The best floor epoxies are solid based; with Aliphatic 100% solids being the best type. With 100% solids, you are getting 100% paint so that whatever you put down is what will remain. With epoxies that are not 100% solids, whatever percentage lower than 100% is the percent of the paint that will evaporate away as it dries. The part that evaporates is either solvents in the case of solids paints or water in the case of water based epoxy paints. For example, if an epoxy is 50% solids it means that 50% of the coating you apply will evaporate away as it dries. The lower the percentage of solids the lower the quality is a good rule of thumb, with water based paints being the lowest quality. The exceptions are Primers & Topcoats, Primers usually have a lower percentage of solids because they are made thinner to kind of soak into the pores of the concrete, Topcoats should have Urethane which displaces a percentage of solids. So it’s ok for primers & topcoats to be lower in solids, just try not to use water based products. If you see a WB in the product name or part number it's water based. Also one final note high percentage solids epoxies are not as good as 100% solids epoxies. Never have been never will be. Same with Cycloaliphatic Epoxies which are a cost saving Hybrid Epoxy that wear prematurely and yellow. 100% solids epoxy is not just for hiding blemishes it's to make sure you're purchasing the highest grade epoxy possible, place the highest build possible to avoid hot tire lifting when using chips. Polyurea coatings are similar to lower percentage solids epoxies with similar performance issues.
Floor prep is critical on all epoxy flooring jobs. With all the “magic formulas” on the market today, the market can make it sound like prepping the floor is not necessary. Anyone who tells you prepping is not necessary is likely to be inexperienced with epoxy floor coating or is ok delivering a final product that is not in your best interest.
Depends. For most garage floor epoxy applications a primer is not needed. A primer makes for a better job because it adds another layer of epoxy and seals the floor at the same time. Some flooring epoxies will claim to be a primer, an epoxy and a topcoat all in one. But if you have any kind of heavy duty traffic, you need a primer and a true topcoat and for industrial floor epoxy applications, you need a primer, a thick epoxy layer and then a topcoat.
Yes! It’s important to know the differences between garage floor epoxies and garage paints, including the differences between different types of epoxies. Regular garage floor paints are single component products made in either oil or water based formats. They’re usually used for wall and ceiling applications and are not suited for applications like epoxy flooring that can have anything from heavy foot traffic to vehicles weighing many tons rolling over it. Epoxy floor paints are mostly a two component product whereas regular floor paints are a single component. Epoxies consist of a Part A which is the resin/pigment part and the Part B which is the hardener part. Much like epoxy glue when you mix Part A & Part B together they harden to form a very durable coating. That is if you use a good quality epoxy. The majority of water based epoxies are inferior and are no better than regular semi-gloss paint. A lot of epoxy flooring paints that are solids based are also inferior but it’s much harder to tell which are inferior and which are high quality.
When working with epoxy floor coating, you need to consider the pot life which is the time you have to work with once the epoxy is mixed. A good indicator of poor-quality epoxy floor coating is a long or unlimited pot life. Good epoxy flooring will have less than an hour pot life at 70 degrees. Any epoxy floor coating with an hour or more of pot life or that needs a wait time after mixing is not recommended as it tends to be poor quality and will not deliver a positive long-term result. When working with Mil grade epoxy, you want to mix no more than one gallon per person rolling. If two people are rolling you can mix 2 gallons of epoxy but you need to split that into two separate pails right after mixing. Mil grade epoxy cures via a thermal chemical reaction and not by air. So the more epoxy there is the more thermal reaction you get. Splitting a large mixed quantity into smaller portions slows down the curing process. A properly mixed batch of epoxy flooring will give you 40-45 minutes to apply without having to rush. Then when you apply the next batch to the wet edge it will reactivate the curing process and blend in with no seam lines. A high quality epoxy will cure to a seamless monolithic sheet of rock hard high gloss epoxy. Low quality epoxy paints will leave seam lines and cure to a much softer finish that will not look so good in a short period of time.
First off, epoxies and topcoats are two completely different products. Epoxies are either a base coat or a middle coat but always a coat that gets a coating over it, which we call a topcoat. This is because topcoats are made to be chemically harder than the epoxy coatings they cover. Epoxies are made to provide thickness and adhesion. ArmorGarage Topcoats are made with high quality urethane to provide durability and UV protection. So it's crucial you know about topcoats. You should steer clear of any epoxy flooring product that claims to not need a topcoat. If you’re applying it in your garage your hot twisting/turning tires will wear the high gloss finish off in no time. This applies to even 100% solids epoxies. Even though they are of higher quality they are nowhere near as hard as they have to be for vehicle generated abrasion.
Make sure the epoxy floor coating you buy is 100% solids based and an Aliphatic type as opposed to a Cycloaliphatic type, low solids or polyurea. You apply a topcoat with an abrasion rating suitable for the traffic on your floor. Avoid water-based epoxies and coatings that don't publish ratings for abrasion, adhesion and impact resistance. Not knowing these ratings is really risky in determining the quality and final outcome of your epoxy flooring finished result.