This post is a part of A DIY guide on How to apply an epoxy garage flooring
Your first coat will be a color base coat or a primer coat depending on which epoxy system you are installing. Depending on the manufacturer you will have approximately 40 minutes working window in ideal conditions. If the temperatures are warmer this working window will shorten and if temperatures are cooler it will lengthen. Be mindful of the working window.
Make sure that your rollers, chip brushes and epoxy are ready and staged. If you are applying vinyl color flakes, ensure that they are ready and staged as well.
Tip: Before mixing your epoxy, roll your roller over a piece of duct or painter tape to get rid of any lint that may be present on it. This will prevent the lint from showing up on the floor.
As soon as the epoxy is mixed, start spreading it out along the back border of the delegated section for which it was mixed for. Move the ribbon back and forth across the whole section until it is all poured out.
If you are not working with contraction joints or saw cuts for borders, don’t pour the mix out over the minimum coverage rate for the amount mixed. For example, If you have mixed 1.5 gallons to cover 60m² – 80m², Pour the whole amount of epoxy out in ribbons over 60m² of floor. As it is the first coat and you cannot know how much epoxy will be absorbed by the concrete, it is better to start rolling for 60m² of coverage first. If you have epoxy left over after rolling 60m², continue rolling on the additional 15m² if it allows without stretching it.
Once it is poured on the floor, begin rolling it out by starting in the back corner. Ensure that you roller is preloaded with a ribbon of epoxy. This will remove any air in the roller and will diminish the chances of air bubbles rolled into the coating. Make sure to keep the roller loaded all the time. It is okay to roll quickly.
Tip: You can judge the amount of epoxy on the roller by paying attention to its sound. Loud roller means it’s going thin and quite roller means epoxy is going thick.
While the first installer rolls out the epoxy, the second installer should preload the chip brush and start cutting in at the edges with his spiked shoes on. Once this is done, he can mix another batch of epoxy or apply the optional vinyl chips on the areas of the floor that have already been back rolled.
After having rolled out a section, start rolling back. This is important because it helps in eliminating bubbles, any marks from the roller, and imperfections of application and also provides a uniform thickness of the epoxy.
For the back rolling process, start by rolling forward and then roll backwards on the same track in a direction perpendicular to the initially rolled out epoxy. Cover a 6“ track with epoxy and let the weight of the roller do the job. To smooth out the epoxy, go over the same track again.
After back rolling, take the roller and move it to the next track that you want to cover. Make sure you overlap the previous one. Continue doing this until you have to start a new row and make sure the new row overlaps the previous one as well. It is alright to walk with your spiked shoes on a section that has been back rolled.
An 18“ roller will do both the initial application and back rolling twice as fast as compared to the 9” roller, it also reduces the chance of creating a roller line in the epoxy.
Note: Some epoxy require you to make a second pass after a predetermined amount of time. Always check with the epoxy manufacturer.
If your first coat is the primer coat, it is okay to spread a thin layer if you feel you don’t have enough to cover the section that you are working on or the entire floor. This may happen if the surface is porous and absorbs more primer than expected.
Do not spread a thin layer if the epoxy is the color coat, as this is the high build coat, If this is not spread thick enough, then its durability is decreased and the floor will be less glossy which will be obvious.
The epoxy may go into the contraction joints and saw cuts. Do not worry if this happens. The roller will pull out any epoxy out of the joint. If the contraction joints are too deep and the roller can’t do the job, then use your chip brush to push the epoxy out of the joints as you roll.
Finish any touch up immediately and do not wait until after back rolling is done. The epoxy can become sticky, and any touch up done at that time will make it look worse.
Tip: Do a complete back roll on the area that you touched up. If you fix the spot with one quick pass of the roller, that area may look different from the surrounding area when you are done.
If you are working alone, after pouring out the epoxy on the floor, cut in with the chip brush. After cutting in, work quickly and start rolling the epoxy. If you are using color flakes, start tossing them after you are done with back rolling. You should be able to complete the section within your working window if you keep the section small (30m² – 38m²).
Any remaining epoxy can be scooped up from the floor into the mixing bucket for disposal using drywall taping knife, putty knife or old dustpan.
You have time to clean up when you are done with the first coat and wait for it to cure. Put the used roller and the used chip brush in the used bucket, and let it dry before dumping in the trash. Clean everything with your rags and cleaning solvent to clean everything used during the epoxy application process e.g spiked shoes, roller frames, mixing paddles.