If you are in a quandary over how to finish your basement floor, you might want to consider using an epoxy paint finish. I refinished my basement for the second time in 20 years, and obsessed over the choices. My wife and I explored the various flooring choices, including carpet, self-adhesive carpet squares, linoleum, tiles, etc. I worked out price comparisons and found them all to be very expensive propositions.
Before deciding on a choice, I had to go back to square one: functionality and durability. These were the two most important factors for us due to a number of reasons. First of all was the threat of wetness or water on the floor. This is always a potential problem for basements, no matter where you live and how well the soil drains water away from the foundation footing. And, your appliances are constantly in a conspiracy against the homeowner, deciding to discharge their fluid contents onto your newly installed carpet or worse yet, fine wooden floor. The laundry room is the biggest perpetrator in this regard, with washing machine hoses bursting or the shut-off valves leaking. Then you have the water heater that has a relatively short life span.
Our floor is poured concrete and we wanted to make use of the approximately 1,000 square feet of surface as a family room. The self-adhesive carpet tiles were relatively expensive, costing roughly .29 a square foot, or $290 total. Forget about a wooden floor, as that was astronomically expensive. I didn’t want to put tiles down again, either, as the cheapest of these were around .90 a square foot, or $900! The old ones were popping up due to water entering the basement years ago when we had tenants living here.
My primary concern was the water issue. Then one day while shopping at Home Depot, I noticed a garage floor paint finish advertisement. It sealed the concrete and gave it a really nice finish. I then searched for a basement type product, and bingo! There it was! Rust-Oleum had a product for both. They are named after the use, i.e., EPOXYShield Basement Floor Coating, and the same name for the garage coating. After studying the application process and the price, I bought two boxes. They were more than enough to cover the surface and only cost $65 each (my search today shows the price has been lowered to $54 each). So for $130 plus tax, I could refinish my floor and protect it against watery accidents, too.
If you have children, with the usual toys that can damage floors, this is a bonus. The paint has been on my floor for a year now, and I don’t see any evidence of wear in the high traffic areas. Everyone who has seen the basement since then has had nothing but positive comments. They love the look and the durability .
One thing I had to do, though, was remove all the existing floor tiles before painting. I almost gassed myself out of existence when using a powerful solvent to remove the tile adhesive. Hopefully, you have a bare concrete floor to start with. Your lungs will thank you! Assuming you do, it’s important to prepare the concrete for the epoxy paint. A degreasing cleaning agent is usually mopped on and rinsed off, then allowed to dry completely. Then, I strongly suggest you turn off the lights and use a strong shop light or flashlight, hold it at a sharp angle to the floor, and look for sections that need patching. Understand, any pits or cracks, etc., will show through the paint. I used a concrete patch mix to fill them in, and it didn’t take long to do it. The preparation is the most important step in this process.
Then you mix the catalyst with the paint, and apply it with a long-handled floor roller for the large, open areas. I used a 4-inch brush to do the edge painting, followed by the roller. You have to work somewhat quickly as the epoxy sets within 4 hours or so. Also, you can’t seal up the unused paint for later touch up as it will also set hard as a rock.
After painting a section, preferably about 9 square feet, stop and sprinkle the color chips onto the wet paint! At first I thought it was kind of lame, but I did it and am really glad. The chips are extremely thin, setting into the paint surface and they don’t wear off. It adds a nice touch to the finished look. Just make sure you hold your handful of chips high off the floor and avoid dropping clumps of them. It’s very easy. The proof is that I did it and it looks great!
When you paint the next section, you can easily overlap the previous paint and chips without it looking obvious. You’ll get the hang of it in no time. The kits come with excellent directions, so be sure to review them thoroughly before starting. Now that I’m totally satisfied with the basement floor, I plan on using the EPOXYShield on my garage floor this Spring.