Robert Lamoureux: garage solutions

Question No. 1 

I have a four-car garage here in Valencia, that I’ve had for about 15 years. There are a significant number of oil stains on the floor and I’m tired of it being such a disaster. I’ve recently purchased an old car that is fixed up and I’d like to have it in a garage that looks good. I’ve researched many different products for this, and the one that sticks out is the epoxy system, but I’ve heard so much controversy over this. A friend of mine put an epoxy system under his planes at the airport and it was coming off in sheets, so he told me that this stuff is no good. I know in the past you’ve recommended these systems but I didn’t pay attention to the details, if any, that you stated. Would you mind revisiting this please, so I can get the best fix for my garage floor? 

Andy E.

Answer No. 1 

Andy, 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the two-stage epoxy systems. There is one big issue, which often is underestimated or overlooked completely, and that is the prep that is necessary for proper adhesion. I’ve seen it time and time again, where people will not go the extra mile needed to clean and prep the surface, and then are upset that the product lifts one way or another, and then they declare that the product is faulty or no good. I’ll be truthful, the prep is a lot of work, though not difficult. Concrete is porous so it soaks up the oils, grease and dirt. It is a lot of work to clean and rinse completely, but this is what is necessary for the epoxy system to stick. 

If the installer is not willing to go through the step-by-step process and sometimes repeating steps to prep the surface, I recommend not even trying or there will be a big mess, which will be harder to fix. The manufacturer’s instructions are spot-on, and as long as those are followed thoroughly, including using your judgement on if you need to repeat part or all of the process due to the amount of buildup your floor has, the system will then stick. 

The most important step in this process is to grind the surface to break down the smooth cream surface of the concrete. This is similar to what a primer does for painting. It creates a surface that the epoxy will be able to grab on to. There are installers who will perform this process and it will be pricey due to the amount of labor involved, but worth it if you are either not able or willing to go the length. 

If you have the patience needed and the ability to perform all of the steps, you’ll save yourself a considerable amount of money doing this yourself. A standup floor polisher will do the trick with a light diamond blade attached, for the grinding. You can rent these and tackle it yourself. When it comes time to rinsing, be sure to check, double check and triple check that there is no more residue. Rinse it well several times and then get down and wipe it with your hand in several areas, to check for any residue. If even a small amount is detected, repeat the wash/rinse process until you are 100% certain that it is clean. This could take days between drying and checking, so please don’t enter this project with one or two days in mind. 

Once fully clean, let it dry completely and only access it with socks on if you must. Do not introduce any dirt whatsoever. If you’re going to use the chips, I find it best to put a few holes into a Tupperware container and use that to help spread the chips evenly, when that time comes. Trying to broadcast these by hand tends to result in an uneven result so I recommend shaking them out of a container. I highly recommend using a clear coat to top the system. Be sure that you are purchasing two kits of the epoxy system and two of the clear, for enough coverage. The clear will add a great durability to the system and help with adhesion of the chips. Allow enough time per manufacturer directions for the entire system to dry. Do not lose patience in this part of the process or all of the work will have been in vain. If you aren’t handy enough or just don’t want to deal with this, let me know and I can give you a recommendation. 

Good luck.

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