A troubleshooting guide for resinous flooring systems

If you are looking for warehouse flooring solutions that work, then getting a resin based flooring system from Technical Finishes is a great way to go.

However, installing resinous flooring solutions requires expertise and careful following of the manufacturers instructions to ensure that the result is smooth, durable and performs as expected.

Here are some common problems that can arise when installing resinous flooring systems and ways to avoid them.

Delaminating or peeling coatings

Coating systems, when installed incorrectly, can begin to peel up or delaminate due to several circumstances. Many resin based flooring systems be it epoxy or polyurethanes require a certain pretreament such as mechanically abrading the surface to improve the bond of the product to the substrate. This is also more commonly known as diamond grinding, shot-blasting, scarifying or even something as simple as sanding the surface. These mechanical methods produce a texture in the surface and thus increase the total surface area of the floor and thus increase the area for which the resin flooring system has to bond to.

Grinding helps ensure that substrate surface porosity increases allowing the primer to penetrate deeply into the surface and locking into the susbstrate for long term adhesion. No doubt, mechanical preparation may produce a lot of dust and debris which must be removed through sweeping and vacuuming for if left to remain on the surface of the concrete will act as a bond breaker and significantly reduce adhesion.

Another common issue that may result in coatings delaminating is if no primer is used. A primer, depending on the specified topcoat, is absolutely necessary as it will penetrate into the concrete, seal the pores and cavities, consolidate the surface as well as provide the right bonding surface for subsequent topcoats to bond adequately.

Moisture, humidity and surface contaminants are yet another hurdle to navigate and are all factors which can result in coating failures. It is always advisable to have a moisture meter present during site evaluation to check the surface moisture levels before specifying the product let alone starting to do the work.

For example, if moisture is present in the substrate, and a damp tolerant primer is not specified the resulting surface of the coating could become blistered in appearance. Other surface contaminants such as oils could result in a coating with surface defects such as fish eyes if an oil tolerant primer is not specified. To eliminate the presence of moisture, every effort should be made to use space heating devices and fans even diamond grinding the surface to open up the pores and allowing the surface to breathe will assist with the drying process.

Substrate integrity is another factor that must be considered before installing a coating even when all other measures have been taken into consideration. When the substrate is of poor quality and very porous, you might experience substrate failure in the form of cracking and crumbling. Unfortunately, very poor-quality concrete is common in South Africa, so measuring the surface compressive strength as well as tensile strength before applying the top coating is essential. A concrete tester known as a Schmidt hammer is used to test compressive strength (MPa). It is recommended that the substrate be greater than 20 MPa at the very minimum.

Its important to ensure that the resin flooring specification is up to the design performance required for a certain environment. What is meant by this is that very often and sub-standard specification is brought forward to meet the customers budget constraints and not necessarily done to meet their actual flooring needs. The resin flooring needs to be tough and durable enough to handle the frequency of traffic and to understand what kind of stress the floor will be expected to endure. This includes the kind of foot traffic, weight loads, and other kinds of impacts that the floor has to withstand. A thicker system might be required to ensure longevity. You should speak to a resin flooring expert to determine which flooring solution is best for your environment.

Bubbles, craters, and pinholes within the coating finish

When bubbles and craters surface, the most likely cause is that the substrate was either poorly primed or is contaminated. Bubbles forming are due to the release of trapped air within the substrate surfacing while the primer is penetrating into the pores and cavities and displacing the air. If insufficient primer is used the substrate will not be totally sealed and when a topcoat is applied the same process may occur and cause bubble formation in the topcoat.  

An additional primer should be applied to seal the substrate thoroughly. If the substrate is not properly sealed, you can end up with further problems. Ensure that the substrate looks visibly sealed before applying the next coat by observing a consistent and evenly finished primer coat without any dull spots.

If the substrate has high moisture content, then blistering can also occur through osmotic processes. Always check the moisture content of the substrate with a moisture meter and ensure the readings are less than 6%. Generally speaking, waiting for new concrete to properly cure for at least 28 days before applying the coating is best practice.

Crater formation in the coating appears as round, circular spots in various areas. These defects are due to a surface wetting issue between the coating and the substrate or primer and is likely due to the presence of a contaminant like oil or silicones. Always ensure the surface is clean before applying the next coat and should cratering occur, stop the application and call your TF representative for further assistance. Self-levelling coatings require the correct tooling to get the job done right, if you do not use a spike roller to eliminate bubbles and assist levelling then you  might end up with a bubbles or craters on the surface.

Particles appearing in the coating

The presence of particles in the coating is a direct result of foreign matter such as dirt or debris that has found its way onto the floor during its drying period. Effort must be made to ensure the application area is completely sealed from the elements and properly cleaned between each layer of coating application. Cleaning the floor is a critical part of floor preparation and can be achieved by using a broom to sweep away the bigger dust and a vacuum to collect the rest. All windows, doors, and vents should be closed to prevent dust from spreading around during the application process and remain closed until the coating has thoroughly dried.

Floor is not curing properly

An improperly cured flooring system can be the result of several different problems. The first is that the components were not properly mixed. Mixing with a stick or shaking the bucket are inadequate ways of combining the product.

To ensure that the resin and the activator are properly mixed, you should use a proper and appropriate industrial mixer, an electric mixer, to provide a uniform mix. Generally, a slow mixing speed of about 600 RPM is preferred, as high speeds will create bubbles. A high-torque mixing device is recommended, so you should not use a handheld drill, as the torque is insufficient.

In some cases, the activator or hardener was not added at all, a rookie mistake that can lead to a floor that won’t harden. This tends to occur with inexperienced and unsupervised workers who need to read instructions. Following the instructions given by the manufacturer, as per the technical data sheet, is essential, and it is highly recommended that on-site supervision be present throughout the installation process.

Another problem that can cause improper curing is the inaccurate amounts of hardener added to the resin. This is a common problem when partial quantities are mixed to prevent waste. It is recommended that you always mix the entire kit to minimise any incidents of improper proportioning taking place. Some products need to account for the splitting of kits, and not doing so can result in a sticky or tacky flooring solution that won’t cure properly.

The right temperatures are also required to ensure proper curing and application consistency. A minimum of 10 °C is required depending on the system. Any colder will result in the flooring solution either taking very long to cure or not levelling correctly. Speak to your manufacturer to find out what temperatures your flooring solution should cure at if you’re unsure and wish to apply the flooring solution in extreme temperature environments.

The final coating is rough rather than smooth

Generally, this occurs when insufficient product is used, preventing the self-smoothing floor from settling properly. Pouring enough material and spreading at the correct spread rates is critical; you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the recommended spread rate. It is a common mistake to try to cut costs by using less product than recommended by the manufacturer. Always stick to the instructions to ensure a consistent result.

Additionally, lower temperatures can also cause a rough finish. The product needs to be at room temperature to get the ideal result. If it is cold, the viscosity will increase, making it difficult to smooth. Worn-out trowels can also cause uneven product distribution.

Moisture assessments are critical before beginning the application, and any moisture should be eliminated. Using fans and heating devices can help, and some damp-tolerant primers can also minimise these risks. Ask your manufacturer which product can be applied if you have a moisture problem.

The coating is blotchy and discoloured

Application conditions and site anomalies play a big role in the final coating surface finish. For example if water is dropped onto a wet coating or high humidity is in the air, the surface may cure with a blotchy or oily like appearance which is known as blushing. Before starting, You should always ensure the humidity is not above the dew point.

If colour variation occurs, that’s because different batch numbers were used. To avoid this, you should ensure each job has the right material quantity of the same batch number to satisfy the project before starting. If you need to order more later, you might end up with slightly varied colours from batch to batch.

Moreover, self-levelling floor products require that the product be treated the same way during application, with the same amount of spike rolling over the same amount of time in the exact directions. Any variation in this procedure can result in colour variations.

Here at Technical Finishes, we have a variety of resinous warehouse flooring solutions to suit different operational requirements to ensure that your flooring solution turns out as expected. Speak to us today. We can advise, assist, and supply you with whatever you need to make your flooring turn out great!

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