Garage floor coating is one of the best choices you can make when upgrading a concrete-slab garage. Most garages in Denver are built on a concrete slab that is beautiful at first but degrades over time. Concrete slabs crack, stain, and wear away, especially if exposed to Denver temperature changes. Epoxy floor coating can preempt and/or repair a garage floor while also making it waterproof, washable, and safe. Thick enough, an epoxy garage floor is even a bit bouncy and better for walking on. Further, there are two ways to achieve garage floor coating for your Denver home: DIY garage floor coating and professional installation. Interestingly, there are significant differences between the two methods. Unlike other projects, the final result of DIY vs professional varies in thickness, appearance, and durability. What causes these differing results is the difference in materials and methods between DIY and professional coating.
The Difference Between DIY Garage Floor Coating and Professional Installation
DIY garage floor coating is done from a box kit. The kit has enough epoxy base to coat a two-car garage with a total floor coating of about 5 mils or 0.005 of an inch. It is poured and smoothed by hand and can be lightly coated in vinyl chips for traction and appearance.
Professional garage floor coating is much thicker, at about 15 to 30 mils or three to six times thicker than a DIY kit. This is because the professional team brings and pours enough epoxy to fill and re-coat the space. Then, they apply the sealant. Professional installation usually involves industrial cleaning of the concrete with team-owned equipment while DIY kits rely on mild acid etching to prepare the concrete for installation.
Between these differences in installation methods lies the vast differences in performance, experience, and long-term appearance of your garage floor coating.
Let’s dive into each categorical difference step by step.
Concrete Preparation for Floor Coating
One of the most important differences between DIY and professional garage floor coating is how the original concrete floor is prepared. Ideally, your epoxy layers will adhere perfectly to a clean yet porous slab of concrete. Professional teams achieve this with a floor-built diamond grinder. This is a diamond-chipped grinder that grinds off the top layer of concrete and leaves a rough exposed surface. It’s ideal for removing smooth, painted, finished, and contaminated concrete for a cleaner and more tightly bonded epoxy finish. If diamond grinding isn’t used, then a machine that fires tiny shot, called a shot-blaster, at the ground will be.
Denver’s DIY homeowners usually don’t have the equipment to do a mechanical etch so they must rely on a chemical etch using acid Acid etching uses a mild industrial acid that can dissolve – and therefore clean – the top layer of concrete. It leaves the concrete slightly more porous than before, but not professionally roughened as with a coating team installation.
Precision Application of Epoxy Layers
The next difference in your final floor result is the skill with which epoxy is layered. Applying epoxy correctly to the floor is more like creating a new concrete slab than it is like applying a paint roller. The layers are squeegeed and back-rolled to make them smooth. It is important that the epoxy floor coating achieve a smooth and even coating. The layering must be flat, level, and carefully smoothed out.
Professional teams are far more likely to have the learned skills and industrial equipment to apply an even coating of epoxy to your garage floor. DIY installations can result in a high level of smoothness based on the homeowner’s precision. However, anyone sees the overall difference in quality. Practice makes perfect and you can guarantee that professional garage floor coating teams have been through that practice many times before.
Installation Times for DIY Garage Floor Coating vs Professional
The amount of time it takes to install your floor also varies by method. A professional team can install an epoxy floor in five to eight hours. Often, the job takes over two days to properly prepare and layer the floor area. DIY installation may consume your time, as you don’t have the efficient experience of a floor coating team and will need to figure out the process as you go. This can take up a whole weekend or even longer.
Once the epoxy is set, both DIY and professional floors will need about 7 days to fully cure and at least 2 before the floor is walked on by people or pets.
Thickness of Coating and Sealant
The second most important difference between DIY and professional garage floor coating is thickness. Consider the experiential and durability gap between an epoxy floor of 5 mils versus one of 15 to 30 mils in depth. DIY garage floor coating comes in two-car garage sets, ready to apply. However, there is not enough coating to significantly change the level or deepen the thickness of the garage floor. You will get about two layers of epoxy over a two-car area per kit. Applying one kit to a one-car garage gets you some thickness but the amount is still limited.
In comparison, professional garage floor installation has no limit on the amount of epoxy they use. The team applies as much filler and level epoxy coating as necessary to fully cover your garage. Professional floor coatings vary between 15 to 30 mils deep, giving it a nice rubbery bounce and fatigue-resistance beneath your feet. DIY garage coating is usually around 5 mils in thickness with very little bounce.
Durability and Long-Term Behavior
DIY floor coating tends to last between one and five years, while professional floor coating can last upwards of twenty. Two factors play into the durability and long-term appearance of your garage floor coating. First, how well did the first layer of the epoxy bond to the concrete? A rough, clean surface is ideal for bonding because it allows the epoxy to seep unhindered into the porous surface of the cardboard and bond tightly. The thickness of the floor determines its durability against impacts and scratches. The flakes or chips distributed over the surface will determine how clearly small flaws show on the floor and provide some traction for the smooth and moppable surface.
Because of these factors, it’s easy to understand why DIY garage floor coatings have a drastically lower lifespan. Many Denver homeowners have reported that their DIY coating looks good for the first two or three years. But after this, the coating can begin to peel or delaminate away from the original concrete. This is due to the concrete being too smooth and preventing a solid bond when the epoxy was first installed. The thin layer means there is very little margin for error, and the likelihood of separation is higher.
The professional coating lasts more than 20 years after installation because grinding or shot blasting amplifies the bond with the concrete before installation. The thickness of the epoxy also aids the long-term durability of the floor installation.
The durability of a garage floor coating matters because you must fully remove the previous epoxy to reinstall.
Cost per Square Foot
Of course, the primary reason people choose DIY floor coating over professional coating is the difference in price. You can have two to five years of multipurpose garage floor coating for somewhere between $100 and $500 for a two-car garage kit.
Alternately, you can choose our lifetime warranty coating for between 2,000 and $4,000 for a two-car garage. The investment and reward scale for each project are the true differences between DIY and professional installation. If you have a few thousand to spend on your home renovation, then professionally installed epoxy floors work better. Many Denver homeowners, however, are looking for a quick home improvement project and enjoy the budget for a shorter garage floor lifespan.
Appearance and Traction Materials
Last but not least, your garage floor will look different depending on whether you choose DIY or professional installation. In a DIY kit, the base color is predetermined – usually gray or brown – with a bag of nylon chips or flakes. The chips add some degree of traction and make the floor more decorative. However, their main purpose is to mask the minor imperfections native to a poured resin floor. Swirls, tiny bubbles, and minor ripples in the surface are marked by the irregular appearance of the scattered flakes. In the future, small scratches and scuffs will also be masked. Due to a thin distribution of the flakes – necessary with a limited supply – your DIY floor is also likely to be more slippery.
Professional floor coating gives you a far greater choice of color and chips. You can choose from a wider selection of base colors for your epoxy and hand-pick your vinyl floor chips. Denver homeowners can also ask the floor coating team to use quartz aggregate (gravel) for a shiny rock-embedded look and traction instead. This puts both the appearance of your floor and its safety in your hands.
In addition, a floor coating service has a far greater supply of the traction chips you choose and expert technique in applying them. This means thicker wall-to-wall flake coverage with even distribution and plenty of traction added to the final texture. Your floors will be smooth but not slippery and much more decorative than a DIY kit.
Schedule Your Professional Garage Floor Coating
Are you contemplating the benefits of epoxy garage floor coating for your Denver? The improved appearance, insulation, and indoor-outdoor quality are enough to sway any homeowner. Top this with the fact that well-installed epoxy can effectively repair a cracked concrete slab and it’s easy to see why garage floor coatings are a popular home improvement choice. To consult on your Denver garage floor coating plans and get a free estimate, contact us today. Our epoxy professionals will help you determine the best floor solution, color, and installation.