When it comes to garage floor coatings, you get what you pay for. Polyurea is more expensive per square foot, but its durability is unmatched and will last you decades before it ever needs repairing or a new coat. The same is true with an industrial grade epoxy, albeit it’s not as strong as polyurea. Conversely, you can pay a couple hundred dollars for an epoxy DIY kit with all of the supplies you need and you can expect your floor to peel up under your vehicle’s tires after a few months.
So, you may ask, what are the differences between professional garage floor coatings and epoxy floor kits in terms of quality?
Epoxy Coating Quality – Strength, Dry Time, and Shine
So, what’s the secret sauce for making the coatings so high quality? For the most part, it’s the percentage of solids in the coating and proper floor preparation.
Epoxy kits are approximately 30% solids and the rest is water. Since it’s so heavily water-based, the DIY coatings damage easily, show imperfections, take longer to dry, and so on because the coat is thin and delicate. That’s just as good water will get. A professional epoxy job will have 90% to 100% solid content, which is what makes the formula strong.
In order for epoxy to adhere, the floor surface needs to be evened out and cleaned. Kits provide an acid wash solution. These those normally aren’t effective at removing most stains and imperfections – let alone repair concrete damage. Moisture from acid washes can also make the epoxy coating become porous and open up a wave of new problems.
A truly professional job does not use an acid wash. The floor is inspected, cracks are filled, damages are repaired, and then the concrete is diamond-grinded. This way, you will have a clean slate of concrete to work with that practically guarantees coating adhesion.
Application can be different as well. Some kits only use a base coat. This is akin to using 1 coat of paint on an unpainted wall – you need primer and 2 coats. Similarly, professional epoxy uses a base coat and a clear top coat to seal and protect the decorative chips and colored base coat.
The difficulty of doing it yourself comes down to how comfortable you are with working with chemicals, painting the floor, and maybe operating heavy equipment if you so choose. Assuming you’ve spent sufficient time researching all of the materials required and steps involved, the biggest challenge comes down to time required. Moving everything out of the garage, prepping the concrete, and applying each coat take hours of labor time and even longer periods of waiting for the coating to dry. It’s a process that can stretch up to a week. Lack of experience in prepping concrete can also make the final result ugly, which translates into more time re-doing the job.
According to Angie’s List based on their member data, a contractor epoxy flooring job costs an average $2,300. The grade of epoxy or polyurea will affect the price, so the range is anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500. That is for a floor coating with will last over 15 years.
A 2-car garage kit can cost as low as $100 to $150, but with all the materials you will need for application, you will be paying anywhere from $250 to $500 for the first application. If you’re planning on trying to match contractor-grade quality with a cheap kit (normally doesn’t work well), you’ll need to spend $150 re-coating your floor each year.
*Angie’s List averages based on provided member data. This does not reflect average prices for garage flooring by White Rabbit.
**Rough price of popular epoxy kit brand – $150, plus estimated cost of other project materials not included in kit.
This makes the cost of DIY over a 15-year period (not including price fluctuations, inflation, etc.) roughly $2,600. The Angie’s List contactor average is $2,300, with potential to be cheaper than that. If the professional job ends up lasting longer than 15 or 20 years, then you’re looking at well over $1,000 saved.
Not only does DIY cost more, but it’s also very time-consuming. By choosing a professional, you will likely save a decent chunk of money, an incredible amount of time, and get a better floor.