As much as many will want you to believe that you will “never coat again,” the truth is that epoxy floors have a limited lifespan. However, that life can be extended or shortened by multiple factors.
In the best-case scenario, a high-quality and professionally installed floor inside a residential setting can last up to 30 years, provided it is appropriately maintained. A heavily used epoxy floor subjected to excessive wear, tear, and abuse will last about 3 – 5 years. Of course, this life becomes even shorter if you use epoxy paint, which typically needs to be replaced every two years.
Generally, a typical residential epoxy garage floor lasts between 5 and 10 years.
Not all Epoxy Coatings Are Equal
There are many misconceptions about epoxy and its array of variants. However, for simplicity’s sake, epoxy is a type of polymer resin. Typically, epoxy is stored and sold as a thick liquid. When applied, a hardening agent is mixed into the resin, which acts as a catalyst that begins hardening the epoxy.
Depending on the product you have used, once that hardening or curing process is complete, you can be left with a surface harder than a concrete floor. This makes it one of the most durable garage floor coatings. It’s resistant to scratches and stains and can last the average homeowner over a decade.
Epoxy paint is sometimes called “1-part epoxy” and should not be confused with epoxy coating. It combines latex acrylic paint with about 3% to 4% epoxy solids.
While epoxy paint isn’t nearly as strong as a standard epoxy coating, epoxy paint is still a great option. It lasts much longer than typical garage floor paint.
High-Solids Epoxy Coatings
“High-solids” epoxy” coatings typically have a 60% or higher solids content, meaning they contain less solvent and more epoxy resin.
These coatings have a thicker viscosity and can be applied at a thickness of 8-12 mils per coat. They are often used in applications when a thicker, more durable coating is desired, such as in industrial or marine environments.
As an epoxy coating cures, some of the solvents in the mixture evaporate into the air. The lack of evaporation makes them more environmentally friendly but more expensive.
Low-Solids Epoxy Coatings
Conversely, we have “low-solids epoxy,” which contains higher amounts of solvents that will evaporate during curing. However, because some solvents evaporate, you will have a thinner coating than you originally planned.
Low-solids epoxy coatings typically have a solids content of 50% or less, which means that a significant portion of the coating is solvent.
These coatings have a thinner viscosity and can be applied in a single coat with a 4-6 mils thickness. They are often used for applications where a thin film is desired, such as in areas where the substrate is irregular or difficult to coat or where quick re-coat times are required.
This type of epoxy is typically less expensive than a high-solids epoxy coating.
Polyaspartic is a relatively new kid in the class.
Much like epoxy, it is a two-part resin and catalyst product. But, it is generally more hard-wearing than epoxy and more resistant to chemicals, abrasions, and corrosion. It is incredibly resistant to gasoline and brake fluids, making it ideal for the garage.
Polyaspartic coatings are typically easier to apply than high-solids epoxy coatings because they have a thinner viscosity and can be applied in a single coat at a thickness of up to 12 mils.
Polyaspartic coatings cure in as little as two hours, while high-solids epoxy coatings can take up to 24 hours to cure. This makes polyaspartic coatings a good option for projects that require a quick turnaround time.
Polycuramine (Rust-Oleum RockSolid)
Polycuramine is a curious case because it is a trademarked marked compound owned by Rust-Oleum.
The recipe is somewhat secret but a mixture of urethane, epoxy, and polyurea. Although marketed as “20 times stronger than epoxy,” it is most comparable to high-quality, high-solids epoxy.
This makes it somewhat confusing for consumers since Rust-Oleum makes two popular DIY garage floor coatings: RockSolid (polycuramine) and EpoxyShield (epoxy).
Polycuramine coatings are typically easier to apply than high-solids epoxy coatings because they have a thinner viscosity and can be applied in a single coat at a thickness of up to 20 mils.
Polycuramine coatings can cure in as little as 6 hours, making it a good option for projects that require a quick turnaround time.
How To Extend The Life Of Your Epoxy Floor
If you want to get your money’s worth from your epoxy floor, there are a few good habits to get into that don’t take up a lot of time or money and will pay out in the long run.
Firstly, keep your floor clean. Even if you are a generally neat person in your garage, there is still the odd spill that you overlooked.
Sand and grime can also wear down your floor through abrasion, so keeping your floor clean is generally a good idea.
Secondly, keep your garage door closed during the day. Your garage door is the most significant source of UV light exposure for your floor, so keeping it closed will go a long way to keeping your floor happy.
Thirdly, unless you have a specially designed area with a fireproof mat for those embers, you’re better off doing your hot work outside, far away from your epoxy floor.
Finally, wait a bit before pulling your car into your garage. Give your car time to cool down and settle before pulling into the garage. This will help avoid hot tire pickup or fluid leaks from your engine that need to be cleaned up.
Epoxy Typically Doesn’t Like Sunlight
Different variations of epoxy solutions have varying degrees of UV resistance. However, most do not fare well under direct sunlight.
For example, suppose you have a naturally well-lit garage with multiple windows and/or a sunroof. In that case, your floor is likely to deteriorate faster.
One possible solution is to use a polyaspartic coating, which is the exception to the rule in that it does have inherent UV-resistant properties. Some installers may use it only as a clear topcoat for an epoxy floor to add a harder-wearing, UV-resistant layer.
Poor Quality Epoxy Won’t Bond As Well
Occasionally, a freshly installed epoxy floor will start to peel off.
There are many reasons for this, but the two most common are using a low-quality product or incorrectly applying the epoxy coating.
Epoxy paint can be especially prone to pealing because it doesn’t handle heat well. For example, parking your car immediately inside your garage after a long trip can cause the hot tires to damage your epoxy paint.
Don’t Use Epoxy On Damp Floors
If you have damp floors, consider finding an alternative to epoxy.
Because epoxy is water-resistant, it traps moisture in the floor. As that moisture builds up, it will eventually degrade and crack the epoxy.
Harsh Heat And Chemicals Will Damage Your Epoxy Floor
Epoxy has some chemical resistance, depending on which type you use. However, continuously exposing your epoxy floor to harsh chemicals will eventually wear it down and damage it.
Hot work like welding is another activity that can quickly damage an epoxy floor. Scorching metal and sparks will quickly damage your new floor, shortening its lifespan.
Wrapping It Up
Typically, an epoxy floor in a residential garage can last between 5 and 10 years, depending on whether it was installed correctly and how well you look after it. Heavy-use floors will last between 3 to 5 years, and floors that aren’t seldom used can last up to 30 years. However, it’s essential to get the right product for your needs.