After what seemed to me like endless amounts of reading online, and narrowing my choices down to Wolverine and Epoxy-Coat (two top brands of epoxy that others had good experiences with), I decided to go with Epoxy-Coat based mostly on cost and ease of application. I didn't think that spending double would get me a floor that would be twice as good, so that's what I decided. I had a fresh 40-50 day old slab of concrete with no expansion joints, minor hairline cracks, never been touched by tires or any chemicals. Total of about 600 square feet.
This is the story of my journey from prep to finish and what I learned along the way. My floor didn't turn out as perfect as I had expected, but perhaps that's my fault for being an amateur or possibly for doing a double thickness. I'll explain below with photos.
I ordered a total of two and a half kits (so that I could do a double thick application of 20 mils per their recommendation) and on one Friday night several weeks ago I began my prep process. Here are the steps I followed in general:
- Remove contents (I didn't have much in there, since I knew I'd be doing this before "moving in" so to speak). This includes removal of the sink.
- Blow floor clean, sweep for good measure:
- Etch per Epoxy-Coat instructions. This process took around from 5-6 hours:
- After being fully satisfied with the etch job across the entire floor, I rinsed twice, pressure washed once, and let it dry thoroughly. Next up was using a paintable (non silicone) caulk to fill the hairline cracks and any holes or imperfections I found. This process probably took around 3 hours or so:
- The following day, after the caulk had dried but before application of the epoxy itself, I sanded all caulked areas with 120 grit sandpaper to remove any excess and keep the surface rough and ready. Then I did a final sweep and clean. This took around 1 hour.
- Lay out all materials for the job and check temp before starting. Divide entire area into 5 roughly equal sized sections and apply a "double batch" of epoxy to each section (roughly 120 square feet per section, the double batch was to cover 20 mils of thickness):
- Apply epoxy, flakes, and non-slip additive following Epoxy-coat instructions. This took about 6 hours total.
- Finished job.
Here are things I found out or learned the hard way:
- Their prep solution spread too quickly using a sprinkling can I bought at Home Depot - the sprayer shown in their video might be better, but even at a higher dosage per square foot, it didn't etch enough in many areas. I had to supplement with over 2 more gallons of 31% muriatic acid mixed about 50:50 with hot water to finish the etching properly. Part of my trouble here may be because my concrete was a 5000 psi mix rather than a standard garage or driveway's 3000 psi mix. I'll do the same coating in my existing attached garage sometime in the future and can update at that time if it is different.
- Dividing up the job into sections is helpful, but their "10 minutes between sections" suggestion is a little optimistic for someone who's never done this before or if it is a bit warm outside. I had a helper and we worked as fast as we could, and after trying to do 2 sections together as shown in the video, we realized it cured too quickly to get the second backroll completed properly, so at that point we began doing a section at a time.
- You can see roller marks and areas where sections meet. Part of this is probably due to my extra thick coating, but I figured it would settle out a bit better than it did. Also, trying to flake most of the section you just backrolled can be challenging - we weren't sure where to stop flaking and how long the "old" section would sit and cure before we would be able to get around to the new section that would border it, and therefore we flaked the entire section and ended up going back over the border areas with a new coat of epoxy and flakes again later. This caused some imperfections in how those border areas turned out.
- You can see some bubbling, but I'm not sure from what. It says if you have this to blow dry, but we didn't try that because it seemed as if they were closing themselves up. Only after it cured the next day did I notice that many of the bubbles "exploded" overnight and looked much worse than initially. They are not bad, mind you, but they make the floor "not smooth" in some areas.
- The non-slip additive is very, very sharp. Be careful with it. I sliced a finger open simply rubbing my hand over the newly cured surface the day after it was done. If you have young children, make sure they wear shoes and be careful of falling - you can probably get scratched up pretty good! It does definitely work as a non-slip though.
- This stuff is THICK. I want to do my other (primary) garage with it but will probably drop back to the standard 10 mil thickness in that area instead. I love how it feels and looks, but wish I didn't have the bubbles, overlapping areas, and one section that looks like it rolled out differently than the rest.
The bottom line is that I love it despite my installation errors with section overlap. The product seems to live up to its reputation, but the installation is not quite as easy as the video seems to imply, at least it wasn't for me. I spent a lot of time reading instructions, watching their video, and asking questions before I got started so I'd know what to do, and I felt like I had a good handle on the required steps, but the end result is not quite as good as I had hoped for. On the flip side, for the money I spent, the results are quite good and I feel confident that it will protect my floor for many years. For next time, I'll ask more questions to find out how I can avoid seeing the roller edges and overlap between sections and hopefully I can do a more perfect job next time.
Everyone who has seen it so far has been more impressed than I expected, so I guess to them it looks amazing. I, of course, can still see the imperfections, but it does fit the bill for a heavy use work surface, and now I can finish my compressor lines and buy a lift to get some work done on the cars.
I hope you find this helpful. Please ask any questions - I'm by no means an expert, but I know more now than I did last Friday!