Epoxy floor finishes will not only outlast any other floor finish, but they are both attractive and easy to apply. Such finishes can be applied as easily as any floor paint with only a paintbrush, roller or sponge applicator. Epoxy floor materials come in many different finishes -- solid-colored or patterned -- to suit your tastes. Basically, there are three types: 100 percent epoxies, water-based epoxies or solvent-based epoxies.
The 100 percent epoxies are the most expensive and the most durable but also the hardest to apply. These epoxies are best left to the professionals. The solvent-based epoxies are much easier to apply while still thick enough to cover most floor imperfections. Solvent-based epoxies contain 40 percent to 69 percent epoxies. This type requires the use of respirator masks, rubber gloves and other protective gear when applying it in enclosed areas. Follow the safety precautions outlined in the manufacturer's instructions. The water-based epoxies are the cheapest, the least durable and do not cover imperfections well.
The cost of the kits found at home centers, hardware stores and paint stores span from under $50 to over $6,000 at the time of publication. The cost of a kit hinges on two major factors: the type of epoxy and the square footage of your project area. For example, kits designed to do a single-car garage floor, an area of approximately 250 square feet, can cost between $750 to $3,000. The cost of doing a two-car garage floor, an area of about 500 square feet, can cost between $1,200 and $6,000. The upside is that a properly installed and properly cared for epoxy finish will last 25 to 40 years.
The key to applying an epoxy floor finish is to make sure you are applying it to a moisture-free surface. When using an epoxy finish on a garage floor or basement floor, the first thing that you need to do is test the floor for moisture. Buy a test kit from the home center and follow the instructions that come with the kit. Most test kits simply require you to tape a test patch to the floor, wait 48 to 72 hours before removing it and check for wetness on the underside of the patch. If moisture is detected, you will have to deal with the source of the moisture and then seal the floor before applying the epoxy finish.
Applying the Finish
Depending on the kit you buy, the application procedure may vary slightly, so follow the manufacturer's instructions. First, make sure the floor is clean, free of all dirt, oil spots and grease. Most kits include an acid wash for this purpose. When using an acid wash, always wear eye protection, rubber gloves and boots. Also, make sure that you rinse the floor thoroughly with water before beginning to apply the epoxy. For the best results, you will need to apply a base coat and at least two finish coats. If you are installing a kit that includes texture materials, install the texture materials during the first of the two finish coats. Allow at least 24 hours between coats.
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