Concrete is found in many areas of a building including the balconies, mechanical room, garbage room, and parking garage. These areas are all under constant stress from traffic and elements and need protection. Some people think it’s indestructible and are hard on it and don’t realize that it does break down over time.
This article is for Property Managers and Condominium Boards and explains how to extend the life of concrete floors and surfaces, why it’s so important and how to handle the disruption to residents.
Concrete coating is a multicomponent liquid material applied to a surface to seal it from moisture and make it more durable, extending its life. It also makes it easier to clean and nicer to look at. The coating is typically clear and can be shiny. There are several brands and options to consider for a coating.
When concrete is first poured it must air dry. As it dries, air capillaries form throughout. This is normal and expected but it also makes it a porous material that absorbs moisture. If those capillaries dry out again quickly, there’s no problem. But if water gets in and stays in, like in a very humid environment, or just being exposed for a length of time, the shapes of those capillaries change.
Acids, petroleum, foot traffic and heavy objects are just a few reasons that concrete wears and cracks. Leaks that stem from cracking or deterioration in concrete are tricky to diagnose because water traveling through concrete happens very slowly. It’s not going to pour into the building, and it won’t be obvious. Prolonged water infiltration causes structural damage and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
There are two reasons why coating concrete reduces costs. First, it prevents leaks and all the damage they cause: repairs, building contents, health concerns from mold. Secondly, the coating extends the life of the concrete.
Most coatings are either an epoxy or polyurethane. Within these two categories are several brands and options. Important properties to consider regarding the actual coating are:
In general, Epoxy gives a thicker coat which allows it to repair cracks in the concrete. It bonds well to concrete and is less costly up front but tends to have a shorter manufacturer’s warranty.
Polyurethane is harder to remove and has a longer lifespan. It is better suited for outdoor use because of the product is so flexible and has higher temperature and UV resistance. Having a coating with flexibility is really ideal in the GTA, especially for any outdoor areas like balconies or cool decks or any other concrete surfaces because we deal with harsh weather and temperature fluctuations.
The preparation of these surfaces is the most important part of the process. If the surfaces are not properly prepared, the product is not going to adhere properly and is not going to last as long as it should.
Preparation typically includes:
These projects can be quite disruptive. The grinding and power washing during prep is loud and there will be runoff from balconies. Dry time is imperative, but it adds to the total length of time for the project. The areas being done are important to residents and there needs to be a temporary alternative available.
Residents need lots of notice about noise disruption, inaccessibility, and the length of the project.
If they understand what is happening, and why, they will be more accepting of inconveniences. Find out from your contractor what the length of time for each stage of the project will be.
Stage One: Noise from griding and power washing, # of days
Stage Two: First Coat Application, # of days
Stage Three: Dry time, # of days
Stage Four: Second Coat Application, # of days
Stage Five: Dry time, # of days
Explain what areas will be inaccessible, if there will be an odor (this depends on the exact coating being used), what the alternative will be if it’s the parking garage or garbage room.
Post schedules so residents know what to expect. A brief explanation of why it’s happening will go a long way.
We at Detail Roofing, recommend coating concrete surfaces because it extends the life of the concrete and protects against damaging water leaks. There are many options to consider for the actual coating itself when it comes to costs and performance. Don’t forget to keep building residents in the loop with lots of information about what is happening during the coating project. The more they know up front, the less you’ll have to field complaints during the project.
If you’re wondering about the concrete surfaces in your building, we will happily provide an assessment. Contact Detail Roofing