Floor Paints and Stains

Floor Paints & Stains
You probably spent a lot of time deciding how the floors in your house were going to look. Carpeting color and type in the bedroom, stain for hardwood floors in the hallway, linoleum or tile for the kitchen — all of it was carefully considered. Many people, however, neglect the floor of their garage, porch or patio when considering how they want their house to look. While it’s true that garage floors are subject to oil, dirt and grime on a regular basis, that doesn’t mean they can’t look good. Applying paint and stains to floors located outside your house can keep them looking shiny and clean for extended periods of time in spite of the daily rigors they face. Consider the following questions to learn more about the paints and stains you can apply to outdoor floors:
        • What types of floor paint are available?
        • What types of stain are available?
        • What types of epoxy are available?
        • How are floor paints and stains applied?
        • What features would you like to have?

Paint, Epoxy, Stain and Application

Garages are one area outside your house that will benefit immensely from being painted or stained. In addition to adding aesthetic value, painting a garage floor will help protect it against stains. Dingy porches and patios can be brightened up considerably, providing a more enticing and comfortable outdoor space. Unlike paints and stains used indoors, substances designed for outdoor application are made to withstand more extreme temperatures and harsher wear. Applying paints and stains is fairly easy, though it can take some time for them to dry, particularly in a garage. Make sure you have all of the materials necessary before you start and plan to park your car outside for at least a few days.
Paints: Paints used on floors, whether they are wood or concrete, are generally oil- or latex-based. They can be used on porches, decks, basements, patios, siding, trim, patio furniture, trellises and more. Latex is the most commonly used type of paint. It adheres well to different surfaces, is easy to apply and lets water vapor escape to prevent delamination, or the separation of paint layers. Spilled latex paint can easily be cleaned up with water. Oil-based paints provide a hard, shiny finish. Instead of water, mineral spirits are used for cleanup work after oil-based paints are applied.
        • Outdoor paint is often referred to as “porch and floor paint”
        • Acrylic latex paints are durable and resist water and mildew formation
        • Latex paint is available in two different sheens, low-luster or glossy
        • Latex paint may or may not require a primer
        • Oil-based paints generally require a primer
        • A urethane enamel finish helps protect against scratches and scuffing
Epoxy: Epoxy, a durable plastic-like material, is a type of paint that is most effective when used on garage floors. It is available as a one- or two-part mixture and consists of a water-based coating that utilizes a chemical reaction to strengthen it. It is tougher than other paints and stains and is designed to stand up to what is known as hot-tire pickup. As cars drive on hot streets during the summer, much of that heat is absorbed by their tires. When you return home and park in the garage, that intense heat sears your garage floor, ultimately causing paint to peel or stain to disintegrate. Epoxy does the best job of remaining intact despite the presence of hot tires. While it offers many advantages, epoxy cannot be applied to floors that consistently hold moisture, as water will interfere with the bonding process. If you notice that your garage floor is often damp, you may not be able to apply epoxy.
        • Resistant to abrasion and creates strong adhesion
        • Offers effective chemical and weather resistance
        • One-part epoxy is premixed
        • Two-part epoxy must be mixed together with a stick or drill mixer
        • Two-part epoxy must be applied within 4-6 hours of mixing to avoid drying
        • Epoxy may be solvent-based, water-based or 100% solid
        • Water-based epoxy doesn’t emit hazardous fumes and is easiest to apply
Stains: Concrete and floor stains are often easier to apply than paints, though they will also require more frequent reapplication. Solvent-based stains are tough and durable while waterborne acrylic stains don’t create fumes. Acid stain is one type of stain that can be used to both protect and add a unique appearance to concrete. Rather than coating concrete like paint, acid stain causes a chemical reaction that alters the color and appearance. In addition to garage floors, it can be used on walkways, driveways, patios, bathroom floors and more.
        • Look for water-repellant stains to extend floor life
        • Stains are available in a range of colors
        • Protect acid stain with a sealer or wax to ensure longevity
        • Acid stain works equally well on old and new concrete
        • Wood stains range from natural to dark



Points to Consider

Epoxy • One-part
• Two-part
• Available in multiple colors
• Highly durable and abrasion-resistant
• Ideal for use on concrete
• May be more expensive and difficult to apply
Paint • Oil
• Latex
• May not withstand hot tires as well as epoxy
• Latex offers excellent adhesion
• Oil-based paints are ideal for porches and patios
• Latex paints are excellent for garages
Stain • Acid
• Wood
• Require more frequent reapplication
• Concrete stains provide a pigmented, marbled appearance
• Wood stains are available in a range of hues

Application: After being poured, it may take up to 90 days until concrete is ready to be painted or stained. Prior to applying paint or stain to any surface, you’ll need to make sure it’s completely clean. Get rid of as much oil, dirt and grease as possible. You’ll also need to remove previous coats of paint or sealer if you’re applying a stain. Floors may need to be etched before they are primed. After paint or stain has been applied, drying time will vary according to temperature and humidity. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity levels will require longer drying time. You may have to wait up to a week before parking your car in the garage after applying epoxy. Always make sure the area you’re working in is properly ventilated and use gloves and goggles to protect your skin and eyes. Garage floors that are constantly damp may be impossible to successfully stain or paint.
        • Most paint requires the application of a primer before use
        • Apply when temps are between 50°F and 90°F (consult manufacturer’s instructions for precise parameters)
        • Intermix multiple containers of the same paint to ensure uniformity
        • If a second coat must be applied, apply it in the opposite direction from the first
        • Add a coat of wax on top of epoxy to make floors easier to clean
        • Use tape and tarps to protect walls, doors and other areas you want to keep clean while you paint


Nonskid Additive: Painted surfaces may be slippery, especially when they’re wet. Applying a nonskid additive to your newly painted floor will help you avoid accidents when it’s raining or snowing.
Cleaner: Cleaning a floor is an essential step in prepping it for application of paint or stain. Many multipurpose cleaners are available that will do an excellent job of removing a wide variety of stains. If your floor is heavily mildewed, look for a mildew stain remover.
Modular Plastic Floor: If you don’t want to spend time cleaning and applying paint or stain to an outdoor floor, you may want to consider a modular plastic flooring system. These interlocking tiles snap together with ease and can be used to cover large areas. They come in a range of colors and are both impact and stain resistant. Vinyl floor mats are somewhat less impressive aesthetically, but they provide a more economical alternative.