If you’re asking if you should epoxy or stain your concrete, you’re in the right place. Without any form of protection, concrete floors are exposed to rain, snow, condensation, dirt, leaks, and other elements that can destroy your flooring. In this article, we’ll help you decide whether a stain or epoxy coating is the right choice for you.
Should You Epoxy Or Stain Your Concrete?
If you want to simply change the color of your concrete and add minimal protection, experts suggest a water or acid-based stain. If you want to add something stronger, durable, and just as stylish, you should consider an epoxy coating. In the next few paragraphs, we’re going to list the uses and benefits of both options, starting with epoxy coatings.
Epoxy coatings are a combination of different resins and polymers. The most typical epoxy coating used by industry professionals today is a two-part system comprised of a Part A resin and a Part B hardener. This coating is poured and evenly spread over your concrete surface until it cures, leaving behind a strong protective layer of epoxy. These coatings vary in thickness, design, and use.
The epoxy’s chemical components determine the resistance to certain chemicals, making it ideal for factories, warehouses, and auto shops that use harmful substances. The epoxy’s thickness and physical properties will determine the resistance to mechanical loads, making it perfect for frequently trafficked floors. Based on whatever you choose, your epoxy coating can be designed specifically for your home and environment. Here are some things that can professionals can add to an epoxy coating.
- UV inhibitors – Most epoxy is not resistant to ultraviolet light. This will help prevent early discoloration and damage from natural or artificial light.
- Accelerators – By adding an accelerator to an epoxy mixture, professionals can speed up the time it takes for the coating to cure. This is very useful in colder climates where temperature can slow down the curing process.
- Adhesion promoters – An adhesion promoter helps the epoxy stick to your concrete surface and prevents delamination (this is also prevented by using a diamond grinder that exposes the pores in the concrete).
Types Of Epoxy Coatings
There are several different types of base epoxy coatings that professionals can choose from.
- 100% Solids epoxy – This is one of the most common epoxy types used by professionals in the industry today. These epoxies do not contain any conventional solvents, providing the ideal thick, durable, and visually appealing concrete coating. These coatings are also the most challenging form of epoxy to apply, and that’s why we always recommend having a licensed professional perform the installation.
- Water-based epoxy – A water-based epoxy is easier to apply to concrete surfaces, but they are often incapable of providing high abrasion or heat resistance. These epoxies are also more widely available and can be purchased online or in a local hardware store.
- Solvent-based epoxy – A solvent-based epoxy is usually made with xylene, a chemical often used in industrial-grade paint thinners. These epoxies are designed specifically to resist petroleum spills or contamination. Not all solvent-based epoxies are made the same, so it’s best to consult an expert if you decide to go this route.
- Two-part water-based epoxy – This coating is a hybrid form of 100% solid epoxy using water as a solvent. These epoxies don’t release as much odor as other coating types, but they require more ventilation to cure, still requiring at least 2 to 3 days.
Benefits Of Epoxy Coatings
The single biggest benefit of an epoxy coating is that it protects your concrete, which can be one of the largest investments in your home, garage, or commercial building. Replacing a concrete slab can be an expensive and time-consuming process. But, if your concrete doesn’t need a replacement right now, you have a chance to step in and extend its lifespan. Epoxy coatings are,
- Safe through adding slip-resistant layers
- Fully customizable
A concrete stain is either acid or water-based, comprised of water, hydrochloric acid, and acid-soluble metallic salts. These stains are sprayed onto your concrete, penetrating the surface and chemically reacting with the hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide) in the concrete. Concrete stains come in many different colors and durabilities, but a stained floor will always need to be treated with waxes or sealers to maintain the look.
Concrete stains are not as thick as epoxy coatings, but they still provide a form of protection. If you don’t regularly take care of your stained concrete, its color can quickly wear away in high-traffic areas, leaving behind patches and exposed areas. Don’t confuse stains with paint. Painting your concrete will leave a thin layer of color, but stains will soak deeper into the concrete for a more lasting effect.
Note: Stains do not correct imperfections in your concrete. Mold, cracks, and other flaws in your concrete will need to be fixed before you apply a stain.
Types Of Concrete Stains
There are two types of concrete stains used by professionals today.
- Film-forming stains – This form of stain simply adds color to your concrete and does not require a sealing compound. Since this type of stain is only temporary, you’ll need to apply a sealer every 3 to 5 years, depending on foot traffic, weather, and spills.
- Penetrating stains – These stains penetrate concrete deeper and create a more permanent solution for high-traffic areas. They can also be applied directly on top of a previously stained surface.
Benefits Of Concrete Stains
Concrete stains are more of a transformative product rather than a replacement. Epoxy coatings cover and protect your concrete, while a stain simply changes its appearance. There’s more maintenance involved with concrete stains because your concrete is still porous. An epoxy coating seals your concrete’s pores and prevents moisture from adhering to the surface. Other benefits include,
- Flexibility – Because there are so many colors, tints, and styles to choose from, you can use different stains for different rooms.
- Durability – While not as protective as an epoxy coating, concrete stains will still add a durable layer over your surface, reducing mold and mildew growth.
- Economical – Because you can apply a stain over an existing stain (even though this might affect the color), you don’t have to worry about starting from scratch. This can save you time and money during the installation process. It’s also less expensive than adding carpet, laminate, or hardwood floors. Most homeowners today don’t want to cover their concrete floor because it looks more modern.
- Maintenance – Concrete stains help reduce mold growth, scratches, and marks. This makes it easier to clean your floor without worrying about scratches from your broom or mop.
- Value – If you ever decide to sell your home, a stained concrete floor will increase the value of your home, turning your decision into a profitable outcome.
Epoxy Or Stains?
Whether you choose to coat your floor with an epoxy or a stain, call Complete Concrete Coatings. We offer both solutions to all Greater Salt Lake City homeowners. We’ll inspect your concrete surface, find out if it needs any prior repairs, and choose a solution that matches your home.