Product Review: BEHR epoxy garage floor coating auto product reviews
BEHR epoxy garage floor coating. Click image to enlarge

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BEHR epoxy garage floor coating

When my father retired a couple of years ago I knew that I could find a way to fill some of his free time by helping me test various automotive products. His long career as a dentist made him a stickler for efficiency and attention to detail – this makes him the perfect candidate to test products that require hands-on involvement and careful preparation, such as the subject of this review, BEHR Premium 2-Part Epoxy Garage Floor Coating.

What is it?

The typical garage floor is made of concrete, a durable and hard wearing material that acts as the foundation for most modern buildings and parking structures. The problem with concrete is that it is porous, and therefore, prone to staining. Automotive fluids such as oil, coolant and transmission fluid readily soak through the surface coat of your garage floor, leaving unsightly marks and blemishes that are difficult to remove, and over time, can weaken the concrete and lead to the formation of cracks and fissures. Protecting this surface with a coating of epoxy paint is one way to reduce concrete degradation while at the same time giving the floor an attractive finish.

Selecting the paint

Product Review: BEHR epoxy garage floor coating auto product reviews
BEHR epoxy garage floor coating. Click image to enlarge

This project began with a thorough Web search for garage floor products. My father soon discovered that there were lots of user groups and forums where garage floor paints were discussed, and the majority of the posted opinions were quite negative. The two main players in this arena were Rust-Oleum and BEHR. One of my father’s neighbours had hired a company to come and finish his garage floor last summer, and they had selected Rust-Oleum’s Epoxy Shield for the job. After a few weeks some of the paint began to lift in areas where the car’s tires travelled, requiring the home-owner to make the occasional touch-up. This led my father to select BEHR for his summer project, and after further research he determined the company’s Premium 2-Part Epoxy Garage Floor Coating kit was best suited for his needs.

It’s all in the preparation

The BEHR web site is user friendly and offers helpful tips and directions. My father first swept and washed his garage floor, ensuring that it was free of dirt, debris and dust. Once dry, he still noticed a few grease and oil spots, so he tested the surface by sprinkling these areas with a little water to see if the water formed droplets. When this occurs, it is likely that the paint won’t stick in these areas. Another trip to the hardware store resulted in the purchase of BEHR Concrete & Masonry Cleaner/Degreaser. This product proved to work very well, but my father was surprised that it is not included in the kit, as most consumers will have some sort of oil stains on the surface prior to painting.

After another droplet test and the passage of sufficient time for the floor to completely dry, the next step was to apply the BEHR Concrete Cleaner and Etcher solution that comes as part of the kit. “I was not crazy about this product,” stated my father, “as it was almost impossible to mix.” He felt that it wasn’t very practical and that there has to be a better product out there. “The final consistency was similar to honey, and as the instructions suggest using a watering can to sprinkle it on, this posed a problem when it came to getting even coverage.”

There also wasn’t enough of the etching powder to get the job done. Even after using a double mix (most two-car garages will require two kits) of the etching solution he was only able to get about 40-percent coverage. He suggested that BEHR should charge a little more for the kits and include a larger container of the etching powder as well as the aforementioned degreaser.

Follow instructions carefully.

Product Review: BEHR epoxy garage floor coating auto product reviews
Product Review: BEHR epoxy garage floor coating auto product reviews
BEHR epoxy garage floor coating. Click image to enlarge

The kit itself is a clever design that is comprised of a dual reservoir bucket fitted with a reusable lid. In one of the reservoirs you find the mixed paint, which comes in your choice of one of two base coat colours – Silver Gray or Tan. Your BEHR retailer has the ability to adjust these colours slightly to meet your individual design needs by using different activators. It was determined that my father required two kits to get the job done to the standard he wanted, but a distracted employee at the store made an error when selecting the base colour of the second kit, which caused some confusion when my father began applying the second coat. This was remedied with a third, replacement kit. It should be noted that the instructions suggest that a second coat will make the surface shinier, so if you are looking for that look, prepare to apply multiple coats.

The first coat of paint went down quickly and easily and covered the entire floor, but proved too thin as some irregularities and colour differences could be seen through the paint. The second coat was applied 24 hours later and in the opposite direction to conceal any roller lines.

After the paint is down you have the option to broadcast vinyl chips over the damp surface to give the floor some visual flair. It is suggested you do this in stages, painting small portions of the floor then adding the chips. These multi-coloured flecks are for visual appeal only, and do nothing for traction or grip. Even distribution of these chips is challenging, but the end result makes it a worthwhile step.

Contents of the kit

The actual painting process is easy, as the BEHR kit includes most of the tools required to get the job done. The unique paint bucket is multi-sectional and doubles as a paint tray. One side contains a paint roller head (10mm) and a paint brush (50mm) for trim work, a bag of vinyl “appearance” chips, a package of the BEHR Concrete Cleaner and Etcher, and the activator solution for the paint. The paint itself is contained in the other section, which proved to be a roller-friendly reservoir. The lid snaps on with ease and creates a good seal should your painting get interrupted or you end up with extra at job’s end, but the product will lose its effectiveness 8 hours after the activator is added.

Product Review: BEHR epoxy garage floor coating auto product reviews
BEHR epoxy garage floor coating. Click image to enlarge
The potential headache

One step that may cause a headache for some users is the amount of time required to let the paint dry. The paint itself will be dry to the touch within two hours, but you should refrain from walking on it for 6-8 hours. The BEHR instructions suggest a minimum period of 24 hours should pass before you reposition furniture and storage items in the garage, and a full 72 hours before you roll a vehicle over the newly painted surface. This may prove a problem in areas where parking is at a premium, but it is vital that the paint be completely dry. My father lives in a very arid region characterized by glorious summer temperatures, so drying was not an issue for his project. He also planned this job so that it coincided with a month-long road trip, ensuring that the new floor would have several weeks to cure before ever seeing a car tire.

Things to consider

If you have a problem with hydrostatic pressure (moisture vapours that rise from the concrete) the epoxy coating might fail to adhere to the surface. So any moisture issues need to be corrected before application.

If the concrete has been treated with a concrete sealer or waterproofer, or has been previously painted and subject to peeling, then BEHR suggest that these products be removed prior to painting.

If your concrete is damaged, severely cracked or prone to dust, the surface layer should be repaired with a concrete patching material to provide a suitable foundation for the paint. Just like with fresh concrete, this new surface should be allowed to cure for 30 days prior to painting.

Product Review: BEHR epoxy garage floor coating auto product reviews
Product Review: BEHR epoxy garage floor coating auto product reviews
BEHR epoxy garage floor coating. Click image to enlarge
The final results

There is no doubt that the floor looks much better than the 20-year old concrete surface it covered, and so far, it seems easier to clean. My sister and her family spent a recent weekend visiting my parents and while there, she parked her minivan in the garage. After she left, my father noticed oil drops on the floor surface, but they wiped up with ease.

BEHR’s literature claims that the coating will offer long-lasting protection for your concrete surface against motor oil, gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluid, salt and hot tire pick-up, and so far, most of these claims appear to be true. A week after returning from his summer road-trip he noticed a few spots where the paint had been marred by the car’s tires, and in one case, the paint had lifted right off the concrete. This occurred after he had parked the car in the garage during a rainstorm, so there was some water tracked in on the tires. The areas where the wet tires sat on the surface overnight were the only spots damaged.

When the local BEHR representative was informed of the situation he decided to come and see the problem for himself. He seemed to think that the areas where the paint had lifted may have been due to my father applying too many coats. This didn’t seem very reasonable, as my father followed all the instructions, but after some more head scratching that is what he left my father to ponder. Considering that the painted surface had had over a month to cure before a car even rolled on to the surface, the second layer of paint would have had more than enough time to dry, especially in the arid climate of the Okanagan Valley.

There has been no further lifting since this occurred, and it has now been almost a month since the situation arose. The floor has been faced with rain-soaked tires on several occasions without dire consequences. Despite what I hope is an anomaly, my father is happy with the final result, but couldn’t stress enough that “the work is not in applying the paint, but in prepping the floor’s surface.”

BEHR’s MSRP for the epoxy garage floor coating is $94.98 plus taxes, (per kit).