Epoxy garage floor coatings look cool. They're shiny, and they repel dirt and grime much better than concrete. Now that Danna's safely in Italy for a couple of weeks I decided to make a run for it and install my own epoxy floor. It's remarkably easy: you just paint it on.
The Epoxy Project started on Monday night around 8:30. I removed everything from the garage and scrubbed the hell out of the floor. Then, I spread out the cleaning solution that the epoxy kit provided. Now the kit states that the cleaning solution is safe for plants and animals, but when I spread it on the floor it started sizzling and bubbling exactly like chemicals that are not safe for plants and animals. It did do one heck of a job cleaning the garage floor, though.
Tuesday morning was cold. Too cold, it seemed, to heat the garage floor up to the requisite 60 degrees F. To combat this I hung a 500W work light from the garage door rails. While hanging it I dropped it, and the bulb almost immediately caught on fire. Whups. Luckily, I happen to have a couple of Ultra Safe halogen lamps in my house that have been "retrofitted" with 500W shop bulbs, so I just stole one of those bulbs. The lamp generates a ton of heat, and I figured that if it didn't happen to burn the house down it would heat the garage nicely.
Tuesday evening was long. I didn't get started on the Epoxy Project until about 11:00. Before I began painting in earnest I made sure I had a fully charged cell phone on me. Why? Well, it was still cold outside and I still had the garage door shut to keep the heat in. I wasn't really sure what two hours in those fumes would do to me, and I wanted to make damn sure that, should I pass out and find myself glued to the floor, that I had a way out.
The first step after mixing the epoxy is to edge around the garage. I had decided to use a foam roller to do this quickly. That was a mistake. The foam gets chewed up by the rough concrete, and the foam roller really didn't lay that heavy of a coat. I went back over it with a paintbrush.
When the edging was done it was time to roll out the floor. This starts out easy, but after a while becomes quite difficult as you start running out of floor space. I had to continually move things around to keep from painting myself in a corner, and several times I ended up stepping in freshly painted floor. After I had completed about half of the floor it hit me that this isn't really paint at all, but was really strong glue. My rubber gloves were sticking to just about everything, my shoes stuck to the cement, and my head was quite light from sniffing two gallons of glue for an hour. Something had to change, so I opened the garage door for air. This reduced the fumes drammatically, but also coold the air a lot, making the glue a little more fussy. Another half hour and I had the floor completely covered.
The directions (yes, the same ones that called the cleaner "safe for plants") also mentioned that my tools could be easily cleaned using hot soapy water. Well, they were partially right. The epoxy seems to be part epoxy resin and part acrylic paint. The paint washed right off of my brushes, leaving nice clean bristles that were very stiff. By morning those stiff bristles were like a rock. My advice: throw it all away when you're done.
The final floor looks great. It will be a while before I can actually walk on it, and a week before I can drive on it, but I think it looks fantastic.
Update : 5/31/2004
Well, it's been about eight months since I laid the epoxy floor. How is it holding up? There are a couple of places where the epoxy has started to peel off the concrete, right around the rear tires of the car we drive most days. It is hard to tell if this is a weakness in the product or just shoddy application of it on my part. While cleaning the concrete I came up a bit short on cleaning solution while cleaning that portion of the garage, so it is possible I didn't get the concrete clean enough.