To begin with on this epoxy flooring job, I recommend using Rustoleum Epoxy Sheild degreaser, Epoxy Sheild concrete patch and repair, the Epoxy Sheild itself, and Epoxy Sheild concrete etch (which comes in the Epoxy Shield kit) for this process.
Do not use this product right away if your concrete is sealed, however. Run a test; drip water on the concrete; if the water beads up your concrete is already sealed and you will have to chemically strip off the old sealer before you can epoxy your garage floor. Also, do not use this product until your concrete is at least 2-3 months old.
Additionally, on the Rustoleum web site we learn that: "EPOXY SHIELD should not be applied when air temperatures are below 60 degrees fahrenheit and surface temperatures are below 55 degrees fahrenheit. You also should not use these products if the overnight temperatures are forecasted to fall below 50 degrees fahrenheit." Even though they don't say so, its also probably not a good idea to apply this stuff in rainy or damp weather.
Now, if your floor was previously painted, the folks at "This Old House" say: "For [previously] painted floors: Using a floor maintainer fitted with a light-sanding pad, scuff the paint to degloss it. Sweep away the dust. Then, using a bristle broom, scrub down the surface with an all-purpose cleaner. Rinse the floor thoroughly and let it dry for at least 4 hours."
You will need two boxes of the product for ONE COAT on 2 car garage. One coat can turn out ok, or even good, on really clean concrete, but if you have any stains at all it will come out much better if you use two coats (4 boxes). The downside to this is that the second coat goes on so much better than the first that one box is mostly wasted (or possibly not used at all), but I would mix it anyway because the last thing you want to do is come up short on product.
You will want to clean any oil spots with Epoxy Sheild degreaser and patch any big holes or cracks with Epoxy Sheild concrete patch and repair before etching. Follow the instructions and don't start the Epoxy process until recommended by these products.
To start, thouroughly sweep all dust and particulate matter out of the garage, especially from the corners (you can use a paint brush for this.)
Follow the directions to etch the concrete. I like this brush/sponge that you can buy at Orchard Supply, the "O cedar pro scrub 10 inch roller mop." I have found that you will have to work pretty hard to get all the etching powder up of the floor; maybe use a regular mop for this stage. The powder resolidifies when the floor dries. You can dry the floor with a fan if you're in a hurry, just make sure it is completely dry.
For preparation, tape any edges that you want to end up straight, and it works well to tape plastic across the front completely over the driveway for all the mixing and such. You can combine taping for a straight edge and the taping for the plastic, just put 1/2 of the tape against the edge and the other 1/2 over the plastic. It is a very good idea to clean away anything that could blow into the garage BEFORE you start painting in case a wind picks up (it will!). If stuff does manage to land on your paint job, DO NOT try to get it off. Just let it dry with the stuff on there and then it will just sweep off when the epoxy coat is dry.
In the above example I taped a line under the cabinates because it would have been too difficult to get a brush back there well enough with the time limit of this product, which is about 2 hours. If you are taping a line, run your thumb hard along the edge that will be seeing paint, so no paint gets underneath the tape. If you have a lot of detail painting you would have to do it in a seperate session. USE KNEE PADS when cutting (painting with a brush around the edges). Cut EVERYTHING first, the sides and especially the grooves if the concrete is grooved like the above example, than roll it all, of course. Keep in mind that it's really very much like painting with glue! (It is glue, I suppose) so you have to move fast.
Follow directions; mix the product well. If you are only doing one coat or you are doing the finish coat YOU MUST MIX BOTH BOXES AT ONCE. If you don't, you will end up with a giant lap line right down the middle of your garage because this stuff is somewhat glossy and it dries so fast. Let it dry overnight before you do a second coat.
Use gloves! - The excess that ends up on your paint pole or brush handle will get so sticky towards the end that it will start trying to pull the skin off your hands.
Use a 3/4 inch nap roller especially if there are imperfections like chips or small holes in your concrete; it really holds a lot of paint and it will speed you up over these problem areas.
Using a 6 foot paint pole is essential for this. Move fast and keep a wet edge. Paint in 4 foot by 4 foot sections and roll it out even. Add the sprinkles to these sections if it is the final coat. Obviously, paint yourself OUT of the garage, not into a corner.
You can put small blocks at the edges under the garage door (even if you have an automatic garage door opener) so the rubber bottom of the door doesn't close on the epoxy for 24 hours, which will really mess up the front edge of your job. Also, on the Rustoleum web site we see this dialog: "Q: How long should the overhead garage door be left open to avoid cloudiness/blushing as EpoxyShield dries? A: If you can leave the door open for 3-4 hours, that will let the finish dry to the touch. This is the most critical period."
Again, this stuff is like glue so you will probably have to use a utility knife at the edge of the blue tape to cut it out occasionally when you're pulling it off at the end (after 24 hours dry time) if you used any. Be careful with the knife, ALWAYS cut away from any part of your body!
I seem to remember the directions saying your floor should cure for a whole WEEK before you drive on it; please check this fact and stick to whatever they recommend.
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