goes. If you have any kind of heavy duty traffic you need a primer and a true topcoat and for industrial floor epoxy applications you need a primer, thick epoxy layer and then a topcoat. Our Military Epoxy & Commercial Epoxy Systems come with a dedicated primer/base coat layer.
There are times when you need a primer for even a simple garage application such as if your floor is pitted from road salts, in poor condition due to age or is oil stained etc. A primer is also great to use when you need to extend the coverage of the epoxy layer since the epoxy is now going over a sealed surface rather than porous concrete. If your floor is not typical we suggest you talk to one of our experts before purchasing and applying any type of epoxy coating. We have primers for just about any floor condition.
What Is The Difference Between Garage Epoxies and Garage Paints?
It is essential that you know the differences between garage floor epoxies and garage paints and the differences between different types of epoxies. Regular garage floor paints are single component products made in either oil or water based formats. Theyíre usually used for wall and ceiling applications and are not suited for applications like epoxy flooring that can have anything from heavy foot traffic to vehicles weighing many tons rolling over it. Epoxy floor paints are mostly a two component product whereas regular floor paints are a single component. Epoxies consist of a Part A which is the resin/pigment part and the Part B which is the hardener part. Much like epoxy glue when you mix Part A & Part B together they harden to form a very durable coating. That is if you use a good quality epoxy. The majority of water based epoxies are inferior and are no better than regular semi-gloss paint. A lot of epoxy flooring paints that are solids based are also inferior but itís much harder to tell which are inferior and which are high quality. In the following paragraphs we will teach you how to tell the difference between real industrial grade floor epoxy paints from those that are just industrial grade in name only.
What Does Pot Life mean when using an Epoxy Floor Coating
Look at the pot life which is the time you have to work with once the epoxy is mixed. A long pot life or even worse an unlimited pot life is a sure sign of an inferior floor epoxy. Good epoxy flooring will have less than an hour pot life at 70 degrees. Any epoxy floor coating with an hour or more of pot life or that needs a wait time(induction time)after mixing is an epoxy to steer clear of. When working with Mil grade epoxy you want to mix no more than one gallon per person rolling. If two people are rolling you can mix 2 gallons of epoxy but you need to split that into two separate pails right after mixing. Our Mil grade epoxy cures via a thermal chemical reaction and not by air. So the more epoxy there is the more thermal reaction you get. Splitting a large mixed quantity into smaller portions slows down the curing process. A properly mixed batch of epoxy flooring will give you 40-45 minutes to apply without having to rush. Then when you apply the next batch to the wet edge it will reactivate the curing process and blend in with no seam lines. A high quality epoxy will cure to a seamless monolithic sheet of rock hard high gloss epoxy. Low quality epoxy paints will leave seam lines and cure to a much softer finish that will not look so good in a short period of time.
What is an Epoxy Topcoat and Why Is It needed?
First thing you need to know is that epoxies and topcoats are two completely different products. Epoxies are either a base coat or a middle coat but always a coat that gets a coating over it, which we call a topcoat. Why? because topcoats are made to be chemically harder than the epoxy coatings they go over. Epoxies are made to provide thickness and adhesion. ArmorGarage Topcoats are made with high quality urethane to provide durability and UV protection. So it's crucial you know about topcoats. Please be aware of the fact that applying a clear version of an epoxy over a pigmented layer of the same epoxy does nothing, even if you add in UV additives. It's still an epoxy and not a topcoat. It doesn't have the impact rating nor the abrasion rating needed long term durability.
Any epoxy flooring product that claims to not need a topcoat is a product to avoid. If youíre applying it in your garage your hot twisting/turning tires will wear the high gloss finish off in no time. This applies to even 100% solids epoxies. Even though they are of higher quality they are nowhere near as hard as they have to be for vehicle generated abrasion. More detail on topcoats is explained in the next section below.
What are your epoxy coatingís ratings/specifications and what do they mean?
So how do we know whether your floor epoxy and or topcoat can stand up to hot twisting tires on your garage floor?
The easiest way is to know what the Abrasion Loss Rating is. The industry standard epoxy flooring test method is called the Taber C-17 abrasion test. All other test methods are just marketing gobble-d-gook. What the Taber C-17 test does is to take a coating and apply an abrasion wheel with a certain weight on it and spin it at a certain RPM for a certain amount of time. Then the amount of material that got worn off is measured in mgs. This test mimics actual wear and tear from tires, wheels, foot traffic, etc. So the lower the amount of mgs that came off the coating the better. Even the best garage floor epoxies have abrasion of rating of 25mgs or higher. This is too soft for garage floor duty or any application that has vehicles, dollies, pallet jacks, shopping carts or even a high volume of just foot traffic. The minimum rating for a garage floor epoxy in our opinion is 20mgs, under 10mgs for commercial/heavy duty floor epoxy applications and for the highest level of protection you want under a 5 mg rating. Also keep in mind that these ratings are sort of like the Richter scale with each mg making an exponential difference in the longevity of the epoxy coating. Also note that just because an epoxy comes with a topcoat donít take it for granted that itís garage or commercial floor duty rated. Most topcoats are no better than the epoxy they cover and have very high abrasion loss ratings. The moral of the story is, always know the abrasion loss rating and make sure it's always lower than the epoxy you're using.
There are other ratings you should be aware of that are important even though they may not be as important as the abrasion rating they still are good to know. First you want a floor epoxy with at least a 350 psi adhesion rating. That should not be difficult to find most floor epoxies are good at sticking to concrete. Second you want an epoxy with an impact rating of 125 inch pounds or more, ArmorGarage Epoxies all have 160 inch pounds ratings. This is very important since a lot of people like to tinker in their garages. So a floor epoxy with a good impact rating will not chip or crack when tools or parts are dropped onto the floor.
Epoxy Flooring Facts You Donít Have To Know
There are other ratings you may see but theyíre mostly useless marketing hype at best and what we call fiction. Ratings such as compressive strength and tensile strength are meaningless to all but the most complicated/specialized applications. Certainly not relevant for 99% of epoxy flooring applications.Mostly all epoxy floor paints have a compressive strength much higher than 5000 psi. 5000 psi concrete is about the hardest concrete floors you'll find 90% of the time. So that means most floor epoxies have a higher crush rating than the concrete itís going on. Unless you are rolling an M1 Abrams Tank onto your floor the compressive strength rating is meaningless. You are just not going to place a load onto your floor that is going to crush your slab! The same goes for the tensile strength, youíre just not going to be able to put anything on the floor that will come anywhere near to the breaking point to all but the cheapest floor epoxy paints. The key factors for epoxy are pot life, thickness, type of epoxy and the hardness of the final topcoat that will be exposed to the wear and tear of the traffic on it.
Another meaningless criteria is cost per mils! That means nothing because what that is saying is that the more you get of an inferior epoxy the better the buy/epoxy it is. Bad epoxy is bad epoxy no matter how much of it you get! Stick to the cost per square foot and how long your epoxy will last and by last we mean how long will it stay looking new, not just stay stuck to your floor. Don't get distracted by meaningless numbers or guarantees. Lifetime guarantee means nothing if your floor gets ugly in a year or so. Lifetime guarantees don't guarantee against wear. Abrasion wear on an inferior epoxy will dull it in no time. Which means you now have a floor that looks dirty, old, yellowed and worn out that is stuck to your floor for life!
So in sum make sure the garage floor epoxy you want to buy is solids based and preferably an Aliphatic type as opposed to a Cyclioaliphatic type. That you apply a topcoat with an abrasion rating suitable for your application. Avoid water based epoxies and any epoxy that doesnít have published ratings for abrasion, adhesion and impact resistance. Not knowing these ratings is really rolling the dice.For a good comparison of Adhesion, Abrasion and Impact ratings for various epoxy flooring products see the
EPOXY COATING COMPARISON CHART.