A Long Lasting Garage Floor Paint you Haven’t Heard Of

Written By Shea, February 3, 2015, Allgaragefloors.com
The quest to find a long lasting garage floor paint that will stand up to normal use may finally be over. That’s right, we said it. There really is a durable concrete floor paint available that will last, not peel easily, and not develop the dreaded hot tire lift problems associated with paint.
One of the reasons painting a garage floor is still popular is due to the fact that it’s much easier to apply to concrete than an epoxy coating. It goes down easy, doesn’t require all the surface preparation that epoxy does, and it appeals to the DIY crowd.
The problem however is that paint is not very durable and will only last a year or two before it needs to be touched up or repainted.
That is until now.
Known to some automotive restoration enthusiasts, a fairly new company called Rust Bullet developed and then introduced in 2003 a 1-Part moisture cure polyurethane paint coating to stop rust and corrosion in metal. It soon became apparent that this paint had many other capabilities as well, one of which is protecting concrete under extreme conditions.
It wasn’t until the last couple of years however that Rust Bullet eventually found its way onto the garage floor as a long lasting and durable garage floor paint. Here is a quote from them.

“Rust Bullet, with its Superior Patented Technology for rust and corrosion control provides outstanding protection to many surfaces, including concrete. Rust Bullet not only improves the appearance of concrete, it provides an impervious shield allowing easy cleanup of oil, grease and chemical spills along with strong protection against impact and abrasives.”

You will be hard pressed to find a statement like that from any other manufacturer of a single part concrete paint for a garage floor.
If you are confused about the difference between paint and epoxy coatings, we suggest that you read this article.
durable garage floor paint

A Rust Bullet garage floor by a gentleman in Georgia. You can follow his beautiful garage project from our friends over at The Garage Journal.

A durable garage floor paint

So what makes this paint better? Well to start with, Rust Bullet technically is not traditional paint as we know it. It’s marketed that way however because like paint, it’s a single part coating that doesn’t require a second component to mix in. It is easy to apply like paint and can be applied to other surfaces with the use of a spray gun.
Most concrete garage floor paints are either latex acrylic or a blend of latex acrylic with small amounts of epoxy added to increase durability, also known as 1-Part epoxy paint. Rust Bullet however, is a moisture cured urethane (polyurethane) that is applied like paint. Like most paints, it does not require acid etching or grinding of the concrete either.

Good light reflection with Rust Bullet

Moisture cured coatings do not dry like traditional paint; they chemically cure using the natural elements in the surrounding air. This means that you don’t have to mix in a hardener, activator, or second component like you would for an epoxy coating.
This curing process allows the coating to crosslink, similar to epoxy, which develops a much denser and tougher coating than regular paint. This makes the properties and benefits of Rust Bullet to a lesser degree, similar to a 2-Part polyurethane coating. Unlike epoxy and polyurethane however, Rust Bullet can be applied in temperatures as low as 35°f.
Rust Bullet also has a high solids content of 70%+ compared to the leading 1-Part epoxy garage floor paint that consists of 36% solids. This means that less than 30% of the product evaporates into the air during the curing process compared to 64% with the leading floor paint.
What this translates to is a coating whose dry film thickness (DFT) is almost twice as thick as 1-Part epoxy paint – 2.5 mils vs. 1.4 mils. This additional thickness contributes to its long lasting durability as a floor paint.
Good Light Reflection

No more hot tire lift

Paint does not respond well to heat (neither do cheap epoxy coatings for that matter) and is the number one enemy that contributes to hot tire lift. As hot car tires sit on the painted surface over time, the heat from the tires causes the paint to slowly break down. This breakdown of the paint combined with the contraction and grip of the tire footprint as it cools, causes the paint to delaminate and pull up with the tire when it is moved.
Rust Bullet combats this with a sustained thermal ability of 314°F and will withstand heat upwards of 625°F for up to 72 hours. Your tires would melt before they ever got that hot. This feature was one of the primary reasons that Rust Bullet was first used as a garage floor paint. As a result, hot tires will not affect the coating which means that there is no hot tire lift.
Hot Tire Lift

Benefits of Rust Bullet

Now that we know the differences between Rust Bullet and typical garage floor paint, let’s examine the actual benefits of Rust Bullet as a concrete floor paint. Many of these benefits are similar to some epoxy and polyurethane coatings and much better than the top garage floor paints.

  • U.V. resistant – will not yellow or chalk when exposed to the sun
  • Excellent Scratch resistance
  • Excellent oil resistance
  • Excellent chemical resistance
  • Good impact resistance due to its flexibility
  • Water proof
  • Protects concrete from road salts and deicing fluids
  • No hot tire lift
  • Not as slippery as epoxy when wet
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Better adhesion qualities than paint
  • Does not require the same floor prep as epoxy coatings
  • Can be applied in temperatures down to 35°f
  • Long lasting and durable – up to 10 years

For more information, you can review their data sheet here.

A long lasting paint, but not perfect

As good as Rust Bullet is as a durable garage floor paint, there are some drawbacks that need to be considered.
The first is that you are limited to color selection – Metallic Gray in a semi-gloss finish. That’s it. If you want beige, a dark gray, or some other color, you are out of luck. The bright side to this however is that it makes color selection easy. You could always apply some color flakes to add color to the floor if you like.
Another issue is that the mono chromatic color tends to show the defects and poor patch repairs in the concrete more than a thicker epoxy coating would.
Price is something to consider as well. Rust Bullet is almost 3 times as expensive as the leading 1-Part epoxy garage floor paint. Though it is more expensive, the initial coast will actually save you time and money in the long run due to the fact that it’s such a long lasting floor paint.
1 gallon will cover up to 400sf² which is enough for one coat in most standard 2-car garages. Rust Bullet recommends a minimum of two coats on a garage floor in order to achieve the recommended dry film thickness for the best performance.
It can be confusing at first when looking at their website due to the different product options available. For a garage floor Rust Bullet recommends their Standard Formula. It provides the best finish on concrete when applied with a roller.
One nice option is that Rust Bullet is available in smaller 1 quart and 1 pint sizes as well. This comes in handy and can actually save you a lot of money if you have a larger garage floor that may require a little more paint.
Lastly, and unlike paint, Rust Bullet is a solvent based coating and produces strong fumes. You will need to wear a respirator during application and turn off all flames and ignition sources in the garage before use.

Floor paint application

This is one of the big benefits of Rust Bullet that will attract the attention of many DIY enthusiasts. While it shares some of the same benefits as a good 1 coat epoxy system, it does not require the same concrete preparation. According to Rust Bullet, acid etching or grinding of the concrete is not required. You can find their application guidelines here.
The key is to clean the concrete thoroughly and remove any oil spots or grease on the floor. Pressure washing is a recommended method as well. If you have any concrete repairs that need to be done, do them first.
One point to be aware of is that like epoxy coatings, a moisture test should be done first. If any water is present, Rust Bullet recommends applying a penetrating sealer to the concrete before application.
If you have any stubborn oil stains remaining after cleaning your garage floor, Rust Bullet recommends applying their Metal Blast product to the stain. Metal Blast will enhance the adhesive qualities of the concrete surface where the stain is located by creating an anchor pattern for the paint to adhere to. You can find Metal Blast here.
It’s extremely important to make sure the floor is dry before application. Because Rust Bullet is moisture cured, any amount of water it comes in contact with during this process can have an adverse effect on the paint. They even make the point not to let sweat come in contact with the coating while it is being applied.
Roll on your first coat with a quality lint free 3/8” nap roller making sure to cut in the edges with a chip brush. Depending on temperature and humidity, the second coat can be applied 10-12 hours after the first coat. You have up to 72 hours to apply the second coat. If applying the second coat on the same day, Rust Bullet recommends not standing in one spot too long or wear spiked shoes to prevent damage to the coating.
One note to make: Rust Bullet lists a much shorter re-coat time in their application guide. After further consultation with them they recommend a longer wait period due to the fact that you will be walking on the floor in order to apply additional coats.
Once you are done the garage floor can accept regular foot traffic in 24 hours and move things back into the garage after 48 hours, even vehicles. Just be careful not to turn the wheels in place and park the tires on a piece of cardboard or old carpet to avoid tire marks.
In 5 days the floor is fully cured and you can remove the cardboard without worry of tire marks, hot tire lift, or any other damage from your vehicles.
According to Rust Bullet, their paint provides almost the same non slip protection as bare concrete. If you desire better non-slip protection, you can add an anti-skid additive to it to provide good slip protection if you live in a winter climate. Just mix it in with the second coat.

Final thoughts

Though fairly new to the garage flooring market, Rust Bullet truly is a long lasting floor paint for your garage that will provide years of service without issue when applied correctly. One thing to keep in mind however is that it’s a monochromatic paint. It doesn’t create a nice glossy and colorful finish like epoxy can. It will produce a nice semi-gloss metallic gray finish though that is easy to maintain and provides for a very clean look.
In our estimation, Rust Bullet provides for a great compromise for those people who want more protection and durability than what a typical garage floor paint can provide, yet don’t want the expense and additional labor involved for a good epoxy coated garage floor system.
So if you’re in the market for a long lasting and durable floor paint for your garage, check out Rust Bullet and give them a call if you have any questions. It just may be the compromise you have been looking for in garage floor protection.