Even the best epoxy floor doesn’t last forever. Eventually, it’ll be time to replace it, which leaves many homeowners wondering if they can paint over their epoxy garage floors.
You can paint or epoxy over an existing epoxy floor, but you need to sand and prepare the floor first so the paint can adhere. Unless you’re working on a small area, it’s easier to strip the epoxy floor and start fresh.
The same qualities that give epoxy its smooth, durable, scratch-resistant appearance cause paint to adhere poorly to the surface.
This article will cover how to paint over an existing epoxy floor. But first, we’ll dive deeper into how paint reacts with an epoxy surface to help ensure you get the results you are looking for.
Note: For this article, we’re explicitly talking about epoxy floors that have fully cured. If you’re within the recoat time (usually 3-5 hours), you can apply an additional coat following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Can You Paint Over Epoxy Garage Floors?
Whether your epoxy flooring has started to show its age or you simply want to change the color, there are several reasons why you’d like to paint over your existing garage floor.
A good rule of thumb is if your existing garage floor epoxy contains a two-part resin, like polyurethane, polyurea, or polyaspartic, you should be able to paint over it without any issues.
If you’re not familiar with the difference between polyurethane and polyurea paint, check out my article explaining it here. I also have an article comparing the differences between polyaspartic and epoxy.
Applying paint that’s compatible with your existing epoxy floor will ensure you get the results you’re looking for.
When in doubt, always consult with the manufacturer of the new coating before you start painting your garage floor.
Next, you’ll need to look at the surface of your existing epoxy garage floor. It will usually accept a new clear coat or paint unless it’s peeling or delaminating.
Delamination occurs when a painted surface breaks down and cracks into specific layers. If you’ve ever been able to pull flakes of paint off and see the different layers underneath, then you’ve seen delamination at work.
Unfortunately, the underlying causes of delamination mean that painting over the floor will only lead to deeper problems.
When this happens, you’ll need more than just a fresh coat of paint. Delamination can only be fixed by removing the old epoxy flooring and grinding the floor.
How to Paint Over Your Garage Floor Epoxy
To paint over garage floor epoxy properly, here are the basic steps you need to take.
The first thing you’ll want to do before preparing your epoxy garage floor is to give it a thorough cleaning.
You’ll be sanding the surface in later steps, so many people mistakenly think they don’t need to clean beforehand.
Resist the urge to skip this step.
Our goal is to clean any deep stains that have seeped through cracks or damage in the epoxy coating. That will give the paint a better opportunity to adhere to the surface.
For most stains, use grease-cutting detergent and some warm water. I’ve had great success with Dawn dish soap breaking down motor oil. Another alternative is a general-purpose cleaner like Simple Green.
I ran a test on my own garage to find which concrete cleaners worked the best. The stains on my floor had been there for years, but I tested several concrete cleaners that were absolutely amazing!
For more stubborn stains, you’re going to need something stronger. I’ve written separate cleaning guides for specific situations.
Repair Holes and Chips
The next thing you should do is repair holes, chips, or cracks on the surface of your garage floor.
Not only will this help you get a smooth, clean finish, but it helps reduce the risk of the paint chipping off around the holes, which can lead to additional damage down the road.
To complete the repair, use an epoxy patching compound like MAX TPC or patching mortar.
I recommend using an epoxy patching compound. It’s much faster than patching mortar, taking only a few days for the surface to dry. Patching mortar, however, can take up to two months for proper curing.
Sand the Existing Epoxy Surface
One of the most important things you need to do before painting over your garage floor epoxy is to make the floor coarse enough for the paint to stick.
There are several options available, depending on the size of the area. You can use an orbital sander or pole sander for small areas.
However, if you can get access to a floor buffer, it’ll make this process go so much faster. Most local home improvement stores will have one for rent, and you’ll also be able to buy sandpaper pads from them.
Use between 80-grit and 120-grit sandpaper, depending on your floor’s surface condition.
If your epoxy floor is newer or less damaged, start by light sanding with 100 or 120-grit sandpaper. The goal is to rough up the surface to help paint adhesion. We’re not aiming to remove layers of epoxy unless there’s significant damage.
For older floors, use 80-grit sandpaper to remove a thin layer of the epoxy coating or clear coat. This will help remove any deep scratches and superficial damage.
While using the floor buffer, remember to check your sanding screen for wear and tear and ensure it hasn’t clogged up.
After sanding, your epoxy finish won’t look glossy. Instead, you should see fine scratch marks across the floor’s surface.
Sweep away any residue and then vacuum the floor. I have a Vacmaster Beast that I bought as a car detailing vacuum, but it’s great to use on the garage floor as well.
Finally, clean the floor using denatured alcohol to ensure no fine dust particles are left behind. The alcohol will also evaporate quickly, reducing the time you have to wait for the clean surface to dry.
When to Use an Epoxy Primer
I typically recommend applying an epoxy primer before painting. Depending on what type of paint you plan to use, it may even be required.
When choosing a primer, use the same type as the paint that will sit on top of it. For example, use an epoxy primer if you plan to use epoxy paint. For latex paint, use a latex primer, and so on.
Certain types of paint will not adhere well to epoxy, no matter how much you prepare the floor. Examples are oil-based paints, latex paint, polyurethane, and most types of spray paint.
If you plan to use one of these, apply a primer before you apply paint.
Mix & Apply the New Floor Paint
This part of the process will depend on the manufacturer of the paint product you’re using, so it’s important to follow their instructions.
Many garage floor paints have special mixing instructions to get them to work. Some will harden faster or slower than others. Don’t assume that you know what to do.
When painting, mix what you really need for the section of floor you’re working on. Two-part epoxy coatings have a limited pot life, which is how long it takes for the epoxy to harden after mixing.
Before buying paint or coatings, take good measurements of your garage. Depending on the manufacturer, you might need a second coat to complete the process. It’s better to buy a little extra than not having enough paint to finish your garage floor.
Wrapping It Up
Can you paint over epoxy? Yes. Painting over your epoxy garage floor is a great way to freshen up your old paint or get a new look.
However, to do it successfully, you first must ensure that the floor is in good condition and choose the right paint.
Although most paint looks similar, each type of garage floor paint will bond differently with your epoxy floor coating.
- Don’t paint over epoxy that’s cracked or peeling. New paint will not adhere to a damaged surface. If your floor’s surface is peeling, cracked, or flaking, grind it down and repair it before painting your floor.
- Use non-skid granules in the mix to avoid slipping. Painted epoxy floors can be slippery. If you want to reduce the chances of a slip and fall occurring in your garage, using some non-skid granules and epoxy texture on the paint is a good idea.
- Work quickly. Once you have mixed the hardener and epoxy resin, you typically have around 30 minutes to use it before it hardens.
- Seek Professional help. Is your garage floor epoxy too damaged? Do you need help deciding what paint to use? Get advice from an expert to prevent wasting your time and resources. If you don’t want to do the project on your own, local epoxy flooring specialists can help ensure your floor is done perfectly.
If you’ve already decided to repaint your epoxy garage floor, the next thing is to choose what color you want. If you’d like to see the amazing color options for garage floor paint & epoxy, I wrote an article highlighting every paint color from all the major manufacturers.