Types of Industrial Concrete Floor Coatings Explained

There is a lot of preparation that goes into installing a concrete floor: determining the best concrete mixture to use, creating a solid, level surface, building the forms and allowing the concrete to properly cure, etc.  


Once you can finally step foot onto your new industrial concrete floor, you might believe you can stop thinking about the floor and move on to other aspects of your construction project. However, there is still one more element to pay attention to: the floor coating.


Why Apply a Floor Coating?


Concrete floor coatings are not just for show, even though they can end up looking quite beautiful. These coatings protect concrete from moisture, stains and general wear and tear.


Although concrete appears to be completely solid, it actually contains a network of tiny pores. When moisture enters these little pockets in the concrete, it can cause the concrete to expand and contract. In turn, this results in cracks within the concrete, or for chunks of the concrete to chip off from the surface in a process called spalling.


In other words, everyday exposure to moisture undermines the integrity of the concrete that you devoted so much time, energy and manpower to install. Protecting your investment with a floor coating simply makes sense. Floor coatings provide a barrier against moisture and other stains and may offer other benefits depending on the material. Although their main function is to seal the concrete and extend its life, floor coatings can also add an attractive element to the floor.


The Many Options for Epoxy Floor Coatings


Perhaps the most common floor coating for industrial concrete floors is epoxy. This durable material comes in different colors and has a smooth, shiny finish.


As with concrete, there are many different types of epoxy floor coatings to choose from, each with slightly different properties.


  • Self-leveling epoxy is among the easiest to spread and level, allowing a smooth and seamless surface to be created with little hassle.
  • Mortar epoxy coating is considered one of the strongest epoxy coatings available and can even double as a repair material for cracked concrete.
  • A self-dispersing epoxy coating is also incredibly durable and able to withstand regular traffic from heavy machinery, such as forklifts. It also has anti-slip properties.
  • Vapor-barrier epoxy coats tend to be used when the concrete represents a foundation for another flooring materials, such as hardwood or carpet. Thus, it is not the most common choice for industrial concrete floors, but it may be used in commercial settings.
  • Anti-static epoxy coating can be applied in areas with a high volume of electrical equipment that may be sensitive to static shock.


Then there are decorative elements to consider:


  • A metallic epoxy coating gives the appearance of metals like silver, bronze or copper.
  • Graveled epoxy coatings give the appearance of stonework or gravel.
  • Epoxy terrazzo floors tend to be the most elaborate decorative option and may contain intricate designs. They often appear on industrial concrete floors in client reception areas.


And finally, the carrying liquid used to install the epoxy coat should also be taken into account:


  • Solvent-based epoxy coatings can be spread extremely thin but must be installed in a well-ventilated area.
  • Water-based epoxy coatings are not considered very durable, but do offer waterproof protection against stains.
  • 100 percent solid epoxy has no carrying solution and is difficult to install; it’s a job best left to the pros.


Other Materials Used to Protect Industrial Concrete Floors


Although epoxy is a popular substance for protecting industrial concrete floors, it is not the only option:


  • A methyl methacrylate (MMA) acrylic coating provides a seamless floor that requires little maintenance.
  • A cementitious urethane coating offers a unique antimicrobial option for health centers, restaurants and food processing plants.
  • Polyaspartic finishes stand out for their quick application. This is the best solution for industrial centers that cannot afford much downtime for routine floor maintenance. It also does not have much of an odor, which is ideal for areas with poor ventilation.
  • Thin film urethane coatings provide excellent stain resistance to even the most abrasive solvents and chemicals. This is typically a clear top coat that can complement other floor coatings and decorative elements.


Now that you are aware of the wide range of different protective floor coatings available, let us choose and install the perfect one for your industrial needs.