Selecting Concrete Floor Coatings

Concrete is made by mixing together proportionate amounts of cement, sand, water and aggregate. The untreated final product, by nature, is a porous material that is surprisingly vulnerable.

It is used extensively for floors in basements and garages, as well as in warehouse facilities, manufacturing and food processing plants because of its durability. Since it can stand up to heavy traffic abuse and harsh chemicals, concrete gives the impression as being indestructible.

But, this is not always true.

Concrete floor coatings provide extra layers of protection that are necessary in order for the hardened final product to endure constant wear and tear. In addition, these coatings can also transform a somewhat drab looking surface into a thing of beauty, as well as support maintenance requirements and improve skid resistance.

There are literally dozens of products available for coating concrete depending upon the desired result. The challenge is to find the most economical and practical solution to meet your overall objective.

Mix-in pigments and other add-ins can create special decorative effects to include metallic or luminescent finishes. Ease of installation, curing times and resistance to abrasion are important aspects to your final selection. Of course, higher price tags go hand-in-hand with higher quality coatings.

The word coating, as it relates to concrete floors, broadly refers to different types of cement based toppings, paints and epoxy material that are used to cure the concrete. The most commonly used concrete coatings are hybrids of epoxies, urethanes, acrylics and polyureas, which has a fast drying time that permits many coats to be built upon quickly.

Bear in mind that floor coverings will hide a multitude of problems associated with improper floor structures. In other words, you can cover up the problem of cracks, spalls and unevenness by adding a raised floor surface, but unless the concrete floor itself is patched, repaired and leveled properly, you will waste your money by applying a coating system to a distressed surface.

Depending on the severity of the floor surface itself, the challenge is to choose the most effective material and application that will result in the best performance and lowest life cycle cost. Total floor protection should be part of any study or evaluation for new or old concrete floor protection.

There is a very complete selection process to narrow the search for the right product and application for concrete floor coatings. Remember, you must not only select the material, but also a total system in terms of application, total thickness, and aesthetics.