Working in a 10x10-foot section...
Working in a 10x10-foot section of the floor, we pour the etching solution evenly on the floor and then scrub it in with a stiff bristle broom.
RockSolid Floors offers a kit that provides enough material to cover a 275 square feet, or a standard single-car garage for a retail price of $375. Naturally, a typical two-car garage would use two kits. In our case, the shop is a lot bigger than a typical single car garage, but that's not a problem since RockSolid also sells the flooring system in larger containers. The coverage of the coating is dependent on the porosity of the concrete being coated and the application technique. If you are doing a large area like us, we suggest ordering more than you think you'll need. That way you're sure to have enough.
You can see the solution fizzing...
You can see the solution fizzing (the white foam), a sure sign that it's working.
Getting this stuff to properly stick to the concrete requires some floor preparation. You just can't slap it on and expect a perfect finish. There are a number of things to be checked. The very first thing you have to do is to determine if the concrete has been previously sealed. Ours was not, but if you don't know, all you have to do is pour a small amount of water onto the floor in different areas. If the water beads, it's most likely been sealed and you'll have to chemically or mechanically remove it. You can do this with a diamond grinder available at a local rental store.
One note about previously coated floors-if that coating is well-adhered to the surface, you can re-coat over the previous coating if you scuff sand the surface using 40-80 grit sandpaper. A final wipe with acetone will remove any residue.
When the fizzing stops after...
When the fizzing stops after 4-5 minutes you can move on to the next section of the floor.
Here's how you can test that old coating to make sure it has properly cured to the concrete:
1. With a razor blade, cut an X through the coating and down to the concrete.
2. Apply a 5-inch piece of duct tape over the X and press down firmly.
3. Completely remove the tape with one quick pull.
4. If more than 10 percent of the taped area is removed, the original coating is not bonded well and needs to be removed chemically or mechanically with a diamond grinder.
By the way, if you do need to remove any old coating do yourself a favor and wear an NIOSH-approved respirator, then clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop.
To ensure that all of the...
To ensure that all of the etching solution is removed, we rinsed the floor four times with clean water. Anthony Griffith mopped while I squeegeed.
OK, the next test is for moisture. Water and damp conditions are not ideal for applying RockSolid's system (as we found out thanks to Florida's summertime weather patterns), so you need to test your concrete surface for moisture. Lay a 3x3-foot sheet of plastic (such as a heavy-duty garbage bag or plastic sheeting) to an area of the floor. Tape down the edges with duct tape and allow it to sit for 24 to 48 hours. If water droplets appear on the inside of the plastic or if the concrete appears wet (darker in color), the moisture in the concrete is high and your slab should be waterproofed prior to coating. RockSolid manufactures a Polymatrix Gel Waterproofing, made specifically for this purpose.
In addition to the clear coat...
In addition to the clear coat that gets applied later, RockSolid's system comes with two parts, Primer-Body Coat A and Primer-Body Coat B. To begin you must mix both sides separately until a uniform color appears. We opted for a mini concrete whip on a cordless power drill.
It stands to reason that since concrete is a local product it is going to be different in many regions of the country. Some regions will have hard concrete while in others it will be soft and chalky. The bottom line is you have to create a good anchor surface for the RockSolid primer-body coat and you do this by etching. Now if you have soft and chalky concrete, RockSolid recommends diamond grinding the surface with 20-50 grit diamonds to remove the soft fines. For areas of the concrete that have spalling, chipping, or cracking, RockSolid makes a patch kit.
As part of our kit we received the RockSolid Floors Safe Etch Solution. This etching solution is used to open the pores of the concrete thus providing the proper adhesion. Our concrete floor was old but it was also virgin (read not coated/sealed) concrete, so we ended up going straight to this step after grinding a few old epoxy puddles from the previous tenants.