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Best-looking floor in town, two-part epoxy floor covering

Can a homeowner epoxy project look as spectacular as a new-car showroom? Yep, this stuff is scary beautiful.

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Using epoxy as a floor covering

Shop for garage flooring and you'll find a full range of floor products described as epoxy. Entry-level, solvent-based epoxy kits, available for about $150 for a 2-car garage, match the budget for some. At the top end, you can spend $5 or more per square foot for professionally installed, 100 percent solid epoxy.

DIYers can now apply top-drawer epoxy products. The Wolverine Coatings materials for this 18x24' garage floor (three task-specific 2-part products plus 65 pounds of custom epoxy flakes) cost about $1,000. Was it worth the investment in materials and three days' labor? The results say "yes."

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You don't need a perfect floor to start

1. Ten years of oil stains, left, and spalling (pockmarked concrete, right) provide an afternoon of work to prepare the 18x24' floor. Ice-melting products were the primary cause of the spalling.

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Start with a good cleaning

2. To attack the oil stains, mix a 1:2 solution of water and Wolverine OrganiClean 935. The nontoxic cleaner is specifically formulated for concrete stains typically found in garages.

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Next, a good scrubbing

3. Wet the oil stain with water, apply the OrganiClean 935 solution, and then scrub the spot thoroughly. A kitchen scrubber with stiff plastic bristles works well.

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Rinse and dry

4. Rinse the stained area with clean water, then collect the fouled water with a wet/dry vacuum. A squeegee also works well to push water out the door. Rinse another time and let the concrete dry.

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Rough it up a bit

5. To provide tooth for the epoxy primer, prep the concrete with a floor grinder. We rented this grinder with diamond cutters (sometimes called a terrazzo grinder) for $300; the task took 212 hours.

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Grind the hard-to access areas

6. Use a 412 " diamond cup wheel (about $28) mounted on a right-angle grinder to open up the concrete surface that the diamond cutters on the larger floor grinder couldn't reach.

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Deepen the saw cuts

7. With the diamond cup wheel (shown) or a concrete-grinding wheel, grind a V-notch in the existing saw cuts. The notch spreads out expansion pressure and reduces the chance of the epoxy coat splitting.

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Clean and fill the cracks

8. After grinding the V-notches, vacuum out the cracks, then fill the cracks with backer rod (214 times as wide as the crack). The backer rod plugs a "bottomless crack," which means less filler (next slide).

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Fill the depressions

9. To fill the spall divots, mix seven parts of mortar sand and one part of BondTite 1101. The filler doesn't shrink; err on the side of too little filler rather than creating a hump.

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Level any bumps or protusions

10. Ooops! A hump at the saw-cut fillers. But no worry. After the filler dries, sand any bumps or blemishes with a block sander and 80-grit sandpaper.

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Grind a trough at the garage door edge

11. At the garage door, grind a 116 "-deep trough to provide a stronger layer of epoxy at this high-traffic point. We opted for a concrete-grinding wheel over the more-aggressive diamond cup.

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Proper preparation is a must

12. Follow directions and formulas carefully for your square footage as you pour Part A and Part B in clean mixing buckets. Trust the formula: Too thick of a primer won't cure properly.

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A slow, thorough mix is next

13. With a heavy-duty mixing paddle and portable corded drill, mix the BondTite 1101 (an epoxy primer) for 4 minutes as recommended. Time yourself! Poorly mixed epoxies won't cure properly.

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Pour on the primer

14. Working in sections of no more than 250 square feet, pour ribbons of the primer on the floor. With an open time of 30 minutes at 70° F before curing begins, you'll need to be organized.

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Roll out the primer

15. Roll the primer with a 38 -nap lint-free roller cover. "Many pros use an 18"-wide roller," a professional advises, "but 9" is easier to control. Plus, you're less apt to be uneven in high and low spots."

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Brush along the edges

16. After the primer cures, mix up the two-part gray LiquaTile 1184 epoxy. While a helper distributes ribbons of epoxy on the floor, cut in the perimeter of the garage with an inexpensive brush.

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Spread the epoxy

17. Use a notched squeegee (see bottom photo; available with product) to spread and evenly distribute the ribbons of LiquaTile 1184 epoxy across the floor.

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Next up, a squeegee and roller

18. With a helper, squeegee and roll the LiquaTile 1184 in sections no more than 250 square feet (for this garage, about half the floor). As before, work efficiently; open (working) time is 30 minutes at 70° F.

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Throw on the flakes

19. Cover the wet epoxy with DecoFlakes. Toss the flakes into the air (like dispersing grass seed) and watch them flutter to the floor. For the Moody Granite pattern, we covered the floor with 65 pounds of flakes (white, gray, and black).

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Pick up the excess flakes

20. The next morning (after curing), sweep up loose DecoFlakes with a stiff-bristle broom. If you chose the same Moody Granite look, you should get your first glimpse of full coverage of flakes.

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Scrape the loose flakes

21. Because you want a flat surface for the final coat, scrape the loose DecoFlakes aggressively with a 4"-wide plastic scraper. Finally, apply EnduraShield 2254, a clear two-part topcoat, as recommended with accompanying instructions.

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