The Truth About DIY Epoxy Floors

Our garage floor is finally done and I’m so relieved that this project is finally over! 

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I feel like this was the longest project ever, but most of the time was spent waiting for the epoxy kits to be delivered. As a quick refresher, we planned to makeover the garage for the spring One Room Challenge, but weren’t able to finish in time because of this floor project. The first pair of epoxy kits from Home Depot were damaged in transit and never made it to our doorstep. I reordered the kits from Wal-Mart and those actually got delivered…but one was damaged. So, we took that one back to the store and I reordered another kit. Eventually that one was delivered in one piece, but by then the challenge was over. We had family visiting the next weekend and were both sick the following weekend, so the floor project that was planned for the end of April didn’t get started until the end of May.

Before I start rambling about the process, let’s look at some before/after pictures. The before picture is where we left off at the end of the One Room Challenge and the after is as of two days ago.

Isn’t it a huge change! It looks (and is) so much cleaner in there now. We’re both really happy with how the floor turned out and we really hope it holds up well.

I’m not going to share a step by step tutorial for this project. There are already some really good videos and guides out there to watch/read if you want to epoxy your floors. Today I just want to share my honest opinion about taking on this project, plus share a few tips that we found to be helpful.

Oh, but first let’s talk about the products that we used and why we picked them. For the floor we used Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield Professional in Silver Gray plus the Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield Clear Finish. One of my friends did this project last summer and those were the products that he recommended. He’s had no issues with his floors for the past year, so we felt good about following his suggestions. We also did a lot of research/read a lot of reviews about the regular EpoxyShield kit (water based) vs. the professional one (solvent based). The professional kit is a little more expensive and not available in stores, but from what we read, it sounded like it would hold up better in the long run. For us, it was worth the extra money and time/effort getting the product shipped to us.

OK, now let’s get into the meat of this post. Going into the project I thought it was going to be fairly easy and inexpensive. I even pinned a few posts that say in big letters “Easy Garage Makeover” or “Easy Garage Floor Coating”. Once we started doing more research and pricing out all of the supplies…yeah, it’s not easy or inexpensive.

Truth: It’s Time Consuming

This is not a quick and easy project. You need one day to prep the floors and then you have to wait at least a day for them to fully dry. Then you paint the first coat, wait a day to paint the second coat, and then wait another day to put of the final gloss coat. Finally you have to wait three days for it to cure. You can walk on the floors after like 12-16 hours, but no heavy traffic or driving until it’s fully cured.

I’m glad that we ended up doing this project over a long holiday weekend. We spent Saturday prepping the floors (degreaser, chemical etch, and rinsing), Sunday we painted the first coat, and Monday we painted the second coat plus the decorative chips. By Tuesday we were exhausted and we didn’t end up doing the gloss coat until Friday night.

So make sure you set aside a full weekend plus a couple week days for this project. You can’t do it over two separate weekends. The instructions for the clear coat state that it must be applied within five days of the epoxy coat or you have to sand before applying. Sanding sucks, so do it within five days.

(first coat)

Truth: It’s Expensive

Before I really started researching this project I thought it was going to cost about $200. I figured the kit was about $100 plus maybe another $100 for the rest of the supplies. Yeah, I was WAY off. I haven’t added up all of my receipts, but I think it ended up costing over $400.

Most of the tutorials I read from bloggers did not mention needing to buy more than one kit or doing a second coat or clear coat. One of them has pictures of just one kit, but when you read through the comments they actually used 9 of them! Of course that’s more than your average garage would need, but if you have a 2 car garage, I would plan on buying two kits in order to do two coats. I would also recommend adding the clear coat. It’s an extra hundred dollars, but it’s totally worth it in my opinion. It makes everything smoother (easier to clean) and protects the color flakes from peeling and getting dirty. You can also mix in the anti-slip beads that’ll keep it from being so slippery when wet.

Each kit is about $100 plus another $100 for the clear coat, so we’re already at $300 for this project. You’ll also need to purchase degreaser, concrete etch, brushes/rollers/buckets that you can trash after each use, hard bristle brooms, and plus other supplies that will probably push your total over the $400 mark. I don’t say this to discourage you, I just don’t want anyone to be surprised how much it actually costs when you start pricing everything out.

(second coat)

And with that, let’s move on to tips/notes about this project. The biggest tip (actually it’s a must) is teamwork. If you are doing a two-car garage or larger, you need two people. Depending on the temperature, you only have a certain amount of time to use the epoxy once it’s mixed. We did our floors in late May (and we live in Phoenix), so as you can guess, it was really hot outside so we had less than 2 hours of epoxy pot life. Honestly, we cut it close on both coats and you could feel the difference in the epoxy as time went on. There’s no way we could have finished in time with just one of us.

Our second tip is all about prep. As much as we all hate prep work, it’s SO important for this project. To ensure proper adhesion and no hot tire pickup, you have to prep your concrete as instructed. We watched lots of videos and read the instructions carefully to make sure we properly prepped the surface. You’ll also want to fill in any cracks and caulk any gaps. The seams in our garage floor were really deep, so we caulked all of the seams. We didn’t fill them completely, but enough to make them easier to paint over. We have a couple small chunks missing in our floor and we didn’t fill them, but I wish we would have. I didn’t think they’d be that noticeable and they really aren’t, but it would have looked better overall. 

(after cleaning)

The next tip is all about the color flakes. They’re listed as optional, but I think that they’re a must. They hide a lot of imperfections in the floor and epoxy. The trick is to not obsess over making them look perfect - it’s not going to happen. Just try to sprinkle them as evenly as possible throughout. We used a drink shaker to sprinkle ours, but a lot of people just toss theirs into the air. The trick is to do small handfuls and throw them high so they have time to spread out and don’t just fall in a clump. We added quite a bit of chips and ended up with two full bags leftover, so don’t worry about not having enough.

Lastly, follow the instructions provided with the kit. All of the videos and tips online are helpful, but you should stick with the provided instructions for exact information. Like I said above, the instructions specify certain timeframes for each step and they need to be followed.

If you’ve been planning on trying this project, I hope I didn’t just scare you off. It’s totally doable and I’d encourage you to try it if you’ve been thinking about it. I just want to set realistic expectations. I mentioned above that it’s expensive, but it’s definitely not as expensive as hiring someone to do it for you. We saw a coupon in an ad that advertised $899 for one color for a 2-car garage, so we saved at least $500 doing it ourselves (I don’t think that add included the clear coat)!

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  1. This is beautiful! Wow- your before looks waaaaay better than mine. But I'd love to do this with my garage!

  2. My mom has epoxy floors that are 40 years old, and they are still in great shape. However, after your review, I can see it is not the type of project I would do as a DIY. I do love the finished product, though. I'm glad you are happy with the results!

  3. This is so insightful! Thanks for giving all the details! I was thinking of doing a similar project

  4. We were thinking about doing it in our own garage. Thanks for the tips I will really help making our decision. The finale result is awesome btw!

  5. Congrats on a job well done. The garage floor looks squeaky clean and shiny. It seems like a lot of work but is kinda fun too. In India , we just get folks to do stuff for us, so this DIY looks an awesome option to me !

  6. HI, did you paint around the water heater or did you lift it and paint under?

    1. We just painted around the water heater, but now I wish we would have painted under too. We recently had to replace our water heater and per code they can't be on the floor so now it's on a stand and you can see the unpainted circle...

  7. My brother has epoxy floors that are 50 years of age, and they are as yet fit as a fiddle. Nonetheless, after your audit, I can see it isn't the kind of undertaking I would do as a DIY. I do adore the completed item, however. I'm happy you are content with the outcomes!


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