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We totally understand that your choice of floor coating isn’t only a matter of taste — it’s also a matter of use.  But assume for a moment that we’re talking about a general-purpose home shop, which is commonly a re-purposed garage

Would you enjoy an epoxy finish on your garage floor if you were doing some basic woodwork, metalwork, and automotive work?

We have our own opinion, of course.  We have an epoxy finish on the Toolmonger shop floor and we’ve come across a few pros and cons.  On the pro side, it’s almost impervious to most chemical spills.  We’ve cleaned up gasoline, brake fluid, and other nastiness without any negative effects on the coating.  It’s also a very light gray color, which means there’s a lot more light underneath vehicles.  On the con side, though, it scratches pretty easily.  It’s also hard to clean paint overspray off of it, though that’s pretty easily avoided.

Ours is a Sherwin Williams two-part product, professionally applied.  I’m a little more doubtful of the less expensive Rustoleum product, and I hate the “paint chip” finish they always show in their ads.

What do you think?  Let us know in comments.  (And when you comment, please let everyone know your specific experiences with your floor!)


19 Responses to Hot or Not? Epoxy Floor Coatings

  1. Brent says:

    I dream of a nice shop with an epoxy floor coating. I can even imagine using different colors or textures based on the intended use of the area.

    For instance, a rough texture might not be very good where you need to slide underneath a car. But a nice rough texture next to the entrance where you might be coming in with wet shoes.

    I think it would be much easier to sweep and clean up sawdust and the like after a project.

  2. Pencilneck says:

    The dealer I work painted the shop floor with epoxy a few years back and IMHO, it was a waste of money and time.

    When it was first done, sure the floors looked great, but this stuff chips. We had a lot of sand mixed in for texture but this made it really hard to clean the floor of oil spills because it was like mopping sand paper. It isn’t an issue now because the sand gets worked out of the mix from normal use (foot traffic) so running a mop over the floor now doesn’t shread mops like it use to. But of course this means the floor is slick when wet, slicker than the concrete surface it covered. And wit a few years of daily use on it, the floors have a dingy look about them even if you steam clean them… maybe better looking than the concrete.

    Bottom line, looked good when new, no other benifits.

  3. Paul says:

    I have a smooth surface concrete floor in my workshop. Whoever did it did a fairly good job, they only messed it up in like 2 places. Looks like a curing blanket got brushed over it, or a knee board or something. I only know about these minor blemishes because I mop the floor. The rest is floated, and power troweled to a polish. The only downside to the floor with me is it is hard on my back after a while.

    I’ve had a shop with a more textured, broomed, surface finish. I can’t much more than rough sweep that very well.

    My next shop I hope my finish comes out half as good as my current shop floor is. I may try tiling my next shop with some really cheap tiles and see how I like that. I’ll just get extra tiles for the inevitable damage that will occur. I’m going to go with a heated floor too.

  4. James says:

    I’m planning to lay vinyl composite tile in my basement shop. It’s durable, easy to clean up, and, most importantly, cheap. IIRC, Home Depot sells a box of 12″x12″ tiles for CAN$33. Since the space is 14’x34′, price is especially important. 🙂

    I also want to cover my garage floor at some point in the future. It was painted at one point but most of it has worn off. I’ve thought of the epoxy covering, but after reading Pencilneck’s post, I will probably look at something else.

    I was also thinking about interlocking plastic tiles for my garage. I read an article about them in ShopNotes a while back. They are expensive (Canadian Tire sells boxes of 10 for CAN$30) but they’re designed to resist gasoline and motor oil and you can pick them up and bring them with you if you move.

  5. Trevor D. says:

    I helped a friend install it in his garage. I like it.

  6. Michael B says:

    A friend installed one of the cheaper brands and it looked great for about 6 months then started chipping, bubbling and flaking. I don’t know if the problems that arose were because of something he did while installing or simply a result of going with the cheap stuff.

  7. Jake says:

    My parents put this in their basement. The paint chip finish makes the traction difference to prevent sliding around in your socks when you run down there to nab something.

  8. nrChris says:

    I have been toying with ideas to cover the workshop portion of my basement (only about 12′ x 20′). I was leaning towards resurfacing the concrete and sealing it. But right now I am leaning towards cork tiles.

    Good little video over at a site worth looking at on installing cork tiles in a workshop:


  9. Paul says:

    nrChris Says: “But right now I am leaning towards cork tiles.”

    Doesn’t cork smell funny? I’ve been thinking about making a backboard for my dartboard out of cork, but worry it’d smell too much.

  10. Rick says:

    My dad installed cork tiles at my grandmother’s house in Spain about 20 years ago, and they’re still as good as new. Not sure if the cork tiles we can get here are as good or significantly different from what was available in Europe back then. But It’s held up really well. After it was installed, he put a coat of polyurethane over it all, mostly to seal the gaps between tiles, since the tiles themselves are sealed from the factory. You can mop up spills, it’s easy on the back and legs since it offers some degree of cushion, there’s some sound insulation benefits, as well as standard temperature benefits. My dad installed it in an ancient farmhouse where there was just a wood floor above an unheated basement space. When you’re downstairs you can’t hear the foot steps as much, and the floors aren’t as cold as they used to be.. so going to the bathroom and walking on it barefoot isn’t as big a deal. Since the floor was just old 1×5 boards with lots of wear , etc. my dad poured a concrete leveling slurry to level off the floor and offer a good substrate to glue the tiles down. Oh, and no – they don’t smell.. What would they smell like anyway? Wine?

    As for the original topic at hand – the epoxy floor – my dad and I jackhammered the floor in his three car garage that was all cracked, etc. and laid down a new gravel substrate and poured a new slab. Once it was cured for about 6 months, we prepped it based on the instructions on the Rustoleum product. We used their paint flake finish and it’s held up very well. It’s been installed for about 2 years come this summer. We forgot to put the sand additive in the first bay (we did it in 1 bay sections) – But the second and third bay has it, although I’m convinced we didn’t use enough. In any case, the one without is slippery when wet. The other two are not. BUT, if you come in with workboots, tracking in snow – it’s slippery on either. It’s held up pretty well, we actually have a concrete border around the bottom of the perimeter walls that’s about 4 inches tall. We epoxied to the top of that, so we can take the hose and just spray everything down. We love it. We haven’t done too much in the way of shop work on it. A few brake jobs, and oil changes – that’s it so far. But it’s held up very well. We almost went with the U-Coat product – or whatever it’s called.. and for the cost we don’t think we’d get it much better. At my old job at a automotive shop we had a thick, rubbery style of epoxy floor which didn’t chip, and was pretty good in terms of traction in the wet. We had a few gouges in it from dropped tools and parts – but nothing that went far enough to gouge down to the concrete. I’d say it was somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, and professionally installed.

    Once I have my own garage – I’m partial to a black and white checked pattern in 1 foot tiles of some sort. Mostly for the look.

  11. Stuart says:

    I used the Rustoleum 2 part epoxy system. It went on quick requiring one thin coat and I like the flakes you throw on after – they hide stains and blemishes and provide more slip resistance. There were 2 types depending on the floor type – sealed or unsealed perhaps I don’t remember. What I do remember is that the floor has to be very clean (they include a degreaser) and most importantly, dry! I think people clean the concrete and apply the paint before the moisture is out – so the moisture bubbles through the paint. This is also a problem with wet basement slabs – the water has to get out somehow.

    So overall, Rustoleum 2 part epoxy system works well as long as conditions are ideal. I think the plastic interlocking tiles are dirt traps and pricey ones at that.


  12. ambush27 says:

    I don’t have much experience with epoxy floors, but I have a friend who installed the cork stuff, so far its worked out great, FYI I think they got the industrial grade stuff. Personally I use the bare concrete, but I would be willing to try linoleum.

  13. James B says:

    I put a latex garage floor stain on, and it worked out poorly – even after prepping the snot out of the floor. I got hot tire pickup and the puddles where snow drips off the cars bubbled the floor. The whole mess will get pressure washed off, and new epoxy put down before I sell the house. In the meantime it is what it is.

    The interlocking tiles from HF are a pretty good value. Welding sparks do melt holes in them, but they cleanup OK, are comfortable, and look good.

  14. Brian Howe says:

    I sell 2 part epoxy floor coating kits and i will tell you that prep is the name of the game. Shure acid washing, power washing are a good start but to really get a good application grinding or shot blasting will etch the surface and will adhere better. But word to the wise when you buy your product ask if it is 100% resin base. Some other’s are water or solvent based and will be transparent in spots.
    My company will come to your location and install this product for $2.25 per sq ft or our do it your self kits are $264.95 = $40.00 (s & h ) fedex ground and will ship in 72 hrs. many colors to choose from and dectroive color chips come with the kit with many sundrys. if interested e-mail me at khowe@wowway.com and i will send you some info on our product.

  15. Pat says:

    I applied this to a basement floor of a 100+ year old house, which takes tons of foot traffic and has a decent amount of heavy equipment dragged all over it. It has been in for over a year and is the best flooring choice I have made. It looks great and we have not had any problem with chipping.

    We did however thoroughly scrap up old glue/paint/whatever we could that was not concrete, then we acid etched the floors (as recommended). We also made sure we laid it on thickly, and it was a rather dry time during the summer so that may have helped as well. The nice thing is we are just going to do some mild cleaning of it and then apply another layer on top, and if you ultimately do not like the look you can easily put something on top of it.

  16. Erin says:

    Pat – how long did you let the floor cure? I want to do my basement floor with this stuff in my 99-year-old house and I want to do the best job I can, but it will involve dragging everything out of the basement and into the carport. Which product did you select? What would you estimate the total job time to be? Thanks in advance for your help!

  17. Chuck Cage says:

    Erin: We used the Sherwin Williams product in the TM shop and let it sit for three days before foot traffic and two weeks before car traffic. I’m not sure how that translates into other products or the basement application, but thought the info might help.

  18. RawCode says:

    I used the Rustoleum product on my new garage floor. The house was built in 2003 and I applied the epoxy in 2005. I had some oil stains, and it was very very dusty. I took my time preparing the floor however. Like, a long time. However my floor has been holding up very well. No chips or wear, even from my studded tires!

    1. I degreased the oil spots three times until they were gone for the most part. (i.e. water no longer beaded on the spots)

    2. Sprayed down and scrubbed with brooms everyday for a week.

    3. Applied the included acid etching, following the instructions. Then rinsed.

    4. Sprayed down and scrubbed the floor clean of concrete dust that was created from the acid etching for a week.

    5. Applied Epoxy. and followed with the flakes. 2×2 sections.

  19. Brian Howe Epoxy Floor Coating says:

    That stuff sucks! I wouldn’t pay $.10 for that epoxy floor coating, the shit cracks and chips after about 3 months, a total waste.

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