For those who are considering revamping their floors, we’ve listed the most common types of concrete treatments. This will include epoxy floors, stained floors, polished concrete and more. We will discuss the benefits of each as well as how they’re applied.
Curing and densifiers
Before you apply any sort of surface treatment to your concrete, you must allow it to cure properly. The process of curing aims to control the level of moisture in the concrete so that it doesn’t become dry and brittle. You can help the curing process by applying a chemical compound that helps seal the moisture in. These compounds can be water, resin or PVA-based. Alternatively, you can use wet curing, which is the process of laying a moist cloth over the surface and covering it with a plastic sheet, effectively acting as a sealant.
Once the concrete has cured, you also need to densify it. Densifiers (or harderners) improve the concrete’s abrasion resistance and surface density. Some densifiers also enhance the look of the concrete by creating more homogenous shades or enriching existing colours.
Other benefits of densifiers include:
- Freeze-thaw protection
- Stain resistance
- Reduced risk of efflorescence
Both the curing and the densifying process are used to improve the durability and functionality of the concrete floor. Not incorporating these steps might lead to moisture damage or cracking in the future.
Coatings are mainly used to improve the visual appeal of the concrete. Through coatings, you can essentially achieve any colour combination that you want. For the best results, a concrete surface must be thoroughly cleaned and grinded before you apply anything to the surface. This ensures proper adhesion of the coat and an even finish. If there’s already an existing layer of paint on the concrete, it must be removed.
Popular coatings include epoxy paint, acrylics and urethanes. When it comes to choosing the right type of coating, there are a few factors to consider. If it’s being used in an industrial setting, then you would use a coating that offers abrasion and chemical resistance. For this purpose, epoxy coating is ideal. Epoxy is composed of a primer, resin and a hardener. This composition will effectively seal the concrete and protect it from damage. Epoxy also has a similar look to paint and therefore can be used for aesthetic purposes as well.
For residential properties, it’s important that you use a coating that is non-toxic, especially if you have children or pets.
Staining and dyeing
Staining is a great way of adding a natural tone to your concrete floor. One of the biggest differences between coating and staining is longevity. Since a coating sits on the top of the concrete surface, it can get damaged by excessive foot traffic. In staining, however, a permanent change in the concrete’s colour is achieved via a chemical reaction. The treatment usually uses phosphoric and hydrochloric acid. This permanent change means you’ll be able to enjoy the aesthetics of your concrete surface without having to worry about peeling or flaking.
Another benefit of staining is the UV resistance. This makes stained concrete suitable for outdoors settings like patios and driveways.
Dyeing is similar to staining in a sense that it ‘soaks’ concrete with water solvents. However, it does not offer the same level of depth as staining and therefore doesn’t last as long. Additionally, most dyes don’t have UV resistant qualities.
The last treatment that we’ll look at is concrete polishing. Polishing involves physically buffing the concrete surface with different grinders. In between these grinding phases, grout, epoxy sealants and densifiers are applied to fill in the microporosities in the concrete, further strengthening the material. In addition to its durability, polished concrete is also very easy to clean and maintain.
If you were to polish the concrete with a 800-grit grinder or beyond, you can achieve that reflective, high-gloss finish that you often see in office lobbies and shopping malls. Additionally, you can also customise the aggregate exposure of your concrete. This is the size of the rock fragments that are visible on the surface. You can have them as large as possible to have a more textured look. Otherwise, you can make the rock fragments so fine that they are invisible to the naked eye.
With the right treatment, you should be able to transform your concrete floor to something more exciting. If you have any questions about your flooring, make sure to consult professional concrete contractors.