Upgrade your garage, business or workshop floor with a shiny coat of epoxy floor finish. Epoxy is a hard plastic coating made from epoxy resin and polyamine hardeners that is used to seal and protect your floor, although some people choose to apply it for the aesthetic appeal alone. Epoxy can be applied directly over the top of your existing concrete floor, making it an easy and affordable option for upgrading an existing setup. After a two-step application and drying process, the liquid epoxy becomes a solid that is known for its high shine, durability and resistance to corrosion.
Epoxy floors are especially popular for use in home garages to prevent salt damage and the wear and tear of winter driving from deteriorating the cement floor. Business owners with showrooms love epoxy floors for the beauty of their high-gloss finish. Mechanics and other spill-prone workers appreciate an epoxy floor's resilience and resistance to oil and chemical drips in a workshop. The shine of epoxy also brightens up a room, with its reflective surface providing an added bonus in workrooms or shadowy garages. Another reason epoxy floors are so popular is that they are easy to clean. Unlike concrete, whose minute cracks and crevices can hide dirt, epoxy has a sleek finish that you can sweep or wipe down with ease. In home garages, this smooth, clean surface also helps prevent dust and dirt from being tracked into the home.
While you can buy epoxy coatings in most hardware stores, applying epoxy is a messy and smelly project that is best left to the professionals. Hiring an epoxy flooring specialist often costs only a small fraction more than doing it yourself, because professionals know exactly how much coating you need and have the proper tools to prepare the concrete floor and apply the epoxy coatings. They also have equipment that can speed the application and drying process.
The cost to finish your floor with epoxy depends on several variables. Your geographic region will affect labor and business overhead costs, which in turn affects how much you pay to have your floor finished. Other factors include the current condition of your floor, the floor's square footage, and any color, decorative chips or anti-skid elements you choose to include. The cost estimates here reflect professional-grade, 100 percent epoxy floor finishes. If you're ready to up your game with an epoxy garage floor or other concrete floor, here are the cost factors to consider.
Condition of the concrete floor
The current condition of the concrete floor is a major factor in how much it will cost to finish it with epoxy, says Sonny Nuculovic of NSI Epoxy in Waterford, Michigan. Before a shiny new layer of epoxy can be applied, your concrete surface needs to be entirely clean and smooth. The amount of work required to prepare the site for application will affect your cost per square foot. To prepare floors, NSI Epoxy removes existing dirt, oil and grease with a specialized diamond-grinding technique that ensures proper adhesion and a quality finish. They then vacuum the concrete with dustless HEPA equipment and blow out all dust and debris before patching cracks with 100 percent solid epoxy. Additional work that may be required for floor prep include previous epoxy floor coating removal; glue removal; concrete grinding; VCT and mastic removal; crack filling; control joint sealant application; shot-blasting; and more. These varying conditions are the reason why your 400-square-foot garage may cost more to epoxy-coat than your neighbor's identically sized garage. Here are three situations that show how these factors affect application cost:
- The concrete is in fair shape and nothing beyond standard cleaning is needed to prep the floor for the epoxy application. This scenario is ideal because it costs the least.
- The concrete has never been sealed, it's torn up by salt, and there's a lot of wear and tear. This situation will cost more because contractors need more time and materials to fill the cracks and pits.
- At some point, the customer did a DIY application of water-based epoxy from a big box store and now it's peeling. Contractors will first remove that epoxy floor coating and then grind down the concrete to prep it for primer. The extra labor will add to the overall cost.
- The lesson here, says Nuculovic of NSI Epoxy: Stay away from water-based epoxy — it will fail within a short period of time. Pros use 100 percent industrial-strength epoxy that lasts.
The size of the floor to be finished with epoxy directly affects the overall project cost. The larger the floor, the higher the total cost, but the price per square foot usually drops for larger spaces. NSI Epoxy mostly finishes two- or two-and-a-half-car garages, which are about 400-450 square feet. Here are price examples based on floor condition and size:
- Fair shape 400- to 450-square-foot garage floor: ~ $3 per square foot = $1,200-$1,350 total
- Damaged concrete on a 400- to 450-square-foot garage floor: ~ $3.25 per square foot = $1,300-$1462.50
- Water-based epoxy that needs to be removed from a 400- to 450-square-foot garage floor: ~ $3.25 per square foot = $1,300-$1462.50
- A 400- to 450-square foot garage takes a two-person crew two days to complete.
- Fair shape 600- to 800-square foot showroom floor: $2.75 per square foot = $1,650-$2,200
- Fair shape 10,000-square-foot industrial floor: $1.75 per square foot = $17,500
Epoxy is, at minimum, a two-day process, says Nuculovic of NSI Epoxy. It's critical to apply a primer coat the first day and allow it to dry overnight. "Don't trust anyone who wants to apply the primer in the morning, go to lunch, then do the second step in the afternoon," Nuculovic says. The primer coat is one of the most important parts of the epoxy process. It's designed to penetrate the concrete and allow the epoxy to adhere — and it needs to dry overnight. Even the epoxy manufacturers won't warranty their product without a primer coat. To ensure that you're covered, ask the contractor: "Will this be a two-day process?" and "Will you allow the primer coat to dry overnight?" You can walk on a new epoxy floor 24-36 hours after application. Wait 48 hours to put items such as lawnmowers or boxes on it. Wait five to seven days before bringing in a vehicle because of its weight.
Epoxy floors can be customized by choosing a tinted resin for an all-over color or by adding decorative color chips. For all-over color, let your pro know the color and tone you want. Alternatively, or in addition, you can add decorative chips to your epoxy floor. Decorative chips, also referred to as vinyl chips, range in size from 1/32 of an inch to 1 inch. Choose one color or a blend of colors, such as white with gray and black, or blue plus white and silver. Choose a light density of chips, or range to full density for a more concentrated color and pattern of chips. When added as a full layer, these color chips add strength to your epoxy floor, increasing its capacity for heavy loads and impact. Decorative chips are also a great camouflage for imperfections in your floor. You can also request special decorative chips that add skid resistance with a subtly raised texture that grips the bottom of shoes.
When you're ready to upgrade to an epoxy floor, reach out to reputable pros for quotes. Before contacting companies, read reviews and make sure the company has a good track record with clients. Next, confirm that they hold a contracting license if your state is one that regulates flooring contractors. Not all states do. For example, California regulates flooring and floor covering contractors and requires them to pass certain exams, hold insurance and bonds, and stay up to date on renewals. California's Contractors State License Board has a searchable database so consumers can verify a flooring contractor's license number, helping to protect consumers when making an investment. Other states, such as Illinois, do not regulate flooring contractors on a state level, but you should check whether there are requirements at the local level.
If your state or local regulations do not already require them, request to see proof of liability insurance, workers' compensation and bonds. Go the next step and call to confirm that these policies are active. The liability insurance protects your home in case of accident, and the bond protects you in the unfortunate event that the flooring company takes your money and then disappears. Once you have a list of companies that meet these requirements, ask for quotes. The pros will come to your home or business, assess the current condition of your floor, look for cracks or chips that need to be addressed, measure the total square footage you want to finish, and determine whether you want any color or decorative chips. They'll then provide you a quote that will include a total estimate for the job and a price per square foot. Ask if they offer a warranty on their labor and product. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.
- Be wary of anyone offering a warranty that seems ridiculous, says Nuculovic of NSI Epoxy. Some companies have been known to offer 10- or 15-year warranties and close a business after getting complaints, invalidating any remaining warranties.
- Keep your epoxy floor clean and remove water with a squeegee to keep it glossy for eight to 10 years.
- Read client reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right pro for your project. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.