Upon accessing a concrete jobsite, one of the first steps for contractors is often determining whether the area has sufficient power to run the necessary equipment. For example, if a site lacks a direct power source or if the requirements are above what can be supplied through the grid, mobile generators may be needed.
Makinex is among the providers with a complete generator range to provide power for floor grinders, welders, brick saws, and more. The Makinex Power Box is a potential solution, working as a silent, emission-free power supply available in numerous sizes and power configurations. By utilizing a battery-powered generator that stores electricity for use when and where power is otherwise unavailable, the box can go anywhere with its rugged wheel system and lifting eye. With sizes ranging from 4.4 kW to 17.6 kW (5.9–23.6 hp), the box is capable of running products at the jobsite ranging from computers to portable air compressors.
Aggreko, Sunbelt Rentals, and United Rentals also offer ranges of generators for temporary use, along with plenty of other equipment potentially needed during surface preparation. On some jobs, air compressors may be required to power the pneumatic tools. Briggs & Stratton and Doosan Portable Power are examples of companies that supply air compressors with a diverse range of pressures.
Though water is often used to clean a substrate, too, much of it can create its own set of problems. For instance, with concrete slabs, excessive water can lead to poor adhesion and premature coating failures.
Wagner Meters and Tramex Meters are among the providers of products to test moisture levels in both industrial and commercial settings — including in situ relative humidity (RH) testing. For that objective, Wagner’s C555 Concrete Moisture Meter is one of the company’s latest developments. The C555 emits an electromagnetic wave to measure moisture down to 0.75 inch (1.9 cm) below the surface. When combined with an in situ concrete RH testing system compliant with ASTM International standards, the C555 helps contractors place probes in areas where they are most effective.
Meanwhile, Tramex recently upgraded its Concrete Moisture Encounter CME5 to add features such as Bluetooth connectivity to iOS and Android apps, allowing for continual development and integration of apps and reporting. Other features include a robust, new enclosure with a rugged, ergonomic design, as well as an extension bracket and handle to avoid kneeling. The CME5, used as a non-invasive moisture meter for concrete, is optimized for extended battery life and combined testing to improve accuracy.
Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment may also be needed to keep a project on course, with many coatings requiring precise temperature and humidity levels to cure properly. If high humidity is found, companies such as Aggreko offer both desiccant and refrigerated dehumidifiers. The desiccant dehumidifiers range from 375 cfm to 25,000 cfm (10.6–707.9 m3/min.) in a single unit, while the refrigerant dehumidifiers range from 15- to 60-ton (13.6–54.4 metric tons) units. Separately, the company can provide in-line electric heaters ranging from 30 kW to 150 kW (40.2–201.2 hp) to be used in conjunction with desiccant dehumidifiers, as well as indirect-fired heaters ranging from 250,000 to 700,000 Btu.
Polygon is another provider in this space, with the R5000 as the newest desiccant unit in its line of climate control equipment. The unit can deliver up to 5,000 standard cfm (141.6 m3/min.) of extremely dry air.
Preparing the Surface
Once environmental conditions are satisfactory, the next step in applying a new coating system is usually preparing the surface by making it clean, dry, and free from contaminants. In many cases, a proper surface profile must be achieved. Preparation techniques can include pressure washing, grinding, scarifying, scraping, blasting, or even complete replacement of the prior substrate.
One common method is to use a pressure washer, which cleans the substrate by removing old coatings and contaminants. Pressure washers can be used on concrete, steel, and roof substrates, with options including cold- and hot-water models and pressures up to ultra-high-pressure waterjetting.
The choice of pressure washers often depends on the jobsite. For example, while cold-water pressure washers are suitable for handling basic tasks such as removing dirt and mud, projects involving more complex contaminants — such as grease and grime — may require hot-water models. While the gallons per minute (GPM) and pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure of each machine must be strong enough to clean the substrate, excessive pressure can cause its own set of problems by damaging the surface. Thus, contractors have a delicate balance to achieve, and they should pay close attention to the coating manufacturer’s specifications.
Hotsy, Jenny Products, and Mi-T-M are among the industry specialists offering various cold- and hot-water pressure washers and related equipment. Mi-T-M recommends combining its CBA Aluminum Series cold-water pressure washer with a 20-inch (50.8 cm) rotary surface cleaner, described as an ideal accessory for cleaning flat surfaces.
For many projects, preparing the surface for the next coating system may require grinding, scarifying, scraping, or even completely removing the prior surface with specialized hand tools. In addition to traditional walk-behind models, many of these tools are now available in smaller sizes that are more portable. In turn, contractors can access tight jobsites and a wider range of potential project locations. Additionally, numerous tools can be paired with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums, which are available from companies such as Pullman Ermator and Robert Bosch Tools Corp. (Bosch).
For grinders, providers include Equipment Development Co., Inc. (EDCO), General Equipment Co., and Bosch. General Equipment’s SG7 surface grinder, which utilizes 7-inch (17.8 cm) diameter diamond segment discs, is described as ideal for removing paint, adhesives, mastics, and other floor coatings. General also offers a MAGNETACH attachment system for its numerous single- and dual-head grinders, which uses magnets to install or remove different types of grinding blocks or hardware easily. Among the other providers, the 10-inch (25.4 cm) TG-10 Turbo Grinder from EDCO, which can grind wet or dry, is another portable solution, as is Bosch’s 4.5-inch (11.4 cm) GWS18V-45PSC EC angle grinder.
For heavier work, EDCO and General Equipment each have floor strippers available as well. One example is General’s FCS10 RIP-R-STRIPPER, which has a wide range of straight and scoring-type blades at up to 10 inches of cutting width.
On some jobsites, spray equipment may not be appropriate to apply coatings. If hand application tools are needed, Seymour Midwest and Wooster Brush are among many providers. The former focuses on specialty coatings tools, such as squeegees and trowels, while the latter specializes in brushes and rollers. They work together to offer clients an end-to-end solution.
“That’s why our sales staff works together,” said Ryan Miller, division manager at Seymour Midwest for protective/decorative and surface treatment tools. “There are not too many coatings that we can’t apply when you use the two brands together.”
One common scenario where hand tools may be needed in lieu of larger spray equipment involves tight spaces, which can require the personal touch of traditional tools and accessories, such as brushes, rollers, squeegees, and trowels. “There’s a general sense from specifiers that if you want attention to detail, they specify that it needs to be hand trowel, brush, or roller applied, because they know that the painter or technician is going to be right there,” Miller said. “You can brush it into the cracks and crevices. You can do a lot more detailed and conscious job with a brush, roller, or squeegee as opposed to a spray-applied job, where the applicator can be 8 feet [2.4 m] away. With a brush or roller, you’re intimately involved with that substrate.”
According to Larry Schwartz, national sales manager for the Wooster Brush Company, a separate factor pushing contractors toward hand tools is the increasing popularity of “thin-film coatings,” such as polyaspartics and polyureas, which can demand precision. “We have a fabric called Epoxy Glide, which is designed to backroll into coatings without pulling into the coating itself. It redistributes the coating around but doesn’t introduce the air that a standard fabric would. The Epoxy Glide does very well because the fabric is engineered just for the types of coatings.” On the other end of the spectrum are many concrete contractors, for whom Seymour is developing longer spiked rollers to enable thicker film resurfacing and reduce the volume of pours.
New offerings from Seymour Midwest include the Speed Squeegee, which serves as a disposable version of the popular Easy Squeegee, and Super Sharp line of spiked rollers under the Midwest Rake brand. Many of these tools feature an intuitive color-coded approach, which can help contractors identify the right blade and apply material at the appropriate thickness.
“We invoke this color-coded approach to select the right tool or blade,” said Seymour’s Miller. “One of the big technical questions that I get goes something like this: ‘I need to apply this coating, so what sized notching do I need?’ Or, ‘I need to apply this resurfacing agent. What type of spiked roller do I need?’”
“We’ve also improved the cleanability of our squeegees and spiked rollers, and we’ve added some additional lengths to chew up more square footage faster,” Miller added. “What we’re doing is making the tools easier to clean, easier to replace blades, and giving users a more common-sense approach to deciding which tool does a certain job well.”
Certain industries can have unique considerations as well. “What we’re noticing more and more is contractors calling in on specific coatings that they’re using and wanting to know exactly the right application tool designed for that type of coating,” said Wooster’s Schwartz. “They can’t make it work with some of these new coatings, so we have squeegees with certain colors for mil thicknesses. I talked to someone on the refinery side. They were doing high-temperature coatings and were concerned about cooling it down to 100 °F [37.8 °C]. They don’t have to do that with some of the fabrics we have today. That can make it a lot easier.”
Purdy (by Sherwin-Williams) is among other brush and roller providers, with the Chinex Elite available in 2020 as a new line. According to the manufacturer, these filament brushes have excellent paint release with superb cleanability, and they are designed for use with heavy-bodied and low-volatile organic compound (VOC) paints. Since they absorb little moisture, it simplifies any cleanup operation. Within squeegees, another supplier is Nour, which offers its AccuBlade Squeegee with blades marked with wet film thickness (WFT) measurements to inform users of how thick the coating is during and after application. For contractors needing a more cost-effective option, Nour’s 18-inch (45.7 cm) Coating Squeegee is available with three different notch sizes, and it can be disposed of after use.
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from CoatingsPro’s annual equipment roundup, which also includes the complete Vendor Team.