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.
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.
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
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
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.