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Many Factors to Consider Before Painting Concrete Floors

There are a lot of projects that you can do in your home that add value, not to mention bring a smile every time you see the finished product. One of these is revitalizing your cement floors, whether these floors are located in the basement, garage, sunroom or patio.

While some people choose to do it themselves, it’s important to consider if it’s better to hire a professional to do the work. While you may save money by putting in your own elbow grease, fixing and refinishing a concrete floor is a fairly time-consuming process—especially if your floors need a lot of patching before you can paint.

“Basements and basement walls need to be sealed before you paint because of the ground moisture; concrete block is a sponge for water,” advised contractor Charles Schneider. “Garage floors also require a special paint or an epoxy paint because of the heat from cars and tires.”

If you want a long-lasting floor, it is imperative to consider what materials you should use. While regular garage paints have come a long way since dull gray was the only option, they don’t last long with the regular wear-and-tear of an often-used space. Floors that will last more than a decade require specialized chemicals that coat and protect the paint and the concrete—and that prep is often better left in the hands of the professionals.

“A lot of people mop their floors and then paint them, not realizing that the paint is going to come up in a year; maybe two or three years if they really maintain them,” said Steve Brewer, co-owner, Invicta Concrete Coatings. “What we offer actually protects the concrete, which is why we offer a 15-year, transferable warranty; floor paint doesn’t even compare.”

Prepping the floor for color is probably the most important step in the process, and it takes more than mopping to get it ready.

“We actually grind off the top 16th of an inch of the concrete, which is called the latent layer, before we replace it with a polyurea base coat of quarter-inch color chips,” said Brewer. “We allow that to cure, and once it’s dry, we scrape it flat. You want to keep some of the texture, but you don’t want those chips sticking up.”

Invicta then coats the floor with a polyaspartic top coat, which is four to five times stronger than a typical epoxy topcoat, and is also UV- and scratch resistant.

While epoxy coatings can be easier for do-it-yourselfers to use, some drawbacks include the fact that these coatings can yellow over time, and may take four to five days to install. Polyaspartic floors can cure in a matter of hours, saving on labor costs.

Depending on how large the space is and how many repairs need to be made to the concrete first, the process can take less than a day. “A two-car garage takes about eight hours max, and you can be on it in 24 hours,” said Brewer. “We can come into an empty garage at 8 a.m. and be out at 4 p.m., and leave you with a floor that you can walk on in 12 hours, and move a car around in 24 hours.”

While it may cost less initially to paint a cement floor, it may be wiser to make an investment in a professional job in the long run. According to a February 2021 article in Garage Force, while one gallon of paint will cover a 400 sq. ft. garage for about $50, you’ll need to repaint the floor every month or so as the paint wears off. In one year, you could spend $600 a year on paint, not to mention the time it takes out of your weekends.

Brewer estimates that a typical garage floor that does not need a lot of repair will cost between $6-$10 a square foot, and many companies offer a 15-year warranty on the work.

“Not only do you not have to repaint the floor, but our coating helps to prevent cracks and spalling that can be caused by the salt and road treatments that your car carries into the garage,” he added.

Homeowners do need to maintain the floors, though they do not require a lot of care. “Compared to the other options out there, these floors are very user-friendly, simple to maintain and affordable,” said Brewer.

“We’ve had customers come back and say that their 18-year-old floors are still in good shape,” he added. “The difference between doing it yourself and hiring a professional is all about the floor prep.”

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