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Concrete Coating

What is the concrete coating process and how to prepare for it

April 22nd, 2021 | 8 min. read

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A man in dark pants and a grey tshirt brushing a concrete surface with a broom inside of an empty garage.

Before paying a professional to repair and coat your concrete, you want to know what you’re getting into.

Even if you have no interest in the details of certain processes and what goes into the project, it’s important to know what exactly is going to be done in your home for you to feel more comfortable in the project and the company you pay to do it.

Video: "What goes into a concrete coating installation? (Before and During installation)" link below

Southwest Exteriors specializes in one-day concrete coatings from Penntek to give your concrete that granite-like finish. Our expert installers take extra care of your concrete from preparation to the final topcoat.

We know what a difference it makes when you take the time to prepare before a project to get the highest quality outcome. 

In this article, we will go through the entire process of a concrete coating from the initial testing and preparation to the finishing touches because we want you to know what to expect for installation day.

First, is there anything you need to prepare before installation day?

Prepping for your concrete coating

The biggest thing to prepare before installation day is to clear the entire area. We ask that you do this before the coating day. 

It is extremely important that if the concrete to be coated is outside you turn off your sprinkler system. Along with this, do not pressure wash your concrete before coating day.

Adding water to the concrete can delay your project if the moisture content is too high.

Inspecting and testing the concrete for moisture and hardness

Before we can do anything on your concrete, it must be analyzed for any cracks or hollow spots and tested for moisture content and hardness. 

Inspecting cracks and hollow spots

If there are any cracks, pits, or hollow spots in the concrete, they will need to be repaired before the coating process can begin. 

Pitting in concrete happens when the concrete starts to fail and deteriorate. If you notice your concrete has lots of little holes that aren’t meant to be there, those are pits.

When there is a significant amount of pitting in one area, it can create hollow spots. If there is a large area of pitting, you can knock on the concrete and hear if it sounds hollow or not. 

Any cracks, no matter how big or small, will have to be filled in before a coating. Cracks, pitting, and hollow spots are repaired by using a concrete mender. 

Moisture content test

If concrete is too moist, the coating will not apply and cure properly. 

The way moisture content is tested is by using a moisture meter that measures the percentage of moisture in the concrete.

Water in concrete is normal and perfectly fine, but too much water will not allow for the coating product to apply correctly.

If the concrete has too high of a moisture content, a moisture barrier will need to be applied to the concrete before the coating can begin.

Mohs hardness test

The Mohs hardness test is used to determine the hardness level of the concrete. This needs to be measured to determine what kind of diamond will be used to grind the concrete. 

In this test, a consultant will take a pencil-like tool with two different sized probes on either end and gently scrape at the concrete starting with the largest size nine. If the probe leaves a scratch on the concrete, then the concrete is softer than a nine. Then, they will continue to scratch the concrete, continuously moving down in size of the probe until it does not leave a scratch. The smallest probe size is two.

Once they have reached the size that does not scratch, that correlates with the hardness level of the concrete. This then tells installers what type of diamond is needed to grind the concrete effectively.

If the wrong type of diamond is used to grind the concrete, the concrete will not be ground correctly, and it can lead to damaging either the concrete or the diamond grinder.

If the concrete is too soft, a densifier will need to be added to it as well before the coating process can begin. 

A moisture content test and Mohs hardness test will be taken on the day of the sale at your home as well as first thing before the installation. 

After the concrete has been inspected and tested for hardness and moisture, it is time for the concrete coating process to begin. 

Prepping the concrete

Now that the concrete has been assessed, it is time to start the preparation. 

Grinding the concrete 

The first step of preparing the concrete for coating is grinding the original concrete. A 600 lb. grinder with a diamond edge is used to grind the entire area, and smaller handheld grinders are used for edges and small spots.

The diamond used to grind the concrete is found when a Mohs hardness test is performed.

After the area has been ground, all debris or residue left behind will be vacuumed.

Fixing cracks, pitting, and hollow spots

Once the concrete has had its first grind, next is to fill in all of the cracks, pitting, and/or hollow spots.

A concrete mender from Penntek is used to fill in the empty areas and is self-leveling with a fast cure-time of 10-15 minutes.

Densifying the concrete

If the concrete is too soft or has too high a moisture content, it needs to be densified. 

The liquid densifying chemical is poured on top of the entire area of concrete and spread evenly. 

Because it takes overnight to dry completely, your project will be set back one day if it needs to be densified. The hardness of your concrete will be discussed with you before starting the project so you will be made aware of the two-day process.

Second grind

After filling in any cracks, pitting, or hollow spots, the areas of repair will receive a light grind to smooth everything over.

If the densifier was added to the concrete and cured, the entire area will be ground over again, and all debris will be vacuumed. 

Now all of the initial prep work is complete for the concrete. 

Laying down the coating

Once the concrete is in the right condition to be coating, it’s time to get into what you’ve all been waiting for. 

Applying the base coat

First, a polyurea base coat is applied evenly over the entire area with a squeegee brush and carefully around the edges with a hand brush. A roller is also used to disperse the product after using the squeegee.

The polyurea base is durable and flexible, so it is built to last on your concrete no matter if it’s your garage, sidewalk, or pool patio. 

Dispersing the flakes

With the polyurea base coat applied all over the concrete surface, the vinyl chips are dispersed evenly until rejection. What this means is that the entire surface will be coated with the chips until they start stacking on top of each other.

The chips are then backrolled to get them compacted into the surface. 

Once the surface is coated with the chips, it takes 90-120 minutes to cure, or completely harden.

Because the chips were dispersed to rejection, the surface will be scraped in multiple directions to gather all of the excess chips and will then be smoothed out before the final topcoat can be applied. 

Applying the topcoat

The final step to the concrete coating process is to apply the topcoat. 

The topcoat is made of a polyaspartic material to ensure durability and give the surface the feel of an orange peel to help with slip resistance. 

With that polyaspartic topcoat, the cure time typically allows you to walk on it 4-6 hours later and park your car on it 24 hours later under optimal conditions. 

However, the cure time can depend on humidity and temperature. The warmer it is, the coating can cure faster, but the higher the humidity, the longer it will take.

The best way to know if your concrete coating has cured completely is to press it with your thumb and feel if it gives. If it feels tacky, then it is not cured and not ready to walk on.

Additives to the topcoat

If the concrete you are having coated is an outdoor surface, like a patio or pool deck, we recommend a traction-additive be added to the topcoat to give better slip resistance.

Now you know the entire process of a concrete coating from preparation, fixing the cracks, and applying the coating. Once the crew has finished, you are all set!

Caring for your new concrete

You may think, how am I supposed to care for my newly coated concrete to keep it looking fresh and beautiful? Well, put the pressure washer away and say hello to an easier way to clean.

The best way you can take care of your Penntek concrete coating is to take a heavy-duty surface cleaner, like Formula 409 for example, spray it all over the surface, and scrub with a large broom or preferred scrubber of your choice. 

If you clean your concrete even once a year, it will keep it looking like new.

Another simple solution to keep your surface fresh is to take a leaf blower or broom and keep the area clear of leaves, dirt, and dust bunnies.

Taking care of your concrete often will keep it looking brand new and save you lots of time and effort in the future. If excess dirt, grease, or other substances build up on the surface, it will be much more difficult to clean in the long run. 

Ready to have your garage, sidewalk, or pool deck coated?

Now you know the entire installation process for a concrete coating from preparation, repairs, and final coating. 

Remember that the most important things you can do to prepare are to clear the entire area to be coated, turn off your sprinklers, and refrain from putting any water on the surface.

With Southwest Exteriors, we want you to have the best experience possible and feel comfortable and confident in your concrete coating project. 

No matter what contractor you choose, knowing the process and what to expect can help you in trusting the right one with your home.

Ready for your concrete coating? Fill out the form on our website to

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