YESChef! Blog

Floor Coatings and Floor Paints - Concrete Blends

Jack Josephsen

By now you know floor coatings and floor paints are very different options when it comes to flooring. Are there any other paint-like products out there that could potentially cause similar confusion? Perhaps, so to wrap this series up I’ll take a quick look at another type occasionally dragged into this mix – concrete micro-toppings.  

Also known as...

You may have heard of concrete overlays, spray pave, stenciled concrete, stamped concrete, concrete re-surfacing or stained concrete; all these belong to the same family of products that blend conventional concrete with paint. These blends result in a flooring that behaves like concrete in many ways, but can be applied much thinner and in a larger range of decorative styles. With the advantage of good UV stability as well, this technology has become very popular in outdoor areas like driveways and patios over the last 30 years.

Stamped concrete driveway that can be mistaken for a floor coating or floor paint.

Is it a floor paint or a floor coating?

Because it looks like just another type of paint to the untrained eye and gets thrown into in flooring discussions from time to time, it’s helpful to know where it actually sits in the flooring landscape. Is it more like a floor paint or floor coating?

The first part of the answer lies in the application method. These finishes are usually sprayed or trowelled (3-10mm thick) and can be stamped, stained or manipulated somehow for decorative effect. Overall, a variety of tools and techniques more familiar with a flooring applicator than a painter are used. Secondly, the performance of these floors is probably somewhere in between a floor coating and a floor paint. They don’t cope as well with wear or chemical exposure like a floor coating can, however they’re more durable than a floor paint. Finally for cost, typically the decorative nature of these finishes and the specialised application sees square metre pricing fall much closer to the floor coatings bracket than floor paints.

Stamped concrete having the pattern stamped unlike floor coatings and floor paint.

Once again, do your homework!

With any type of flooring the most important thing is to know what to expect beforehand. Just like floor coatings and floor paints, you can be left disappointed if concrete micro-toppings are used in the wrong environment, applied by the wrong tradesperson or with a look/finish in mind that simply isn’t within product capability. It’s safe to say from what’s written above that these blends are probably more like floor coatings than floor paints. While that’s handy to know, you’ll need to do some more digging first to ensure it’s the right choice for you.

If you have any questions about how concrete blends compare to floor coatings and floor paints, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Keep Smiling,

Jack Josephsen
Head FLOORChef

FLOORChef's Chef Hat.

Floor Coatings and Floor Paints - Painters and Applicators

Jack Josephsen
In the last series I warned the applicator issue would continue to re-surface and here we are already. This time we’re asking who should apply floor coatings and floor paints – is a painter or an applicator a better fit? Aren’t they the same thing anyway?  Like most people you’re probably scratching your head thinking “Of course they’re the same, they both use brushes and rollers, right?” Does it really matter which one you choose to do flooring?

The floor painter profile

Well, there are quite a few differences between them. As a general summary, painters -   

  • Are used to applying low-viscosity paints, with up to 60% solvent or water content, in thin films and solid colours. 
  • Use products with long working times. 
  • Are used to applying onto walls and roofs with simple hardware (including low pressure spray equipment). 
  • Have a clear idea on preparation of metal, plasterboard and cement sheeting, but not so much concrete. 
  • Tackle floors as well, but treat a floor project like an extension of the painting project. 

Floor paint being rolled onto concrete with a roller.

The floor coating applicator profile

In contrast, applicators -

  • Are used to higher viscosity materials, i.e. high solids or solventless, applied in thicker films and often with colour blending techniques. 
  • Use products with shorter working times and have skills to combat this. 
  • Are more focused on preparation because flooring is their “bread and butter” and they understand these surfaces get abused. 
  • Own their preparation equipment, e.g.  diamond grinders, shot blasters, scabblers. 

Floor coating being applied onto concrete with trowels for a patterning effect.

Choose the right one

With different mind and skill sets, it’s important the right one is chosen for your flooring project. From the profiles above, I’d stick with an applicator to do both floor coatings and floor paints. Asking an applicator to paint my house or a painter to apply the floor simply isn’t the best use of available resources. This is all not to say that one can't make the transition successfully to the other, but it takes time and only works if they’re committed to doing it on a full-time basis.

If you have any questions about applicators or painters, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

Keep Smiling,

Jack Josephsen
Head FLOORChef

FLOORChef's Chef Hat.

Floor Coatings and Floor Paints - Cost

Jack Josephsen

The eternal war waged in the mind of every consumer is price v value. It doesn’t matter what product you’re looking at or industry you’re in, human nature can’t resist the lure of a good price even if the value is perhaps better elsewhere. Before I go any further I want to clarify there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this behaviour, even in a flooring context. The trouble only arrives when the consequences aren’t fully understood. Let me explain.

Floor paint and low prices

Floor paints will always be much cheaper options than floor coatings when it comes to resin-based flooring. Typically high levels of solvent, pigment and filler materials equates to an attractive price per litre and the application of very thin coats means the total cost for a painted floor will be on the low end of the scale. Floor coatings, meanwhile, struggle to get that low.  The raw materials are generally more expensive and while solvents still feature occasionally, the levels usually aren’t as significant (some floor coatings are even completely solvent free). All of this leads to thicker films with more protection and superior performance, but also a greater cost.

Floor paint being tipped out from a metal can into a roller tray.Floor coating components being mixed in a bucket before use.

Weighing up floor coatings v floor paints

When it comes to resin-based flooring, the client has a decision to make. Do they go with the cheaper floor paint or the more durable floor coating? The price is obviously lower with the paint, but the value is normally greater with the coating, i.e. something that costs twice as much but lasts four times longer represents a better deal in the eyes of most. 

The answer is – it doesn’t really matter as long as they know what they’re in for. Yes, the cheaper floor paint won’t last as long; yes, it will probably need another coat in a year or so depending on the traffic; but, that might be ok for the client. Their budget might not be enough for a high-quality floor coating, or they might be selling soon and want to freshen things up without spending too much. As I said in the previous post (Durability), both types of flooring have their roles to play.

Performance must equal expectation

 The problems only occur when clients’ expectations don’t line up with what they paid for. For example, they put floor paint in their garage and expect it to look like new five years later. If that’s the goal, they have to forget about price alone and seek greater value through floor coatings.

If you have any questions about the cost of floor coatings or floor paints, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Keep Smiling,

Jack Josephsen
Head FLOORChef

FLOORChef's Chef Hat.

Floor Coatings and Floor Paints - Durability

Jack Josephsen

Floor coatings, floor paints...they’re all the same aren’t they? They might sound like similar stuff, but there are some big differences you need to be aware of when choosing the right resin-based floor. In this blog series I’ll run through all the major distinctions, however I wanted to begin right here with the most damaging – durability.     

I say damaging because treating floor paints and floor coatings as identical in this department not only leads to premature failures, it can also hurt the entire industry through the build up of negative sentiment. Both types have a role to play, however if they’re seen as interchangeable then results will be poor, customer satisfaction low and they could both eventually be dismissed as legitimate flooring options altogether.  

The durability divide

Why is the durability so different? In brief, floor paints consist of long, thermoplastic polymer chains (mostly acrylics) dispersed in organic solvent or water. Once applied, the solvent evaporates and the chains become entangled to form a continuous film. Think of spaghetti strings smoothed out on a floor somehow. Floor coatings, on the other hand, have short, thermoset polymer chains (epoxies, urethanes) and form a more structured film through chemical reactions. Think of a 3-D lattice.

Keep it light for floor paint

There are some pretty abstract concepts in that description, so what does it all mean practically? Well, the weaker bonds in floor paints make them more vulnerable to both physical and chemical attack. These types of products are therefore “light duty” at best; able to withstand light foot traffic and splashes or spills of harmless liquids like water or oil. If they’re applied in more aggressive environments, it’s understood complete re-application will almost certainly be required down the track. Some clients are completely happy with that prospect given it will typically come with a lower price tag, but more on that in the next post.

Floor paint flaking off in a car garage.

Floor coatings if you want it to last

In contrast, the stronger, higher density floor coating films are capable of withstanding some nasty treatment; ugly industrial environments with vehicle traffic and/or harsh chemical exposure are usually within their repertoire.  As far as residential, retail or commercial applications go, owners often re-decorate before the floor coating packs it in. If your floor cops a fair degree of punishment, you have to be looking at floor coatings and not floor paints.

Floor coating in a heavy vehicle workshop with a huge front-end loader on top of it.

If you have any questions about the durability of floor coatings and floor paints, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Keep Smiling,

Jack Josephsen
Head FLOORChef   

FLOORChef's Chef Hat.