How To Paint a Garage Floor
Your floor could look like those in a McLaren factory. Minus the McLaren. And the factory.
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So you want to paint your garage floor? Well, you’re either preparing to sell your house or are finally fed up with working on a bed of concrete crumbs every time you need to get under the car. We’re still shaking out the pebbles from our hair and pants after the last oil change.
Garages are so often overlooked spaces during typical house sprucing, but it doesn’t have to be. Coating a garage floor with tailored concrete paint or epoxy serves dual purposes, as it provides a clean look and protects it from an army of automotive grime and chemicals. And for the cost of a few cases of good beer, it’s a professional feature that anybody could have in their own homes.
So whether you’re sick and tired of your back looking it went three rounds with an industrial meat tenderizer, or you’re needing a weekend revamp project, The Drive’s crack How-To department is here to break down exactly how to paint a garage floor.
Rollers at the ready!
How to Paint a Garage Floor Basics
Estimated Time Needed: Up to a week
Skill Level: Beginner
What’s the Point of Painting a Garage Floor?
Painting a garage floor is a win-win-win.
Foremost, the paint acts as a concrete protectant, as it stops seasonal road salt from destroying the concrete and prevents oil and fluid spills from staining the surface.
The new finish will also change the entire look and feel of the garage for the better by providing a premium appeal, akin to those seen in professional work environments. Particularly if the paint is a light color, the space will be brighter and overall easier to work in. With an additional textured finish, this makes overall garage cleanup quicker, safer, and cleaner.
Types of Concrete/Garage Floor Paint
- Latex: Low cost, low gloss, quick dry time, low durability, covers less ground
- Acrylic: Middling cost, low gloss, quick dry time, water-based, better coverage than latex
- Epoxy: Higher cost, high gloss, slow dry time, high durability
Garage Floor Painting Safety
Working on your car can be dangerous and messy, so here’s exactly what you’ll need to ensure you don’t die, get maimed, or lose a finger and that you keep your jeans, shirt, and skin spotless—hopefully.
Everything You’ll Need To Paint a Garage Floor
Some people’s idea of a stocked garage might be a tool kit from IKEA, so we want to make sure you’re prepared with all the right equipment. Here’s everything you’ll need before getting started.
- Scrub brush
- Plastic watering can
- Stiff-bristle broom
- Concrete floor sander
- Rags or paper towels
- Hose and/or pressure washer
- Respirator for chemical application
- Dust mask
- Garage Paint
- Acid etch (if not included in the kit)
- Floor texture (if not included in the kit)
- Degreaser, if necessary
- Concrete patch material, if necessary
- Paint solvent, if necessary
Organizing your tools and gear so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You won't need a blowtorch for this job. Please don’t have your kid hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)
You’ll also need your garage floor. Because, you know, you’re refinishing your garage. Make sure you open the doors and windows so it’s well-ventilated, too.
Preparing to Paint a Garage Floor
Preparation is the most important part of this entire process. Without taking the proper steps to ready the garage floor, the paint might not adhere properly and could end up looking like your uncle’s flaky two-year boat project he got 15 years ago. Take the time and do the work, if you want to enjoy the results.
- Read the directions on the kit: They might repeat some of what is said here, but we promise each kit has specific directions only seen on that kit. Read thoroughly.
- Storage removal: Remove all vehicles, tools, storage shelves, compressors, and anything else kept in the garage that impedes access to the floor.
- Miscellaneous garbage removal: Every garage has debris such as dirt, sawdust, lawn trimmings, and rogue bolts strewn about. Grab a broom, dustpan, and a wet vac, and get that stuff outta there.
- Clean the floor: Using a degreaser and a scrub brush or broom, wash the entire garage surface and put extra focus on spots with stains. Wash away with a hose and let dry.
- Check for moisture: The quickest way to do this is by taping a small plastic square to the concrete. Seal the plastic, let it sit overnight, and look for water droplets or moisture the next day. If it’s wet, it is not suitable for painting. Moisture prevention products are available and can be applied before painting.
- Check for old paint: If the garage has previously been painted, it needs to be removed before applying the new paint. Grab a floor sander or some paint thinner and a scraper, and strip it off.
- Check for sealant: Pick a few spots around the garage and place a couple drops of water on the surface. If the water beads, the garage is likely sealed and paint will not adhere to the surface. This test only works if the floor is first cleaned of grease and oil.
- Check for damaged concrete: Loose or degrading concrete can interfere with achieving a perfectly smooth, uninterrupted garage surface. It could also create holes in the coating in the future. Painting a garage floor is a rare occasion, so do the complete repair by patching up the concrete.
- Check the forecast: The Rust-oleum EpoxyShield kit suggests application when the ambient temperature is 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the floor temperature is at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Using the materials outside of these temperature windows could ruin the process, and in turn, ruin your floor.
Here’s How To Paint a Garage Floor
For the purposes of this discussion, we will walk you through the process of the widely available Rust-oleum two-part EpoxyShield. It’s moderately priced and considered a reliable and durable product. Let’s do this!
Apply the Etch
- Once the floor is clean, patched, prepped, and dry, mix the concrete etch in a plastic container such as a watering can. The directions will tell you how much water to use, depending on the size of the batch.
- Wet the floor with a hose.
- Evenly apply the etch, which will make the concrete more porous. Rust-oleum suggests doing this in 10-foot by 10-foot areas at a time.
- Using a stiff-bristled broom, scrub the floor with the etch.
- Rinse with a hose, squeegee the area, then move to the next square.
- Repeat until the entire garage is done.
- Let dry overnight.
- Check the surface for dust. If present, rinse and dry again.
Apply the Paint or Epoxy
- Apply painter’s tape to anything you don’t want the paint or epoxy to touch.
- Shake both cans before opening.
- Open both cans.
- Pour Part A (also known as the hardener, activator, or catalyst) into Part B (known as the base or resin). This can be done in the paint can, but for ease and cleanliness, use a bucket.
- Mix together with a paint stick until thoroughly combined.
- Note: Once the two are combined, a countdown clock begins. The epoxy mixture must be used within the time noted on the label. For the Rust-oleum product, it must be used within 1-2 hours.
- We recommend adding texture, such as Rust-oleum anti-skid, to the mixture at this point. This will help prevent a garage surface that is too glossy and slippery.
- Use a small precision brush to paint the epoxy onto corners, edges, and other places that will be difficult to cover with a large roller brush.
- Pour the epoxy into a paint tray and soak a paint roller that is specifically designed for concrete paint.
- Paint small areas, such as a four-foot by four-foot space, at a time. Don’t skimp.
- If desired, add contrasting decorative flakes. Do so by taking a handful of the garage sprinkles and lightly tossing them onto the paint.
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 until the garage is fully painted.
Drying isn’t a step you actively do, but it’s just as important as the rest. Enter too early and all the work you just did could be lost. Here are a few guidelines, according to Rust-oleum.
- Ready for light foot traffic: 16 hours
- Ready for heavy items: 48 hours
- Ready for a vehicle: 72 hours
Pro Tips to Paint a Garage Floor
In the process of painting a garage floor, applying the coat is the easiest part of the job. As stated, the precautions taken during preparation can be the difference between paint peeling in five days or five years. These two tools will speed up the job for those who are patience challenged.
- Pressure washer: This brawny machine won’t eliminate the need for scrubbing stains with soap and water, but it’ll clean the concrete better, and quicker, than you ever could.
- Squeegee: A brush or broom will do the job, but a squeegee will get the job done, quickly. Spend the extra $20-30 and thank us later.
How Often Do You Need To Paint a Garage Floor?
This depends on what product you use, the condition of the garage floor, the frequency of vehicle travel, and how the garage is used. This is a major reason why we suggest doing an epoxy coating for durability.
How Much Does It Cost To Paint a Garage Floor?
Once again, this will depend on what product you use and how much is needed, but the Rust-oleum Epoxyshield 2.5-car garage floor kit covers more than 500 square feet and costs roughly $120 at Home Depot.
Life Hacks To Paint a Garage Floor
No skipping corners on this one. Take the time and do the work.
Featured Garage Floor Paint Products
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