Shop Smart Guide to Buying Concrete Coatings
Today's coatings offer more options than ever before for protecting, beautifying and prolonging the life of concrete floors and slabs. Here's an overview of some of the newest products on the shelf.
There's a good reason why concrete is used almost exclusively for floors in basements and garages, warehouse facilities and manufacturing and food processing plants -- it's one of the few materials durable enough to stand up to the heavy traffic, abrasion, chemicals, and moisture exposure these surfaces are often subject to. However, that doesn't mean concrete slabs are indestructible. By nature, untreated concrete is a porous material, and even the best concrete can succumb to extreme abuse, such as tire traffic, exposure to harsh chemicals and deicing salts, and frequent moisture contact.
That's where a good coating comes into play, giving concrete that extra layer of protection it needs to endure constant wear and tear. In addition to its protective function, a coating can also dress up a drab surface, simplify maintenance and improve skid resistance.
The selection of products today for coating concrete has never been greater, as manufacturers strive to meet market demands for newer formulations that are faster curing, more abrasion resistant, lower in harmful VOCs and adhere better to properly prepared surfaces. And many of today's coating products are available with a profusion of decorative options, including a broad selection of mix-in pigments and other add-ins for achieving special visual effects. With the myriad options available, however, shopping around for the right coating can be as daunting as navigating the cereal aisle in a well-stocked grocery store. The number of choices is overwhelming, and each product will differ -- at least to some extent -- in terms of performance, ease of application, economy and appearance. The challenge is to find the most economical and practical solution among the many products on the shelf.
It would be impossible to tell you about every concrete coating on the market, since there are literally hundreds of formulations to choose from. Instead, we will introduce you to some of the newest kids on the coating block -- advanced products that have been chemically tweaked to maximize their performance and make them more user-friendly to install. These newer offerings typically carry a higher price tag than their traditional counterparts, but they can actually be more cost-effective in the long run by saving installation time, allowing floors to be put back into service more quickly and providing greater endurance. Some products also allow you to achieve special decorative effects, such as metallic or luminescent finishes.
Author Anne Balogh, ConcreteNetwork.com Columnist and Senior Editor of Concrete Network Magazine