Whether you’ve just built a brand new shop or are working in your 60-year old garage, a bare concrete floor has issues. While appearance is often the first thought, you should also be concerned with things like oil absorption and traction. When oil is spilled or dripped on a bare concrete floor, it stains. Any water that hits that oily area won’t absorb into the floor and becomes a slip hazard. Dirt can also be a problem; it can be a pain to remove from porous concrete, plus it acts an abrasive, damaging the floor surface.
You can cover new concrete with a barrier/sealer coating, but it eventually wears off and cannot prevent oil staining. The only real solution is an epoxy floor coating.
I recently built a new studio for our shop, Red Dirt Rodz, including a fresh concrete floor. Instead of spending $400 on ordinary sealer, we decided to use UCoat It epoxy floor coating. OnAllCylinders invited me to write about my experience with applying UCoat It.
We started with three UCoatIt Floor Coating Kits. Each kit covers about 576 square feet, and since our shop floor is 1,500 square feet, three kits were enough. It’s always best to order an extra kit to insure you have enough to finish the job.
Each UCoat It Floor Coating Kit includes the following:
- Two gallons of epoxy base color
- Two quarts epoxy activator
- Part C co-plastimer
- UTex anti-slip additive
- Nine-inch roller and two roller covers
- Two 2-inch trim brushes
- Five-gallon mixing bucket
- Two graduated stir sticks
- Rubber gloves and safety glasses
- How-to DVD and instruction data guide
- Drop cloth/clean up bag
Floor coating kits with a gloss finish and a vinyl flake additive are available, but we kept it simple with a light semi-gloss gray.
Swabbing the Deck
Using the UCoat It system is easy, but there are some rules you need to follow. All concrete surfaces must be clean and free from any oil. The concrete must be able to absorb water without beading up—spray down the floor and look for any beading water. If you find a spot where the water beads up, it must be cleaned with a quality degreaser. If you have a large area, you might want to consider a surface grinder. UCoat It makes washes and acids to clean your concrete if you need these products.
New concrete floors need 45 days to fully cure. If you coat the floor too soon, it can cause all kinds of problems, so be patient. All concrete, new or old, must be neutralized by washing it twice with acid before applying the coating. Muriatic acid and water in a 10:1 mix (10 parts water, one part acid) is perfect. We mixed a half-gallon of acid with 4.5 gallons of water in the supplied UCoat It bucket, which covers 500 square feet of floor. The acid must be poured over the floor, scrubbed with a stiff bristle broom, and rinsed twice (rinse the final wash 2-3 times). Once you start the acid wash, you can’t stop the process.
The epoxy must be applied after the final wash, but before the concrete dries. The epoxy needs a damp surface to help bond to the concrete; if the surface dries out, you can mist it with a water hose to keep it damp.
All concrete coatings will be slippery when wet. UCoat It supplies UTex, an aluminum aggregate, to provide surface traction. Sprinkle it on the concrete as you apply the first base, or bond coat. Don’t just mix the aggregate with the epoxy, or it will sink to the bottom of the bucket and you will get none on the floor.
We found that a spice shaker with large holes works well. You don’t have to apply the UTex very heavily—each kit comes with enough to cover 1,000 square feet. If you use too much UTex, sweeping the floor will be a real pain. We found this out the hard way and ended up with a few heavy spots that catch dirt. Removing UTex from the cured epoxy is not fun, so be conservative.
The epoxy is applied with paint rollers. The edges of the walls should be taped off and brush-coated. Having two or three people help with the process makes it go much faster; one or two to brush and one to roll. Do not pour the epoxy onto the floor and attempt to roll it out. It won’t cover as much floor as it should, plus you’ll end up with lumps on the floor. Mix only as much epoxy as you can roll out in about an hour, otherwise you risk wasting material. The epoxy has a pot life of up to 60 minutes; it can be as short as 10 to 15 minutes in high heat/high humidity conditions.
The first bond coat must cure for six to12 hours before the final coat can be rolled on. Don’t wait too long to apply the last coat; if it is not applied in 48 hours, the bond coat will close and the floor will have to be sanded to provide enough ‘bite’ for the final coat.
We spent about two hours washing the shop floor the evening before applying the UCoat It Floor Coating. Applying the epoxy took about a day, including allowing the bond coat to cure for eight hours during the hottest part of the day. The results are just what we hoped for—a great looking floor with excellent slip resistance. We have had multiple projects in the shop since finishing the floor. We have spilled oil, fuel, and antifreeze on the coating and have seen no adverse effects. It’s everything you can want in a garage floor coating!