Since most garage floors are made from concrete and are as hard as stone, many people have the mistaken belief that concrete garage floors are maintenance-free. Unfortunately, a concrete garage floor is far from it. Even though it seems to be solid as stone, it really isn't. In fact, the concrete in a garage is often permeable, so moisture can work its way into the seemingly solid mass and will actually help break it down over time. A permeable garage floor can also end up with unattractive stains from spills of oil, antifreeze, chemicals, even soft drinks. Sealing your concrete garage floor will effectively fill the little holes in the concrete surface and stop any moisture from penetrating.
What's a Concrete Sealer?
There are two types of concrete sealers on the market, film formers that create a film on the surface of the concrete, and penetrating sealers that actually penetrate into the concrete surface and bind with the concrete itself.
Film formers are usually acrylic products that sit on the surface forming a shiny, hard to penetrate the top layer.
This makes them ideal for applications where appearance is important. However, because they are on the surface, film formers can be subject to peeling, scuffs, and scratches. Because they wear over time, their manufacturers recommend film-forming sealers be reapplied every three to four years
Penetrating sealers actually sink into the concrete and literally become part of it, filling up the tiny holes in the concrete. They are great for preventing moisture intrusion.
Since they are actually part of the concrete, penetrating sealers aren't as susceptible to wear and don't need to be reapplied every few years. Penetrating sealers work particularly well in areas where freezing temperatures are common.
Sealing Your Garage Floor
Sealing a garage floor is straight forward and doesn't require any special equipment or skills, making it an ideal DIY project.
Start by clearing everything from your garage then sweep or blow out any dust or dirt. Pay particular attention to any oil or grease stains on the floor. No sealer can adhere to concrete if there is anything on the surface. Tough stains can be removed by spreading some TSP (trisodium phosphate) powder or even kitty litter on the stain and leaving it overnight. (TSP is a cleaning product that will cut through any oil or grease stains).
Next, thoroughly clean the entire garage floor using a commercial garage floor cleaning product or TSP mixed with water. Allow the floor to dry thoroughly, then cut in the sealer along the edges with a paintbrush and finish sealing the floor with a long-handled roller or even a garden sprayer.
When sealing your floor make sure the area is well ventilated and if you're spraying the sealer, wear safety glasses and a dust mask.