Garage floors take a beating from people, cars, and equipment, and they get their fair share of stains, grease, and spilled liquid, too. A good garage floor epoxy coating stands up well to this environment and looks stunning to boot. Additionally, it does not require constant cleaning and maintenance, making it a practical garage floor surface coating.
What is a garage floor epoxy?
We have created a guide on how to choose the best garage floor epoxy, but before we give you that, we’d like to clear up some confusion over what garage floor epoxy is.
eEpoxy is not the same as paint. It is a type of resin which is suitable for many applications including bonding, insulating, sealing, and coating surfaces such as bar tops. When you mix one part epoxy resin with one part polyamine hardener, the result is epoxy coating. After a coat is applied, it goes through a curing process. The result is a polymer finish which is thick, tough, and glossy. The coating’s mechanical strength and chemical resistance are superior to other garage floor finishing options.
However, if you do a quick search on garage floor epoxies, you will most likely find 100% solids epoxy, epoxy paints, 1-part or 2-part epoxy floor systems, and epoxy paint kits. Are these all epoxies? Do they refer to the same thing? Which of these will be the best product for your garage? Our buyer’s guide will help you sort through these different epoxy products and choose the best one for you.
Buyer’s Guide to the Best Garage Floor Epoxy
Two-part 100% solids epoxy
The products in this category are made of 1 part epoxy resin and 1 part hardener, which produce a thick, solid layer after a chemical reaction. No liquid evaporates during the curing process, so the thickness of the wet coating remains the same after it dries and hardens. For this reason, this type of epoxy is referred to as 100% solids or true epoxy. It has superior resistance to abrasion, chemical reaction, and hot tire pickup. It can last up to 10 years. We recommend this type of epoxy for commercial and heavy-traffic garage floors.
What’s the catch with true epoxies? For one, they are more expensive than the other options. If you think about long-term use and cost-effectiveness, though, nothing beats true epoxies. Here’s another catch: after mixing parts 1 and 2, you will only have a 30-40-minute window to apply the mixture before it starts to cure and harden. We call this short interval the epoxy’s pot life. This means that you have to work fast. You must also have the necessary skills to perform the procedure correctly.
Two-part water-based epoxy or solvent-based epoxy
The relative difficulty of working with true epoxies created a demand for epoxies with carrier agents, either water or solvent, to make them easier to apply. These epoxy products have a lower solids percentage, thinner consistency, longer pot life, and cheaper price tag.
The average pot life of this type of floor epoxy is 1 hour, which is long enough even for DIY enthusiasts. As you would expect, this tradeoff means lower quality, a thinner protective layer, and a much shorter lifespan. This type of epoxy will work for garage floors that are not heavily used or have low traffic. We recommend it especially if you’re a fan of DIY projects (or don’t like paying someone for something you could do yourself!).
One-part epoxy paint
Products labeled as a 1-part epoxy or 1-part epoxy paint are actually paint products with premixed epoxy. This type of “epoxy coating” is not true epoxy and won’t have the protective property of the real thing.
By all means, they can be used to paint your garage floors. They will in some way add to your garage’s visual appeal and the ease of cleaning it. Just don’t expect it to offer the durability and protection of an epoxy coating. You may also need to apply a new coating every year. If you want a tough garage floor coating and one that will last many years, don’t use one-part epoxy paint kits.
Comparing epoxy products
To compare epoxy products, you will need some technical data from the manufacturer. You may find those from the product label or the manufacturer’s website. Aside from the color, percent solids composition, pot life, curing period, ease of application, and cost, you have to weigh in the following factors as well.
- Dry film thickness or DFT – the measure of the final thickness of the coating when applied and cured. Epoxies with a high percentage of solids will have high DFT, as expected. True floor epoxies have a DFT of at least 10 mils. For most 2-part 50% epoxy systems, the DFT is around 3 mils.
- Coverage per gallon – you will need to know how much epoxy to buy before embarking on the project. This info comes in handy when comparing prices because a smaller coverage means higher cost per gallon. This information is usually printed on the label and expressed in square-feet. When you have a rough concrete floor, however, the expected coverage will be significantly reduced.
Top 5 Garage Floor Epoxies – Reviewed
1. Colored Epoxies 10017 Dark Blue Epoxy Resin, 100% solids, 3-Gallon Kit
This kit from Colored Epoxies consists of three 1-gallon cans—two cans of resin and one can of hardener or curative. This epoxy coating has a DFT of 10 mils, so expect your finished product to be that thick, which is about the thickness of a sturdy business card. It is also available in a variety of colors.
It’s important to read the instructions on how to mix and apply Colored Epoxies’ epoxy coating. Power-wash the surface and allow to dry completely before applying the coat. Take note that the ratio for mixing is 2 parts resin to 1 part curative. You have to follow that ratio exactly, or you will have a problem with curing later on. The resulting mix has a pot life of 20-30 minutes. Don’t mix more than what you can apply in 20 minutes if you don’t want to end up with a solid mass of wasted epoxy.
Colored Epoxies’ product has a coverage rate of 125-170 sq ft per gallon so the whole kit will cover an area of 375-510 sq ft. Remember, however, that the specified coverage rate goes down if you paint over a rough surface. This means that you will need more paint per square foot on a coarse concrete floor.
There are several colors to choose from including the pictured color which is dark blue. You may also order custom colors from the manufacturer. For aesthetic effect, you may add decorative speckles or a metallic finish. Remember to sprinkle the flecks while the coat is still wet to ensure adhesion. For exterior projects, you will need to apply a layer of Omni Clear Coat over the epoxy coating.
It will take about 24 hours for each coat to dry, and you will need 4 or more layers to achieve the desired deep, glossy dark blue color. The first coat will be semi-transparent. It’s important to know that the coverage rate refers to the area covered per coating. So you will need 2 kits of this product for two coatings on a floor area of about 500 sq ft.
- Coverage: 125-510 sq ft
- Pot life: 20 minutes
- Variants: dark blue, beige, light beige, mongoose beige, yellow, safety yellow, red, Mexican red, green, cammo green, clear, crystal clear, dark gray, light gray, dark brown, white, black
- Protects from: impact of dropped tools, chemicals, chipping, abrasion, hot tire pickup, mold, moisture, grease, stain, and UV degradation (if coated with Colored Epoxies’ Omni clear coat).
- Ideal for: residential, commercial, industrial use
2. Epoxy-Coat Full Kit, Taupe with Beige Blend Flakes
Epoxy-Coat’s 100% solids epoxy coating is very similar to Colored Epoxies’ colored epoxy resin kit. It comes in a big plastic bucket which contains practically everything you’d need in your project. The kit includes 2 gallons of resin, 1 gallon of hardener, 1.5 lbs of beige flakes, 1 clean and prep solution, 0.5 lb of aluminum oxide non-skid additive, a pair of gloves, a mechanical mixer, a chip brush, a roller cover, a squeegee, and a measuring stick.
You will need only one coat of Epoxy-Coat to get an opaque result. The finished coating will have a DFT of 9.7 mils. One kit will adequately cover a 500-sq ft garage. If you want protection from UV degradation, you may add Epoxy-Coat’s anti-UV additive to the epoxy mix. It will protect from ambering or yellowing. If you want a slicker finish, you may add a topcoat of urethane. With Epoxy-Coat’s urethane coat, the total DFT will be 19.4 mils, which is thick.
However, Epoxy-Coat will be extremely slick when wet, so consider this aspect when you intend to use it for areas with heavy foot traffic or which are constantly wet. It would be a good idea to add anti-skid particles such as sand and flakes.
- Coverage: 500 sq ft
- Pot life: 20-30 minutes
- Variants: beige, black, blue, clear, dark gray, light gray, green, orange, red, smoke blue, tan, taupe, tile red, white, yellow
- Protects from: mildew, molds, water, chemicals, salt, oil
- Ideal for: residential, commercial, industrial use; indoor and outdoor application
3. Aerocoat High Build Epoxy Floor Coating System for 2.5-Car Garage
Aerocoat’s 2.5-car garage package includes 2 gallons of resin, 1 gallon of hardener, a 6-gallon pail, a 1-gallon mixer, 3 pairs of vinyl gloves, a chip brush, a roller, and a detailed manual of instructions. This high-build epoxy coating is self-leveling and contains 93% solids. The kit does not include flakes and anti-slip additives, but they pose no issues if you add them to the wet epoxy layer.
The pot life is less than 20 minutes, which can be frustrating if you are not aware of it. It’s like holding a ticking time bomb if you have mixed all of the components and have not made the necessary preparations for completing the rest of the job. It would also be a good idea to have at least three people working during the application phase. The key is to mix only the amount of epoxy that you can apply within that span of time.
There’s only one color immediately available, but you may request clear coats or other colors from the seller. One kit acts both as a primer and a topcoat finish. It’s ideal for unsealed concrete floors, but it can also work on tiled or coated floor. Just make sure to properly de-gloss and do the required surface preparation.
The resulting finish will be semi-glossy opaque white. Initially, you might think that you have limited options with this brand. The truth is, you can create different effects with this color. If you want a mirror-like white floor, you can first apply this product, then follow it up with Aerocoat’s clear coating within 24 hours. You’d be surprised at the showroom shine you can get. Or you may also opt for more texture by adding fine sand, glitters, or colored flakes. Aerocoat’s self-leveling property will also help to even out pocked surfaces.
- Coverage: 400-450 sq. ft.
- Pot life: 20 minutes or less
- Variants: white, other colors are also available upon request
- Protects from: moisture, hot tire pickup, abrasion, impact, and grease
- Ideal for: residential, commercial, industrial use
4. Rust-Oleum 261845 EpoxyShield Garage Floor Coating, 2 gallons, Gray
This product belongs to the second type of epoxy coating described earlier, which is the 2-part water-based type. For most people, the 20-minute (or less) pot life of most 100% solid epoxies is just not feasible. Rust-Oleum’s EpoxyShield will be a sweet compromise. You will have at least an hour before the mix starts to harden, which is ample time to work without rushing.
One kit contains 2 large cans of epoxy mix, 2 small cans of hardener, a concrete etching agent, a pack of decorative flakes, a stirrer, and instruction materials. The coverage rate for one kit is 500 sq ft, which is the average floor area of a 2-bay garage. That’s for one coating only. You’ll need at least two coats to attain a near opaque color. Garages with heavier traffic will need at least three coats for adequate protection.
This epoxy coating is available in the colors of gray and tan. If you’re concerned about toxic gases, low-VOC versions are also available in this product line. Unlike epoxies that are 100% solids, water-based epoxies undergo evaporation during the curing period and release volatile pollutants as byproducts. It’s good to know that you can opt for versions with low VOC emission.
Don’t ever think that this coating will conceal hairline concrete cracks because it won’t. You’ll have to deal with that earlier on. Use an epoxy patch that’s compatible with this brand. Each coating dries up in 12 hours, which is much faster than the previous epoxy coatings we’ve mentioned. You can apply the succeeding coats in shorter intervals and finish your project faster.
Drying, however, is not the same as curing. You may start walking on the coated surface 24-48 hours after application, but you should allow at least 3 days before bringing in the car. Since EpoxyShield is water-based, it will penetrate the concrete substrate and create a strong bond. This superior adhesion makes the coating resistant to hot tire pickup.
The fully-cured finish will be thinner than 100% solids, though not as transparent. This thin layer is preferred if you’re using anti-slip additives. Fine colored sand or vinyl chips, for instance, will not disappear in the thickness of the coating. The finished surface will be very slippery when wet, so we recommend using anti-slip additives with EpoxyShield to increase traction.
- Coverage: 500 sq. ft.
- Pot life: 1-2 hours
- Variants: gray, tan, gray low VOC, tan low VOC
- Protects from: hot tire pickup, moisture, grease, motor oil, antifreeze, and stain.
- Ideal for: residential use
5. Supercoat DecoEffects Arabian Night Epoxy Floor Coating
Supercoat’s DecoEffects epoxy coating kit comes in a big box containing almost every material you’ll need to achieve an elegant “Arabian Night” effect. One package includes 2 large cans of resin, 2 small cans of hardener, 1 large can of urethane glaze resin, 1 small can of urethane glaze hardener, anti-skid additives, reflective flakes, and a degreasing agent.
Going by its pot life of 1 hour and its type, which is 2-part water-based epoxy, DecoEffects is similar to EpoxyShield. It has 46% solids, which is usual for epoxies with carrier agents. The whole kit will be adequate for a 2-car garage of about 500 sq ft. This means one layer of the black epoxy coating and another layer of the clear urethane coating in one kit. That’s excellent coverage and amazing value for money.
DecoEffects’ epoxy coating is thicker and stickier to apply than regular paint. The urethane coating, on the other hand, is more like paint in viscosity. The epoxy layer dries up fast and will be ready for recoating after 7 hours minimum. Overall, applying the coating will be straightforward, and the result will usually be stunning.
The deep black color and the glittery accents will easily mask any imperfections if there are any. This particular variant is very forgiving to amateur painters. Though there are other attractive colors available, they might not always have the same flawless result as this Arabian Night variant.
- Coverage: < 500 sq. ft.
- Pot life: 1 hour
- Colors: Arabian night, Atlantis blue, Moroccan mosaic, Spanish red, Turkish rose.
- Protects from: moisture, peeling, blistering, auto oil, dust, grease, hydrostatic delamination
- Ideal for: residential, light commercial use
Summing up, you have two options when it comes to the best garage floor epoxy coating. If you think you can work within the 20-30 minute pot life of 100% solids floor epoxy, it will be the better option of the two. When it comes to thickness, durability, and resistance to various elements, nothing beats true epoxies. And, except for AeroCoat, the first two leading products are available in the widest range of colors, so you won’t be limited in your choice.
On the other hand, not every DIY home builder is comfortable working within the short pot life of 100% epoxy coats. If you’re more of this type, then 2-part carrier-based floor epoxies, like the last two products in this list, will work just fine. You may need to recoat every few years, but between those years, you won’t even notice the difference. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any further questions.