Seeing gray epoxy coatings in commercial service bays are not going to shock anyone - we’ve all been to a quick-lube center or automotive shop where the service bays were one solid color.
Why are coatings in garage bays so common? Aesthetics may be the reason that immediately pops in most persons minds. While a beautiful, new, shiny epoxy floor (like the picture on the right of New German Performance of Lorton, Virginia) may make a great impression on those walking through the shop, our experiences tells us that most service managers and owners are more concerned with the physical properties of the epoxy floor coatings listed below.
1) Epoxy coatings protect the concrete surface against permanent staining from petroleum products
2) Epoxy coatings protect concrete from contamination from silicones and other chemicals
3) Epoxy coatings protect against surface deterioration from use, chemical attack and aggressive cleaning
4) Epoxy coatings increase visibility of dropped items and surface spills
5) Epoxy coatings increase reflectivity to brighten the work environment
Epoxy coatings protect the concrete surface against permanent staining
Concrete is a porous material. While newer concrete is often power trowelled to tighten the final finish of the concrete’s cream layer, it is still subject to staining. The longer engine oils, transmission & brake fluids and rusting metals stay in contact with the concrete floor, the bigger and deeper the stains become. Over time, these stains can get to point where they cannot be removed.
More often than not, when we visit existing service facilities, fluid spills have already permanently stained the concrete surface. Most attempted to “seal” the concrete with inexpensive acrylic sealers, which are better suited to protecting exterior stamped concrete or light-use concrete slabs. The service managers often were convinced that these sealers will keep the concrete from staining, but usually were not told that the acrylic formulations will be broke down by petroleum products and penetrating solvents (such as brake cleaners).
Epoxy coatings create a seamless floor where spilled items will remain until they are cleaned up or evaporate away. If that epoxy coating is coupled with chemical resistant urethanes, it can even protect against long term spills and immersion of petroleum products.
Epoxy coatings protect concrete from contamination from silicones and other chemicals
Many chemicals that come into contact with the concrete not only stain the surface, but can contaminate the concrete itself. This contamination can cause very slippery conditions. The contaminant can make cleaning more difficult, as the offending chemicals are carried and deposited on other surface areas by cleaning equipment. The contaminants may lead to costly future remediation, due to changes in the use of the floor space or due to regulatory requirements.
Several years ago, Stronghold Floors coated an older service garage for Regester Chevrolet dealership in Thompsontown, Pennsylvania where the bare concrete had been exposed to all automotive fluids for nearly 50 years. The oils were so present in some areas that the installation crews cut out parts of the concrete and quickly rebuilt those areas with epoxy mortars. The heavily contaminated areas would have likely caused the coatings to dis-bond from the stained concrete and cause a coatings failure.
Protecting new concrete slabs will allow the service bays to not only look good, but allow contaminates to be easily cleaned off. It also ensures compliance with regulatory requirements for spill cleanup.
Epoxy coatings protect against surface deterioration from use, chemical attack and aggressive cleaning
The concrete floor of a service bay is subject to a fair amount of abuse. The daily abrasion from vehicle tires, wheeled carts, jack stands and auto-scrubbers breaks down the near-wear surface and then the surface degradation snowballs. Couple that abrasive abuse with splash spills of acidic chemicals and cleaners that deteriorate the cement paste and the service bay concrete can become pitted and chalky.
Epoxy coatings are the wear surface. The coatings are intended to protect the concrete from daily use and cleaning. The coatings non-porous nature makes cleaning faster and cheaper. Rejuvenating the coatings after years of use is much more cost effective than extensive surface repairs or replacing slabs.
Epoxy coatings increase visibility of dropped items and surface spills
Finding a dropped bolt or seeing an oil drip on a stained, worn concrete floor is not easy. Seamless, solid color epoxy floor finishes make it easy to spot dropped items or problematic fluid dripping.
If a more decorative finish is desired, we normally recommend using light color blends of flakes or decorative quartz. Contrasting colors against the common dropped items helps service personnel quickly recover the items, saving time and effort – also avoiding potential trip/slip type accidents.
Epoxy coatings increase reflectivity to brighten the work environment
Concrete, even slabs in good repair, are not reflective surfaces (with the exception of polished concrete). Epoxy coatings greatly increase the reflectivity of the floor and enhance the effectiveness of the installed lighting fixtures. This increase in brightness of the workplace impacts safety, energy requirements and, sometimes, even the mood of the service staff.
Coatings applied at Main Car Care of York helped to vastly improve the visual appeal of a building erected in the 1970s. Even before the outdated lighting was replaced, the owner immediately remarked about the change in brightness (Stronghold Floors subsequently went back and installed decorative chips floor coatings in the customer reception and offices).
Protect & Enhance Your Service Bays
Whether it’s protecting a newly poured concrete slab or rejuvenating a 60 year old dealership’s service bays, epoxy coatings are a cost-effective way to protect and enhance your service bay floors. Sealers and paint kits just don’t cut it in commercial service bay floors.
Mike Mincemoyer is the President of Stronghold Floors and one member of the ownership team. Mike has been actively involved since the beginning in 2004. His formal floor coatings background includes training from PremierGarage, ROCK-TRED, Crown Polymers, HTC America, SIKA, AmeriPolish, SASE, Metzger McGuire, L&M Chemical Company and FGS/Permashine.