Of all the projects in my basement, this is the one I was the most nervous about! There are very specific directions when it comes to epoxying basement floors, and they are all time-sensitive. But, don’t worry. I’m going to share the entire process with you!
I’ve also found that the vast majority of tutorials on this are for garages. Well, you can also use this product in basements, although it’s going to be slightly different! Rust-Oleum does make a similar product meant for basements, but since the garage coating is stronger, I went with that.
Basement Project Recap:
So, because we didn’t have anywhere to store everything in our basement as I did these floors, I did this in two sections. I started with the back of the basement, which isn’t going to be seen as much in case I made mistakes on the first try, then moved to the front. Each side took about 5 days of work, plus 2 days of dry time. To keep on track, I created a schedule and was very realistic in what I could get done in a day.
Also, something to note, I did this during winter in Buffalo, which meant that it was pretty cold out. You want to make sure that your floors are above 50º before you apply the product, or it won’t apply correctly. Mine luckily was at the time. As winter went on over January and February, that may not have been the case, so doing this in that last week of December was about as late as I should’ve gone!
Here’s a look at my timeline:
My Basement Epoxy Shield Timeline (& how long everything took)
BACK OF BASEMENT
- Day 1: Clear back of basement by moving everything to the front
- Day 2: Cleaning (3.5 hours)
- Day 3: Patch in the morning and Primer in the evening (1.5 hours and 2 hours)
- Day 4: Epoxy Shield (2 hours)
- Day 5: Topcoat (1 hour)
- Days 6-7: Dry time
FRONT OF BASEMENT
- Day 8: Move everything from front to back
- Day 9: Cleaning (2.5 hours)
- Day 10: Patch in the morning and Primer in the evening (1.5 and 2 hours)
- Day 11: Epoxy Shield (2 hours)
- Day 12: Topcoat (including fixing area in the back) (1.5 hours)
- Days 13-15: Dry time
- Day 16: Move everything back
- Wire brush
- Scrub brush
- Rust-Oleum Degreaser
- Rust-Oleum Patch & Repair Kit
- Putty knife
- Paint roller covers
- Roller Handle
- Chip brush
- Paint Roller Tray
- Tray Liners
- Rust-Oleum Recoat Primer (if needed)
- Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield kit(s)
- Rust-Oleum Anti-Skid Additive
- Rust-Oleum Clear High-Gloss Top Coat
Step 1: Cleaning
This step was probably the most time-intensive step, especially when I cleaned the back of the basement because there isn’t a drain back there, so I had to mop up all the excess water!
First, you’re going to sweep and vacuum up any dirt, dust, etc. Then, if your basement floors were previously coated, like mine, you’ll want to take a wire brush and scrape away any loose or chipping paint. I had a few places where this was the case, and the brush worked great. I do, however, recommend wearing a mask when you do this. Protect those lungs! Then, you’ll sweep this up again.
Next, it’s time to use your Degreaser. This stuff really works wonders and the floor looks completely different after I was done! I poured the degreaser into a bucket, then added water, and just started pouring over the floor. I continued doing this until the entire floor was covered. Then, you let it sit for 20 minutes. While it’s sitting, I did find that I had to sort of babysit it because the basement floors aren’t level so it did move around a bit. I just took my squeegee and kept moving it around to make sure the entire floor stayed well saturated.
After twenty minutes, you can start scrubbing the floor using the scrub brush. You’ll start to see stains coming up pretty easily, so just keep going until it looks nice and clean!
Then, it’s time to start rinsing. On the side of the basement that has a drain, I moved all the water towards the drain using a squeegee, then took my bucket and poured more water, and continued until the soap suds were gone. On the side without the drain, I moved everything to the lowest corner and used a mop to keep getting rid of the water. This took forever, haha, but luckily it was the hardest part.
Then, before moving on, you’ll wait for 24 hours.
Cleaning Quick Guide:
- Sweet and Vacuum any debris.
- If the floor is previously coated, scrape any loose paint with a wire brush (wear a mask!). Sweep again.
- Mix Degreaser with water, and spread over the entire floor.
- Let Degreaser sit for 20 minutes.
- Use a scrub brush to clean floors.
- Completely rinse floors.
- Dry for 24 hours.
Step 2: Patch
My basement had quite a few little divots and cracks throughout, so this patch kit really helped to either get rid of the smaller ones or reduce the severity of the bigger ones. This is a pretty easy-to-use kit, but I do recommend using gloves because this stuff gets pretty sticky and dries really hard!
The kit comes with Part A (activator) and Part B (base), which you’ll mix together to activate. The kit recommends mixing these on cardboard, so I actually used the cardboard box that it came with, which was a perfect size once you open it up.
You’ll mix two parts of Part B with one part of Part A using a putty knife on the cardboard. DO NOT MIX EVERYTHING AT ONCE! You should do small amounts at a time since you have to use anything mixed within 20 minutes. It was also more manageable to do it in smaller amounts anyways!
Then, you’ll just spread the product on any cracks or divots until it creates a smooth surface. It spreads pretty easily, so you just want to make sure you’re blending to create a smooth surface.
If you need to do a second layer, you can apply this after 1-2 hours, otherwise, you’ll wait 8 hours until you can move on to the next step. This stuff dries pretty dang hard and it claims that you can sand it, but you’d probably need a pretty powerful sander to make it work. So, I just recommend being precise when you’re applying it so there aren’t any areas that may need sanding!
Patching Quick Guide:
- Open up cardboard box that kit came in to use to hold mix.
- Mix two parts of Part B with one part of Part A using a putty knife without using too much product at a time.
- Spread mixture over cracks using a putty knife, and spread until smooth.
- Dry for 8 hours.
Step 3: Prime (if the floor has been previously coated)
If your floor has been previously coated, you’ll need to apply this primer first. This primer basically makes it so that you don’t have to sand or grind down the previous coating. If you’re unsure if your floor is sealed, you can test this by pouring water on the surface. If the water beads up or stays on the surface, it’s been sealed. It was very clear that mine was because they were painted red!
Note: If your floors haven’t been sealed, you will skip this step, but will do an additional step during the cleaning, known as etching. The etching product comes with the EpoxyShield kit.
The primer is actually pretty similar to paint. It comes in a gallon, and you can apply it with a brush and roller. First, you’ll want to give the product a good mixing, then I started by applying around the edges using a chip brush. I do recommend using items like chip brushes and tray liners for this project because these products dry really hard and you don’t want to ruin your nice brushes or trays!
Once I had all my edges painted, I poured some primer into a tray and started rolling the paint. I highly recommend getting an extendable roller so that you’re not on your hands and knees. It’s much easier when you do this process standing!
Once it’s done, you’ll wait 6 hours before applying the EpoxyShield, but cannot wait more than 48 hours. Like I said, everything is time-sensitive!
Primer Quick Guide:
- Verify that your floors have been previously coated before using.
- Mix primer in the can.
- Use a chip brush to paint all the edges.
- Use a roller to roll on the remainder of the surface.
- Dry for 6 hours.
- Continue to the next step within 48 hours.
Step 4: Apply Epoxy Shield
Ah, the main event! Again, this was pretty straightforward once I got going, but I was still a bit nervous beforehand. But, this is where it all comes together!
The Epoxy Shield kit comes with a few things: the Part A and Part B product in one sealed bag that you’ll need to mix, the etching kit which you’ll need if your floor hasn’t been sealed or coated, and decorative paint chips.
First, you’ll need to mix Part A and Part B together. Mine came in a pouch that is sealed in the middle, that you need to basically burst by adding pressure. I found the best way to do this was to roll up part of the pouch, then just punch it until it finally breaks. It does require a bit of muscle! Then, once it bursts, you’ll shake the bag for 2-3 minutes to get everything mixed together. Once it’s all mixed, you’ll let it sit for 30 minutes.
Now, keeping track of time here is important. Once the product has been mixed, you do need to apply it within 2-4 hours depending on the temperature of the floor (there’s a chart in the box that explains this). Otherwise, the product will start to harden and it won’t apply correctly!
After you’ve let it properly sit, you start painting. You can take scissors and snip the corner of the bag, but be careful when you pour! It’s a pretty watery consistency, so don’t overdo it or you could splatter. Pour some into a paint tray, and then you can start edging your corners with a chip brush.
Once you have all your edging, you can start rolling. You’ll do this the same way you did the primer, with an extendable roller. However, the main difference here is the addition of decorative paint chips! You’ll want to roll in sections that are about 4 x 4 feet, then stop to add your paint chips. If you wait until you’re done, it’ll be hard to reach everywhere, and the Epoxy Shield will have dried in some sections, making it harder for the paint chips to stick! So, work in sections.
When applying the paint chips, I found it was easiest to toss them up in the air and let them land as they did, then I would sprinkle extra throughout where I thought it needed it. The paint chips aren’t required, but I enjoy the look of them. You can also buy them separately if you wanted to add even more!
Once everything is coated, you can walk on it and apply the topcoat in 24 hours. However, if you don’t apply the topcoat within 7 days, then decide to apply it later, you do need to sand it down so that it will properly adhere.
Epoxy Shield Quick Guide:
- Take everything out of the box and double-check the pot life of the product depending on temperature.
- Start mixing Epoxy Shield by bursting the seam in the bag.
- Mix within the bag for 2-3 minutes.
- Let the product sit for 30 minutes.
- Gently pour into a tray, and begin edging corners with a chip brush.
- Roll in 4×4 ft. sections, adding paint chips as you go.
- Dry for 24 hours.
Step 5: Top Coat
The topcoat is completely optional, and I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to spend the money doing so. In the end, I did, because I wanted to protect everything I just completed as much as possible! The topcoat is a clear, high gloss finish that gives it a more “showroom finish” look. It also helps to seal in the paint chips.
The top coat comes in the same burstable style bag as the Epoxy Shield coating, so you’ll follow those same steps here by bursting the seam and mixing for 2-3 minutes. You’ll also see an additional product in this box known as anti-skid. This is an additive you will mix in once it’s in the tray to ensure that the floors aren’t slippery when wet. And they do get very slippery without this product, so DEFINITELY add it.
Now, I did decide to add an extra bag of anti-skid to the front of the basement, because that’s where the sink is and I just wanted to be extra cautious. When I was doing the front, I used the entire anti-skid that came with the box for my first pour, which covered about a third of the floors. For the next pour, I added the additional anti-skid that came separately. Well, for some reason this created a completely different texture than the other product did. But, in a good way!
Applying the topcoat and getting a smooth surface was actually more difficult than I had thought, but the thickness of this anti-skid made it apply SO much better. I honestly wish I had known earlier because I would’ve just bought the extra product and only used that. I honestly have no idea why this is, because they seemingly are the same thing, but I HIGHLY recommend using the “sold separately” version instead. OK, now back to the directions:
Once the product has been mixed in the pouch, you can pour it into a tray and mix in the anti-skid with a paint stirrer. If you wanted to edge, you would do that now, but I opted not to because the product is clear, and I decided I didn’t need to be that precise! You’ll start rolling it on the floor just like you did the primer and coating. Once you’re done, you’ll let it dry for 24 hours before walking on it, and 3 days before heavy use.
I did actually find this part of the process to be a bit more difficult. First, it’s REALLY hard to see in some lighting where you have applied. I found myself re-rolling in multiple spots because I just couldn’t tell. But, even after it dried, I found that a few spots were still missed when I did the back of the basement. I think that part of the issue here is that the floors are so uneven, and I actually used a much thinner roller for the topcoat. There is a roller specifically for epoxy coatings, which I thought would be best, but I don’t recommend doing that unless your surface is smooth. I used a ⅜” nap for everything else, and I recommend doing that here. It just gets in some of these uneven surfaces better.
This left me in kind of a pickle because it was pretty clear where the area was that I missed because it was directly under a light and you could see the difference in sheen. Unfortunately, you can’t buy this product in small batches, and you can’t use some of it without mixing the entire bag. So, I had to wait until I was doing the front section, and come back and touch those areas up. The only problem is, I was just outside the window of the 7 days that are recommended to apply a topcoat. Luckily, you can lightly sand down these areas and it actually worked out well. I used low grit sandpaper and gently sanded down this area by hand. Then, I cleaned it up well and took a chip brush to make sure I was getting into all the areas. Now, you it looks much better (although not perfect). So, crisis averted!
Top Coat Quick Guide:
- Start mixing topcoat by bursting the seam in the bag.
- Mix within the bag for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour into tray and mix in anti-skid additive (I recommend buying this separately instead of using the one in the box).
- Optional: apply to edges with a chip brush.
- Roll on in sections, double-checking that you’re not missing any sections.
- Dry for 24 hours.
(After I finished the back and before I finished the front. What a difference!)
My Thoughts on the Epoxy Shield for my Basement Floors
Overall, I’m very pleased with how this all turned out! The only real trouble spots I experienced were because of the topcoat, but now I know for future use how to avoid that. If I were to ever have to coat another basement floor or a garage in a future home, I would absolutely use this product again. I love the look of it, and it feels much more durable. I also love how the paint chips add a fun look, while also disguising imperfections.
What do you think? Is this something you think you could tackle?