Winter Projects: Refinishing the Garage Floor

While it’s common to wait for spring to start on home renovations and repairs, there are a few things that you can take care of during the winter. Not only does this help you get a headstart on your home projects, but it also helps to manage the winter blahs.

The garage floor is one of those things that’s easy to take for granted. It’s a given that it should be greasy and grimy. After all, chances are that you’re either parking a winter-driven car in it, with all the slush and road salt that comes in, or using it to store things that don’t belong in closets or crawl spaces.

It’s not until you see a refinished garage floor that you realize how much of an improvement it is. With the right tools and a little effort, you can easily spruce up your garage, giving it a like-new, professional look.

Test Your Floor

The amount of work your floor will require will be influenced by two main factors. The first has to do with moisture, and the second is to test if a sealant has been used.

You can test for moisture by taping a 2x2 piece of plastic to the floor and leave it for a day. If moisture accumulates underneath it, you’ll need to install a vapor barrier before you begin. If not, the pressure from the water vapor could damage any finish you apply.

If your floor has been sealed, you’ll need to etch it so it can be finished. To test, simply pour water on the floor; if it absorbs into the concrete, you’re good to go. However, if it beads on the concrete surface, you’ll need to etch the concrete.

To etch a concrete floor, use a commercial etching product and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply it to the floor and leave overnight. This will make the floor grittier, making it a better surface to work with.

Clean the Surface

Like any painting project, you’ll start by clearing the space. Move everything in your garage out of the way and sweep the floor clean. If you don’t have the space to move everything in your garage, you can work in sections.

For a paintable sealant to work, you need a clean surface, so you need to remove all the grease, oil and rust stains. Rust can be cleaned by combining 30ml of trisodium phosphate (TSP) with 3.5 liters of water. Soak the area with this solution and let it soak for 15 minutes before rinsing well.

Grease and oil need to be absorbed to remove. Cover these stains with cat litter or sawdust and let them sit for at least a day. When enough time has passed, sweep them up with a firm bristle brush, then cover the area with dish detergent. After 45 minutes, pour boiling hot water over it and scrub thoroughly.

Fill All Cracks

Use an epoxy paste to fill any cracks in the floor. Small cracks can be filled and scraped flat before they’re left to set. Sand the epoxy smooth once it’s completely cured for a professional finish.
Larger cracks should be overfilled and left to dry. Once they’re completely cured, grind them so they’re flush with the floor, then sand them smooth.

Seal the Floor

Now that your floor is smooth and clean, you can seal it. A sealer will make it easier to clean and help minimize dust while also acting as a primer for the paint. Choose a product meant for garage floors and use a brush to get in the corners and work around the perimeter of the room. Using a roller brush makes it easy to spread the sealant evenly across the floor.

Just remember to work from the far wall toward the door. The epoxy will take 24 hours to dry, so you don’t want to find yourself stuck in a corner!

Get Painting

Once your sealant is dry, you can start painting. Choose an epoxy-based paint meant for garage floors. Standard paints won’t hold up to the abuse that a garage offers.

Work along the edges and corners with a brush, then switch to a roller to fill in the rest of the floor. Two coats should be enough, but give the floor a third coat if it needs it.

You now have a professional-looking refinished garage door that will look great for years. It will also be much easier to clean, giving your workspace a cleaner appearance that’s easy to maintain.