Concrete Floor Prep for Epoxy Coating Installation

Whether we realize it or not, floors are an essential part of our everyday lives. Unfortunately, we tend to pay little attention to our floors, often neglecting them to the point of ruin. For those who are looking for a simple solution to extend the life of their concrete floors, epoxy flooring can be an effective and low-maintenance solution. Before installing epoxy coating, you should know how to prep concrete for epoxy coating to be applied.

how to prep concrete for epoxy

Although, how can you tell that the epoxy coating is being installed correctly on your floors? After paying the money for a company to come in, you want to make sure you get the quality work you’re paying for. For those who want to make sure their floor is prepped properly, which is the most important part of the installation, we’ve collected a detailed explanation of the things to keep your eye on.

What is Epoxy Flooring?

Before we get too far into the epoxy installation process, and more specifically, the prepping concrete for epoxy process, let’s take the time to go over what epoxy flooring actually is. Concrete floors, while durable, do tend to take on damage over time. To help mitigate these damages, and keep your floors looking newer for longer, epoxy flooring can be installed.

Epoxy is a resin that will act as a sealant when applied. In terms of benefits, it largely depends on where you’ll be installing the floor. You’ll love that epoxy coatings will improve safety with their resistance to slipping (once anti-slip materials are added) for warehouses or workplaces.

Epoxy floors are also chemical resistant, easier to clean, and beautiful to look at. For your personal garage, you’ll love that it’s easy to clean and maintain, and also that it is available in a wide range of colors.

Before You Start Preparing Floor For Epoxy Coating

While epoxy coating installation doesn’t take that long, there are a number of steps you’ll have to go through. When it comes to the process of prepping the concrete surface, we’re going to break it down into two sections. These can be done by yourself, or you can make sure the company you hire is preparing the floor for epoxy in the right way.

Pre-Prepping Concrete For Epoxy

Before you or a company begins prepping, you or they will want to take the time to properly examine the work surface. For proper epoxy installation, it will need to be started with a completely clean and porous surface. That means you must make sure there is no oil, paint, wax, or rubber residue. You will need to carry out concrete floor prep for epoxy floor coating to be installed in it afterward.

How To Prep Concrete For Epoxy

Everything will have to be stripped completely off of your concrete floor. While you or they are making sure that there’s no residue left on your floor, this will also be an opportunity to look for water damage, as well as repair any surface damage you can find. This means that cracks will have to be repaired, and holes will have to be filled before you, or they get into the installation process. 

Cracked Concrete floor

After that process has been completed, you may see your contractor perform a water droplet test. While this may seem a little arbitrary, it’s an important step to confirm that the floor is ready to be treated. Simply put, the water drop test will show that all previous material has been stripped from the concrete.

When bare concrete gets wet, it will turn dark, signaling that the material is porous. If there’s still something coating your concrete, making it non-porous, then you will not see the concrete darken. 

Things To Look Out For During Concrete Prep For Epoxy

These are some of the important things that you should look for when preparing a surface for the epoxy:

  • Moisture levels
  • Evenness of the surface
  • Unwanted dirt & other contaminants
  • PH value
  • Surrounding temperature & surface temperature
  • Fatty acids
  • Paint residue

Also read: Which Floor Coating Should You Select?

Prepping The Floor For Epoxy Coating

Now that we’ve confirmed that your floor is ready to be prepped, it’s time to get the installation process rolling! Before figuring out how to prep garage floor for epoxy, you should know about different ways of concrete surface preparation. For preparing garage floor for epoxy, you can follow any of the following methods. There are a few different ways for surface preparation, and the methods will vary from company to company. It is advised to use expert help while prepping concrete for epoxy. The ways of concrete floor prep for epoxy are as follows:

  • Acid Etching
  • Shot Blasting
  • Diamond Grinding

Acid Etching

Acid etching is a DIY process. This is a simple process and doesn’t require professional machinery and equipment to carry out this process. The first step in this process to prepare concrete for epoxy is to evenly spread the muriatic acid solution on the floor. Use a scrubber or a brush to evenly spread out the acid. Leave the acid for 10 minutes, then the effect will start.

Clean the acid from the floor using power cleaning and then vacuum the surface after the surface is completely dry. Before the acid dries, make sure any remnants are removed. Finally, if there is any acid residual, it must be neutralized.

Diamond Grinding

Diamond grinding is also a way to prep the floor. This process helps to restore the smoothness of your floor. In this process, you will be needing some machinery and skills to use them. The machines aren’t that complex though. You will need a floor grinder to help you with the process.

Diamond Grinding

Use a side-by-side swaying motion to smooth down the whole surface of your floor after the machine is switched on. Vacuum thoroughly to remove any access residue that may have remained. To avoid grinding circular rings and low places into the floor, keep the grinder moving at all times.

Shot Blasting

Shot Blasting is also one of the ways to prep your floor for epoxy. This process requires you to use machinery to flatten the surface. The machine will pummel small metallic beads into the floor so as to remove any stains or damage on the surface. This process ensures there is no residue remaining on the entire floor whereas there’s always residue remaining during acid etching or diamond grinding.

shot blaster

The machine collects everything and hence no residue is left. This method is used for larger projects and needs highly skilled workers to carry out. After this stage is complete, there will be one final wash of the floors to make sure the surface is ready for an epoxy coating. After this step, you can easily put epoxy over concrete.

Do You Need A Primer?

Once the floor preparation is complete, a question arises. Do you need to apply primer before applying the final coating?

First, you have to understand that the primer is mainly used for better adhesion. But, the mixture of epoxy resin and hardener bonds well with the concrete surface. So, using a primer is not absolutely necessary for epoxy floors. On the other hand, you absolutely need a primer if you are applying epoxy coating on the wood surface. But, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use primer on the concrete surface at all. I will still suggest you use primers to get better results. Primer will decrease the chance of unnecessary bubbles during the finish. So, primers become more useful when you are applying the epoxy coating yourself instead of hiring professionals.

Curing Takes Time

When the epoxy is applied to a surface, it sets quickly and might appear hard enough. However, this does not mean that it is properly cured. It takes about 18-24 hours (and sometimes longer) before it is safe to walk on the surface. For proper curing and final hardness, it could take a few days, depending on the conditions and temperatures. It is because of this that it’s not a good idea to apply it in temperatures below 60° F because apart from slow curing, other problems can develop.

Issues Created By Substandard Concrete Floor Prep

These things can happen if you don’t prepare the concrete surface properly.

Formation Of Bubbles

This is the most common issue that can occur during epoxy installation. One of the reasons for this is bad surface preparation. If you don’t completely get rid of the moisture during surface preparation, this issue can occur.

Poor Adhesion

If the temperature during the installation process is not completely maintained, this issue can occur. In some cases, the surface will have to be sanded during preparation, to make sure the epoxy bonds well with the surface. Unwanted dirt on the surface can also create this issue. This can lead to issues like the peeling of the surface.

Surface Blushing

This issue is also caused when the moisture level on the surface is high. To have to take proper action when the area where you want to install epoxy floors is close to a water source and has high humidity.

Inconsistent Finish

The epoxy finish needs to look beautiful and the floor should be level. Rough areas with unwanted lumps can form when every part of the floor is not properly prepared and the surface can look uneven. This can make your floor look worse than before.

Conclusion

Epoxy coatings can be a great way to extend the life of your floors. Whether you’re looking for a new-looking Epoxy garage floor for your home, or are looking to brighten up your workplace, there are plenty of reasons to coat your concrete in epoxy. It is important to remember that the prepping concrete process is just as important as the installation of the epoxy itself, and these stages need to be handled with the utmost care if you want your epoxy floors to be good.

Finally, the thicker the system that you plan to apply the deeper your preparation needs to be. Vice versa also applies. If you scarify the floor surface, you need a thick coating to cover that surface. Bear in mind that a thin epoxy coat will not be able to fully cover the heavily scarred floor profile. 

Now you must have learned about how to prep garage floor for epoxy. Your questions about how to prep concrete for epoxy must have been answered. Before applying the epoxy coating, you must ensure your surface is well prepared and for that, you need to successfully complete the “prepping concrete for epoxy part” correctly. 

When you hire a professional epoxy flooring company to install your epoxy, take the time to make sure your surface is prepped and cleaned properly, ensuring that you’ll be able to love your new floors for many, many years to come. I think this blog must have cleared all your queries on the process of concrete prep for epoxy.

Here’s a snippet of us working on surface preparation before applying the epoxy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do to prepare my floor for epoxy?

A clean, dry floor free of dirt, wetness, cracks, or holes is required before applying any coating. Make a thorough survey of the area. Using a cleaner and a stiff brush, remove any grease streaks. Only the oily residue has to be removed, not the entire discoloration.

Is it necessary to grind the floor before applying epoxy?

For people who are installing a garage floor on their own and who do not have access to professional grinders, Acid etching is a perfect answer. However, we always advocate grinding prior to epoxy application for larger commercial installations, older cement, or worn flooring.

Is it necessary to prepare new concrete before applying epoxy?

Yes, even a new cement floor must be etched before epoxy garage floor coating may be applied. Concrete etching is a necessary step in the preparation process. In reality, the most critical component is thorough concrete preparation before applying a coating.

What are the consequences of not etching the concrete before applying epoxy?

Before putting the epoxy, new concrete must be etched. Other coating materials, such as epoxy coatings or paint, will not stick to the flat surface of untreated concrete. As a consequence, epoxy coatings will scrape and pull away from the surface, failing to attach.

Author

Ryan Pepple

My name is Ryan Pepple and I am the founder/president of Best Coast Epoxy Coatings Inc. I do all the residential jobs myself and use a crew to complete commercial jobs. You can call the number mentioned on the site to talk to me.

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