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Polymer Floor & Wall Coatings: Selection, Preparation, Installation and Troubleshooting. System Selection Criteria. When designing a floor and/or wall system, selection of products will depend upon working environment and severity of use.

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system selection criteria
System Selection Criteria

When designing a floor and/or wall system, selection of products will depend upon working environment and severity of use.

  • Physical: Light foot traffic or heavy mechanized traffic? Industrial process or laboratory/clean room?
  • Chemical: Cleaning agents, process chemicals, combinations.
  • Temperature: Freezers, steam washdown, extreme ambient temps.
  • Electro-static: High-voltage equipment, static-generating machinery
  • Value Engineering: Floor design for the immediate environment Multiple issues occurring over one area


When designing a floor and/or wall system, selection of products will depend upon working environment and severity of use.

  • Coatings
  • Slurries
  • Mortars
  • Urethane Cement
  • Wall systems


  • Advantages:
  • Inexpensive
  • Aesthetics
  • Cleanability
  • Concrete protection
  • Chemical resistance*
  • Disadvantages:
  • Resistance to physical abuse
  • Repair of poor substrate conditions
  • Less product for the same amount of surface preparation
  • Life-cycle costing

What is a Slurry?

Resinous coatings filled with aggregate (approximately 2 parts aggregate to 1 part resin) which is applied at 1/16” to 3/8” in thickness.

  • Disadvantages:
  • Moderate to good resistance to physical abuse
  • Will not resurface poor concrete
  • Thermal shock resistance
  • Downtime
  • Advantages:
  • Great value/installed cost
  • Significant improvement to abuse compared to coatings
  • Non-skid applications
  • Resin-rich systems

What is a Mortar?

Resinous coatings filled with aggregate (approximately 4 or 5 parts aggregate to 1 part resin), which is applied by trowel and finished. The systems range in thickness from 3/16” to 3/8”.

  • Disadvantages:
  • Cost
  • Skill level required for installation
  • Resin-aggregate ratios
  • Downtime
  • Advantages:
  • Resistance to physical abuse
  • Resurface poor concrete
  • Thermal shock resistance
  • Life-cycle costing

What is a Urethane Cement?

Urethane emulsion combined with cement and silica sand (approximately 3 parts aggregate to 1 part resin), which is raked and finished at ¼” to 3/8” thickness.

  • Disadvantages:
  • Aesthetics
  • Cost
  • Limited colors
  • Skill level required for installation
  • Advantages:
  • Great resistance to physical abuse
  • Bond in wet environments
  • Thermal shock resistance
  • Fast installations
  • Chemical resistance

Wall Systems

High-build coating systems

Fiberglass reinforced epoxy systems

Flexible epoxy wall systems

  • Disadvantages:
  • Cost
  • Substrate imperfections
  • Downtime
  • Advantages:
  • Chemical resistance
  • Wash-down resistance
  • Impact resistance
  • Gloss retention
  • Cleanability
  • Aesthetics
concrete requirements mix design
Concrete Requirements: Mix Design

Proper concrete mix design can produce a slab that is ideally suited for bonding to a polymer topping.

  • Standard mix design:
  • Topical treatment: Seamless, film-building sealers, form release
  • Fiber reinforcement: Coatings, self leveling floors 3/16”
  • High early mix design:
  • Concrete additives: Plasticizers, Gill 33

Successful Concrete

  • “At-use” environment
  • Surface preparation
  • Moisture testing
  • Control conditions of installation
  • Dew point vs. surface temperature during installation
  • Sub grade
  • Vapor barrier
  • Water to cement ratio
  • Aggregate selection and gradation
  • Finishing
  • Curing

Concrete Concerns

  • Moisture vapor transmission
  • Levelness of installation
  • Drain height
  • Lightweight concrete
  • Fly ash pozzolans
moisture related issues
Moisture-related issues

Improper treatment of moisture-related issues can result in blisters, delamination and potentially a complete floor system failure.

Moisture Measurement: A simple calcium chloride test will determine the presence and force of any moisture migrating through the slab. Acceptable levels vary with each system and manufacturer.Causes:Fast-track construction schedules Mix design (wet pour) Topical treatments (slow hydration) Pouring slab in a pan Ground or soil conditions Humidity inside vs. outside Chemistry changes in flooring products

treatments for moisture problems
Treatments for Moisture Problems

There are several techniques/products available for the prevention and remediation of moisture-related problems.

  • Slab design: vapor barrier, mix design
  • Time: may not be on your side
  • Temperature and humidity control
  • Topical vapor barriers (Aqua Armor, Koester, FloorSeal)
  • Product or System: water-based products, thin “breathable” coatings and urethane cements
scheduling planning for work
Scheduling & Planning for Work

A timely and efficient mobilization requires room preparation and proper communication between Project Management, Flooring Contractor, and all other trades.

Heat: Temperature must be at least 55*F for coatings and toppings. 65*F to 75*F is ideal for most systems. Room/slab temperature directly affects coverage rates of product.

Light: The presence of finished lighting impacts application schedules, cure time and aesthetics of finished floor.

Power supply: 220v 3-phase, 60 Amp. or 480v 3-phase, 30 Amp. Installation equipment pulls total of amperage when starting up, and will blow breakers.

scheduling planning for work20
Scheduling & Planning for Work

Effect on facility operations and return to service.

Other Trades: Damage to floors, walk off job site, power, lighting

Effect on existing operations: Product odor, contamination of inventory, work areas adjacent to application, fire, safety

slab preparation
Slab Preparation

Chemical process: Effective in the removal of adhesives, oils, animal fats. Acid etching, stripping, detergents.Mechanical process: Shot blasting, grinding, scarifying, scabbling.

Water process: Water jet blasting is entirely dust free. Consider its effect on product selection and time of application.

Dust Control: All slab prep machinery is connected to vacuum with HEPA filtration.

wrap up

Return to service: Maximum allowable shut-down time can dictate the type of system and product selected. Quick-cure polymers, such as MMA and urethane concrete systems can greatly reduce application time and return facilities to service in a matter of hours.Application rates: Installation rates will vary with required prep work, system selected, product manufacturer and schedule. Per-foot rates can range from $2.00/ft. up to $12.00/ft. or more.