The proper surface preparation procedure for concrete is easily one of the most discussed and debated subjects in the coatings industry. Some in the industry believe that surface prep is a budget item that can be skimped on, or even skipped entirely. However, time and time again, this view point has been proven to be false. Proper concrete surface prep is critical to the success and longevity of epoxy floor coatings. It doesn’t matter how great an epoxy coating system’s chemistry, in order for it to adhere to the concrete, the substrate must be properly prepared. Surface preparation deserves a significant investment of energy, time and money.
Prep for New AND Old Concrete!
The first step in surface preparation is to read the concrete, meaning the substrate must be examined, and the proper surface prep technique must be determined. Older concrete that has expanded and contracted with heating and cooling cycles and has seen years of exposure to chemicals, oils, grease and other contaminants must be vigorously cleaned and mechanically prepared prior to the application of a coating. Newly or more recently laid concrete, while still needing cleaning and mechanical preparation, requires much less forceful preparation methods.
It’s a Grind
It is important to remember, however, that regardless of the age and/or condition of the concrete substrate, the ultimate goal is to apply epoxy floor coatings to sound concrete with a surface profile that allows for proper adhesion. It is only through mechanical surface preparation that this can be achieved.
Grinders are one of the common pieces of surface prep equipment used to achieve concrete surface profile. Grinders, such as the Metabo 7” W24 180, remove existing coatings and create a surface profile on the substrate without breaking or fracturing the surface of the substrate. Grinders use horizontally rotating disks, or wheels, to prepare the concrete substrate for epoxy coating system application. Depending on the type of abrasive wheel used on the grinder, it can be used to lightly prepare the surface if applying thin coatings, or can quickly remove mastics, epoxies, urethane and thick coatings
Shot blasters and scarifiers are other types of surface prep equipment that are typically used on concrete that requires more aggressive methods to create the proper surface profile. Shot blasters propel small steel balls against the surface, removing old coatings, as well as a thin layer of the substrate. Scarifiers rip up layers of the existing concrete cap to get to the sound concrete underneath.
Properly Prepared? Now it’s Application Time!
It is only once concrete has been cleaned, old coatings have been removed and proper surface profile has been achieved, that the substrate is ready for the application of an epoxy coating system. Good adhesion is the key to durability and longevity for coating systems. Without proper surface preparation, good adhesion is simply not a reality.
For more information about Epoxy Floor Supply products, such as the Metabo 7” W24 180 grinder, please visit www.epoxyfloorsupply.com.