Proper concrete floor maintenance protects against corrosive chemicals, heavy traffic, general wear and breakdown of the substrate over time. Failure to maintain that protective coating will end up costing you money. Problems such as spalling, cracking and delamination all shorten a concrete floors lifespan. Replacing a concrete floor is expensive and causes a lot of disruption. Especially if the area is in regular use. It’s therefore important to carry out proper maintenance of your concrete floor to increase its lifespan and keep costs down.
Simply poring and levelling a concrete floor will be fine in many situations. However we strongly recommend at very least you seal the floor once it has been installed. Leaving it exposed to moisture, chemicals and wear will cause the surface layer to break down and quickly shorten the floors lifespan.
Concrete floors are in use everywhere from retail outlets, bars and restaurants to warehouses, automotive repair and industrial facilities. The stresses vary in different environments, but proper maintenance is the same. Regular cleaning, inspection and patching where necessary will help, but more radical action will be necessary eventually.
What concrete floor protection options are available?
The two most common finishing options for concrete floors are coating and polishing. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Coating encompasses everything from epoxy and polyurethane coatings to full resin with aggregate floor systems. Coating completely covers and concrete substrate below. With polishing the concrete aggregate is visible through a hard transparent shell.
Coating Concrete Floors
Coated or painted floors have a protective layer placed on the concrete substrate. They offer superior resistance to oil and chemical spillage. Coating seals the concrete forming a protective barrier. Coating is therefore the better option in commercial and industrial environments. It does however require careful preparation.
Grease and stains will need to be removed depending on the condition of the concrete. If chemicals are present, use muriatic acid to remove them. This creates good bonding and reduces the risk of delamination. You need to be careful when handling and using concrete floor treatments, they are extremely hazardous.
For epoxy and polyurethane resin floor coatings, the surface is first primed and prepared for coating. Either pour the coating into a paint tray or directly onto the floor before using a roller to spread. Once the resin coating has been evenly spread the roller is then worked in a diagonal direction to remove any high spots. Epoxy floor coating is guaranteed for 3 years when applied correctly. Polyurethane floor coatings are guaranteed for even longer.
For aggregate floor coatings such as Flowcretes Flowcast range, a base-coat is first applied evenly over the surface. A notched trowel or rake to spread the resin base coat. Air bubbles are then removed with a spike roller. While the base-coat is still wet aggregates are scattered generously and left to cure. Before the sealer coat can be applied any loose aggregate is brushed away. The sealer coat is applied and left to cure. The results are stunning and extremely durable.
Polishing Concrete Floors
Polished concrete floors have their aggregate exposed and sealed, typically with a high gloss finish. They are better suited to bars, restaurants and trendy retail outlets. Polished concrete floors don’t do well when exposed to abrasive chemicals and heavy industrial wear and tear. High-tech industry often prefers polished concrete over coated because its easier to keep free from dust. Small components are also easier to spot when dropped on a polished floor.
Polishing looks classy and aesthetically pleasing but provides less protection in certain circumstances. The polishing process can also be more expensive. It involves stripping the surface of the concrete back to expose the aggregate with metal bond abrasive machinery. The concrete is then resin polished, a densifier and seal applied followed finally by burnishing to achieve a high gloss finish.
As you can see there are many options to choose from when it comes to protecting your concrete floors. It ultimately boils down to cost, usage, lifespan and aesthetics. If you want that retro look and your premises gets light traffic then a polished concrete floor might be the best choice. For food processing plants and other environments where hygiene is important then an epoxy or polyurethane resin option may be best. In areas subject to heavy vehicle and machinery traffic such as warehouses and car parks a fast curing aggregate coating would be a sensible option.
If you need any advice or would like to speak to someone about your concrete floor maintenance requirements we’re here to help! Call us on 01606 554040 or head over to our contact page and send a message, we look forward to hearing from you.