Categorized | Home Improvement

How Effective is Concrete Floor Paint?

Concrete was never designed to take the kind of pounding most floors receive. When a concrete surface is impacted by footsteps or wheels, it turns to dust. Concrete is a porous substance so it absorbs water and dissolves in abrasive chemicals. Most homes, offices or industrial buildings have concrete floors somewhere. Not only are they exposed to the elements, they also look boring. So wherever a concrete floor is located, it needs protection and decoration. Paint can be a cheap and simple solution.

Water-based paints may be suitable for concrete walls and ceilings but not for floors subject to heavy traffic. These take too great a beating. So whether the floor is in a residential or industrial building, the best concrete floor paint is either oil-based paint or epoxy paint. The advantages of epoxy paints are their adhesion and durability. Industrial concrete floors use oil-based epoxies but these can be very difficult for a non-professional to use on a residential floor. A water-based epoxy can be adequate for average domestic use. In both cases, these epoxy paints have binders based on thermosetting polymers. Regular paint is either oil or latex-based and uses binders based on acrylics, PVC and other thermoplastics.

Epoxies are waterproof and resistant to rust, heat and chemical abrasives. They also look better when finished. Regular paint usually has a matte finish while epoxies have a high shine, making the floor look highly polished and yet, in reality, also skid-proof. There are also combinations of epoxies and thermoplastic compounds such as urethanes that have excellent heat, stress and impact resistance properties.

But as with all paint, it is only as effective as the preparation of the surface over which it is spread. First, the floor has to be cleaned of any old paint, degreased using an acid such as hydrochloric acid and washed thoroughly. The acid wash provides a slight etching on the floor surface that will allow the paint to adhere better. It is important to include the acid wash. Otherwise, the floor paint could start peeling within about a year. Shot blasting is another method of surface preparation to allow for a better paint surface grip. This could be a better option for larger areas, though the dust and debris has to be vacuumed and washed away.

It is also crucial to repair any defects in a concrete floor and to level out any lumps or slopes, prior to painting. There may be visible joints, holes or areas that have eroded. These can be repaired with a quick-setting epoxy mortar. Some of these require only about an hour to cure.

Once the preparation is complete, apply a thin base coat of the epoxy paint. This thinner coat will adhere well to the concrete. Allow it to dry and apply a thicker second coat. Once the second coat is dry, the concrete floor is transformed with a super finish.

Janet Hughes is a professional writer specialising in the home-improvement industry and has published six books and numerous articles on home remodelling. She uses a variety of concrete floor paint types in her lectures and demonstrations on DIY techniques.