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Shotblasting VS Diamond Grinding

We get asked a lot of times by customers whether they should shotblast or grind their floor. In this post we will discuss the Pros and Cons of each. First lets start with the fact that shotblasting a floor is cheaper than grinding at the outset. The problem with shotblasting is that unless using an aggregate such as sand or doing a heavy flake job you will see what we call lawn mower lines in the finished epoxy. The reason being is that where you overlap with the shotblaster as you go up and down the floor it leaves a line of deeper indents from the shotblasting beads. Then as you apply epoxy those deeper indents hold more pigment and thus show up as lines as you can see in this photo below.

The benefits of shotblasting other than the lower cost is that it gets down into the small nooks and crannies of very dirty floors that are in poor condition. We would recommend grinding after shotblasting to remove as much of the shotblasting lines as possible but when you do this it obviously increases the cost dramatically.

So grinding 95% of the time is the way to go and most times on smaller floors you can rent the floor prep machine from Home Depot which will do the job just fine. For larger floors or extremely dirty floors you will need a larger machine from a tool rental place. When renting a grinder get the biggest grinder you can handle it will make the job easier and faster also whenever possible get the Vac attachment, that goes for the Home Depot machine too. Grinding generates a lot of dust. After grinding make sure to remove all the dust. If time is not an issue you can hose or power wash the floor and while the floor is wet you might as wet scrub some etch in. This will accomplish two things, one it will open up the concrete pores more and second it will clean any low spots the grinding wheel could not reach.

Once the floor is prepped we like to hit it with a good leaf blower just before apply the coating to get the last bits of dust off the floor, you’ll be surprised at how much dust is left. So in conclusion figure to grind rather than shotblast in all but extreme floor situations. Use the floor prep machine from Home Depot on small to medium floors and for larger floors use an industrial size grinder preferably one with at least 3 heads and new diamonds in about the 25-30 grit range. Always try to use a Vac attachment with your grinder, shop vacs won’t work, they clog up in two minutes. Grinding Vacs have pulsating filters to keep them clean as you vac up all the dust. And as always if you have any questions on the condition or preparation of your floor just give us a call or shoot us an email.


TOPCOAT APPLICATION

When applying a topcoat first make sure the epoxy is cured. If you apply the topcoat before the epoxy is completely dry it will end up looking like the image below. Very easy to avoid this, just be patient and let the epoxy dry.

To test if the epoxy is fully dried or not simply press your finger into the epoxy, it should not leave a fingerprint. Next press your fingernail into the epoxy it should be difficult to leave any sort of an imprint. If the epoxy is not completely dry you need to give it more time and or more heat. In the cooler weather overnight temperatures that go below 55 degrees can slow the curing process down. So if your epoxy is a little tacky and the temperature dropped overnight add some heat to the floor and give it more time. This usually solves the issue. Normally we don’t want you going more than 20 hours between epoxy and topcoat but in this instance its ok cause the epoxy has not fully cured yet.

Always use a a roller pan when applying your topcoat this will ensure you don’t get any dull spots from too much nonslip in the spot you poured the topcoat out. Keep the topcoat stirred to keep the nonslip suspended. Another method for the nonslip additive is to broadcast it onto the epoxy and then roll the topcoat over it. When doing this again you want to avoid heavy blotches of the nonslip that can dull the finish of the topcoat. In the picture above you can see the topcoat was applied perfectly as the good areas have an even high gloss. It was just applied too soon. If you do happen to get a small dull spot, it’s easy to fix just lightly sand the topcoat with 100 grit, wipe off the dust and brush on some more topcoat. Don’t worry about scratching the epoxy, the topcoat makes all the scratches disappear.

Typically an epoxy needs 8-10 hours at 75 degrees, as the temperature drops it takes longer to cure. Your topcoat should cure in about 5-6 hours where you cna walk on it and put your stuff back on the floor. However, even though the topcoat is dry to the touch does not mean it is fully cured/hardened. That can take another 48hrs so no heavy traffic till then.

So in cooler weather make sure the floor stays warm overnight while the epoxy is drying and not just during the day. A good trick is to heat the space for a few days prior to doing your job this way the concrete can absorb as much heat as possible and will stay warmer than the ambient air while you apply your epoxy.

And as always if you ever have any questions or concerns before during or after your project just give us a call or shoot us an email and one of our support team members will be happy to help you.


When Is An Epoxy Failure Not the Epoxy’s Fault?

PERFECT EXAMPLE OF POOR QUALITY CONCRETE

Take a look at this image and you’ll see that the epoxy has delaminated from the floor in an upward motion. Notice the underside of the piece of epoxy the person is holding and you’ll see the top layer of the concrete slab stuck to the underside of it, notice the granularity of the concrete. The culprit here is the concrete letting loose! This is one of the best examples of sandy or granular concrete we have seen. Usually caused by the contractor using too much aggregate/sand to save some money. The other issue here maybe that there was moisture in the floor and that the moisture pushing up on the epoxy had enough pressure to cause the weak concrete to let loose.

Here’s another example of why you can experience peeling of your epoxy. Although this is not common some floors were poured with a high content of river stone/pebbles also known as pea gravel floor, again most likely due to the contractor trying to save money on the job. See all those black spots they are pea gravel/pebbles that are very smooth and are not porous whatsoever which means its very difficult to get anything to stick to it. If you have this type of concrete you must use the Bonding Primer to ensure adhesion to these types of concrete floors. The above floor where they used too much sand is different as the surface is more granular and loose. This floor is hard and very smooth almost like a polished floor so you need the Bonding Primer as opposed to the sandy floor you need our Standard Primer or better yet our High Solids Primer. Our High Solids Primer is amazing and better than most actual epoxies on the market.

So how do we try to prevent this from happening ? First thing is to always make sure your concrete is 100% dry after etching. We recommend a minimum of 24 hrs to 48 hrs depending on temperature and humidity. If the humidity is very high when you’re floor is drying it will take longer for that moisture to evaporate out of the slab. Secondly take a good look at your floor and if you notice that there is a lot of exposed aggregate or it has sandy type of texture to it use a primer. Our Epoxy Flooring Primer will penetrate into the slab, getting in between the tiny spaces in the aggregate binding them together which greatly strengthens your slab. Also sometimes contractors use pea gravel which are small round stones that are very smooth. This is also a good candidate for the top layer of the concrete letting loose. If you have a pea gravel floor use our Bonding Primer that will bond to the smooth surfaces of the pea gravel thus ensuring a solid bond between your floor and the epoxy.

The good thing is that these types of situations are rare, so chances are you don’t have to worry about this but if you have any doubts just send us a picture and will let you if there’s anything to be concerned about and guide you accordingly. We’ll make sure you use the necessary products so that you don’t have any issues.


What To Do If You Miss A Spot On Your Garage Floor Coating?

So you’re apply your garage floor coating or commercial epoxy flooring and all is going well until you get a few sections along in the application and you look back and suddenly you see to your horror that you have missed a spot!. First thing is not to panic and what every you do do not walk back on the wet epoxy to fix it.

Here’s what you can and should do. This is where those spoke soles come in handy! If you have them and it hasn’t been to long since you noticed the missed spot that walk over to the spot with the spikes and fix. This goes for a missed spot of the color flakes. You can simple add more flakes to a bald spot. If you haven’t noticed it till after you’re completely done and you don’t have spikes. Just wait for the floor to dry and go over and patch it. In the case of wanting to add more flakes you need to apply a very thin layer of epoxy for the flakes to stick onto.

Then apply the topcoat but stay clear of the patched area if you just did it. Don’t wait for the patch to dry since once you go past 24 hrs between coats you need to sand the surface to rough it up. Just stay about 6″ away from the patch spot. Once the rest of the next coat dries you can simply fill in the patched area,

A very common occurrence is missing a spot with the clear topcoat. Since these topcoats are Gin clear it’s easy to do while you’re applying them. This is no issue at all. After the topcoat dries just very lightly sand the epoxy and perimeter clear coat with 100 grit. Then brush on some clear to fill in. To help avoid missing spots dry to have someone looking at the floor from an angle while you are rolling on the clear.

So in sum, don’t panic, having spikes is a good idea for emergency puposes and for applying the flake into the epoxy, they make getting an even pattern much easier, don’t let the main part of the floor dry for over 24 hrs before apply next layer and if you have a more serious issue just contact us and one of our expert support guys or gals will get you back on the right track.


Why Your Bargain Roof Coating Is Leaking & Why You Can’t Stop It.

Finding and fixing roof leaks is very often a frustrating and futile endeavor. It can also be a very costly endeavor if you go about it the wrong way. Luckily there are insurance companies that can help you with the cost of fixing any property damage you may face. Visiting sites like www.homeownersinsurancecover.net could give you the policies and plans that could cover any home repair or improvements.

First thing you should know is that where you see the water dripping into your home or business is most likely not where the leak is. All roofs are pitched to some degree so leaks can occur on one side of a roof and the water will run to the first opening it finds and leak through. So the source of a leak can be far away from where the actual leak is occurring.

So when you go up on your roof hunting for the source of the leak don’t automatically concentrate on where the drip is located. The best way to find a leak is to walk the roof in sort of a search grid. Up, down and then side to side. You must carefully inspect every inch of the roof. You are looking for any pinhole, crack or split in a seam. Anything that looks like an opening for water to get into. You must also check all HVAC equipment for any loose or damaged panels or shrouds, also check all the curb flashings. These are the usual suspects.

If by chance you locate the source of the leak and it’s simply a split in a seam or small hole from someone stepping on a screw. Then you can apply some roof cement to fix it but make sure you embed some roof mesh into the roof cement. Roof cement is notorious for cracking and needing constant maintenance. Roof mesh will help extend the life of the roof cement. In general roof cement should be viewed as only a temporary fix. Which is ok for a couple of small fixes. What you don’t want to do is go up on your roof with buckets of it and start smearing everything in sight with it.
This will cause more issues than it solves for sure. When you do this you tend to apply the cement way too thick and then in no time it will start to alligator and then crack or chip off. Then you put more on which works for a short time and then when it leaks again you apply more and it now works for an even shorter time and when it fails yet again you have a much bigger problem.

Same goes for when you apply some bargain water based elastomeric roof coating to try and stop your leaks. They always fail way sooner then you think and if you bought it from a Home Improvement Store they will tell you there is no warranty because you didn’t have it professionally installed. Same goes for a lot of other roof coatings. Most times that great sounding warranty isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. The best thing is NOT to ever have to need to make a warranty claim in the first place. That happens when you use a high quality Industrial Roof Coating vs a water based residential grade elastomeric coating.

You must look at the performance specifications so you don’t get fooled into buying what you think is an industrial grade coating when in fact it’s nothing of the sort. Once you start slopping roof cement all over the place and then put on an inferior coating and then have to recoat because your roof keeps developing leaks you end up going down the proverbial rabbit hole and your situation keeps getting worse until you have to rip the roof off and have a new roof installed at a tremendous cost. All of it could have been avoided with the use of the right coating at the start. Yes it cost you more money up front but in the long run you come out way ahead financially and stress wise.

The biggest reason roofs leak and no matter what you do you can’t seam to find the leak is because the actual roofing material or roof coating you used has become porous and water is actually leaking right through the microscopic pores of the material. This is where reading and understanding the specifications come in handy! One of the items in a specification of a roof coating is Perms. Perms is short for permeability, which is how fast moisture can pass through a material. You may have heard of a Perm test for soil, this is where they test the rate water passes through the surface of the soil. Where land that is mostly clay will not be very permeable as compared to soil that is mostly top soil.

Same goes for materials, all physical materials are made up of atoms and the tighter the atoms the less permeable that material is. All roof coatings have microscopic pores, spaces in between the atoms. The size of those pores determine the perm rating. In the case of roof coatings the smaller the Perm number the better. It means moisture has a smaller opening to pass through. When a coating is new the size of it’s pores are smaller than water molecules thus they prevent the water from passing through, much like the clay did in our soil example. However as a coating ages from the sun and begins to stretch out from constant expansion and contraction the pores begin to widen until they get to a point where they are now just slightly larger than water molecules.

So guess what happens, you’re correct, your roof starts leaking. The worst part about it is that you can’t see this so you have no idea why your roof is leaking. Especially since you put a ton of roof cement on everything in sight. What’s even worse your roof may not leak every time it rains. If it’s cold out the roof coating may contract enough to keep water out or if doesn’t rain long enough there won’t be a lot of water weight on the roof coating so again it might not leak. This makes it even more maddening.

So having said all that what you need to take away from this is that you want to start with a roof coating that has the smallest Perm rating to start with. So as your coating stretches and ages it takes a lot longer for that coating’s pores to start passing water. That is why water based elastomerics and most other roof coatings don’t live up to their claims. ArmorGarage uses the highest quality Butyl Rubber and no water in our roof coatings. Butyl rubber is even far superior to EPDM. This gives our coatings the Best Perm ratings by far, compare our Perm rating to your roof coating. This means ArmorGarage roof coatings will stay moisture proof far longer than any elastomeric, water based or EPDM based coating.

So in sum if you go by just the first cost when deciding to do your roof you will most likely end up worse off then you started. Look at the specs, in addition to Perms, you need to look at Hardness ratings and Elongation ratings and what the roof coating is made of ie: water or Butyl rubber and epoxy. A quick word on silicone here, silicone is a must for ponding water and is the only time you should use it. Silicone is soft and subject to damage very easily and once you use silicone you can never use anything else since nothing can stick to it. So when it fails prematurely as most of them do you will be stuck with having to put the same inferior product back on and worse yet you will find out that that amazing sounding warranty is worthless due to one of the small print exceptions they pin on you.

Knowing what you’re buying will help you avoid being in the position of spending untold amounts of time and money trying to fix an ever growing mess you can easily get into. At which time you call in your roofers Roanoke and they are 99.9% of the time going to tell you that you need a new roof for a gazillion dollars. It’s as easy to predict as if you would ask a Barber if you need a haircut.


HOW TO DO A BLACK & WHITE CHECKERBOARD FLOOR

This floor takes a little extra effort and some patience but is a beautiful look when done. After cleaning the floor properly you will apply two coats of our Armor II commercial epoxy base coat in white. Then apply the bright white topcoat. It will be three layers of white in total. That’s how you get the ultra bright white floor that won’t yellow. Then you will mark out in pencil the black squares. The squares in this floor are 23″ square. If you have a laser it will make the job a lot easier to get the lines straight. We recommend you use 3M pin-stripping tape to avoid bleed through. This is where the extra effort and patience comes in. Getting the tape lines down straight is crucial to having the floor look symmetrical when done. Once you have all the squares taped out you will apply the black in one thick coat using a good 3″ cut in brush and a 4″ roller. Take care not to get black paint into the white squares. It’s a good idea to have some Xylene handy in case you do you can clean it up right away.

Let the black epoxy dry about five hours and then remove the tape. That’s it nothing complicated, it just takes some extra time and a little patience.

The Products used on this floor were the Armor II Commercial Epoxy Paint in bright white and the black topcoat. To order just select this option in the Color drop down menu.


COVE BASE & EPOXY FLOORING

When doing an epoxy flooring job where you need a 100% water tight floor or you need a 100% sanitary finish between the wall and the floor, cove base is your answer. As you can see from the picture cove base is curved at the top and bottom so that it finishes flush with the wall and floor. This is important for commercial kitchens and food production areas that cannot have a seam or ledge for bacteria to sit on and grow. It’s also great for wash down areas since it protects the walls from water splatter and makes it easier to wash down the floor.
A lot of times even in residential applications you have a garage or other such room over a finished room below. In the case of a garage application you can get snow melt and rain run off that will work its way through the concrete and into the finished space below. Remember concrete is porous so water can and will penetrate all the way through, so make sure you get a quality waterproofing product from a respectable company like WR Meadows to ensure that the concrete won’t become waterlogged.. With a good floor epoxy and some cove base, you can turn your garage floor or any floor for that matter into a waterproof tub. Simply install the cove base around the entire perimeter of your space and then run any of our epoxy systems across the floor and up the cove base. You now have a monolithic watertight coating over the floor and up your wall. If you’d rather leave this job to the professionals, contact a company like Spec 7 Group to see which type of waterproofing solution they may be able to offer you. No one wants to have a waterlogged room so get it sorted!

Cove base is available in different heights to accommodate any application requirements. It’s easy to install and can be fitted around corners also. We like www.easycove.com. They make a good product that is epoxy paint ready. Or you can make your own cove base out of mortar and a cove base tool. However this very often doesn’t turn out as nice as the easy cove and is very time consuming. Either way you do it, cove base is a great way to finish you epoxy flooring project both from a finished look aspect and for the waterproofing and sanitary benefits.


CAN I EPOXY PAINT MY CURB WALL?

Many garages have a small 6-12” high curb wall around the perimeter. The question is can you epoxy paint that. The answer is yes. But you have to allow for sufficient amount of material to do it. Curb walls are notorious for using up a lot more material than normal. So when you calculate the square footage of the curb wall you should at the very least double it, we like to triple it to be safe, especially if it’s cinder block.

If the size of your garage is 550 square feet, you should not order just one Armor Chip Kit since that is right at the max coverage. You would need to order the Add On Half Kit. With the half kit you will have plenty of material to do your curb wall. If you don’t have a curb wall and your floor size is close to or just over the max coverage, the other option is to purchase the Epoxy Primer. The primer will add an extra layer of epoxy so that you end up with a thicker coating and it also will increase the coverage of the epoxy since it is now going over a sealed surface.

To prep your curb wall you can simply scrub some etching solution on it and rinse well. Prep on the curb wall is not as critical as it is on the floor since you will not be driving or walking on it. You can apply the color flakes to the curb wall by tossing them underhanded at the curb in small quantities. Using a brush is usually the best option to apply the epoxy.
You can do the curb wall first and cut in the floor edges at the same time. We would do a cut in strip of at least 6” on the floor so that you can have at least a 4” strip of wet epoxy without flakes in it. This lets you overlap onto the epoxy without chips in it for a smoother finish when you do the floor.

Topcoating your curb wall is optional. Again since there is not traffic load a topcoat is not necessary. But if you ordered a sufficient amount of product you should have plenty of topcoat on hand. So you might as well go ahead and use all the topcoat.


HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET MY GARAGE EPOXY ORDER

When ordering epoxy coatings it’s never a good idea to wait to order so that it arrives a day or two before you plan on doing the job. Many times we get calls from customers who placed an order on a Tuesday or Wednesday expecting to do their project that weekend. If you are in the Tri State area in the Northeast that may be fine but if you are on the west coast or thereabouts then that will be an issue. We do our best to get orders out the door as fast as possible but you have to allow sufficient ground delivery time.

Only water based epoxies can be overnighted so none of our epoxies can be overnighted. When planning to epoxy paint your floor allow as much lead time as possible for several reasons. The epoxy has a shelf life of 1 year and the military topcoat has a shelf life of 6 months. So if you order ahead of time the product will be fine when you’re ready to apply. Also during busy season we tend to get back logged on epoxy orders and it could take a couple of extra days for the warehouse to ship out your epoxy, which is the case as of this righting. We have a sizable backlog of epoxy and deck coating orders. Severe weather can delay FedEx deliveries, or FedEx can lose or damage your order.
As a general guideline always allow a week for delivery, if you are on the west coast allow 7-8 business days to be safe. During summer months lead time for our Renew It Deck Coating can stretch out to two weeks due to demand. Ahead of major holidays you should allow an extra week for delivery.

So plan ahead and if you have an urgent situation gives a call at 866-532-3979 and will do the best we can to accommodate you.