Bare concrete slabs can be a great foundation for flooring systems in a variety of commercial and industrial settings, but concrete alone without a sealer probably won’t be enough to achieve the results desired. Unsealed concrete is porous and not moisture resistant. Even common spills can leave long-lasting stains and without proper treatment, prolonged exposure to moisture can cause structural harm to the foundation. Though concrete may seem like a tough material in the context of daily life, it will chip and scratch when subjected to vehicle traffic and other heavy loads. Unsealed concrete will also produce dust that can be toxic to sensitive individuals when inhaled.
Countless sealers and coatings exist on the market to help strengthen and protect a concrete slab foundation, but wading through the many options can be overwhelming. One of the first questions to consider is whether a light-duty do-it-yourself sealer will be adequate to fulfill the demands of the space, or if a more effective solution is needed. For projects in spaces with almost no foot or vehicle traffic, requiring no particular performance or durability, and where a temporary solution is sufficient, a single component sealer could fit the bill.
DIY concrete sealers are typically clear, single-component formulas applied as liquids. Unlike more sophisticated epoxy or polyurethane systems, which typically involve proper mechanical preparation of the substrate, multiple steps and experienced installers, concrete sealers often enable a layperson to successfully seal a concrete surface. The result will be effective as a short-term dust-reducer and add a touch of sheen.
The thin consistency of a DIY sealer limits the options for variations, making it impossible to add an aggregate for slip resistance. The protection it provides is also temporary and limited; any areas that are subjected to significant levels of traffic will require frequent and regular resealing or else become worn down to bare concrete in no time. DIY sealers are not effective as a method of patching or repairing damaged concrete. The clear sealers will also highlight any existing damage present at the time of sealing, making it an aesthetically unacceptable option for most commercial facilities.
The more desirable, value-based option for the majority of facilities is to have professionals install a protective epoxy, polyurethane, or other appropriate resinous floor coating system over their concrete slab. These systems are much more technically complex, and result in outstanding durability and a visually appealing surface. In contrast to single-component, dip-and-roll sealers, these systems are applied in multiple layers, each of which requires the precise blending and mixing of two or more components. The resulting chemical reaction produces a tough, tightly cross-linked coating surface. Viscosities can vary, depending upon formulation and additives, allowing resinous coatings systems to be highly effective in repairing and resurfacing damaged concrete slabs to the degree that an imperfect, damaged surface can often be made whole again without having to replace the expensive foundation.
An additional benefit of going the professional route with a more technically advanced flooring system is the vast product selection and level of design flexibility and customization available. Skilled factory-approved contractors are knowledgeable in the selection and installation of resinous coating systems designed to perform well in many different industrial, commercial and institutional conditions, such as extreme temperature swings, heavy loads, chemical spill resistance, and the like. Health and safety options, including slip resistance, anti-microbial protection and more, are available. Aesthetically, facility managers have countless epoxy and other resinous flooring colors, textures and designs to choose from.
For best results, ask your resinous coating manufacturer to connect you with the appropriate local, factory-approved contractor to install your new high-performance floor.