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Are garage floor paints and garage floor epoxies the same?

By Jack Josephsen

Garage floor epoxies, garage floor coatings, garage floor paints...they’re all the same aren’t they? They might sound like similar stuff, but there are some big differences you need to be aware of when choosing a garage floor.

On this page we’ll run through a couple of the more important distinctions and explain how damaging using the wrong type of garage floor coating can be. We use the word damaging because treating garage floor paints and garage floor epoxies as identical can not only lead to failures on individual projects, it can also hurt the entire floor coating industry.

As you’ll see, both types have a role to play, however if they’re seen as interchangeable then results will be poor, satisfaction low, and they could both eventually be tarnished as troublesome flooring options.

Garage floor epoxies are more durable than garage floor paint

It is true that a garage floor epoxy will be more durable than a garage floor paint, but why is the durability so different? The answer lies in the stuff used to make them and how these materials form a trafficable film.

Without getting too bogged down in the technical jargon, garage floor paints are more like standard house paint in that they consist of long polymer chains (mostly acrylics) dispersed in organic solvent or water. Once applied, the solvent evaporates and the chains become entangled to form a continuous film. Think of spaghetti strings smoothed out on a floor somehow. Garage floor epoxies, on the other hand, have much shorter polymer chains and form a more structured, stronger film through chemical reactions. Think of a 3-D lattice.

There are some rather abstract concepts there, so let’s take a look at what it all means practically.

When to use garage floor paint

The weaker bonds in garage floor paint make it more vulnerable to both physical and chemical attack. These types of products are therefore “light duty” at best; able to withstand light foot traffic and splashes of harmless liquids like water or oil. If they’re applied in more aggressive environments, it should be expected that damage will occur. Some garage owners are completely happy with that prospect given these products typically come with a lower price tag, but more on that shortly.

The opening of a garage showing a green garage floor paint that has worn through to the concrete.

When to use garage floor epoxy

In contrast, the stronger, higher density garage floor epoxy films are capable of withstanding some nasty treatment, i.e. ugly industrial environments with heavy vehicle traffic and/or harsh chemical exposure are usually within their repertoire. As far as residential or retail applications go, floor owners are often looking to re-decorate before these floor coatings start to show significant signs of wear and tear.

The take home message is this: on a floor that’s going to cop a fair degree of punishment like a garage floor, if you want it to last then you must be looking at garage floor epoxies and not garage floor paints.

A close up of the passenger side of a car that's sitting on top of a new garage floor epoxy.

Garage floor epoxies cost more than garage floor paint

It doesn’t matter what product you’re looking at or industry you’re in, it seems human nature can’t resist the lure of a good price even if the value is perhaps better elsewhere.

Before we go any further, we should clarify there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, even in a flooring context. The trouble only arrives when the consequences of doing so aren’t fully realised. Let us explain.

The low price of garage floor paint

Garage floor paints will always be much cheaper than garage floor epoxies when it comes to garage floor coatings. Typically high levels of solvent, pigment and filler equates to an attractive price per litre and the application of very thin coats means the total cost for a painted floor will be on the low end of the scale.

Garage floor epoxies, meanwhile, struggle to get as low. The raw materials are generally more expensive and while solvents can feature in some products, the levels usually aren’t anywhere near as high. All of this leads to thicker films with more protection and superior performance, but also a greater cost.

An installer applying a grey garage floor epoxy with a roller.

How to decide - garage floor paint or garage floor epoxy?

As with all goods and services, you have a big decision to make relating to price vs value. Do you go with the cheaper garage floor paint or the more durable garage floor epoxy? The price is obviously lower with the paint, but the value is normally greater with the epoxy, i.e. something that costs twice as much but lasts four times longer normally represents a better deal in the eyes of most.

Well, the answer is: it doesn’t really matter as long as you know what you’re in for!

Yes, the cheaper floor paint won’t last as long. Yes, it will probably need another coat in a year or so depending on the traffic. But that might be ok for your circumstances. Your budget might not be enough for a high-quality garage floor epoxy, or you might be selling soon and just want to freshen things up without spending too much. As mentioned before, both types of garage floor coatings have roles to play.

The problems only occur with garage floors when expectations don’t line up with what was paid for. For example, putting a garage floor paint down and expecting it to look like new five years later is probably going to end in disappointment. If a long-lasting garage floor is the goal, you have to forget about price alone and seek greater value through the more durable garage floor epoxies.

A smiling homeowner and her daughter standing on their new garage epoxy floor.

Want to see examples of garage floor epoxies?

If you're looking for inspiration with your garage epoxy flooring project, you can view a selection of our past projects here:

Garage epoxy floor example - garage and sunroom
Garage epoxy floor example - garage
Garage epoxy floor example - garage

Frequently Asked Questions

Proven Garage Epoxy Flooring Suppliers

Real World Epoxies has formulated, manufactured and supplied high-quality garage epoxy flooring systems for more than two decades. We stand behind our products because we only use proven, high-quality materials that we know will perform as expected. You can trust our garage epoxy flooring systems for your garage flooring project.

Let us help you with your garage epoxy flooring needs when you fill out one of our contact forms or call us on 1300 EPOXIES (1300 376 943).

Our Vision

To help build a strong resin flooring industry that sits alongside timber, carpet, tiles and vinyl as a mainstream flooring option.

Our mission

To  eliminate preventable failures
that hurt the resin flooring industry
and prevent it from reaching its full potential. 

Our Promise
To only supply proven, reliable, safe products, with no sales talk, and a commitment to help get the best possible outcome for their projects.
Our Values
Problem Solving

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