Road salt, deicing chemicals and winter debris all threaten your garage floor in a Wisconsin winter. A protective epoxy finish keeps the floor of your Madison WI garage looking like new all year around.
The floor of any garage acquires enough stains and spots from random spills and everyday traffic without adding the impact of winter’s corrosive agents. Road salt melts ice and it also chips away at a concrete floor. In the snowiest and coldest months, washing away residue isn’t an option. Prevention is the direct route to keeping the floor like new.
Causes of Winter Garage Floor Damage
Concrete is a tough surface but the mud, sand, salt and de-icers tracked in on your tires wear it away. Any cracks in the surface allow road salt dripping from melting slush to penetrate the concrete. Cracks get worse. Concrete itself is porous so even without a crack the corrosives seep into the floor.
Unless your garage is heated and well insulated, the drastic temperature swings common in Madison add to the stress. If your garage dips below 32°, liquid in the cracks freezes inside the concrete – expanding to widen existing cracks and damaging the concrete floor from the inside out.
While Dane County is known to be environmentally-conscientious in its use of road de-icing materials, every chemical and sand has a corrosive, abrasive effect on concrete.
There’s a lesser known side effect called subflorescence that attacks concrete in a garage. It is the evaporation of moisture off the floor that leaves a residue of salt behind. The salt recrystallizes in the pores of the concrete. Eventually the concrete will flake and chip. You know it’s working when you see those ugly white stains on a dry floor.
First Step – Repair Existing Floor Damage
The first line of defense to protect a floor is to keep it clean. Remove piles of sludge that fall from beneath your vehicle as soon as possible. Rinsing with water doesn’t remove the corrosives, it spreads them. A mixture of one cup of vinegar, a squirt of dish washing liquid in a gallon of water works better than plain water. Scrub salt stains with a stiff brush. Use a wet-vac to get the water off the floor when you’re done.
A pressure washer isn’t a wise choice. Even if the weather is warm enough, a power washer will drive the salt residue into the concrete.
Epoxy Finish – The Ultimate Solution
Applying an epoxy finish adds style, color and protection to the surface inside your garage. It provides a sealed, protective layer. It’s not only durable and chemical-resistant it looks good all year around.
An epoxy floor finish provides a smooth, level surface with no cracks. It is easy to keep clean with a mop and broom.
Epoxy floor coating materials have extremely low Volatile Organic Compounds (V.O.C.) ratings, meaning they do not emit harmful odors or gases. You can safely apply epoxy indoors, even in areas limited ventilation.
The biggest drawback in mid-winter is an epoxy coating needs temperatures above 50° for a proper installation. It cannot be installed when temperatures are below freezing.
Think again if you expect an epoxy finish to repair all the cracks in your concrete surfaces. A quality coating applied by a skilled professional will conceal slight imperfections like small surface cracks. But even multiple coats will not repair deep or wide flaws in the floor. Wide cracks expand beneath the epoxy and eventually show up on the surface.
Dealing With Floor Cracks
Before a serious crack in a concrete floor can be repaired you have to determine what’s caused it. There are two types of cracks you’ll find in the concrete floor of your garage:
- An Active Crack – caused by the subsurface settling, expansion and contraction because of temperature shifts and possible construction/installation errors or excess loading. Active cracks usually start small and gradually expand until the cause is eliminated. It takes a specialist to determine the cause and recommend appropriate repairs. Repairing any active cracks is a critical step in preparation for a successful application to an epoxy coating.
- Dormant Cracks – these are often called “spider cracks” and are very common. They appear from moisture penetrating porous concrete and then drying. Dormant cracks are usually stable – meaning they seldom expand. Mostly cosmetic, a coating of high-quality epoxy will cover them permanently.
Epoxy Garage Floor Professionals
Garage Flooring Solutions is a professional epoxy coatings company serving Madison and the surrounding area with the broadest selection of coatings for all concrete surfaces.
To put the years of experience and skilled Garage Flooring Solutions team to work on your project, call 608-630-8855 today and select the best epoxy finish for your garage floor in Madison WI.