When I was a new platoon leader in 1993, I had the additional duty of being the company maintenance officer. As such I worked with a Chief Warrant Officer, Jerry, who liked to mess with the young lieutenants. He would tell us why a commissioned officer (like me) was inferior to a warrant officer (like him). It went something like this:
“When you commission something, you never know what you are going to really get. But, when you warrant something, you are guaranteed to get the right results”.
A commission is defined as “an authoritative order, order or charge” and a warrant is “something that serves to give reliable or formal assurance of something; guarantee, pledge or security”.
Jerry was a funny guy, but his point was well taken. When you think about it, how often in life do we commission something without a real warrant(y)? Too often, we just hope for the best without a real guarantee.
My team and I see this every day in the concrete floor coatings industry, where property owners commission someone to install epoxy coatings without having any real warranty. Most professional coatings companies provide a warranty for the labor associated with and materials utilized in their concrete coatings.
On the other hand, trusting (or commissioning) your floor coatings to a painting or general contractor is just that. It’s not going to come with any meaningful warranty. These situations always end with the contractor blaming the coatings supplier for any issues and the coatings supplier blaming the contractor. These two parties do not have a relationship where they are working together for everyone’s success. Additionally, the contractors do not have the experience to understand where things have gone wrong. It’s equivalent to expecting a back yard mechanic to know as much as the factory-certified master automotive technician.
Even with professionally installed coatings, not all warranties are equal. Too often, the warranties are pro-rated over a period of years which means the later life of the warranty is nearly useless. Given the flourish of “lifetime” warranties being offered by many new coatings companies, reading the warranty for its true nature is extremely important. And, with so many new offerings in the garage floor market, the purchaser needs to determine if the coating system they are evaluating even has any long-term history to back up the warranty. For example, we utilize Polyaspartic coatings for our garage floor coatings. The Polyaspartic coating is a great top coat (the clear layer providing the final protective layer). While polyaspartics can be used as the bonding layer (the layer applied to the concrete), it typically does not do as well as tried-and-true epoxy in most real-world environments. All the test data shown by these new upstart companies neglects to account for the differences between a lab test (in controlled environments) and the reality of applying floor coatings in all types of weather and temperatures.
While all professional coatings warranties contain exclusions (such as future cracking of the floor/coatings – which is uncontrollable for the coatings installer) the exclusions should not encompass the coatings delaminating from the concrete surface under normal use. The warranty should cover the coatings being properly bonded to the concrete. Improper surface preparation and the epoxy coating’s bond strength should not be exclusions.
In floor coatings, whether its garage floors, animal care facility or service bays, warranties are critical. We all expect a real warranty for our vehicles, our appliances and other household items. Why should purchasing a concrete floor coating be any different?
Mike Mincemoyer is the President of Stronghold Floors and one member of the ownership team. He supports the commercial & residential coatings sales team. Along with Gary Utter, he works daily on the company’s business development and web efforts