Lifting and Peeling Epoxy Floor Paint
Lifting and peeling paint from epoxy coverings, coatings and seals are too often the end product of efforts to dress up a garage, shop or basement. A lifting and peeling problem is worse than having no finish at all. The eyesore of blisters, peeling, and chipping of a floor gone wrong is testimonial to a failure in preparation. Fortunately, after 40 years of development technology in flooring, one should no longer rely on raw materials like muriatic acid (Hydrochloric) to clean and prep your floor. Applicators now realize that an “acid etch” using a simple raw muriatic acid is no cure all. Integrated systems for preparing concrete properly can now avoid disasters that leave garages looking worse than before they were coated.
Preparation is everything when applying finishes. You can only expect a surface to stay in place if its substrate is permanent. Obviously, if the substrate crumbles or moves, your surface will move with it. Today, after 40 years of application experience, flooring experts have developed application preparation procedures that help minimize the risk of substrates moving. New floors are especially vulnerable and require extensive preparation. New concrete is dusty for the first few years while the latents of concrete on the surface are kicked, walked, or driven off. Those latents must be removed before quality epoxy topcoats are applied or the topcoats will move with the latents as they break free from the substrate.
Blasting away part of your floor often leaves corn rows cut into the floor due to over lap, and will need to be filed. Blasting often just brings you down to a new level of contamination. It is often better to clean 100% of the surface using chemicals that are designed to work together in an integrated system to assure a clean, solid surface. When you wash your clothing your detergent uses a change in pH to help release soils. Water softeners and rinse agents are blended into laundry detergents, dish shops and even shampoos to assist the pH change in releasing soils and contaminants. Cleaning first with a high pH or alkaline degreaser attacks oil and grease contaminants while moving the floor pH higher. Next slamming your dirty surface with a low pH acidic cleaner attacks minerals, rust and other particles, makes your pH jump 10 points or better to shock contaminants loose from substrates. The acidic cleaner should have detergents, rinse agents and water softeners blended into it so you know that it is formulated to do the best job possible. It is vitally important to bring your pH back to normal 6.5 or 7 pH after cleaning, with a scrub rinse. Have you ever run your finger across your car after pressure washing only to find it still has a thin layer of road film on it? Surface tension holds even high pressure from penetrating many films. You need to break the surface tension with contact during all three steps of cleaning. The more aggressive the contact the better for removing concrete latents, small particles of concrete that are ready to break of to become that endless dust coming off unquoted concrete floors.
Rotary scrubbers, similar to what a school custodian utilizes, can be fitted with stiff bristle brushes using carbide chips imbedded in flexible nylon bristles to scrub your floor. The bristles dive into mall pours, cracks, and holes to help strip away fragile cement particles that are softer than the exposed carbide chips. These scrubbers should be used for your alkaline cleaning, your acidic cleaning, and for your final rinse cleaning. Scrub rinsing stops the chemical action of your cleaners and provides a liquid medium to bring your floor pH back to neutral and flush contaminants and residual detergents away. Once dry (1 to 4 hours) you are ready for your coating, paint, epoxy or seal.
Epoxy flooring is weather-resistant, and unharmed by rain, snow, oil, and flooding. This resistance is due to the fact that epoxy coatings, unlike paints, come in two parts. When mixed, a catalyzing process changes these two parts from a liquid to a permanent solid. In contrast, paints are carried in water or solvent bases that evaporate to leave the finish. If you reintroduce one of those carriers to the surface, the paint often is able to re-dissolve back into a liquid state. Even though painted garage finishes are formulated to resist dissolving into their carriers, under stress they can be susceptible to blistering, peeling, and chipping. But water and most solvents have no effect on sealed epoxy surfaces. Epoxy flooring goes on at the job site and requires no seams, creating a continuous membrane that seals what is above from what is below. These epoxy surfaces have been used in food processing plants for over 50 years now. Mold, mildew and other contaminants cannot penetrate the epoxy membrane, and wash off easily.
One should not rely on retail store clerks to help with a floor that will be used for 10 to 20 years. Factory-direct kits of materials including step-by-step instructions and a 24/7 help line are now available online. With these resources, anyone can put a quality floor down in their garage that will last for decades. Like a car finish, you may get some scratches and marks, but also like a car finish, a little touching up can keep those finishes looking great for decades.