When Madison WI area roads are coated in corrosive road salt, sand and de-icers the odds of a damaged garage floor go way up. Random spills and daily traffic are hard on garage floors all year around. When the surface of concrete is weakened or cracked the sludge dripping off your car finds convenient places to dig in.
Sand appears safe enough, right? Think “sand paper.” It grinds the surface of concrete. Road salt and more complex chemicals are a must to make wintertime roads safer, of course. Unfortunately they literally eat away concrete as they react to the chemistry of cement.
Concrete is tough but sand, mud, salt and de-icers tracked in and ground down by your tires take a toll. Even the tiniest cracks get worse as salt brine seeps in. Unsealed concrete is porous when left alone so it’s an inviting surface where corrosives can seep in.
Is your garage heated and well insulated? If your garage ever dips below 32°, liquid in floor cracks will freeze. As it freezes, water expands – so do the cracks. Road salt opens wounds and the freeze/thaw process does the damage. Penetrating the concrete damages the floor from the inside out, not only on the surface.
The Madison area is well-known as an environmentally-conscious place to live, but that doesn’t mean the road de-icing materials don’t pose a threat to garage floors. The chemicals you choose for the driveway and nearby sidewalks could be adding to the problem. Do you know what you’re tracking in from your own property? How about from neighborhood sidewalks?
When salt residue dries on the garage floor it leaves a film of salt residue behind. Called subflorescence, the salt crystallizes in porous concrete. The concrete eventually flakes and chips.
Dealing With A Damaged Garage Floor
Unless you’re in a new home with a recently-poured concrete garage floor it’s almost guaranteed there are cracks. If you’re lucky they’re small. The size of the cracks dictates the size of your problems. And they dictate the level of repair work required to protect the floor.
The first line of defense is keeping your garage floor clean. It’s more difficult in winter – not likely to scrub it or hose it down when it’s 20°, right? Sweep or shovel out the sludge that falls off your car as soon as you can. Rinsing this salt, grime mixture doesn’t remove the corrosives, it spreads them around. If you want to try washing away the brine sludge, try this:
- Mix 1 cup vinegar and a “squirt” of dish washing liquid in a gallon of water.
- Rinse the salt spots and scrub the stains with a stiff-bristle brush.
- Use a wet/dry vacuum to get up as much remaining liquid as possible.
A high-pressure washer isn’t a good choice, even in warm weather. The high-pressure water jet drives salt residue into concrete cracks when you think you’re cleaning it away.
Before you can deal effectively with cracks in your garage floor you have to figure out what caused them. There are two types of concrete garage floor cracks:
- Active cracks – these are caused by the subsurface settling, installation errors and excessive loads in addition to temperature shifts. Active cracks start small and gradually expand as long as their cause is not eliminated. Call upon a concrete specialist to determine what’s causing significant cracks in your garage floor. You cannot protect your garage floor until the situation is corrected and cracks patched.
- Dormant cracks – these are the common “spider cracks” caused by moisture penetrating the surface and drying. Usually stable, they seldom expand.
Epoxy Floors – Solutions For A Damaged Garage Floor
No matter the level of damage you are dealing with, once repairs are made you have choices. Contact Garage Flooring Solutions to discuss:
- Industrial-grade epoxy resin and industrial-grade garage floor finishes
- Reliable, durable multi-coat finishing systems
- The wide range of color and texture options available with epoxy flooring
An epoxy finish, applied by skilled professionals adds style and color as it protects the floor inside your garage. Epoxy seals with a protective, easy-to-clean surface layer. It’s chemical-resistant, smooth, level and crack-free. You clean it with a mop or a broom.
Epoxy floors can be applied safely in areas where ventilation isn’t the best, like a closed garage. These coating materials are extremely low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) meaning they don’t give off toxic fumes. The only significant drawback to applying an epoxy coating in winter is that it requires temperatures above 50°. It cannot be installed when temperatures inside the garage dip below freezing.
Don’t expect a layer of epoxy to fill in and fix large cracks. It won’t. It will conceal minor imperfections and small cracks. Even multiple coats will not repair major flaws. A garage floor damaged by wide cracks must be repaired before applying epoxy or they will continue to expand, cracking the new surface, too.
Consider the advantage of an epoxy-coated garage floor:
- Low-maintenance – sweeping, vacuuming and an occasional clean-water mopping is all it takes to remove dirt and debris.
- Resilient – epoxy resists stains and stands up to foot and vehicle traffic. It’s seamless so there’s never a need for crack repair. Resists chemicals, road salts and other corrosives.
- A safe floor – safe for high-traffic areas because they are slip-resistant and reflect more ambient light.
- Easy application – Because the resins are self-leveling they coat existing concrete fast, forming a smooth bond.
Protect Your Damaged Garage Floor – Consult A Pro
When you recognize your garage floor shows signs of excess wear and is a prime target for wintertime damage, what do you do? There are Do-It-Yourself options, but are you prepared for the challenge, willing to deal with the time and it takes and risk of mistakes? Do you have the right tools and skills? For most homeowners the answers are all “NO!”
Garage Flooring Solutions is a professional epoxy coatings and poured concrete company serving the Madison areas for years. It offers a broad selection of decorative poured concrete and epoxy coating solutions.
Marvin Martinez has decades of experience and brings a team of trained professionals to every job. Give him a call at 608-630-8855, via email. Let the trained professionals answer your questions and put together a plan to deal with a damaged garage floor in your Madison WI home.