Should A New Garage Floor Be Sealed?

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Concrete garage floors often aren’t sealed as quickly as outdoor concrete, such as driveways. Since it’s protected from the harsh outdoor elements, the floor won’t necessarily be ruined if it isn’t sealed right away. Some people have floors that they’ve planned – and failed – to seal for years! But does that mean that it doesn’t need to be sealed at all? We’ve checked with flooring experts on just what are the benefits of sealing a new garage floor.
 
Again, technically, your garage floor might survive without being sealed. But finally, completing this important project lets you:
  • Increase the value of the home.
  • Get more use out of the garage, as it’s better protected from chemical spills and other abrasions.
  • Keep the garage looking nice and more like a showroom if you plan to use it with guests or as an extension of the home.
  • Reduce the frequency and intensity of regular cleaning.

Read more to learn about sealing concrete. We’ll explain just when it should be done – and how often you should redo it. This article also can give you some tips on what the best floor finishes are. Finally, you might be thinking you’ll just use paint instead. We’ll explain just why that’s a bad idea!

man applying sealant on garage floor using roller. Should A New Garage Floor Be Sealed

What Is The Best Finish For A Garage Floor?

There are a few popular sealants for garage floors. Epoxy is the most common, though many experts have recently begun to sing the praise of polyurea. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons, and you’ll have to pick the best finish for your own needs.

Epoxy

A freshly painted with a gray epoxy finish sprinkled with blue, black and white plastic chips

The most commonly used finish for a garage floor is epoxy floor paint. It’s well known and popular. Some homeowners avoid this one, though, because it can require mixing two separate chemicals to activate the epoxy. Improper mixing can cause failure for the epoxy to seal.

As a plus, it’s easy to add color. It has a nice glossy finish and looks attractive. Anti-slip options are also easy and abundant. Beware, though, that it will yellow with UV exposure. 

Acrylic 

Acrylic is less popular than epoxy because it isn’t as hardy. It only lasts a year or two. Yellowing and delamination can force homeowners into frequently reapplying this sealant. It adds the same attractive gloss as epoxy, but with less durability.

Polyurea

This is a newer option, first hitting the markets back in the ’90s. As such, many people are less familiar with polyurea than the more common finishes like epoxy. However, it’s been gaining traction and fans because it comes with a lot of benefits

Polyurea doesn’t require the mixing of chemicals – you simply open it and apply it like paint. It’s a little thicker, which makes it more durable. For this reason, it tends to be easier to apply evenly and consistently. Another bonus is that it’s UV stable. As a result, you won’t have to worry about the color yellowing or fading in time. It lasts longer as well, averaging 10 years rather than the two to five years quoted by other products.

The downsides of polyurea include the smell. It’s a solvent, and you’ll want your workspace to be well ventilated during the application. They don’t work well on surfaces with many small cracks or irregularities. If your floor is damaged, stick with 100% epoxy instead. Or read about filling hairline cracks in concrete here. And finally, it can be slippery when wet. If that’s a concern, be sure to include an anti-skid finish into your plans.

Garage workshop with tools & equipment

What Happens If You Seal Concrete Too Soon?

If the concrete is – literally – brand new, you might not want to wait to seal it. After all, the sooner it’s protected, the better, right? Well, no.

New concrete needs time to cure, roughly 30 days. Moisture in the concrete during this time will prevent most sealers from being effective. It may not adhere properly to the floor. Or, it may stick but have a hazy, off-colored appearance. It might even ruin the concrete itself  – moisture trapped by the sealer can weaken the concrete, cause cracks, or make it settle unevenly.

Wait till the concrete is dry and fully cured before sealing it. Also, be sure that the air temperature won’t be too cold. You don’t want anything below 50 degrees Fahrenheit while you work and for a day or two after.

How Often Do You Need To Seal Garage Floors?

The general rule for sealing concrete is to re-apply every two to five years. Clearly, there’s some room in that estimate alone. You’ll need to evaluate what sort of troubles your floor faces regularly. If you work on classic cars and spill lots of chemicals, you might want to seal a bit more often. Similarly, if you use a lot of heavy, abrasive machinery in your garage, you’ll want to keep the floors protected. 

Assorted gym and fitness equipment in a garage. Assorted gym and fitness equipment in a garage converted to a workout room

On the other hand, maybe your garage is swept regularly and just stores a few shelves and boxes. For these sorts of spaces, the demands placed on the sealer are already low. Because of this, it’s reasonable to expect the sealant to last a bit longer. And, as you’ve already read, material matters – acrylic sealants need to be redone more frequently than polyurea, for example.

In any case, it’s fortunate that resealing the floor is not a terribly labor-intensive job. Simply use paint rollers to roll the sealant across the floor in small areas. Work quickly and evenly. Let it dry for a few days, and you’re done again for a few years. The initial work of preparing an old, damaged floor for sealing is where most problems occur. After cleaning and sealing for the first time, repeating the process in the future should be fairly easy.

Should You Seal Or Paint Garage Floors?

Potentially, you should seal and paint garage floors. But there are a few factors to consider, so let’s walk through them step by step.

No matter what you do, no matter how often you sweep, a garage floor is a dust magnet. It just never really comes all the way clean. A big part of that is the nature of the floor itself. The pores in concrete soak up dirt and spills. The surface flakes off little bits of concrete, creating that never-ending dust. Without something covering the concrete and halting this cycle, the floor will always be, well, a concrete floor.

Garage urban house construction and shelter

So, maybe you think why not paint? It’s easier and cheaper than sealing. The only problem is, it’s hard to get very good results from painting the floor alone. The porous nature of the concrete, among other obstacles, makes it difficult. Keep in mind that when you hire a professional for the job, they don’t just paint the floor. They typically grind down the surface, seal the floor, and then paint. It’s expensive, but the only way to get even half-decent results.

Even with that effort, the floor will need to be repainted again in just a few years. Paints simply aren’t that durable. Sealing, in most cases, is the better alternative. If you don’t really need the painted look and style, just skip it. Protect the floor with a good sealant and leave well enough alone. Painting the first coat isn’t too bad, but it quickly becomes expensive and time-consuming to maintain. If you really want the paint, at least seal the floor first – this will give better and longer-lasting results.

Already painted and want to un-do it? Here’s some advice on “How to Remove Paint From Concrete? [5 Simple Steps].”

In Closing

Sealing a garage floor may not be technically necessary. The floor has protection from most of the harsher outdoor elements and probably won’t be damaged. However, sealing it still comes with many benefits that keep it durable and make it last longer. Concrete, til sealed, is porous and prone to absorbing grease, oil, dirt, and water. Over time, these make the floor less attractive and can cause damage. Sealed floors are easier to clean and look more appealing. The most common sealants are epoxy, acrylic, and polyurea, each with its own pros and cons.

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