Although concrete is generally known for its durability against fluctuating temperatures, you may find yourself dealing with a worn-out sealer that gives you a chalky, scratchy, or cloudy concrete floor. So if you are looking for a quick fix that will spruce up this unkempt look, concrete stripping is one of your best options.
Unlike more weather-sensitive materials, concrete does not swell, shrink, or warp even in unstable weather conditions. While it is relatively low maintenance compared to other flooring alternatives, it does not necessarily mean that its sealer will keep looking fresh against scratches and general discoloration from the weather.
You might think that simply reapplying and recoating the sealer will fix the problem, but doing so will only result in short-term results that will end up costing you more. Removing old sealers can indeed be a long process, but concrete stripping will give you long-lasting results that will also save you big bucks in the long run.
Whether you are planning to go about concrete stripping mechanically or chemically, here are some tips to save you time and resources.
Choose the appropriate concrete stripping method
Different setups and installation of decorative concrete require different concrete stripping methods. For instance, chemical concrete stripping is ideal for situations where you do not want to alter the concrete surface’s profile or color, which is why this method is the most common way to prepare concrete for resealing or refinishing.
Although traditional solvent-based chemical strippers can be reactive and harmful to their users, there are newer biochemical strippers that are derived from natural raw materials. This safer alternative to chemical concrete stripping removes the health hazards while also letting you strip sealers or coatings without affecting your concrete’s look.
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On the other hand, there are instances where mechanical concrete stripping is the best route. Mechanical concrete stripping involves methods such as grinding, shot-blasting, or the gentler soda-blasting. These mechanical means work best when you need to get rid of ⅛ of an inch of your concrete floor.
Aside from these considerations, here are some other factors you should weigh in:
What type of sealer or coating are you trying to remove?
The content stripping method will depend on the sealer or coating you will remove. Acrylics, enamels, and polyurethanes all vary in strength, so your content stripper’s aggressiveness should match this.
Thinner acrylic-type sealers can be stripped using gentler biochemical strippers, while the thicker epoxy-based sealers will need stronger solvent-based concrete strippers.
Lastly, there are also floors where floor wax or finish was used. In these cases, a specially-formulated stripper will be used. These are typically alcohol-based and designed to remove only the wax topcoat finish.
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What is the sealer’s condition and thickness?
Depending on the age and use of the floor, sealers and coatings can either be tightly clinging to the floor or already flaking and stripping away due to wear and tear.
Much like matching the content stripper’s strength to the durability of the sealer or coating you need to remove, flaky sealers can be removed with gentler stripping tools, while thick and well-adhered ones will need a more aggressive concrete stripper.
Choose contractors who can do the job
Although concrete projects are known to add value to your property, you can avoid unnecessarily bloating the bill by hiring experienced and knowledgeable concrete contractors who can give you results without much rework.
While this advice goes for both concrete stripping methods, mechanical concrete stripping can be prone to costly repair work due to the harsher nature of its methods. Unlike chemical stripping, mechanical ways such as sandblasting or grinding can result in creating craters in your floor if done by amateurs.
These craters can be timely and costly to fix since they need to be patched, levelled, then sanded to match your concrete floor. Additionally, inexperienced contractors may leave more obvious marks, such as cornrows that can be hard to fix if you are going for that smooth, polished finish.
Ready to strip?
There are countless possibilities with concrete, whether you are going for the classic look or more decorative alternatives. Add its tenacity and durability, and you have a floor that offers style without the hassle of constant maintenance work.
Regardless of the method, the tricky process of concrete stripping can be done smoothly with appropriate prep work. Whether you will use mechanical methods or chemical solvents, clearing away contaminants, such as grout and adhesives, removing old sealers, and smoothing out holes will help give you the look you are after.
Remember, concrete construction shortcuts are known to cost you more down the road. It is better to do it right the first time, rather than spend more money and time administering rework. With enough preparation and knowledge, concrete stripping will revitalize your floors painlessly.