Ask any jobsite manager in the concrete coatings industry how to ensure a smooth installation and they will likely tell you that proper planning has a lot to do with success. As the old adage goes, “By Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Don’t leave your jobs to chance. Instead, use the five steps below as a guide to help work through the details of your installation beforehand so you can mitigate problems in advance.
STEP 1: Material Storage & Staging
The management and storing of your materials are one of the most important aspects of preparing for your project. Once your materials are on site, get all pallets broken down. Next, organize the materials by product and component in the order that you’re using them. Be sure to get a count of all your materials to make sure you’re not missing any critical components and that you have everything you’ll need for the project.
Once all material inventory is accounted for, you’ll want to decide where it will be stored. Ideally, you will store them close to where your mixing station and equipment will be placed. Other factors to consider is long-term storage of material. This is mainly for larger jobs or jobs that will require climatization of materials due to environmental conditions. In this case you will need two storage areas, one for immediate use and one for later phases of the project.
STEP 2: Staging & Securing of Equipment
You’ll want to ensure that all the equipment that is necessary for the project is on the jobsite. Additionally, it will be important to choose a location to store and secure the equipment. Don’t overlook this detail. Stolen equipment is expensive to replace and can cause delays in the installation if you don’t have what you need. First, pick a spot that is conducive to where you are working. Ideally, you want it to be secure, possibly a lockable space. If that’s not an option, use a job box to secure all hand tools and small equipment. Secure any grinders and larger equipment as well, finding something you can lock larger equipment to, or lock them together and to a pillar or post using a steel cable and lock.
STEP 3: Power
Power is going to be necessary to run your equipment and lighting during the installation. You’ll need to do a walkthrough of the jobsite to ensure that you have what you need. Make sure you have your generator setup or determine where you will tap into onsite power. On new construction sites, pay close attention, because not all new construction is going to have available power. You will also need to ensure that you have enough power to run all the necessary equipment. Each piece of equipment will have different requirements; single phase, three phase, et. Some equipment will require a spider box, or power distribution box, which you can plug into a 50 or 70 amp circuit to run hand grinders, vacuums, lights, and small equipment such 220 machines. Determine what equipment you’ll be running, what the power needs are, and ensure that you have the power to support it prior to beginning your installation.
STEP 4: Planning Your Installation
Once you’ve got your materials, equipment and power sorted, you’ll want to plan how you’re going to install. Choose where you will start the installation and where will you finish. Mark out the stages of installation as they relate to material coverage. For example, if you know that your product mix is going to yield 200 sq ft, place a mark on the wall with tape to indicate the anticipated coverage area. This will ensure that materials are not being installed too thick or being stretched too far and they will be consistent throughout.
STEP 5: Setup Your Mix Station
Now that you’ve planned your installation, you’ll need to setup your mix station. Having a mix station will help to prevent mixing errors and improve jobsite workflow. Attention to this area of staging will help you operate and install faster as well as maintain a clean, professional work area.
• Set up near your installation
• Prepare with floor protection like ram board and plastic
• Organize products, tools and accessories in order of use
• Arrange for the disposal waste, packaging, etc.
If you work with resinous-based floor coatings, you’ve probably heard it before; Polyaspartics outperform epoxies and are the “gold standard” for protection and performance. The idea that polyaspartics are better than epoxies is quite common in the garage floor industry and for end-users. This is likely due to consistent and long-term marketing campaigns throughout our industry that have declared them superior. These repeated campaigns have been so effective that customers often request the installation of polyaspartics vs. epoxy for their projects. New contractors may also be swayed to choose polyaspartics for these same reasons.
In this article, we are going to break down the facts to determine if this common industry belief really holds any weight by comparing performance properties and illustrating appropriate uses for each.
The fact is that polyaspartics do have some very desirable properties for specific applications. For example, if you’re requiring a superior top coat, polyaspartics are your best option. This material boasts better abrasion resistance than its epoxy competitor and because the finished floors scratch less with this protection, they are easier to clean and maintain. Additionally, if your customer needs a fast return to service, polyaspartics are a good choice due to their comparably shorter cure time. In the colder months or climates, you may take a closer look at this chemistry because they do well in low-temperature applications. If your project is outside and exposed to sunlight, Polyaspartics are a great choice. They are UV-stable and aliphatic so they resist color change over time.
There are many references in the industry that state polyaspartics are to “10x stronger than epoxies”, and while this may be true, it is only in reference to a singular performance property; tabor abrasion resistance. Polyaspartics range from 30-40 mg lost compared to epoxy 80-160 mg. The cherry-picking of this one property of polyaspartics is likely the reason for a skewed perspective that polyaspartics are generally superior to epoxy. The potential down-sides to polyaspartics are that they are more difficult to work with and install so they require additional planning and expertise. They are also about two times as expensive than epoxy which make them less desirable for budget-conscious projects. Additionally, if your concrete slab has any defects or damage, you may not get the necessary coverage from polyaspartics because most formulations have a typical application thickness of 10-16 mils and cannot be applied any thicker.
When we examine the properties of epoxy, it does offer good abrasion resistance, although it can’t match the performance of polyaspartics in this category. It does, however, provide better adhesion and compressive strength when used as a primer, build coat or base coat. Epoxy offers better value when talking about cost per mill as well, coming in at approximately 60% of the cost of polyaspartics. Additionally, epoxies can be installed up to 60 mils which is essential if you’re trying to cover any texture or slab defects.
Epoxy is an all-around solid choice for protective coatings projects, however, there are specific projects that this chemistry may not be the best fit for. They are aromatic and will yellow with sun exposure and therefore are best for indoor use only. If extreme abrasion resistance or fast return to service is a requirement for your project, then you might opt for polyaspartic instead.
In summary, polyaspartic are not any better than epoxies, they simply have different performance properties that may or may not be necessary for a given project. It’s important to evaluate the primary requirements of a job to choose the most appropriate chemistry option. If epoxy has those requirements covered, there is no need to use polyaspartic which will unnecessarily increase costs and add difficulty to installation. It’s important also, to educate end-users to the differences between the two so they understand why you might push back on their requests if they don’t fit the need of the job. Below you will find a helpful chart that illustrates the differences in these materials and can be shared as a guide.