Whether newly poured or an existing slab, concrete floors in commercial, industrial and institutional settings must be structurally sound in order for the installation of a protective floor coating or polymer resurfacer system to be successful. Only upon ascertaining this, can facility managers proceed with their plans to have a new concrete floor topping installed. It therefore pays for managers to educate themselves on what is required of a concrete slab prior to coating. Some basics pertaining to new concrete pours are outlined below, but the same principles apply to older slabs as well.
First, consider the preparation requirements, including the materials being used for the concrete slab base and sub-base, as well as the thickness of the concrete. Decisions regarding the composition of these layers must take the anticipated floor loads into consideration—will the concrete need to stand up to ongoing traffic from heavy machinery, severe impact from dropped loads or other punishing conditions? The base, sub-base and even the slab thickness may need to be altered to help ensure that the concrete will be capable of performing as needed.
Next, consider the strength of the concrete. Mixing proportions of the concrete will vary according to the demands of the environment, including water-to-cementitious materials ratio (w/cm), incorporation of aggregate or admixtures, as well as other parameters. Reinforcement bars, grids or the like should be clearly specified as to material type and placement. Inclusion of a functioning vapor barrier under slab-on-grade concrete, local construction regulations, and other critical considerations should be outlined by a licensed architect or engineer. When planning a protective floor finish installation, educated managers understand that high performance resinous flooring depends on a healthy, structurally sound concrete slab underneath. Taking the time to investigate the history and condition of an existing slab or to work closely with a specifier on designing a new concrete pour can make all the difference.
For concrete that is to be coated with an epoxy or other resinous floor topping, the most common finish is a hard-troweled surface, though a broom-swept concrete finish can sometimes be preferable. Flooring manufacturers provide clear guidelines for concrete surface preparation prior to material installation and strict adherence to these recommendations can make or break the job. Since some concrete hardeners and surface treatments can make this more difficult—and can even impede good adhesion of the flooring system—consideration of a flooring manufacturer’s preparation steps when specifying new concrete finishing and curing can help ensure that both budgetary and flooring performance expectations are met.
Taking the time for careful pre-construction planning of how a new concrete slab is to be constructed, along with a thorough investigation of an existing slab’s history, can save facilities significant time and money. By conveying this information to their resinous flooring professional, facility managers help facilitate optimal floor topping selection, substrate preparation, and protective flooring system installation.