Compared to other flooring systems, epoxy floor coatings can seem at first glance to be a relatively easy DIY project. They’re installed as liquids – not much harder than painting a wall, right? Unfortunately, many laypeople make this assumption and attempt to install their own flooring, only to discover down the line that the quality is nowhere near what they could have expected from a professional installation. For small projects in areas that won’t experience too much wear and tear, DIY installation may be a viable option, but can still be a risky way to go. When deciding whether to tackle a flooring project yourself or to call in the professionals, consider these different factors:
Unless your concrete slab has been freshly poured, chances are its surface has some unevenness and pock marks. Even outside the demands of industrial and commercial settings, residential garages often absorb oil spills and other substances. Most DIY kits provide a mild acid wash and/or sander to prepare the surface, but these are typically insufficient to remove contamination or existing concrete sealers that can interfere with proper bonding of the new coating. Sanding the surface is also more likely to fill and plug the pores of concrete, rather than open the surface in the manner needed for successful installation. All these factors will negatively impact the ability of the system to adhere to the concrete over time. Experienced professionals, on the other hand, use diamond grinders and shot-blasting to prepare the concrete surface for optimal adhesion.
Epoxy floor coatings that include colored flakes are popular because they help create a more interesting appearance and, when installed correctly, can provide a bit of slip-resistance. If you choose to do this yourself, it will be up to you to achieve the look you envision. Most DIY kits only contain enough flakes for a light distribution, so this option is best used in smaller areas or where you don’t require complete, even coverage. A popular method of DIY flake distribution is to toss handfuls of the flakes from a bucket onto the wet floor, as if scattering birdseed. As with most things in life, getting a good result with this technique can take some trial and error.
Professional installers have access to a wider range of colors, a far larger supply of flakes, and the equipment necessary to ensure an even, thorough distribution. Pros are also able to offer slip-resistance options for safety.
Part of the appeal of epoxy flooring systems is their outstanding strength and durability. This makes them the obvious choice for many industrial and commercial settings, where floors are subjected to high levels of traffic, the stress of heavy equipment, exposure to chemical spills and the like. Industrial grade epoxy floor coatings contain 95-100% solids for a high performing, safe, durable and easy to maintain surface. DIY kits, on the other hand, typically contain diluted formulations comprised of fillers and minimal epoxy resin, allowing for a certain retail price point.
DIY kits typically do not contain a grout coat or sealer, so if you are planning on doing it yourself, you will need to consult with a trusted home improvement professional to decide what product is best. Without the necessary sealer, your floor will be left vulnerable to damage and will not be as easy to clean or maintain. Professional installers apply one or more coats of clear 100% solids epoxy, followed by a UV-resistant urethane finish coat to encapsulate the chips and optional slip-resistant aggregate, and enhance long-term performance.