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Coatings


There are many different types of floor coatings from simple concrete paints to polymer floor systems. One thing that remains constant is the purpose. Floor coatings are designed to protect and seal the concrete surface. While benefits such as increased aesthetic, safety, or design value can be added by installing a floor coating, the primary purpose is to protect the concrete from contamination. Coatings allow a surface to be cleaned without allowing spills or contaminants to permanently penetrate the concrete.

People often assume that high-end coatings such as epoxies and urethanes are impervious to damage or breakdown. The truth is that all topical sealers are subject to wear, chipping, peeling, and replacement. The major difference between costly and less expensive coatings is the duration and type of service expectation. A properly prepared surface with an appropriate coating application should provide many years of service. However, even the best product will fail if applied to an improperly or under-prepared surface. This is the most important part of the installation process prior to applying and type of floor coating.

Project Considerations

The coating selected will be dependent on a number a project specific factors. Budget, use of space, anticipated traffic load and type, safety, and regulatory requirements all play a role. Although the processes vary slightly for each coating type, individual applications are very similar.

Each begins with testing and evaluation to determine moisture and alkalinity of the surface. Upon acceptable results, the surface is prepared then the coating is applied. Different types of coatings have different surface preparation requirements and different cure times. Manufacturer product tech data sheets provide specific requirements.

Different systems offer alternate finish and performance properties. Depending on the type of abuse the surface will receive and the aesthetic requirement of the space, product selection will vary. Most coating manufacturers offer a wide array of finishes, textures, and abrasive/chemical resistant properties that will perform in almost any environment.

Application Process

Coating applications vary by product but are generally; roller, squeegee, or brush applied. Simple single coat applications to multiple coat decorative systems can be utilized to suit a particular need. A variety of aggregates can be incorporated to improve wear, safety, or aesthetic value. Decorative flakes can be used in conjunction with clear topcoats to provide a multi-color finish. These are known as quartz or broadcast systems.

Decorative quartz aggregate can be used to give a multi–color, high strength base for commercial kitchen applications while also providing added wear and slip resistance value.

Regardless of the coating used, proper surface preparation is essential to installation success. Failure to adequately prepare the substrate will result in surface delamination failure. Always consult manufacturer’s technical data for proper use, surface preparation, and application of the product.

Benefits and Limitations

All floor systems have specific requirements for successful installation. It is important to verify that the product manufacturer’s written guidelines govern the installation process. Adherence to instructions is critical for maintaining the manufacturers’ warranty; neglecting them will almost certainly void the warranty. Proper product selection based on end use, appropriate scheduling with other trades, testing/compliance to product moisture requirements, and installation per industry Best Practice methods are necessary for a quality flooring installation.

Different coatings have different benefits and limitations. Some coatings are designed to withstand particular chemicals and caustic environments. Other coatings offer UV protection. The type of coating chosen is a direct reflection of the needs of the end user. Water based, oil based, acrylic, epoxy, and urethane are all typical coating types each with their own benefits and application purposes.

Maintenance

Regular maintenance is vital to the long term welfare of all floors. There is no surface available that remains in optimum condition without regular cleaning and maintenance. Typically, the floor is subjected to the most abuse in any normal business. Keeping the floor in good condition takes a little forethought and consistent effort. The first step to maintaining floors is preventing as much soil, debris, and potential damaging agents from being introduced to the environment. Interior and exterior walk-off mats can minimize the amount of sand, water, and foreign matter that are tracked onto the floor. Limiting contaminants will simplify the maintenance process.

After successful installation it is necessary to maintain the floor surface. Manufacturers routinely provide best practice cleaning and maintenance guidelines for their products and systems. It is important to follow these procedures to achieve the maximum effectiveness and lifespan of your floor coating. Often warranties are contingent on the proper cleaning, maintenance, and care of the coating. A coating provides the surface a window of opportunity to clean spills and contaminants. It is not, however, a license to ignore these spills and contaminants. Cleaning procedures vary by coating type and finish. Always consult with the installer before cleaning.

 

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