Do I need to prepare the floor before applying floor paint?
How important is floor painting preparation? To make sure your floor painting project is a success you need to first ask yourself the question “Do I need to prepare the floor before applying floor paint ?”. The short answer is that it depends on the condition of the floor!
Firstly, and as something that would be worthwhile in all projects, the step of floor cleaning and surface preparation for floor paint should be undertaken. It is good practise to carry out proper cleaning and surface preparation of a floor before applying any floor paint. It is worth considering the properties of the floor painting product, the condition of the concrete floor or cement screed substrate and its surface condition. It is also worthwhile to consider painted floors intended likely use in terms of both its performance requirements and its durability.
So, do you need to prepare the floor before applying floor paint?” – The answer must certainly be yes, to some degree.
Lessons from painters and decorators
The issue of preparation is not unique to the required preparation of a floor for concrete floor paint or epoxy floor paint, but is related to more common considerations with other home improvement jobs. If you were to ask any good painter or decorator if they should put in the work to sand down doors or window frames prior to painting, they would almost certainly answer that preparation is key and that they would advise you to do so in order to get a more pleasing and long lasting end result from your project. If these considerations apply to situations where paint is applied to surfaces that experience very little wear and tear, then how much more significant might proper preparation be to the the preparation of surfaces where heavy footfall or the constant movement of various vehicles, e.g. fork lift trucks in a warehouse, are concerned.
Just as it is important to stress that you should not under-prepare while doing floor painting preparation, it needs to be pointed out that you don’t need to over prepare either! Another example from the painting and decorating world might illustrate this well. Newly plastered walls don’t usually require any extra cleaning or surface preparation. The main thing here is that the correct amount of time should be allowed full drying out and cleaning and dust or dirt from the surface prior to painting. This is because if the surface has properly dried, (and if it doesn’t you will see the paint peel off your plaster) the paint will soak properly into the surface and properly bond. If these considerations are key to a wall, how much more a floor.
It should be clear that surface preparation is essentially just common sense! It certainly makes sense to carry out surface cleaning and do sufficient floor painting preparation to ensure that your paint will properly penetrate and bond to the concrete floor, not just to a layer of grime or dust on its surface.
Floor painting preparation rules of thumb
Floor cleaning and surface preparation should be carried out in accordance with the floors existing condition, the working environment that the floor will need to endure and the type of floor paint, (e.g. garage floor paint) you are going to be using.
One rule we frequently tell our customers is to allow one month per inch of concrete laid. This rule is not entirely exact because drying rate will depend on the evaporative conditions of the atmosphere, with concrete drying somewhat more slowly in cool, damp conditions that in warm, dry conditions. In addition, a thin layer of concrete may dry slightly more quickly that a very thick concrete floor.
In industrial applications, floors are frequently laid and then finished to a high polished state using a “power floated finish”. This produces an extremely smooth, almost glass-like surface which looks amazing but has the weakness that it has been smoothed to such a degree that the paint will often not bond well to the surface. In order to counteract this problem, we supply a chemical product that is extremely popular is such circumstances called Clean n Etch. This product have been specifically designed to prepare a range of surfaces (concrete, masonry and even steel) in preparation for the application of paint or other protective agents. Clean n Etch is supplied as a dilutable concentrate. It leaves the surface clean and fully prepared for whichever coating is to be applied to in order to help the floor paint bond tightly.
When preparing for garage floor paint in a domestic setting, you may not have the luxury of a power floated finish! For jobs of this nature, where durability is important but where wear and tear may not be as great as in a car showroom or a factory the steps you might carry out could include a full clean to ensure there are no areas of ingrained dust or dirt on the surface. This should be followed by the use of industrial detergent sweep, e.g. Clean AND Degrease. Prior to painting a garage floor is is recommended that you make sure it is as dust free as possible using a vacuum cleaner, then apply a floor sealer such as Regal Prime and Seal or to prepare for epoxy floor paint, use Two Pack Epoxy Sealer Undercoat.