You can make lots of improvements that enhance the versatility of your garage, but if you want to make a significant, quick upgrade, start with the floor. A smooth, clean floor will make the garage a more inviting place to work and socialize.
Several DIY choices enable you to create durable finishes for concrete, including stains, paint and epoxy products. Before you apply them, however, you must start with a sound, smooth surface. You'll first need to repair cracked, pitted or spalled concrete.
Evaluate, then fix
Even in gentle climates, time, chemicals and wear-and-tear take their toll on a garage floor. If you live in a salt-belt state and your garage floor is more than five years old, it probably needs some attention. It may show only minor pitting and a few cracks, but if you've neglected it, the damage may require patching.
Fixes include concrete-patching products that are formulated to fill damage deeper than 1/8 in. and topping materials that can resurface rough concrete (for areas where the hard-troweled surface has deteriorated). You'll need to determine the extent of the damage and use the appropriate product. For example, the part of the floor that lies beneath your car's wheel wells can become deeply spalled and should be patched before you apply a resurfacing product.
A lightly pitted or spalled floor like this can be resurfaced. More extensive damage will need to be repaired first with a concrete product that can fill deep holes and cracks.
Most concrete-repair products will work indoors or outside, so also consider repairing areas such as walks, patios and basement floors while you're working. Once you've applied a resurfacer, you should paint, seal or stain the floor to protect it from damage.
A simple project
When it comes to resurfacing concrete, preparation is key. The cleaner the surface, the better the product will adhere. Resurfacing products won't stick if the surface has been painted or sealed because they rely on a mechanical bond with the concrete. You must strip old coatings by grinding or with chemicals (both of which are unpleasant and time-consuming).
For otherwise untreated concrete, scrub out grease and oil spots with a suitable degreasing product. (It's a good idea to scrub the entire floor.) Ideally, you should use a wire brush to remove loose concrete and then a pressure washer to remove embedded grime.
Before using any resurfacing product, it's essential to clean the floor and remove all traces of oil and grease. Use a pressure washer on concrete with embedded dirt.
Several companies manufacture concrete-resurfacing products. For this project, I used Rust-Oleum Epoxy Shield Concrete Resurfacer. The company describes it as an acrylic-polymer microcoating that can be used on concrete porches, patios, walkways, driveways, garages, basements, etc. When the recommended two coats are applied, each kit covers about 125 sq. ft. The coverage will vary depending on the porosity and texture of the surface. I found the application process to be simple and forgiving (see photo below). The finished surface can be walked on in eight hours and is ready for normal use in 24 hours.
Rust-Oleum's Concrete Resurfacer is a two-part mix of polymer and a Portland cement formulation – no water is used. Mix the parts in a 5-gallon bucket with the provided stirring blade and a drill.
Before applying the resurfacer, lightly mist the floor with a garden pump sprayer. This prevents the concrete from pulling moisture out of the mix too quickly.
The mix is rolled on rather than applied with a squeegee or trowel (like other resurfacing products). Load the roller by simply dipping it in the mixing bucket. For the best durability and leveling of damaged areas, two coats are recommended. It's possible to recoat in 30 to 60 minutes.