A complete garage floor coating in just one day! Sounds fantastic; I don’t have to keep my stuff outside for days. In theory, it is fantastic; in theory. But, I can tell you from 10 years in the floor coatings industry it’s not always practical or advised.
The Technology behind 1 Day Garage Floor Coatings
The polymer technology that allows a garage floor coating to be completed in one day is called a polyaspartic coating. These types of coatings have very short working times (time that allows the materials to be applied) and extremely short cure times (time in which the coating goes from its liquid state to a solid state). Stronghold Floors utilizes polyaspartic coatings for all of its decorative chip and decorative quartz floors that are installed in residential garages (unless the associated odors are not tolerable). The polyaspartics are excellent top layers for a coatings system, as they provide very high UV resistance, chemical resistance and scratch resistance. But, a topcoat is only one of the layers making up a good chemical system. What about the layers under the decorative chips or quartz? Keep reading to learn more.
5 Issues with 1 Day Garage Floor Coatings
Polyaspartics will bond to concrete, it’s true. In fact, the bond strength can rival that of epoxies. So, why not use polyaspartics instead of epoxy?
- Polyaspartics cure so quickly that they often do not wet-out (“soak in”) as well as epoxies. This is not because of differences in the viscosity (as both can be diluted with solvents), but because the epoxy takes 5x to 20x as long to cure, allowing it to soak into the prepared concrete over a longer period of time.
- Polyaspartics cure faster when it’s warmer and EVEN FASTER when it’s humid. So, installing these coatings in dry environments like Arizona and Nevada is not typically a problem. But, in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, three of our seasons are characterized by warmer temperatures that are often accompanied by high humidity. Our humid days can make it completely impractical for applying polyaspartics to the concrete surface.
- Polyaspartics have little to no tolerance for any moisture on the surface they are applied to. Many times of the year, the concrete is cold enough to cause minor to severe condensation to form on the surface (think dew point). This moisture can and will interfere with the bond of the first layer to the concrete.
- Most companies use a polyaspartic primer (first layer) followed by a polyaspartic binder (2nd layer that the decorative chips are broadcast into). Due to the rapid curing, inter-coat adhesion (the bond created chemically or mechanically between coatings layers) is often much lower than needed. Installers who do not respect the short window of time allowed between these layers will cause future delamination of the coatings when subjected to hot tires.
- Unless the project really requires a 1 day turn-around, most companies see no benefit to forcing their installers to go so fast and give them no time to deal with any issues that arise (such as bugs landing in the coatings and wind blowing in debris). Since the 1-day installers would have to prep the concrete and apply 2 to 5 layers of polyaspartic in a period of less than 10 hours, the installers are rushing and often have to cut corners.
Time and time again, we have seen start-up garage flooring companies get themselves in trouble doing one day floors. We have removed over a hundred of these floors for our customers, when the prior company stopped answering their calls for service and assistance.
Time and time again, we see manufacturers tout their polyaspartics as “magic beans” that will transform a coatings installation company’s business model. Months later, they are back to recommending two day projects. And, many of these manufacturers are located in climates with low humidity and more consistent year round temperatures. These manufacturers often do not understand the impact of the climates of their customers. We fell prey to this in 2005, when the coatings franchise we belong to tried to deploy these 1-day systems in all locations in North America. Needless to say, it had a detrimental impact on our businesses and was short lived.
Do I need a 1 Day Garage Floor Coating?
If you truly require a one day floor, our company is capable of installing an all-polyaspartic coatings system. We do have commercial coatings projects that demand a rapid return-to-service. But, in over 5000 residential garage floors, we have not had any homeowner under such pressures.
I continue to evangelize to my staff words from my father “Take your time and do it right the first time”. In this case, that time is only an extra ½ day.
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. The Stronghold Floors team has formal floor coatings training from Rock-Tred, PremierGarage, Crown Polymers, HTC America, SIKA, AmeriPolish, SASE, Metzger McGuire, L&M Chemical Company and many smaller vendors.