Garage Floor Paint vs. Epoxy: What’s the Difference?

Epoxy has long been the go-to choice for people looking to upgrade their garage floors. However, most homeowners assume that epoxy paint and epoxy coating are the same thing, or similar.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Epoxy paint and epoxy coatings are two different finishes, and they give very different looks to your garage floor.

In this article, we’re going to dive into the differences between epoxy floor coating and epoxy paint, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.


Epoxy Paint vs. Epoxy Coating: What Are They?

An epoxy paint is a latex acrylic paint with a small amount of epoxy as one of its components. Once it dries, it provides a tough, long-lasting finish on garage floors and other surfaces. That durability makes it easy to maintain. Its anti-slippery properties enable your floors to be safe even when they are wet.

By contrast, epoxy coating is a compound consisting of two elements: a polyamine hardener (also known as a catalyst) and an epoxy resin. When mixed together, they have a chemical reaction. Once the mixture cures, it hardens into a robust and long-lasting coating (now called an epoxy coating)

Some epoxy coating manufacturers add extra additives to the compound, such as UV inhibitors, flow control, or adhesion promoters, to make it more suitable for various flooring applications.

These additives give it increased abrasion resistance, chemical resistance, and shorten the curing time.

Different Types of Epoxy Coating

There are several different types of epoxy floor coatings, each having its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. They include:

Self-Leveling Epoxy Floor Coating

This epoxy coating is easy to install, making it ideal for homeowners looking to remodel their garage floors, or basements. As you apply it, it smooths out any bumps, gradients or imperfections in your concrete floor.

Mortar Epoxy Floor Coating

Mortar coating is considered the strongest among all epoxy floors, which is why it is commonly used in heavy-product industrial areas. It can also be used to repair cracks in floors before lying another kind of epoxy floor coating.

Terrazzo Epoxy Floor Coating

Terrazzo epoxy coating is decorative and easy to maintain; that is why it is mostly used in commercial building entrances like offices, schools, banks, and hotels.

Graveled Epoxy Floor Coating

Graveled epoxy coating is also a decorative kind of epoxy flooring and is mostly used to create brand marks and logos on commercial building floors.


What Are the Differences Between Epoxy Garage Floor Coating and Epoxy Paint?

When it comes down to it, the main difference between these two is that epoxy paint is just paint. While on the other hand, epoxy floor coating is a layer applied on a particular surface.

That said, here are some of the other significant differences between epoxy garage floor coating and epoxy paint.

Floor Paint Pros:

  • Less expensive
  • Easy to apply

Floor Paint Cons:

  • Not as durable

Epoxy Garage Floor Paint Vs Epoxy Coating: Installation

In general, you apply an epoxy paint just like any other type of paint. Although you can have it professionally done, it’s not usually necessary.

Epoxy floor coatings have a more complicated application process that’s usually best left to the professionals.

How to Properly Apply Epoxy Floor Coating

While an epoxy coating is more durable than epoxy paint, it still needs to be laid correctly for it to firmly adhere to your garage floor for a more durable finish. If you prefer to apply yourself, here’s how to do it correctly.

Step One: Clean Your Garage Floor Thoroughly

It is recommended to clean your concrete floor properly to remove the oil stains from your car, dirt, and other debris. You can use a commercial cleaning or degreasing product for better results. A dirty surface may interfere with the curing process leading to less than stellar results.

See my recommendations for concrete degreasers here.

Step Two: Prepare and Sprinkle an Acid-Etching Mixture on Your Garage Floor

After cleaning your surface thoroughly, prepare an acid-etching solution. To do so, pour a gallon of water in a sprinkler can. Then, mix 12 ounces of 32% muriatic acid with about 15 cups of water (you can increase or decrease the amount of acid depending on the size of your garage floor.)

After that, pour the solution into the sprinkler can with water, mix everything, and then sprinkle it on your garage floor.

Step Three: Scrub and Etch Your Floor

Scrub your garage floor with an acid brush until every part of the surface is etched. Rinse the area about 3-4 times and allow it to dry overnight.

Step Four: Mix the Epoxy Floor Coating

Once the floor is completely dry, mix the epoxy coating solutions using a stirring bit and drill. To ensure that all elements are combined properly, pour the mixture into another bucket and blend it again.

Step Five: Apply the Mixture on Your Garage Floor

Once everything is blended correctly, apply the epoxy solution using a roller. Allow the first layer to cure and follow up with a second layer. To prevent the floor from being slippery, add an anti-skid coating into the epoxy solution for the second application.

Epoxy Coating Pros:

  • Much longer lasting
  • Anti-slip
  • More color options
  • Easy to maintain

Epoxy Coating Cons:

  • Takes longer to install
  • More expensive

Epoxy Garage Floor Paint Vs Epoxy Coating: Drying\Curing

While epoxy paint dries much like any other kind of paint, an epoxy floor coating cures, rather than dries. That means it undergoes an exothermic reaction.

In short, as the epoxy resin and polyamine hardener molecules combine and react, they generate heat, causing the coating to cure. The more heat it produces, the faster it will cure.

That also makes it dangerous to get epoxy on your skin. Be sure to clean it off quickly, if that happens.

The curing process occurs in three stages; the liquid/open stage, gel phase, and solid stage.

Liquid (Open) Stage

Also known as the working stage, this is the phase whereby the epoxy coating mixture is still in liquid form. It is recommended to do all the application during this stage to enable the solution to adhere entirely to your garage floor.

Gel Stage

At this phase, the epoxy floor coating solution turns into a gel-like, sticky substance. During this stage, you can apply a second coat as the two layers will still form a chemical bond, creating a more durable finish.

Solid Stage

The polyamine hardener and epoxy resin mixture have solidified completely at this point. It is advisable not to lay a new coat directly when the first coat has turned solid.

This is because both layers will not chemically react, preventing them from sticking to the surface completely. Instead, prepare the floor as you did initially, then apply the second coat.

There are various other factors that affect the amount of heat or temperature the epoxy floor coating mixture produces for it to cure. They include; the general temperature in your garage and the temperature of the garage floor.

If you live in a cool area, it is advisable to use a faster hardener or heat the entire epoxy coating solution to generate more heat for more rapid curing.

If your garage is warmer, it is best to use a slower hardener to slow down the curing process for easier application. This is because the coating will begin to cure immediately after you mix the polyamine hardener and epoxy resin.


Epoxy Garage Floor Paint Vs Epoxy Coating: Durability

While epoxy paint is quite long-lasting, it is still paint at the end of the day, so it will wear off over time. Epoxy floor coating is more durable because its two elements adhere completely to the surface once the solution cures.

Cost

Epoxy floor coating is more expensive than epoxy paint. For starters, the components needed to make the solution come at a cost. The application process can also be a bit complicated as there are additional products required to prepare the floor for the coating application.

Despite being costly, it is more durable, making it affordable in the long run.

Maintenance

Epoxy coating and epoxy paint are easy to clean and maintain because they are both stain-resistant and do not easily obtain car tire marks. But, as we mentioned earlier, epoxy paint wears off with time.