Last week, in Garage Floor Coatings Criteria Part 1 -Evaluating the Current Floor Condition, we reviewed the different problem conditions that may apply and their impact. No garage floor coating works well if the surface is not in good condition or placed back into good, structural condition before the coatings are applied.
In this article, we look at the performance requirements a homeowner should consider for a garage floor coating. Many of these characteristics are where the big box store’s garage floor paint or DIY epoxy kit fall drastically short.
Let’s dive into each characteristic and why it matters.
Coatings Performance Requirements
Garage floors are typically exposed to more harmful chemicals than other floors in a residential home. The concrete is subjected to splash spills of gasoline, oil, car cleaning products, fertilizers and snow/ice melt chemicals.
As concrete is naturally high in pH, it is subject to attack from any materials that are acidic. Over time, acids “etch” the surface of the concrete and decrease the durability of the wear surface.
A garage floor coating system should have topical layers that are designed to withstand short or long term exposure to a variety of chemicals. The coating system should be unaffected by chemicals used for winter road treatment. It should tolerate the intermittent exposures to weak acids, petroleum based substances and liquids which contain solvents.
Garages may or may not have windows, but often have a fair amount of lighting installed. A good floor coating system must be able to withstand period exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Most epoxies do not have high UV resistance, which is why most decorative floor coatings make use of urethane or polyuria based technologies, as these chemicals have UV inhibitors or are UV stable (do not yellow from exposure).
A garage floor coating takes a lot of abuse from vehicle traffic. Small stones and grit on the tires comes in contact with the top of the coatings. Snow melt off introduces debris that can be repeated driven over, until remove. These contacts can de-gloss or abrade the surface, causing it to look worn or damaged.
Much like the UV resistance, higher scratch (abrasion) resistance is normally achieved with the use of polyasapartics, urethanes or polyuria based technologies.
Ease of Cleaning
Coating systems can have different textures that greatly impact the ease of cleaning. Most garage coating systems can just be swept free of debris and kept shiny with an occasional mopping.
Spilled liquids can easily be wiped up on any sealed system.
Some newer systems, such as Nature Stone® that promote that they “eliminate standing water and puddling” by letting the water flow down into them do not accurately describe their cleaning requirements. If liquids and small debris get into those systems, they can clog the pores, lead to offensive odors or potentially stain the system. These systems often require much greater amounts of cleaning effort than advertised.
No coating lasts forever. But unlike paints, most professionally installed garage coating systems have a thick enough top layer of the coatings to allow them to be mechanically abraded (sanded). Once properly prepared, a new protective layer of coating can be applied to the existing system.
While the need for this rejuvenation may not occur for many years, once it is needed, it will not require the large investment of replacing the entire system (which is more typical of DIY kits and garage floor paints).
Paints and poor quality, epoxy coatings often peel off the garage floor where the tires come into contact. This peeling (or delamination) is due to poor bond strength.
Garage floor coatings must adhere to the concrete with a strength that exceeds the adhesive pull from hot tires. In addition, the system must have great enough “inter coat” adhesion so that the layers are not pulled apart by hot tires.
The bond strength of a garage floor coating is also dependent upon the floor surface being properly prepared prior to the coatings application. While there are many ways to “prepare” the concrete surface, the process that is used must ensure that it adequately removes loose materials, imparts a sufficient concrete surface profile (CSP 2 or better) and opens the pores of the concrete.
Performance Requirement Conclusion
For a garage floor coating to perform well, it has to provide a lot of performance characteristics that are typically only found in professionally installed coatings. There are some garage coatings kits that exhibit there characteristics, but these kits are still subject to failure due to inadequate surface preparation.
The Next Step
This is the second of four articles dealing with garage floor coatings and their selection criteria.
In our next article, we will look at Part 3 – Choosing the Desired Look.
The team at Stronghold Floors has installed over 4,500 garage floor coatings in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington D.C. We install garage floor coatings that are tailor matched to provide the best balance of the characteristics discussed in this article. We believe in “Do it right ALL the Time!”