What Is Concrete Floor Coating?
Concrete floor coating is a final step in the installation process. The purpose of the coatings can be as simple as a visual treatment that adds even more durability. This is especially true for high-traffic areas, such as a hotel reception/front desk area. These areas may also be decorated to mark traffic aisles or highlight areas to draw attention to. Other coatings beautify an area so it doesn’t look like an average concrete basement floor.
Types of Concrete Floor Coatings
There are typically four concrete floor coatings; epoxy coatings, polyurethane, polyaspartic, and acrylic coatings. Each of these has its benefits and its downsides. Let’s take a look at each one and learn more about how these can benefit you.
Epoxy Floor Coatings
Epoxy coatings are one the most popular because it is one of the hardest coatings on the market. It consists of an epoxy resin and a polyamine hardener. When they are mixed, they grow stronger as the application cures. This leads to a very rigid coating that adheres to base concrete surfaces well. It is a durable and impact-resistant coating that does well in high-performance and high-impact areas, such as warehouses. You will also find epoxy flooring in garages as it is resistant to many oils and solvents that are used regularly.
Polyurethane Floor Coatings
Polyurethane floor coatings look very similar to epoxy coatings but are not nearly as rigid as epoxy. Instead, it is softer and more flexible, making it a perfect setting for high pedestrian areas. Malls often use polyurethane coatings because it is not as hard on the body when standing or walking on it. It is also beneficial in airports, car parks, and hospitals. However, polyurethane coatings are not good for areas with a lot of moisture as the coating will bubble up and require treatments.
Polyaspartic Floor Coatings
Polyaspartic coatings are in the polyurethane family but what sets them apart is they can be used as a total flooring system and a top-coat. This type of coating also cuts down the number of applications. An epoxy floor or a polyurethane coating will require two applications. First, it is a solvent-based coating, so it requires skilled laborers with appropriate breathing equipment.
Polyaspartic coatings cut it down to a single application. Its use is the same as polyurethane coatings, anywhere with medium to heavy pedestrian traffic.
Acrylic Floor Coatings
Acrylic floor coatings are a water-based option that is a middle-of-the-road flooring system. They are not nearly as durable as epoxies or polyurethane floor systems. They have a high-gloss finish that is decorative rather than functional. These are best for low-foot traffic because it’s not as protective. It will not work in an industrial area, resulting in a chemical spill or an abrasion from impact.
Some acrylic floor options do offer ultra-violet (UV) protection, slip resistance, and water resistance. Drying time for acrylic flooring is the quickest of all and results in lower labor time and fees. If an error occurs during the application, it can easily be buffed out and redone. It is low in cost but can cost you more in the long run with repeated treatments and re-applications.
Choosing The Best Coating For Concrete Floors
Before settling on a type of coating system, there are several things you need to consider. Not all coating options function the same for concrete surfaces. Before you choose your coating, here are things you need to think about to find the right one for your needs.
Evaluate The Surface
Your existing concrete floor surface is the first and most important consideration. If you have new concrete flooring done, your options will be wide open because it will be in perfect condition. However, an older floor will have some signs of wear and tear, such as stains or small cracks. In addition, some types of coatings, like the epoxy coating, are not suitable for older floors.
Consider The Performance Conditions
Next, you must consider what type of conditions the flooring system is in. A floor in a mall and one in a garage undergo different types of activities, and the type of coating will be important for the floor’s life. Quality is important to live up to the conditions of the area. Ask yourself these four questions:
- How many people are going to walk on this floor each day?
- What is the risk of impact – what is the likelihood of cracks and abrasions occurring?
- Will the floor come in contact with chemicals frequently?
- Will the floor go through extreme temperature fluctuations often?
There are a few other things you will want to consider. These include:
- Aesthetics – the importance of the appearance of the floor can be as important as its function. Do you want some decorative aspects (such as paint or staining)
- Life Expectancy – how long do you need the floor to hold up. One would assume the longer, the better but what is really important is maintaining the floor with routine maintenance.
- Installation limits – timing is everything, and flooring applications have a tight window to be followed. It may be that you cannot have anything applied in the summer because of the heat, or you may need to provide a method for keeping the area cool.
Review Material Properties And Application Procedures
When shopping for a good solution to your flooring needs, you need to consider the material properties and application procedures. The types of resins and hardeners have an impact on how long it will take to cure. Most of the epoxies and other coatings require two applications, with each one requiring varying times to harden and dry. You can expect the floor to need around four or more days to complete the curing process. The exception is the acrylic which can be completed in a matter of hours. This is important information as it potentially puts your business out of commission for a bit, resulting in loss of income.
Specify Type And Thickness
Not only is the type of coating important, but the thickness also plays a big part in protecting the concrete. The higher the foot traffic, the risk of impact, and the risk of chemicals or solvents require more thickness for a longer-lasting floor. Even for acrylic coatings, the thickness can increase its life. At the same time, the condition of the concrete floor plays a part in thickness requirements. Older concrete floors with cracks will need as much thickness as possible. But, and this is where things get tricky, too little or too much thickness can cause even more damage to your concrete floor.
The types you must consider are:
- Polymer type
- epoxy, polyurethane, acrylic, and polyaspartic
- Finish – high-gloss, smooth, or textured?
Installation And Inspection
The final step is the installation and inspection of your chosen project. The installation process begins, and you stand by to ensure that everything goes as planned. Once everything is completed, an inspection must occur. It may seem like a headache getting an inspection set up at the end of the curing process, but it’s going to be well-worth your time. The inspector will ensure that everything has been done properly and the floor is in great condition to allow for use.
Call Us For Assistance
Fortunately, you do not have to navigate the world of concrete floors and coatings on your own. Call our experts today, and we can help you make the right choices for your needs. We have years of experience that will get the job done right the first time around.