GARAGE EPOXY FLOOR REVIEWS
Consensus among displeased customers is often due to contractor not following proper installation procedures.
Learn how to prevent this from happening to you.
By Jack Severens
Applying an epoxy coating to your floor is a delicate and precise process. There are many things that experienced epoxy contractors take into account when evaluating a new customer's garage slab. Weather, timing, moisture content, and location can all have a drastic impact on the overall success of a long-term epoxy job. When you take the time to read a large number of garage epoxy floor reviews you will see that the general consensus of customers that are displeased with the finished product is that either the contractor failed to follow proper procedure for installation of the material or that they simply used inferior material to begin with.
This article will outline some of the most common ways that garage epoxy can fail, and how to avoid serious pitfalls.
Sample LKN Garage Epoxy Floor Reviews from Angie's List — 2018 / 2019
WAYS EPOXY CAN FAIL:
HOT TIRE PICKUP (WHAT IS IT?)
One of the leading concerns that people express about epoxy garage floor coatings is hot tire pickup, or hot tire lift. There is nothing more frustrating than applying a nice coating to your floor only to have patches of it peel up or pull away where your car tires sit. This section will discuss what hot tire pickup is, what causes it, and the best methods to prevent it. Those potential garage epoxy customers who have done their research realize that one of the most common complaints of the garage epoxy floor reviews is that their new floor experienced hot tire pickup.
The internal temperature of the tires on your vehicle can get very warm and even hot, most prominently when you have been driving at highway speeds. As a result of this, the tire expands slightly due to the heat generated. Once you park your car in the garage, this heat first transfers to the tread of the tire and then to the epoxy coating underneath. Once the tire starts to cool, the footprint of the tire will contract slightly which causes the tire to literally grab and pull at the surface of the epoxy. This grabbing and pulling in conjunction with one or more other contributing factors to a weak epoxy floor can cause the tire to pull the epoxy right up off the concrete. If you avoid these contributing factors however, you should never have issues with hot tire pickup.
Perhaps the most common factor that contributes to hot tire pickup is the use of an inferior epoxy coating. Inexpensive, water-based epoxy kits are the biggest culprits. The heat that the tires generates while on the surface can actually start to reactivate the curing process of the epoxy due to their low heat tolerance. As a result, the epoxy can soften under the tires.
When you combine the softer epoxy with the weight and force behind the constricting tire tread, the epoxy can delaminate and pull right up off the surface of the concrete; sometimes even sticking to the tire when you back your car out of the garage. This not only ruins your epoxy job, but can also lead to expensive car repairs if you are not careful.
It is also extremely important that the concrete be cleaned and profiled properly before applying an epoxy coating in order to prevent hot tire pickup. This requires that all dirt, oil, stains, waxes and previous coatings be removed. Additionally, the surface needs to be prepared (profiled) by means of acid etching, grinding of the concrete, or shot blasting. This process opens the pores of the concrete in order for the epoxy to form a good mechanical bond. Epoxy does not adhere well to smooth concrete.
Failure to complete any one of these procedures properly can result in a poor mechanical bond. A poor bond in conjunction with the effects of a hot tire can cause even the best epoxy coatings with higher heat tolerances to pull up over time. It is important to do the correct preparation for an epoxy job in order to avoid issues concerning hot tire pickup.
Another contributing factor that is oftentimes overlooked is the buildup of tire residue embedded in the bare concrete. This buildup of tire residue is usually found where the car tires always sit. Tire dressing on concrete falls into this category as well.
Tire manufacturers include plasticizers and paraffin in the mix of their rubber compounds. Plasticizers are a blend of polymer compounds that help to create a more flexible rubber for the tire. The paraffin waxes are used as ozone protection to prevent the rubber from losing its black color and to protect against cracking.
When a tire gets hot, these plasticizers and paraffin oils will travel to the surface of the tire where these materials can be deposited on the concrete of the garage floor. If the concrete has not been cleaned periodically over long periods of time, this residue can build up within the concrete where the car tires sit and prevent epoxy from adhering to it. This is a key reason why correct profiling before completing an epoxy job is so important. Correct preparation done by an experienced contractor can mean the difference between expensive mistakes such as this down the line.
Tire dressing is a more difficult culprit. These tire dressings have a blend of silicone agents that keep the tire looking shiny and black. The problem with this is that the silicone tire dressing acts as a sealer if it gets on the concrete. If tire dressing has been sprayed on or applied liberally to the tires where the car usually parks, the over spray and drippings from the silicone in tire dressing can actually seal the concrete over time and without careful and thorough cleaning nothing will stick to it.
To avoid hot tire pickup, use higher quality epoxy products. Water based epoxy coatings with high solids content, solvent based epoxy, and 100% solids epoxy are superior to the inexpensive water based, single coat epoxy kits. They use more modern and better quality epoxy formulations that have higher heat tolerances and varying degrees of bonding characteristics depending on which product is used. They also provide for a much thicker coating.
Just like most any other product, you get what you pay for and epoxy is no exception. Though the better quality epoxy coatings cost more money initially, the extra dollars spent will reduce the frustration of hot tire lift as well as increase the life of your garage floor coating. This will ultimately save you money long term. Do the research to understand what coating your epoxy contractor recommends to you. You will learn a lot about their skill level and commitment by seeing what products they recommend for your personal needs.
The hardest (and most important) part about applying an epoxy coating is the prep work required for the garage floor. The concrete must be cleaned well and profiled correctly. If your contractor does a good job of this then you will reduce the likelihood of hot tire pickup as well as peeling epoxy.
Remember that the majority of problems associated with epoxy peeling up under car tires is due to the use of cheap epoxy coatings and inadequate floor preparation. If you apply the above methods with a better quality epoxy coating, then you should eliminate any chance of your epoxy experiencing hot tire lift.
Without a doubt, the biggest complaint that people have about epoxy is that it peels up off the garage floor soon after application or within a year of the epoxy installation. Many people who are interested in epoxy garage flooring do not realize that well over 99% of all these complaints do not involve a defective epoxy product. A careful analysis of several garage epoxy floor reviews will quickly reveal that many customers who complain about their epoxy installation have experienced this peeling problem. Since this is a fact, then it is important that you understand some common causes of epoxy peeling.
The main culprit to garage floor epoxy peeling up is poor preparation of the concrete surface. This can be attributed to a variety of factors. Epoxy needs a clean and porous surface in order to achieve a strong mechanical bond to the concrete. If you do not have that, it is almost guaranteed that your coating is going to fail at some point.
As an example, lesser expensive epoxy kits generally come with safe to use, biodegradable solutions that are supposed to clean and etch the concrete simultaneously in order to provide the proper surface profile for epoxy. In many cases however, these do not work well. This is a big reason why it is so important to hire an experienced epoxy contractor instead of attempting to DIY the job yourself. Epoxy is a tenacious and difficult coating to remove when applied properly. That is why there are so many successful, long lasting epoxy garage floor coatings that people absolutely love. Just about every problem you may have heard about epoxy flooring can be avoided by paying attention to the details. Let’s go over some of the most common reasons epoxy peels, and how to avoid them.
A poorly prepared surface is the most common reason epoxy floors fail. The number one problem associated with that is a bad surface profile. Surface profile is the roughness and porosity of the concrete that allows for the mechanical bond of the epoxy. In order to obtain the correct surface profile for epoxy, you need to utilize one of the varying profiling methods. Doing this to the concrete exposes the pores so that the epoxy can soak into the surface of the concrete floor in order to get the bite it needs to adhere to the surface well. If not done correctly, the epoxy will not adhere and can start to peel at some point after application.
The second most common problem associated with the peeling of epoxy garage floors is moisture in the concrete. Water vapor cannot pass through epoxy. If you have moisture under any part of your slab that is below grade, the hydrostatic pressure that is created from water vapor being trapped under the epoxy coating can create enough force to lift the epoxy right off the surface. Inspect your floor for signs of moisture. Efflorescence is the very first sign that you may have a moisture problem, as are dark spots on the floor. If your slab is below grade on any side then it is of vital importance that you do a simple moisture test first before starting an epoxy floor project.
Once you have achieved the correct surface profile for epoxy, the next step is to check that any oil stained areas that were previously cleaned are absorbent and will not repel water. You can check these areas by using the water drop test. It is not uncommon for a previously oil stained area to be darker in color than the surrounding concrete. As long as it absorbs water, then it will absorb epoxy and provide for good adhesion.
Acid etching will not remove silicones and tire polymer residue. If you acid etched the concrete and these areas do not pass the water drop test, your epoxy installer will need to grind the concrete to remove the residue. When you acid etch your garage floor the acid solution works by reacting with the free lime in the concrete. This causes a breakdown of the calcium at the surface, which results in the exposed open pores of the concrete. This calcium is then deposited onto the surface in the form of a very fine white dust. Many epoxy floors have peeled up because this fine white dust was not removed successfully before the epoxy was applied.
Because the dust is so fine, it readily sticks to the nonuniformity in the surface and can be challenging to remove. If epoxy is applied over concrete with this fine white dust, the epoxy sticks more to the dust and not to the actual concrete surface. It will eventually peel up exposing the white dust on the underside of the epoxy coating.
Never allow the floor to start to dry during the acid etching process and use abundant amounts of water when flushing the profiled concrete. If you still end up with this white residue, do not fear, because it can be removed. However, it may take multiple scrub downs to get it all off the surface.
Epoxy will not adhere to concrete that has been previously sealed. As discussed previously, acid only responds to the free lime in concrete. If the concrete has been sealed, the acid etch solution will sit on the surface without bonding. More than one case of epoxy peeling has occurred from people attempting to acid etch a sealed garage floor. The only way to profile a previously sealed garage floor correctly is to grind it. Grinding the floor will remove the sealer at the surface and profile it at the same time.
Excess laitance can also cause epoxy peeling. Laitance is a weak top layer of cement. It can appear to be damaged, as it often has very fine cracks. It is made up of a fine cement paste top layer that is produced by excess bleed water when troweling the finish during the process of laying concrete. It can also be caused by concrete finishers who spray water on the surface of the concrete to make it smoother.
Grinding the concrete will remove this fine layer and prep the surface properly for epoxy. Acid etching on the other hand will not do this as effectively. What you end up with is a softer concrete surface that is not bonded well to the rest of the concrete. This is a distinction that an experienced epoxy contractor can make for you. Your experienced epoxy installer will recommend the best profiling method for your garage slab. When epoxy is applied to this type of surface, it creates a weak mechanical bond to the concrete that can eventually cause it to peel up well before it should be damaged. Concrete dusting is a sign of excess laitance and prominent indication that you should consider grinding your garage floor. If you do not have dusting, test the concrete for excess laitance by scraping the surface with the tip of a screw driver. It should not leave a distinct mark, if any at all. If there is no mark, acid profiling may be the preparation method of choice for you.
Soft concrete can be another factor in peeling epoxy flooring. A soft concrete surface can be caused from a variety of factors, including poor concrete, bad finishing or a combination of both. Indications of soft concrete include heavy surface dusting, areas that are easily scarred or gouged, and crumbling concrete. The only solution to a soft concrete surface is to use diamond grinding. The use of a densifier may also be helpful in order to harden the surface. However, sometimes a densifier will not prepare the concrete properly for epoxy. Epoxy application professionals have the tools and skills to help correct a situation that could prevent the smooth application of an epoxy coating.
Applying an epoxy coat that will not peel is truly not difficult, but does require attention to detail and good preparation.
A careful review of garage epoxy floor reviews reveals that cracking of the epoxy is another common complaint of garage epoxy floor customers.
After your profiling work is done and your epoxy is laid, another occurrence to be aware of is cracking. Garage floors crack. It is really that simple. Concrete is not a ductile, or workable, material, meaning that it does not stretch or bend without breaking. However, concrete does shrink and expand with temperature, causing it to crack.
Most garage floors have expansion joints built into the slab in order to allow for cracking to occur. These grooves create a weakened line in the concrete that encourages cracks to follow the groove instead of wandering across the surface. Even though expansion joints do work well, cracking can still occur in other parts of the concrete due to the settling of the earth underneath the slab, curing issues, or other variables outside of your control. Most cracks are cosmetic and not structural in nature. This means that they can be repaired to accept most any garage flooring.
Always use an epoxy, polyurethane, or polyurea based crack repair or crack filling compound that is sandable. These solutions cure and harden at a strength which is greater than concrete and will prevent water intrusion. You can grind or sand them flush with the concrete and they will accept the epoxy coating. As with other aspects of epoxy flooring, it is important that you choose a high-quality product to fill cracks. It is imperative that you do not use inexpensive water based or latex based concrete crack filler and repair products. These kinds of products are frequently carried by home improvement stores because they are cheap and easy to use. However, they are not sandable, they will not accept epoxy, and they will shrink over time and pull away from the repair. Also, do not use a self leveling sealant either as these are designed mostly for sealing control joints in the concrete.
A final common problem for customers of garage epoxy floorings is bubbling. When bubbles appear in a freshly applied epoxy coating, the most common culprit is something called "outgassing". Outgassing is a site condition which allows air or gas from the concrete substrate to escape in excess. This causes blisters, craters, bubbles, or pinholes. Unlike moisture vapor transmission (MVT), a more serious and ongoing issue, outgassing is a temporary condition usually occurring during installation.
The resulting surface anomalies take away from the aesthetics of the floor, but do not immediately affect the integrity of the coating itself. Nonetheless, outgassing should not be ignored since the pinholes can trap dirt or liquids and make cleaning the area difficult. If left unchecked, these contaminants can affect the flooring system over time.
Outgassing will almost always reveal itself as a perfect circle with either a ridge around the edge of the circle or as a bubble in the coating. There also may or may not be a pinhole visible at the bottom of the circle. This pinhole is where the gas is escaping from the slab. If no pinhole is present, it means that the coating has sealed off the outgassing site.
Outgassing tends to occur when one or more of the following conditions are present: a concrete substrate of the air-entrained variety that has had excessive air volume incorporated into the original mix, moisture vapor or liquid escaping from the concrete slab, air moving in and out of the concrete slab with changes in temperature and barometric pressure, or concrete that has not been cured properly and is soft.
If outgassing has occurred, there are three times during which you can make changes to the epoxy to enable a fix. The first is during prime coat installation. If you see outgassing bubbles during the primer application, a metal porcupine roller can be used to pop the surface tension as bubbles start to develop. Often, this can prevent the outgassing bubble from forming, and can also allow the primer to fill in the pinhole that would otherwise be created. This remedy is not a guarantee; however the use of the metal porcupine roller during priming has proven itself to be a highly successful way to prevent outgassing bubbles from appearing in subsequent coats.
The second potential time to fix any bubbling is after the prime coat has been installed. If you see anomalies after the prime coat installation, then re-priming the affected area is the most effective cure. In sections where outgassing is especially aggressive, application of a thick, viscous epoxy patching material may be needed, prior to the re-priming process. In very severe cases, multiple coats of patch product may be required before pinholes are completely sealed off and the prime coat can be applied.
Finally, you can also fix outgassing after the finish coat has been applied. If finish coats are applied before the outgassing issue is identified, the best option is to sand the affected areas and patch with the topcoat material or a thixotropic product, followed by the topcoat material. If the outgassing is wide spread, recoating the entire floor may be required.
While outgassing bubbles or craters may be unattractive, they do not affect the bond strength of the epoxy coating. By taking the time to address the issue properly, a skilled professional flooring contractor can still deliver a beautiful, impressively durable, and high performance floor that meets your expectations.
TO AVOID THESE ISSUES
- Use an experienced installer. I cannot stress enough how important it is to hire a contractor to do your epoxy work instead of choosing the DIY route. So many aspects of a successful epoxy job rely on paying attention to details that first-time installers will have a hard time identifying without experience. To avoid all these common pitfalls, it is best to take some time and research contractors in your area who specialize in your type of epoxy flooring needs. While this will create more cost up front, it will save you from a costly mistake that could require a second-time job because an important detail was skipped.
- Use high quality epoxy products. This is another area where cost up front will prevent you from future headache. By spending the money on well-developed, modern epoxy products, you will give your garage the best chance of having a clean, professional finish to your floor.
- Research the products that your installer proposes to utilize on your garage epoxy job. So much of epoxy work is based on an installer’s ability to have a thorough knowledge of not only your flooring needs, but also the environment in which the epoxy will be installed. Do your research and take the time to fully understand exactly what your installer proposes for your flooring so that you know what possible complications could arise, and know how to prevent them.
- Test slab for moisture content. To ensure that proper profiling has been done on your concrete floor, make sure to do a water test. You can do this by dripping a few drops of water on various areas of the garage floor. If the water is absorbed quickly into the concrete then the absorption level is suitable. If the water beads up or takes more than 20 seconds to be absorbed, then it needs to be profiled again. Vapor barriers are not necessary in concrete garages when they are poured at or above grade. Typical concrete garage floors sit upon a base of 4-inch-thick (or deeper) base course of gravel or stone, and the moisture transmission through the slab is minimal. If the slab is not in contact with wet soil, the amount of vapor transmission is limited.
- Apply a high quality topcoat. Epoxy primers are specially designed to penetrate deep into the concrete to provide an exceptionally strong bond. When the base coat or color coat of a higher quality epoxy is applied over it, they bond together chemically to provide for an even more secure bond. If you apply an epoxy primer to the concrete first in conjunction with a high quality epoxy coating option, you will eliminate these common epoxy malfunctions.
By following these guidelines, and being knowledgeable about epoxy flooring pitfalls, you can prevent failings during your epoxy flooring work. By taking the time to research and become aware of some common failings, you can prevent headaches that will impact your timetable and budget.
"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