How to Protect Your Garage Floor From Salt and Wet Snow - Backyard Boss
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How to Protect Your Garage Floor From Salt and Wet Snow

When it’s the middle of winter, who wants to deal with melting slush in cold temperatures?

Although it doesn’t seem like a big problem at first, letting your concrete floors collect snow run-off from your driveway or garage door can lead to more than just a huge mess— it could also destroy your garage flooring!

Avoid that hassle and protect your garage surface and driveway from winter sludge using flooring reinforcement and shield solutions that you can do on your own!

What You’ll Need to Protect Your Garage Floor

storage area in a garage space
Image Credit: trekandshoot on Canva

Materials for Cleaning

You have several options to choose from when protecting your garage floor from snow runoff and salty water. No matter which direction you take, you always start by cleaning your floor.

  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Duster

Materials for Epoxy Coating

The epoxy resin fills the porous spaces in concrete and is a long-term solution that protects your garage flooring. While this is a great shield, this also has a time-consuming prep and installation process and can only be applied under specific conditions.

  • Concrete degreaser
  • Concrete etcher
  • Concrete patch kit
  • Epoxy resin kit
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Plastic sheet
  • Duct tape
  • Squeegee
  • Stiff scrub brush
  • Diamond blade grinder
  • Plastic sprinkling can
  • Flat paintbrushes
  • Paint rollers
  • Paint pots and pans
  • Paint chips (optional)

Materials for Vinyl Flooring

If you want the protection but don’t want the labor-intensive process, containment floor mats are for you! It comes in rolls of vinyl flooring and can be easily installed at any time but is less permanent than epoxy resin.

  • Vinyl garage floor rolls
  • Double-sided carpet tape
  • Utility knife
  • Garage door threshold rubber seal (optional)

Protecting Your Garage Floor for Winter

Regardless of your garage flooring, your first task will always be clean-up.

Step 1: Clear garage floor

garage floors
Image Credit: bossco via Creative Commons

Before doing anything else, clear your garage floor. Remove any items on your floor and relocate them. When choosing a temporary storage area, be sure that your items can stay there for at least a week since garage floor prep and installation will take a few days to be completed properly.

Step 2: Clean dust and debris

clear your garage floor
Image Credit: Decorative Concrete Kingdom via Creative Commons

Remove all dust and debris from your concrete garage floor using a broom or a stiff deck brush, mop, and duster. Use your duster on any wall-mounted items left in the space to clear your garage of dirt and contaminants. It eases the prep and installation of your new garage floor tiles and is more comfortable while working.

How to Install Epoxy Resin Garage Flooring

Follow these steps to have epoxy garage flooring. If you prefer otherwise, skip to the containment mat flooring instructions. Remember to always wear protective equipment for each step.

Step 1: Test for epoxy compatibility

A person putting a tape on the floor
Image Credit: NORKAN Inc. via YouTube

Epoxy can only be properly applied when the weather is between 50ºF–80ºF and to concrete free of moisture issues and additional coatings. Test for excessive moisture by taping a plastic sheet to the floor and letting it rest overnight. If it has any condensation or dampness, the epoxy won’t cure properly.

MoistureTest -Testing your concrete for moisture

Step 2: Degrease your floor

Image Credit: Speedokote refinish network via YouTube

When the temperatures are right, saturate your entire garage floor with warm water. Mix your degreasing solution and pour it onto the wet surface. Scrub the degreaser thoroughly into the concrete surface and keep reapplying water to your floor before it dries. You can use a squeegee to push the excess water out once you’re done scrubbing.

How to Clean stained concrete

Pro tip: Watch your water. Observe where water is running off instead of being absorbed by your concrete. It is a sign of an oil stain, and you should pay special attention to degreasing these areas.

Step 3: Etch your floor

etch your garage floor
Image Credit: JAHLUKA via Creative Commons

Dampen your garage floor with your concrete etcher solution. Spread it on your floor with a sprinkling can and scrub it into the surface with a stiff brush. It opens your concrete’s pores for a better epoxy floor coating. Reapply until it stops foaming or when it starts absorbing water.

DIY – How to Apply a Concrete Etcher & Cleaner

Step 4: Repair your floor

repair your garage floor
Image Credit: Decorative Concrete Kingdom via Creative Commons

Use a grinder to further strip your concrete and eliminate imperfections such as protruding cracks, minor cracks, painted spots, or leftover oil spills. Use a concrete patch kit to fill in any gaps before grinding it again once the plaster dries. Aim for leveled and completely stripped concrete flooring when you’re done.

Repair Cracked and Broken Concrete (Easy DIY) || Garage Floor

Step 5: Mix your resin

mix your resin
Image Credit: zabethanne via Creative Commons

Thoroughly mix your two-part epoxy kit and transfer it to a paint pot or pan. Epoxy has a short pot life, lasting around two hours before it starts hardening. To avoid waste, mix it with clean water in small workable batches based on how much space you can cover within the work time.

Step 6: Apply your epoxy

apply the epoxy
Image Credit: California Harts via Creative Commons

Starting from the furthest corner of your garage, apply your epoxy in wide two-foot deep areas for easier application. Use the flat brush for precision and use the roller brush for larger areas. Spread the epoxy with up-and-down motions before backrolling over it with side-to-side strokes for level coverage.

Pro-Tip: Double your coat. Although one epoxy coat should be enough, professionals always double up to act as a protective layer. By doing a second layer, you’ll have a more thorough seal, especially around patchy and thin areas from your first pass. Add your second coat at least 24 hours after the first, once it’s dried.

Step 7: Add paint chips (optional)

A person painting a floor
Image credits: [Feverpitched] via [Canva]
While the top epoxy layer is still wet, sprinkle your paint chips. By working in manageable two-foot deep areas, you’ll have an easier time spreading out your paint chips as long as you do it immediately before working on a new area. For a more appealing and uniform finish, you can also purchase extra paint chip bags!

How to Install Garage Containment Mats

If you don’t like epoxy flooring, this is the application process for containment mat flooring.

Step 1: Spread vinyl mats

spread carpet
Image Credit: Karmor via Creative Commons

From your garage entrance, unroll your vinyl mat. Layout your mat where you park your car or, if you opt for wall-to-wall flooring, position your mats for maximum coverage. If your rolls are too big, have them overlap neatly and make sure they reach all corners of your garage.

Step 2: Cut off excess

cut off excess carpet
Image Credit: Wonderlane via Creative Commons

Using a utility knife, cut off the excess vinyl to fit around your walls and floor obstructions. Go as carefully as you can to ensure that the mats perfectly fit your garage floor area. While cutting your edges, remember that it’s safer to go slow to avoid cutting off too much material.

Pro tip: Rest overnight. After cutting your vinyl to size, let your mats rest on the floor overnight. It relaxes any curled edges it could have and will reveal if it needs any additional cutting before taping it down. If you can’t leave it overnight, a few hours of rest is better than none.

Step 3: Apply tape

Double-sided tape
Image credits: [EkaterinaZakharova] via [Canva]
Take your double-sided carpeting tape and attach it to the underside of your vinyl. It secures your mats to the garage floor and protects against melted snow, mud, and rain that could leak underneath your vinyl. Tape all of your mat’s edges to reinforce it and seal against water leakage.

Pro tip: Install a water dam. If you expect your garage door to let in wet snow or sludge, a threshold seal can help prevent it. It forms a dam that blocks any water from leaking past your garage door. Not everyone needs this but, if you’d like to learn more about it, watch this video: How to STOP Garage Door LEAKS Like A PRO.

In Summary

These garage flooring options are deceivably easy to do yourself. They don’t just help manage winter messes— they’re useful during other seasons, too, and can help your concrete garage flooring last longer.

Before you start this project, make sure to carefully read through each step to help you properly prepare for it.

We also love hearing from you, so if you have any questions, clarifications, or personal tips that you want to share after trying it out yourself, drop them in the comments below!