Do It Yourself: Garage floor paint needs proper preparation

Q. I painted my garage floor with what I thought was a good concrete floor paint, but the paint has peeled where we park our car. What now?

A. Paint on garage floors and other concrete can fail for several reasons, but this seems to be the result of what is called hot tire pickup, possibly combined with poor preparation of the concrete before panting. Hot tire pickup can occur when vehicle tires, expanded and heated from driving, contact paint not resistant to the problem. Some paint, notably two-part epoxy, is tough enough to resist the hot-tire effects.

Many do-it-yourselfers think that cleaning a concrete surface is the only preparation needed. Some concrete must also be etched with an acid wash to provide a good grip for the paint. If you begin to see peeling in other parts of the garage, where vehicles are not parked, suspect poor preparation.

Another problem that can affect good adhesion is water vapor wicking up through the concrete if the slab was not poured over an appropriate vapor barrier. This is often a problem in older garages, when contractors routinely skipped the vapor barrier.

There are several options available to you. One is to simply scrape off the deteriorated paint and touch up the damaged area with the same paint.

Other options, such as removing all the paint and starting over with stain or epoxy, are a lot of work and expense.

A somewhat pricey but virtually problem-free option is to cover the floor with special mats or use interlocking plastic floor tiles.

Mats are usually made of polyvinyl or rubber, come in widths of 7  1/2 feet to 9 feet and in various lengths and colors, and are resistant to slips and spills.

Covering a two-car garage floor with mats would cost roughly $600 to $1,000.

Interlocking tiles, usually a foot square and about an inch thick, are more expensive but have all the qualities of mats plus good looks. I installed some of these on a floor where I store heavy lawn-care equipment, and they still look as good as new.

Q. My bathtub-shower drain keeps clogging. I use a plunger on it and pour in a drain cleaner sometimes, but they don’t stop the clogging and slow emptying of the tub. What’s a long-term solution?

A. Many tub-shower drain clogs are caused by an accumulation of hair. Since you seem to have good access to the drain, it is possible you can fish the hair out.

One time-honored device can be made by bending a hook in the end of a piece of coat-hanger wire about 18 inches long. Insert the wire until you hit the bottom of the drain trap, then twist the hook around in various positions and pull it out.

Many times the hook will come out with a wad of hair on the end. Wipe it off and keep fishing until no more hair is found. The drain should then be open or at least run faster.

To help with the cleaning, pour some very hot water into the drain to flush down any remaining hair or debris.

Some people prefer an inexpensive tool called a Zip-It, a flexible plastic tool about 17 inches long, with toothed sides that grip hair and other debris well.

Zip-Its (about $2.50 each) are sold in the plumbing departments of some home centers.

Finally, it is a good idea to avoid chemical drain cleaners when possible; if a plumber needs to be called, the chemicals in the drain could complicate a repair.

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