It’s fair to say that I have spent a lot of time in my home 12x7m garage. More to the point, on my garage floor! This is why I chose to epoxy flake my garage turned workshop.
I’ll dive into the details on my big move back home in another post. For now I want to explain how I gave my garage a complete overhaul starting with the floor.
3 years ago I had NuLook Floors lay down an epoxy flake floor in my Deakin University rental space. I spent a lot of time researching floor coverings. Ultimately deciding that this would be the best finish for my needs.
It has been the most durable and good looking floor I have ever had the pleasure of working on. After 3 years of wear and tear I can tell you epoxy flake is rock hard! I had real trouble scratching it. Fuel, acids and brake fluid didn’t harm it. It masks any dirt or imperfections leaving your floor looking perfect even when it isn’t. Although the flake system does make it hard to find dropped bolts.
In contrast to this, the home garage floor was ageing rapidly. The paint that was applied ten years ago had either worn off or evaporated due to fuel and oil spills.
If there was ever a time to rectify this it was now. Moving back home meant that I will be spending more time than ever in my garage. It needed to be light and uniform in appearance for the filming of my Fabrication Courses and projects.
After moving everything out the work could begin. Before we go too far into this DIY project I’d like to mention that anyone can do this. Its not difficult you just need to be prepared and have a few days up your sleeve to do it. Let’s get in to the details and see how it all unfolded.
STEP 1 Grinding.
Concrete is porous meaning that if it isn’t sealed then it will soak up anything that gets spilled on it. In an automotive application this means oils and fluids that generally repel paint. We need to make sure we have a clean surface to add our epoxy to. For clean concrete you can acid wash it to make sure its ready for this process. For more well used and previously painted surfaces like mine its best to grind the surface and start fresh.
I hired a concrete grinder from my local Kennards Hire, for $500 a day. It took me less than a day to complete the grinding process. Concrete dust is one of the worst substances. Its super important that you use a good vacuum system attached to the grinder. I had a lot of dust being pushed out from the grinder but after constant filter cleans (just pop the lid and give it a hit) I managed to keep the dust down and with a respirator on was able to get it completed without too much fuss.
Moving in a side to side motion and making sure your staying level seemed to work well. I also took the chance to remove some high spots that made pushing the cars into the garage a little difficult at times. The big diameter of the grinder didn’t get in everywhere so I had a small 4″ grinder fitted with a masonry grinding disk that cleaned up any areas the big grinder couldn’t. You want a nice clean level surface that is free of any oils or imperfections and one of the great things about doing this yourself is that you can spend some extra time getting a little pedantic on imperfections that will really lift the overall finish of the floor.
STEP 2 Sweeping and cleaning.
I mentioned concrete dust was a pain, I cant emphasis this enough. Before taking the vacuum back to Kennards Hire I ran around all the corners, expansion slots and any other areas to try and remove the bulk of this stuff. Once I was happy with it I swept it all a number of times and then wiped the whole floor down with a damp rag making sure to change the water a few times as it was filling up fast with concrete.
Once this was complete I went around the walls and masked up any areas that I didnt want the roller to contact. This speeds up the cutting in process and helps keep the garage walls paint free.
STEP 3 Getting your products ready.
This isn’t a sponsored post in anyway. I looked into online sellers of epoxy flake floor kits and found a company called Shimicoat. I sent them an email and got a quick reply with assurances their products would be perfect for my floor size and application. Below is my order sheet.
|Description||Quantity||Unit Price||GST||Amount AUD|
|Premium Tinted Epoxy 20Lt Kit|
Neutral Grey N23
|Vinyl Flakes 5Kg Box|
In Client Choice of Blend & Design
|UVthane Polyurethane Clear Topcoat 12.8Lt Kit||1.00||399.00||10%||399.00|
|Installation Instruction and training modules shall be provided once confirmed.|
Free Shipping Australia-Wide
Free Transit Insurance.
Relevant brochures shall be provided by email.
|EpoDil Epoxy Diluent & Thinner|
The tinted epoxy is the base coat, the neutral grey is the perfect colour for me. The flakes are availiable in many different colours but I love the mix of white, grey and black called GRAVEL. I find this really works well with the Neutral grey basecoat (its like my PS13 colourway). The topcoat is called UVthane and its the clear protectant that covers the flakes and finishes the floor. I will mention later in this post that I believe this was not enough for my application. I would much prefer to have 15-17 litres of this stuff.
Before starting the application process I filled a lot of my cracks with concrete crack filler. This saves your basecoat and clear being wasted and I think this is an important process to undertake. However, I’m not sure the product I used was the best for this. If I did it again I would do a little more research into it.
I picked up a 270mm epoxy roller and deep tray with an extension pole. This is important as you want to be able to span a fair distance with your strokes. You will also need a drill operated mixing attachment. You want to work fast with epoxy and this speeds up the mixing process which can get tiring if you are doing it manually. Having 2 measuring jugs (one for part A and one for part B) and a large bucket helps here too.
STEP 4 The base coat and flake application.
Like any painting jobs the majority of work is in the preparation. The actual application was the fun part!
This isn’t a one man job. Be prepared and have a friend on the job with you. You should only need them for an hour or two depending on the garage size. This part began with the mixing. Spend 3-5 minutes on the drill bringing both parts of the Epoxy base coat together. I did this in 4 seperate batches to give myself time. Essentially breaking up the garage into 4 and repeating each step as I went through.
Once the basecoat is mixed get one person cutting into the edges of the garage with a brush and another on the roller. Once the cutting in is complete put the brush down and start the application of the flakes. Sprinkle these around the floor and make sure there is full coverage of basecoat epoxy on the concrete for these to stick too. I opted for whats known as full broadcast. This is complete flake coverage and it used 6 bags. I still made sure I was throwing them out evenly and had the 6 bags divided into 4 to match the batches I was producing. By working from the back of the garage to the door took around 2-3 hours. Once it was complete I left it to dry overnight.
STEP 5 Flake Removal.
20 hours later I was able to softly walk on the surface again. This is a nervous moment but if your mixing was good your floor will be dry.
Now its time to remove the excess flakes. This is where I possibly could have improved on my application. I blew off the excess flakes with an air blower and then swept them up into a bag. After some advice from the professionals I ran the back of a broom over the flakes in all angles. This dislodges any of the partially attached flakes and makes for a smoother surface that uses less topcoat. If I had my time again I would spend another two hours doing this to make sure they are removed. I’ll be honest, I did patch up a few areas with a small brush of leftover basecoat and a sprinkle of flakes, which isnt great! However its better than a bald patch with no flakes.
STEP 6 Top Coat Clear.
Once you are confident that all the flakes are removed (along with your masking tape around the corners) its time to mix up your topcoat. Using the same drill operated mixer we can join part A with part B again. Dividing this up into 4 different batches to give us a little more time. Its application is with an epoxy roller. It can be very difficult to know where you have covered and where you have not. I suggest some type of strong light such as a torch be used to see a reflection. Like I said earlier I would opt for more top coat clear than the 12L I had as I felt it was a little thin. Like the basecoat I moved from the back of the garage to the door and was cutting in while another person was rolling.
STEP 7 Second Clear Coat.
Be patient, give it around 16 hours to cure and set. It should look amazing at this point but you might not be finished. I found that I had missed some sections. These were small but I felt like I needed to have more clear on areas as they were rough and flakes were on the surface meaning that dirt and oils would group in these areas and not be easily wiped up. I needed a second coat of top coat clear which you may not have bargained for. Again if I had more topcoat clear or had of removed the flakes a little better this might not have been an issue and 1 coat would have been fine, but a second coat wont hurt and this can be done in the same fashion as the first.
STEP 8 Let it cure.
After all this work it would be a real shame to damage the floor before it cures. I left mine 24 hours before stepping foot on it. I did a few small jobs in the garage but didn’t put any wheels or weight on it for 48 hours. I am impatient at the best of times so I started slowly moving everything back in after 3 days. Most people say 1 to 2 weeks is the minimum that you should wait till putting cars on it but I found 5 days was ample and this was due to the hot summer weather.
With the floor now complete its best to try and limit the UV light on the surface as it can yellow the topcoat. Also limit the contact the tyres have with the floor as it can sometimes stain the topcoat (over long periods of time). Apart from that its bulletproof and a surface that you wont regret putting down.
How much did all this cost? all in all I was able to achieve this epoxy floor for a little over $2,500 AUD. Of course its a lot more expensive than just painting it but if you’re fabricating and working in your garage frequently then you need a hard wearing surface and this is the best you can buy.
This video puts all these details into action and shows you the process. Coming up in the next post we will dive in to the details around the garage fit-out, but I am super happy that the floor is complete and I don’t have to deal with flaking paint or concrete dust ever again.