The below guide is a summary of the steps on how to apply epoxy floor paint. This guide applies to a simple roller applied floor. Such epoxy systems are usually applied with one coat of primer & 2 coats of epoxy floor coating. These floors are suitable for light and medium wear and tear, perfect for garages and storage rooms.
If you have a floor that is used for heavier industrial use (like manufacturing or food processing) than you may want to explore the use of a self leveling floor. A Self leveling epoxy floor tends to have a larger thickness. The below video explains the differences between a roller applied and a self leveling floor.
Step 1. Preparing the surface before applying the epoxy
Preparation of the substrate is necessary in order to ensure adhesion between the epoxy product and the substrate. In fact, surface preparation is probably the most important step. Without proper preparation, the floor could fail, and fixing it would end up being much more costly.
Therefore never underestimate the importance of proper surface preparation. The surface needs to have a slightly rough profile. This will allow the mechanical bonding between the epoxy primer and the concrete surface.
Furthermore the surface needs to be cleaned from any chemicals or oils that may block the epoxy from sticking properly to the substrate
The most common methods for surface preparation are the following:
- Grinding with a diamond grinding
- Milling (or scarifying)
For a detailed explanation of the above methods you can look at our article for surface prepartion before applying epoxy.
The most popular (and also the most flexible) method of surface preparation is diamond grinding. Using a floor grinder allows you to use different types of grinding tools depending on your requirements. For example if you need to grind rough concrete, you need to use an aggressive and coarse diamond tool. If you need to give the existing surface a light sanding, you can choose instead to use a high grit sanding tool.
The below video gives you a better understanding on how floor grinders work
Step 2. Sweeping and cleaning of the floor
You must now vacuum the floor. You cannot have any dust or residue before applying any type of epoxy or primer. Otherwise you will have various particles trapped within the coat. Adhesion will be significantly weakened. The less micro-dust on the surface the less primer you will need.
Use an industrial vacuum that picks up even small dust particles and has suitable filters.
Step 3. How to Apply Epoxy: Prime the floor with a suitable epoxy primer
Now you need to create the surface that will allow the epoxy to bond properly with your substrate. This is why we apply epoxy primer.
Always prime the floor, don’t believe claims that priming is not necessary. Priming will give your floor a longer life and better adhesion to the substrate. Furthermore it will seal the substrate and reduce the risk of bubbles and gasses in your final epoxy coat.
Priming also helps reduce the amount of product that will be required in the later stages. Ensure that the areas are ventilated properly.
In some cases, you will apply the primer and notice that the product gets very quickly absorbed by the substrate. This is very common with dusty and soft cement based floors. Feel free to apply a second coat of primer on top of the first one. Use a proper electrical mixer to mix the A and B component of the primer.
Step 4. Fill all cracks, holes etc with epoxy grout.
Before you can start coating, you need to have eliminated all holes, dents and cracks in the floor.
If you have large and deep holes, you may want to fill these up in advance with fast drying cement mortar. You should complete this step at the beginning before grinding and applying the primer.
For the smaller cracks and holes, you can patch them either before or after applying the primer. However, we often observe that many cracks become visible after the primer has been applied.
There are various types of epoxy filler you can use. One option is to use 100% clear epoxy resin and mix it in with a filler (like quartz sand or calcium carbonate). You can add as much filler as necessary to achieve your desired texture and thickness of the product.
If mixing clear resin and adding filler, seems too complicated and messy, just buy epoxy patching grout from the market.
You will need to leave the epoxy putty several hours to dry. Most probably it will also require a little bit of sanding before proceeding to the next step.
Step 5. Application of the first coat of epoxy paint
Several days have probably passed since you started the process of installing your epoxy floor. If you have done all the previous steps properly, you are finally ready to apply the first coat.
The first coat, often acts as a tool to help reveal the floor. The first layer of colored epoxy will reveal how the actual substrate is holding up. Any remaining cracks and holes should become visible now!
The first coat can be applied either with a squeegee or a roller. If you are dealing with many small dents and microscopic holes in your floor, you should use a squeegee to make the first layer a filler coat.
When you are ready to start coating, empty all the contents of the hardener in the component A. Use an electrical mixer and mix at least for two minutes. Don’t skimp on the mixing! This step is very important. Poor mixing will lead to a tacky floor!
Depending on the surface in question make sure you have enough people helping you. Applying epoxy on your own is never advisable, as the product tends to have a short pot life (30-45 minutes is common). You should always have an assistant with you to speed up the epoxy flooring process, before the pot is no longer workable.
If you apply with a roller, use a good quality roller, as poor quality rollers may start to shed. Also have paint brushes and masking tapes handy to deal with edges.
Step 6. Final Sanding and Filling before applying the final epoxy floor paint
After 16-24 hours have passed, the first coat should be sufficiently dry, so you can proceed to the next step.
You may notice various problems that have appeared such as new cracks and holes after you applied the first coat. Also sometimes dust and debris may be trapped in the first coat.
If you applied the first coat with a squeegee many line marks may be visible. You will need to lightly sand these areas to eliminate any marks that could be visible on the final floor. Then use a vacuum cleaner to collect any dust. Often, you can use some epoxy thinner to wipe away any remaining micro-dust.
Make sure that all the new cracks and holes are sealed & filled before starting the next coat. If necessary wait an extra dry for the grout to dry before re-coating.
Step 7 Apply the final coat.
If you followed the epoxy flooring process in this article, then the final coat should be the easiest step.
Before you start, make sure that the entire area is clean. Close all windows and doors as you dont want someone walking in on the wet floor.
Use a high quality roller. Some people like to spread out the product with a squeegee, and then use a roller to obtain a uniform surface. Spiked shoes will allow you to step on the wet coating, and inspect any areas.
If you started out with a problematic surface, you may actually need to apply a additional 3rd coat to make the surface look perfect
The video below goes through all the steps that we described above:
Do you want to learn more about how to apply epoxy floor paint?
Then check out our online epoxy flooring training course!
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You will get 4+ hours of awesome learning material on how to apply epoxy floors that has been distilled into over 20 lessons.
We have had hundreds of students from all over the world that have successfully completed the course. These students have moved on and are taking on challenging on epoxy flooring projects.
Upon completion of this course you will be able to:
- Have a key understanding of each step involved in applying a floor from surface preparation to the final coating
- Understand the differences between the various types of flooring systems
- Confidently install glossy self leveling epoxy floors
- Eliminate problems like trowel marks, bubbles and curing issues with your projects
- Properly specify the right floor solution for each project
- Understand the basic concepts of epoxy chemistry and the main differences between epoxies and polyurethanes
- Take on more challenging projects
- Understand all the necessary equipment and tools required to run a successful flooring business