HOW TO GET THE BEST CONCRETE COATING FOR YOUR GARAGE OR BASEMENT FLOORS
Applying a beautiful finish to your garage or basement can improve the value of your home and give you years of enjoyment.
The concrete in your floors may have many unique conditions that need to be addressed to get the best results.
We have developed the following steps to help you in the all-important preparation process. While it may seem complicated, if you take your time and follow each step, you will avoid problems and end up with a great job!
We have broken the steps into two phases to avoid overloading you with technical detail.
We know from talking to hundreds of customers for our performance Epoxy-Coat garage Floor Coating Kits what kind of concerns they have in preparing the concrete surfaces.
Water Test: tape down a 16” BY 16” sheet of plastic and allow standing for 24 hours. If water collects between it and the floor there has moisture problem and any floor paint will probably fail.
Water Test: Pour water on the cement. It should soak into the cement in a reasonable time. If it beads up or just sits there for a long time, the concrete has been sealed or is contaminated with grease or oil. If so, it must be removed before continuing.
The single most important aspect to creating a long lasting beautiful epoxy floor is to have a suitable surface for coating adhesion. To have a successful coating you must first profile or roughen the concrete so the epoxy has a sound base to adhere to. This can be done mechanically or chemically, depending on the condition of the concrete. The reason for profiling the concrete is to ensure that the concrete will accept the coating, and the coating will have something to “bite” onto. The most important aspect of floor coatings’ permanent adhesion is a proper cleaning and profiling of the surface.
Surface preparation is a significant portion of any epoxy coating project. Each surface and environment is different and unique. It is important to note that certain chemicals and materials added to the concrete before, during or after it is poured can cause a coating job to fail no matter what level of surface preparation is used. Suspects include special concrete curing compounds, chemical hardeners, bond/form release agents (bond breakers), and admixtures used to reduce/improve air entrainment, cement workability, gas forming, accelerated curing, etc. It is nearly impossible to know ahead of time how much preparation is necessary. A minimalist will simply brush or sweep the surface (perhaps degrease a spot or two), apply the coating and hope for the best. Often this is all a homeowner can do. Fortunately, they often get away with this alone.
Prior to profiling your concrete you should perform a sealer test. The sealer test is simple, and all it takes is some water. You will apply the water onto the garage floor and if the water beads in any areas, that is a sign that there is a sealer currently on the floor, or other contaminants preventing the water from penetrating the concrete.
Grease and oils can create serious adhesion problems for coatings. Degreasing and washing may appear to remove the grease or oil, but in badly saturated situations residual oils/greases seem to remain and may cause a coating failure in the future. While not definitive test, pouring a glass of water on the concrete and watching what happens can provide a valuable clue to coating adhesion. If the water quickly and evenly soaks into the concrete the surface preparation may be adequate at that point. Moisture either in the concrete, and/or migrating through the concrete can cause coating failure as well. Some epoxies will handle a wet or damp surface better than others. Note that crystals forming on the surface due to water migrating through the mineral rich cement can create forces of up to 1,500 pounds of pressure as they grow in size. Few coatings can withstand such “anti-bond” forces.
Sealers cannot be removed chemically, and will need to be removed mechanically. To remove the sealer mechanically, you will want to diamond grind the floor. Most local hardware stores rent out diamond grinders. Diamond grinding will not only remove the sealer, but will grind your concrete, creating a rough profile.
If the sealer test is performed, and the water penetrates into the concrete immediately, you can chemically prepare your concrete.
To chemically prepare your concrete you will want to use an acid etching solution. The most common acids used in the acid etching solutions are muriatic acid or phosphoric acid. Prior to acid etching, the user will want to use a mild degreaser diluted with hot water to remove any contaminants that may be on the concrete. Once the floor is degreased and contaminate free, the acid etching can begin.
Each acid etching solution may have different instructions, and it is important that in the instructions are read and fully understood before using the etching solution. Using a stiff bristled broom, scrub the premixed acid etching solution into the concrete, scrubbing in both directions.
Once the etching is finished, the premix must be rinsed from the concrete. Once the concrete has fully dried, check for any glossy or oily areas with water. If the water does not penetrate quickly, additional etching treatments will be necessary. The user will also want to check for any white film when wiping the dried concrete with fingers. If your fingers do not have a white film, your concrete floor is ready for coating.
In Phase II of our blog, we detail the steps for final profiling, patching holes and cracks and final epoxy application.
PHASE II FOR EPOXY FLOOR COATING PREPARATION AND APPLICATION
The hard part is now completed. You have tested the concrete, cleaned and degreased it, and profiled it with a chemical / acid etch or by diamond grinding.
For the best performance from a coating system, concrete must be clean and have a uniform open/porous surface before application. The surface must be etched until this is achieved. More than one etch may be required.
The next steps include patching any holes or cracks before applying the epoxy.
Irregular surfaces on the floor will show through the epoxy and may be more noticeable after the epoxy is applied. Fill or patch any irregular surfaces on the floor before beginning. You can mix sand into a small amount of epoxy to form a slurry (the sand will decrease the amount of epoxy needed) to fill voids and large cracks above 3/16”. With cracks 3/16” or smaller you should use a flexible acrylic adhesive caulk which is paintable. Do not fill in or paint over expansion joins in the floor. The epoxy will crack, split and lift off when there is movement along the expansion seam.
During the coating process, if the floor is subject to heating and cooling cycles, air bubbles (that often form tiny craters in the epoxy) can sometimes be a problem. As the concrete heats up in the sunlight, the air in the void spaces of the concrete expands and forms a bubble that gets “stuck” in the thickening epoxy. If this is a potential scenario for you, apply the epoxy when the air/concrete is cooling off rather than heating up. When the temperature is falling, the air contracts and will literally pull the epoxy into the concrete void spaces. After the epoxy has cured, the heating and cooling cycles are not a problem. If bubbling does occur during coating you can blow the surface with a leaf blower to “pop” the bubbles. This should be done as necessary for up to 90 minutes after coating to reduce this problem during the curing process.
You are now at the final steps, and your hard work during preparation will be rewarded.
Important points are to mix the epoxy in quarter size blocks so the mixture does not harden early. If all the mix is prepared at once, the pot life will be very short.
Careful attention must be paid to floor temperature and surface cleanliness to ensure a smooth and even coating. Colored flakes and non-skid additives are put down at this stage of the application.
When all the preparation steps and the mixing and application steps are followed, you will have a beautiful, durable and chemical resistant floor. And you will be the envy of your neighborhood!
Many people are always evaluating choices when it comes to deciding between applying a top coat, or to let it be. We highly recommend applying a clear top coat to your epoxy floor. When we think “why apply a top coat to epoxy floors?” There are several reasons why we should. There are several useful benefits and it is very affordable. So really the question you should be asking yourself or your contractor, is why wouldn’t we use a top coat? We will discuss the important benefits so you can expand your knowledge on epoxy floors.
Most people realize that the toughest part of using epoxy is prepping the floors for it. Once you’re past that, the rest is effortless. So why wouldn’t you be willing to do one extra task to give it stronger durability and a better-looking floor? That’s why we highly recommend applying a top coat to your floors. Simply doing that will provide more durability and wear, which will reduce hot tire lift and other impacts. The clear coat adds an extra layer of protection, which protects the original color coat you put down. It will help be more resistant to chemical and oil spills that typically happen with a car.
When you’re thinking, “why apply a top coat to epoxy” just remember that this will make it easier to clean. This will save time and money for you in the long run. It also creates a glossier finish that will create more light and really make your space stand out. The bottom line is that it provides so many benefits, just by simply adding a top coat. Whether you need it to hide scratches or damage your kids made to the garage floor, it will do it all!
Stop asking yourself why apply a top coat to epoxy, the answer is simple. You get a better-looking floor that will perform better and last longer over the years. Learn everything you need to know to perfect your epoxy floors here at Epoxy-Coat.