It seemed like an easy enough project: Recoat an existing 2,600-square-foot (241.5 m²) pockmarked floor. And indeed it was, except for the extremely stringent codes and directives from the client, a pharmaceutical company that wishes not to be named.
Russ Law, owner of Law’s Custom Floors in Desoto, Missouri, was one of a handful of coatings installers qualified for the job.
“They let only certain contractors in because of the rigors of their safety procedures,” Law explained, adding that he has special safety certifications that helped earn him the gig.
But getting his foot in the door really wasn’t the hard part — that was getting in all the material he needed without hassle. The client had very restrictive requirements about what chemicals and components could and could not be brought into the building and used on the jobsite, and everything had to be pre-approved by the safety department.
That meant every single item, down to spray bottles, needed to be inspected and labeled with a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) sticker.
Law, who has already done about 25 to 30 flooring projects for this client, knew this would be the process. He said that the preapproval process took six months the first time he landed a gig there. By now, he’s very familiar with the client’s unofficial motto: “If you can get it in the door, you’re doing well.” With the door open, it was time to get moving.
Chipping Away at It
According to Law, the space in which he and his installers were working houses stainless steel tanks containing acidic chemicals. Because of the corrosive nature of these chemicals, the floor regularly gets washed down. However, the cleaning crew is not very careful with the fire hoses they use. The floor constantly gets chipped from the hose couplings banging and whacking against it as they go about their work.
This, of course, isn’t desirable in any space, but since the pharmaceutical company leases out the area to different chemical companies, it’s important that the floor looks like it’s in tip-top shape. Each time there is a new occupant — every six months or so — the pharmaceutical company has the floor recoated to impress potential new lessees.
Because of these unique circumstances, the pharmaceutical company had two requests for the newly recoated floor: 1. That it look shiny and new (bring in the high gloss!). 2. That it is an “economical” option.
Taking these two points into consideration, Law selected Induron’s E-Bond 100 Penetrating Sealer, paired with its companion product, Perma-Tuff Self-leveler.
The reason he likes E-Bond? It’s a fraction of the price of other epoxies, yet it still “has good protection and good performance,” according to Law.
And while he admits the E-Bond will not hold up as well against the impact of the steel fire hose couplings, nor sustain acid attacks like a urethane might, it really doesn’t matter in this case since the floor will likely be recoated within a year.
Another reason Law went with E-Bond and Perma-Tuff: he didn’t have a flammables permit and needed 100 percent volume solids products, which these are.
Because the Induron products do not emit fumes, there was no need for the crew to don face respirators while working. They did, though, wear 3M safety glasses with side shields, industrial nitrile gloves, and steel-toed boots.
Law, who has used Induron products on several projects during his 24 years in business, is very impressed with how E-Bond “binds to everything.”
“It is formulated to be very low in viscosity, allowing it to penetrate into the surface of the concrete, which forms a much stronger bond than the normal mechanical bond produced by diamond grinding or steel shotblasting,” explained Linc York, a sales representative with Induron.
York added, “The combination of E-Bond 100 and Perma-Tuff SL forms a system that not only offers the strongest adhesion but can also be easily applied as a smooth, slip-resistant, or a broadcast-to-excess system.”
Getting to Work
For the two-day project, Law had six installers. The crew began by using a US Abrasives’ Fast-Prep 220 rotary grinder with 25-grit diamonds. The crew ground the floor down to the mortar to the desired International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI)’s Concrete Surface Profile (CSP) 2. And in areas they couldn’t reach using the bulky Fast-Prep machine, they utilized Hilti hand grinders.
After the gritty part of the job was finished, the crew used Pullman Ermator high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums to clean up “very, very well,” Law said. They were sure not to leave a trace of dust or debris.
Then, they applied the E-Bond primer at an average of 8 mils (203.2 microns). Law noted that because E-Bond has about a 45-minute pot life, it gives installers plenty of time to apply the coating.
To create a totally flat surface, the crew squeegeed and back rolled the area before broadcasting it to rejection to give the floor its desired slip-resistant texture.
The team used a handmade hopper gun, which also had to be preapproved and labeled with an SDS sticker, to distribute the sand onto the still-wet surface.
When broadcasting to rejection, the goal is to cover every square inch of the floor so that the surface is totally devoid of shininess and resembles a beach. To accomplish this, Law recommends a half pound of sand per square foot (2.4 kg/m²).
After this step was completed, the crew called it a day and let the sand and sealer mixture cure for the next eight hours.
Back on the job the next day, the crew’s first priority was to carefully vacuum the entire floor and remove all excess aggregate. Then, they applied a layer of Perma-Tuff SL. Law said they “brought it down as tight as they could get, probably at no less than 100 square feet per gallon [2.5 m²/L],” to help maintain the floor with a slip-resistant texture.
For additional slip resistance, the crew stirred Sherwin-Williams’ H&C SharkGrip, a micronized polymer, into the Perma-Tuff. This gives it more texture and surface area for the shoe to grab on to — an absolute must in a room often wet from regularly being hosed down.
The team did one more round of squeegeeing and back rolling for a perfectly level surface. Sometimes a second layer of Perma-Tuff is applied, but for this job, they skipped this step since the client was eager to use the renewed space.
While Law recommended letting the coating system sit for a full 72 hours, he is pretty certain the pharmaceutical company probably was using it again within 12 hours.
No problem — Law and his guys likely will be back in again soon to give the floor another new lease on life.