Polyaspartic coatings have been on the market for more than a decade. Their advantages are numerous: ultra-fast installation, no UV fading, able to be applied at a wide variety of temperatures, resistance to high in-service temperatures, and highly abrasion-resistant.
Installation is not difficult; however, it’s important to employ a repeated process. Installers who’ve been using epoxy or polyurethane have their own way of doing things, but we wish to standardize the process to ensure success.
Step 1: Prepare The Surface.
As with any coating, surface preparation is crucial, and it is the first step. Ridding the surface of laitance and contaminants is critical. The polyaspartic is a very low-viscosity material, and it must be able to penetrate the surface.
A significant concern for polyaspartic coatings is contaminants in the concrete. Oil, grease, or other chemicals will almost certainly lead to future bonding issues and should be appropriately dealt with. Biodegradable degreasing agents as well as organic oil emulsifiers work well to help clean contaminated areas.
Step 2: test moisture level
Although the polyaspartic penetrates into the concrete pores and the moisture acts as a catalyst, resulting in a higher bond strength than the concrete’s tensile strength, it is still very important to ensure your surface area is as moisture-free as possible. Some installers, though, insist on an initial epoxy primer coat.
Step 3: Repair Surface Defects
Many applicators recommend filling cracks with sand and then wetting the sand with polyurea. This approach cures in about 20 minutes, and the joint can then be ground flush with the concrete surface. Polyaspartic coatings have such great elongation characteristics that you can simply install the coating right over the top of these fixed cracks without getting any reflection, although this does not include contraction joints—finish up to and into the joint but not over the top. Most contractors won’t fill and cover a joint since that can easily result in a crack at mid-panel.
Step 4: Mix And Prime
Polyaspartics are a two-part system usually mixed with equal amounts of Part A and Part B. The resulting material is virtually odorless and has very low viscosity—almost like water. The primer coat and bed coat typically contain pigment. If using a pigment, add it to Part A (in this guide, we are using ArmorFloor black).
Next, use a notched squeegee and backroll the recommended number of coats, starting with a self-priming coat of polyaspartic. Use a brush to cut in at the edges.
The self-priming coat is when you can see whether the material is wetting: absorbing into the concrete. Different manufacturers recommend different thicknesses for the primer coat, ranging from 2 mils to 3 mils up to 10 mils to 15 mils.
Bonding comes from two things: surface profile and the ability to flow into the substrate. With polyaspartics, we have a little extra time before it cross links, so it has time to absorb into the concrete.
Step 5: Apply Chips Coat
You must immediately spread the chips out over this inital layer while its still wet to refusal. Polyaspartic tends to dry within 20 minutes so you want to start the spread with no time between the first layer and the chips.
Use spiked shoes to walk on the wet surface. This layer varies from 2 mils to 18 mils thick, with the vinyl chips adding as much as 8 mils. Metallic effects can also be added to the build coat. Polyaspartics wet out the chips and they lay down to give you the laminar effect that helps in the overall protection of the concrete.
Step 6: Apply top coat and clean up.
For decorative quartz or vinyl chips, scrape the surface with a floor scraper and vacuum up the loose chips. That makes it smoother and reduces the amount of product needed in the topcoat to cover the vinyl chips. Pour a ribbon of the polyaspartic near the edges and cut it in with a brush. The topcoat is always clear and goes on from 6 mils to 18 mils. Thinner coats are applied with 3/8-inch nap rollers and thicker coats with ¾-inch naps. Thinner coats leave a slight texture to the surface because some vinyl chips or quartz pokes through.
The final coating thickness ranges from 11 mils to 40 mils. All this can be accomplished in one day. Typically, the floor can be opened to foot traffic in five hours for a three-coat system and driven 24 hours.
So, Why Polyaspartic?:
This system produces a beautiful floor in only a few hours. I’m sure you’re asking, why then aren’t polyaspartic coatings more popular? There aren’t many complaints but typically, what you will hear is something along the working timelines being too sensitive to relative humidity. At 50% RH, it is very nice and workable, but at 65%, it could speed up too much and cause problems with keeping a wet edge.
So Which Is The Best Option?:
There’s no definitive way to say that a one-floor coating system is better when you get right down to it. Polyaspartics, epoxy, and polyurea/polyurethanes each come with their benefits and drawbacks, and it’s up to you to decide which is a better solution for you. After comparing installation methods and the pros and cons, you should know what you need for your garage.
One major plus for polyaspartic floor coatings is the benefit of only having to be without your garage for a single day. A good installer can prep your concrete and install your coating in as little as 6 – 8 hours. You can be moving your belongings back into the garage before the day is done and park your car in it the next. This can be a huge advantage for people who can’t be without their garage for 3 or 4 days.