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By David A. Deress and Wade L. Vorley
Grounds Management Article Use Policy
Existing concrete floors and exterior plaza and deck surfaces often require surface treatment for aesthetic reasons or to protect the concrete and waterproof the area below concrete slabs. By developing a strategic approach to analyzing existing conditions, product selection, specification, application, and maintenance, maintenance and engineering managers can ensure the long and cost-effective performance life of opaque coatings on concrete surfaces.
The first question managers need to ask in planning a surface-treatment project is whether painting the surface is enough, or will installers need to apply a coating? Paints and coatings have different performance characteristics. A coating is a high-performance product designed to protect concrete and areas below it, while a paint product simply provides an aesthetic finish.
For waterproofing and vapor-emission control of existing concrete slab and deck surfaces, options vary, depending on the level of waterproofing and protection required, durability, aesthetic issues, and economic feasibility. Options include: transparent penetrating sealers that provide a natural concrete aesthetic but limited waterproofing and protection; opaque coatings that provide a 20-50 mil protective film on top of the concrete; and a split-slab configuration that uses a secondary topping slab or pavers over a thicker, liquid-applied waterproofing product.
Split-slab and paver-type configurations provide the best waterproofing qualities and durability, but they can be difficult to implement, due to economic and geometric limits. Correctly installed opaque coatings often provide the best mix of protection, durability, and aesthetics.
Concrete Maintenance: Coating or Painting?
Concrete Maintenance: Three Groups of Opaque Coatings
Concrete Coatings: Steps to Successful Installations