The best garage floor coatings are tough enough to handle any use, and, when selling your house, an upgraded garage floor may be the stand-out feature that separates your place from the competition. With such a good-looking floor, you may even remind your children: "Take your shoes off before going in the garage!"
DIY garage-floor kits are economical, but they typically don't match the durability and appearance of professionally installed coatings. So I was interested when hearing about a DIY kit that claimed to rival a pro-install. The Roll on Rock kit is made by Versatile Building Products (VBP). VBP primarily manufactures and supplies materials to professional installers of decorative flooring products, but the company also has recognized the growing demand for a high quality DIY product.
With this kit, you inform VBP of your garage size, existing floor condition and desired coating color, and VBP supplies the Roll on Rock kit with the quantities of the same cleaner, primers, chips and top coats that they sell to the pro installers. An average kit costs $1 to $1.25/sf, which is 75 percent less expensive than many professional installations. You can order via e-mail (www.garagecoatings.com) or by calling 800-535-3325. VBP also plans to have an online "shopping cart" system later this summer.
Is your floor sealed?
My father-in-law, Jim, and I installed Roll on Rock in his garage. Installation went smoothly, thanks to the Web site video and thorough instructions.
The biggest difference between this and most professional installations is in the preparation. Most professional installers use a primer that requires removing the top layers of the floor with a large grinding or abrading machine. Roll on Rock's primer goes directly over most unsealed concrete surfaces. So if your floor is not sealed and is in good condition, you won't need to do much more than clean it.
Test your floor for sealer by pouring water on the concrete and observing if the water beads up or soaks in (darkens the surface). If it soaks in, then you can proceed with cleaning and repairing surface blemishes. If the water beads up, you must remove the sealer by sanding, abrading, grinding or sand blasting.
It's all about preparation
Jim's floor had been stained years ago, but the water still penetrated. There weren't many cracks, but there were several small holes and pits to fill. Jim spent roughly 20 hours prepping and cleaning the floor. He spent most of his time filling and grinding imperfections smooth with his angle grinder — a task that would have gone much faster with a larger grinder.
A picture says a thousand words, so go through our installation process by checking out the accompanying photos and captions.
The finished floor looks great. The light gray brightens the garage, the chips give the floor depth and the top coat adds a high-gloss shine. Time will tell how it will hold up to hot tires this summer and road salt this winter, but VBP president, Mike Meursing, assures me that his product has held up well in every climate in North America.
Photo 0 - Jim's garage floor after installation was complete. He spent about 20 hours with the cleaning and prep work, and it took about 5 hours over two days to apply the light gray coating.
Photo 1 - Before repairing imperfections, clean the floor with V100 cleaner (provided in the kit), a scrub brush and a power washer.
Photo 2 - Fill all cracks and holes with concrete patch. Jim used an angle grinder to smooth the patches and take down high spots. The chips in the Roll on Rock coating cover many minor defects, but you should fill any pit larger than 1/4-in.-dia. If your curb wall is made with block, also consider filling the grout joints to give the curb the same smooth appearance as the floor. (Jim didn't take that extra step.) After repairing imperfections, clean the floor again with the V100 and a power washer, and let the floor dry overnight.
Photo 3 - After the floor is prepped and cleaned, combine the A and B components of the 4195 primer in a 2-gal. bucket and mix it for two minutes using a mixing paddle and cordless drill/driver. Make sure the garage has excellent ventilation with the doors open, and it is a good idea to wear a respirator with an organic vapor/acid gas filter. Also make sure the pilot light for the garage heater is not lit.
Photo 4 – Paint the curb first. Apply paint evenly, back brush the drips and maintain a wet edge as you work around the entire curb.
Photo 5 - Wait 20 minutes before applying chips to the primer. Start broadcasting the chips where you began painting the curb, and work your way around the garage. A quick side-arm throw makes the most chips stick to the wet-and-tacky primer. Once the curb is covered, sweep and vacuum up the extra chips.
Photo 6 - Apply the primer to the floor with a 12-in.-wide x 3/8-in.-nap roller. Because this was a first-time effort using this product, Jim applied the primer and chips to one quadrant at a time.
Photo 7 – Use spiked shoe covers (included with the kit) to walk on the wet floor and spread the chips. Adjustable straps help you get a fairly good fit, but they still wiggle on the feet; Jim came close to wiping out a couple times. An alternative is wearing a pair of old golf shoes with metal spikes.
Photo 8 - After 20 minutes, apply chips in several light coats over the quadrant, being careful to keep chips off the unpainted floor. While one worker spreads chips, another can be painting the next sections.
Photo 9 - After all quadrants are painted and covered with chips, spread one more coat of chips over the entire floor. Chips can be spread for up to 60 minutes after the primer is applied. About 75 percent of the 55 pounds of chips included in the kit were used. After chips are spread, let the primer cure for 10 to 16 hours before proceeding.
Photo 10 – After letting the epoxy dry overnight, remove the loose or protruding flakes with a stiff bristle broom. Then vacuum the floor to pick up the remaining chips.
Photo 11 - Use a leaf blower to give the floor a final cleaning before applying the top coat. This removes chips and dust the vacuum missed. The only place where the epoxy paint is visible is under the chips on the curb; the entire floor is coated with layers of chips. Most of the gray tones are chips, not the primer showing through.
Photo 12 - The final step is to apply the 5073 poly-urea top coat. Wear respirators when applying the poly urea. The poly urea only has about a 45-minute pot life, so mix it in small batches just in case you have to stop. Use a brush to apply the poly urea to the curb and along the floor-control joints. Then use a roller to top coat the floor. Work in quadrants again. The top coat must be applied uniformly to ensure a consistent sheen. Roll in one direction and then back roll the area in a perpendicular direction. The manufacturer recommends letting the floor cure for 48 hours before subjecting it to vehicle traffic.
Photo 13 - The chips give depth to the floor, and the top coat adds a high-gloss shine.
Photo 14 – This is another example of a garage floor coated with a Roll on Rock custom-color combination. It was created by spreading a light coating (about half the quantity Jim used) of tan flakes over a cottonwood-color epoxy primer.
Photo 15 - The epoxy primer can also be top coated without the chips. For example, this garage combines two decorative styles; the front area features the chips covering the primer, and the back area is exposed primer applied in a checkerboard pattern.