During the last thirty years, protective finishes for concrete floors have made great progress in improving aesthetics, wear, non-skid, chemical resistance, ease of maintenance, physical performance, and other properties, some more than others. The problem for most decision makers (usually architects or facility managers) is selecting a coating that will give the best performance at the lowest life cycle cost for their unique situation.
Making a decision on floor protection includes considering sustainability (VOC emissions spanning the entire life cycle, ingredient toxicity, coating off-gassing potential, disposal considerations, durability and longevity) and overall cost of the project (product costs + application costs + maintenance costs/longevity). Taking the time to project long-term financial and environmental costs saves time, money, and unexpected remediation efforts in the long run.
Steps to Choosing the Best Coating
STEP 1: Evaluate the surface and determine the cost of any needed steps to be taken to prepare the surface to receive the coating most likely to effect the desired result. Is the structure sound and free from contaminants? Will the coating be used for encapsulation? Is the surface distressed? Will curing compounds in new concrete need to be removed? Is there a proper underlayment to prevent extreme vapor and moisture passage into the concrete?
STEP 2: Determine the type of abuse the flooring is likely to face. While concrete is durable, it is not impervious. It is susceptible to abrasion, chemical attack, and seepage of liquids. Porous concrete surfaces absorb germs. Concrete dust can be a challenge to air filtration systems and can be a health hazard. Mopping some concrete coatings makes them wear away quickly, while stained or polished concrete coating involves laborious waxing, polishing and/or buffing on a regular basis.
Adhesion strength and type is often key to coating success or eventual delamination; factors affecting coatings vary widely. Some basic questions regarding adhesion include: Is the concrete indoor or outdoor? Is the surface level or uneven? What environmental factors does the surface need to be protected from? For example, materials differ widely in chemical resistance, so identifying the type of chemical exposure is important, as well as the severity of exposure: splashes and spills are less severe than constant immersion.
The amount of abrasion, wear or traffic a surface is subjected to is important to take into account, especially where heavy wheeled traffic is concerned. Any surface exposed to steel-wheeled traffic requires special treatment for long-term wear.
Temperature fluctuation or thermal shock must be considered when coating concrete as the coefficient of expansion is much higher than for concrete than other flooring types; coatings must be flexible enough to allow for this or delamination is likely to occur.
STEP 3: Look at the actual process off application. What should the finished floor look like? How long does it take to apply (downtime)? What are the labor costs involved in application? In maintenance? How often will it need to be re-coated (life expectancy)?
STEP 4: Refine and define project parameters. Each project will be different. A correctional facility may have higher anti-slip, anti-mold and spill resistance requirements than a warehouse, which may require heavier abrasion resistance. An electronics manufacturer might want more dust resistant finish than a budget-strapped school district, which might benefit more from a lower maintenance coating. An aircraft hangar and a restaurant will both require protection from chemicals, but from different types and at different concentrations, and their respective aesthetic considerations will also vary. Even within the same facility there may be differences: the service bays have very different flooring needs than the showroom in an auto dealership.
STEP 5:Once the parameters and expectations for your specific floor coating project have been established, review safety data sheets, technical data, performance characteristics, ASTM testing, and installation procedures when comparing coating systems goes a long way in eliminating least-likely candidates. Another coatings vetting strategy includes coating sample areas or similar substrate to gauge performance regarding environmental conditions that are exact, or highly similar to, conditions to which the finished floor will be subjected.
Remember, concrete flooring is meant to last up to 25 years, so it makes sense to elect a coating you can live with. A sustainable coating with lower maintenance that provides optimal long-term performance for your project will result in lower financial and environmental costs and much higher satisfaction in the long run. In commercial applications, getting concrete coating right means facility owners can focus more resources on core business and far less on maintaining, repairing or replacing their concrete floor.
Floors Need Ionyx Protection (Because Eggs Don't Bounce)
IONYX coatings exceed key performance parameters for concrete floor protection on most projects, including:
Costs: Low Cost of Ownership, Low Maintenance (see below)
Ecological Hazards: Non-Toxic Surface, Under 65 g/L VOC, Non-Persistent in Water, Non-Carcinogen, Suitable to Encapsulation Projects