EPOXY GARAGE FLOOR COATING
6 reasons why homeowners should hire an epoxy coating professional.
By Jack Severens
Applying epoxy garage floor coatings is a topic that I have over five years of experience. I have been in the business of applying epoxy coatings on garage floors for over five years now in the Lake Norman North Carolina area where I have completed over 300 residential garage epoxy jobs. When a homeowner says to me "I'll probably just do the work myself," I usually suggest that they rethink this decision. Often their decision is based on a recent visit to a big box store where they saw an "Epoxy Kit" on the shelf which was very nicely packaged. And from the brief package description, it sounded like it was a breeze to install. This is not the case. Always remember when you read the word "Easy" that this word "Easy" is relative to the person's experience, especially in the fields of DIY and home construction projects. The overuse of this word in marketing materials is done so to the end users detriment. This statement from Legacy Industrial sums up the objective of these water based epoxy manufacturers very well "The goal of a manufacturer is to sell a product. Product sales are directly tied to ease of application and cost. When the application becomes too complex, buyers reject. When the cost per square foot rises too high, buyers reject. Therefore, the goal for manufacturers is to make the process "easy" and the cost "affordable".
To read the entire content of this article from Legacy Industrial follow this link
From my experience, there are six main reasons why I suggest that homeowners hire an epoxy coating professional to complete their epoxy garage floor coating.
REASON #1 — PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
If a homeowner chooses to do the work themselves and acid etching is their chosen form of slab preparation, they will need to make sure that they have proper protection for their hands as well as correct eye protection. It is also recommended that a respirator suitable to protect them against acid fumes be used. If the method of concrete preparation is diamond grinding or shot blasting they will have to take into consideration the dangers of airborne silica dust and wear the proper respirator. This refers back to the experience level of the person completing the project. Applying epoxy garage floor coating requires tools and skills that can only be acquired through special training and time spent working with epoxy. The extra cost you spend to hire a professional to do this work for you could save you the time and hassle of hurting yourself trying to do the project yourself due to lack of experience.
REASON #2 — CURE TIME
When using good, commercial epoxy garage floor coating materials (and I would recommend against using anything but good commercial grade epoxy materials) the person applying the material has a specific amount of time before the material will go "Hot" on them. The terminology "going hot" is interesting because while the epoxy materials are in the mixing bucket they literally do gradually heat up to the extent where the material is oftentimes over 200 degrees (another big safety concern!). "Hot" material is not workable material. Once the material reaches this degree of heat, the batch has been distorted and is no longer good for use. This means that the installer will have to begin again and create a new batch. There are a few variables which determine how slow or fast epoxy materials can go "Hot". One of the most important factors is outside temperature on the day you are applying the epoxy coating. Depending on the outside temperature, the mixed material can go "Hot" quickly or gradually over a long period of time. This can create some worst-case scenarios for the appliers. Imagine that you purchased just enough epoxy to complete your garage floor and your first batch (let's say that batch measured ¾ gallon) goes hot and needs to be thrown out. This now means the whole job has to be placed on hold until you can have replacement epoxy materials sent to you, a problem easily avoided when you hire a professional who keeps more than one job's supply of epoxy materials on-hand at all times. Keep in mind that good quality epoxy costs at least $100 per gallon, so that ¾ gallon mistake cost you at least $75.00. I say "at least $75" because professional epoxy kits are normally sold in 3 gallon quantities. Those 3 gallons can normally cover between 400 to 500 square feet. In this example you waste ¾ gallon right off the bat. If you have a normal size two car garage measuring 450 square feet you will have to buy an entire full three gallon kit of material (which will cost at least $300, which is in addition to the $300 that you paid for the first kit).
REASON #3 — FLAKE CONSISTENCY
Many homeowners that decide to epoxy their garage as a do it yourself project assume that there is no skill involved in the application of the flakes which create the decorative element of all epoxy flooring projects. They assume that they will toss flakes up in the air and that those flakes will land on the floor in a uniform manner which looks just as they saw it on the box. However, this is an incorrect but common misconception. Flakes randomly thrown up in the air don't magically arrange themselves while airborne and land with perfection, as much as I wish it to be true. The reality of the situation is that flaking a garage floor takes skill and years of practice. This "practice makes perfect" technique is a luxury that is not available to someone who is doing this for the first time (and only intends to do this work once). So, more often than not, the outcome of an inexperienced "flaker" is that the finished product in fact looks like it was accomplished by an inexperienced "flaker". This low-quality look is not what you want as a permanent fixture in your garage. Professionals spend time and energy learning how to properly apply these flakes. The evidence is in the finished product, and is certainly worth the extra cost of hiring a professional for a well-done job with a clean and finished look.
REASON #4 — ROLLING EXPERIENCE
Some professionals use a roller to spread epoxy in contrast to professionals who use a squeegee and others who use a combination of a squeegee and a roller. But in all cases, the objective of a good epoxy job is to achieve a smooth and uniform finish, which can be defined as one that is free of roller marks and areas that are obviously more lightly covered with epoxy than other areas of the floor. I compare this task to the skill of properly painting a car. Can you imagine a car owner deciding that their car needs a fresh coat of paint so they go to their local car paint dealer and buy some paint and a sprayer and attempt to paint it in their backyard? It would be a disaster, and the finished product would clearly reflect the skill level of the person who completed the paint job. The finished product of the do-it-yourself car paint job will be uneven and unattractive. In the same way the person who attempts to apply epoxy for the first time in their garage will find that the finish is uneven and unattractive. Remember that this job will be a permanent fixture in your home which will be viewed by all visitors for many years. You want the work to look professional and clean, just like you would want a new paint job on your car to look professional and perfectly even. There are tips and tricks that epoxy professionals utilize to assure that the finished product is as even and uniform as is humanly possible. These are techniques that can only be achieved through time and practice, a luxury that first-time appliers will not have.
REASON #5 — PICKING THE PERFECT MATERIALS
Choosing the right materials for an epoxy garage floor coating will mean the difference between a floor that will look good for decades and a floor that will look good for a few months. A common challenge that first time appliers face is choosing the right epoxy materials simply by reading online reviews. More often than not if there are 100 online reviews for a product on the internet there will be 99 differing opinions on how that particular product performs. Another thing to consider is that different epoxies will react in varying ways to the different characteristics of the substrate (your concrete slab) in your garage. Let's take for example the occurrence of outgassing. Outgassing is a condition that causes bubbles in the epoxy as the epoxy cures. These bubbles may (or may not) be evident immediately after the epoxy has been applied to a floor. This means that a contractor can very nicely roll out their epoxy and walk away from the job thinking that everything will look just as good in six months as it did upon completion of the initial job. If the outgassing of the epoxy takes some time to become evident, as it sometimes does, you will return the next day to find tens (or even hundreds) of bubbles that even after you scrape off the edges of these craters they will still be seen on the finished product. This is a situation that could have been avoided with experience in how to properly prepare the concrete floor and/or knowing what materials are best to use as a base coat (primer coat) to eliminate the pin holes in the concrete that may have caused the bubbles. These are again all luxuries that first-time appliers will not have had experience or background to anticipate. If you experience an issue (such as those described above) you may have wasted time and the hassle of having to hire a professional to come in and redo the work.
REASON #6 — TRICKS AND TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Still remember the first epoxy garage floor coating that I completed. I did my online research, watched several YouTube videos, decided which epoxy supplier that I wanted to buy from and placed my order. Upon reading the "simple instructions" on the box of epoxy I was instructed to use a roller, a chip brush, some painters tape and a squeegee. Period. Those were the only "required tools" that were listed. The kit of material that I bought included a small packet (maybe 4 ounces) of citric acid to use as the acid etching agent. Well, needless to say, the first job that I completed was a complete nightmare! And this was not a result of failure to abide by the manufacturer's instructions. I followed their instructions to a tee. The nightmare resulted from not knowing what I didn't know. At this point in my business, five years later, my truck bed is filled with tools and "tricks of the trade". I own spike sandals (to walk out into wet epoxy). I have acquired two types of grinders each with two varieties of cups for different types of grinding. I have determined the perfect size, nap and brand name of roller to use to cause the epoxy to flow smoothly and lint free. In addition to the above I have amassed an assortment of hand tools, solvents for different purposes, a variety of tapes as well as several formulations of concrete patching compounds. Knowing what I know now, and having learned from my many mistakes I can say without any reservation that if I were a homeowner looking to have a garage floor epoxy job completed I would NEVER attempt to complete the task by myself.
The above six reasons are just a short and incomplete list from someone who has completed over 300 epoxy garage floor coating projects. This article outlines why a novice would be very wise to tackle other do-it-yourself projects, and leave the garage epoxy project to a professional. Garage epoxy work should always be done by someone who has learned over the years from their mistakes and their experience of the industry all the many variables that can occur when attempting to epoxy a garage floor. Their work will look clean, complete, and will last you far longer than if you pursue the route of trying to save a few bucks by doing the job yourself. We hope you will call our company to ask about a free garage floor consultation and no obligation estimate. LKN Garage Epoxy flooring – the perfect fit for all your garage epoxy flooring needs.
"Great service is my mission. That means that I always show up on time with a smile on my face. I'll always leave your home cleaner than when I arrived.
And I'll keep you informed throughout the project so you always know what to expect next."
— Jack Severens