Etching is an important part of the concrete preparation process. It gives the surface teeth to adhere to, allowing your paint to stick for a longer period. Most concrete paints require etching, but even if they don’t, it’s a good idea to do it anyhow. If you want a long-lasting painted concrete floor, don’t neglect this step.
The procedure of applying an acid and water solution to a concrete floor to roughen the surface of the concrete is known as concrete etching. The acid wash opens pores in the concrete, ensuring that the fresh coating adheres well to its surface.
Acid etching is the process of removing the top layer of a concrete floor with acid. This procedure is enough for preparing the floor for protective coating application, especially if you are considering a DIY project or new concrete.
Under ideal conditions, acid etching can expose the concrete pores, but it won’t remove glues, caulks, mastics, or other typical stains. If any of these substances have left a stain on your floor, you will need to clean it first.
Mechanical grinding removes the smooth top layer of concrete to reveal the rough concrete beneath. For mechanically grinding the floor surface, an industrial grinder with diamond grinding blocks or a hand grinder with diamond discs is commonly utilized.
Grinding makes regulating the surface profile easier, as well as ensuring a consistent outcome for achieving the desired texture.
Why you should go with acid etching instead of grinding?
For people who are installing a garage floor themselves and do not have access to industrial grinders, acid etching is a perfect answer. However, we usually advocate grinding before epoxy installation for larger commercial work, older concrete, or worn flooring.
This is because different types of concrete have distinct compositions, textures, and hardness levels. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Preparation for Acid Etching on Concrete
Remove all of the furniture and equipment from the room. Anything that needs to stay in the room should be covered with plastic sheeting to keep the acid from spilling on it. Before beginning the acid wash, be sure to remove all dust, debris, oils, and filth from the concrete’s surface. A patch of oil or a speck of debris can act as acid resistance, preventing etching in that location and resulting in an uneven concrete surface.
Tips for Success:
- Wear safety goggles, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and shoes with a closed toe.
- Avoid inhaling fumes and wear a face mask respirator.
- POUR THE ACID INTO THE WATER, NOT THE WATER INTO THE ACID.
- pH levels should be between 6.0 and 9.0 before adding a sealant or coating. If the range is less than 6.0, acid residue may still be present in the concrete pores.
- Protect anything you don’t want to get wet using a plastic drop cloth.
- If the temperature is below 50 degrees F, don’t acid etch.
- Before applying a concrete sealer or finish, check sure the floor has dried completely.
Types of Acids for Etching Concrete
Alternative products created specifically for etching concrete are available on the market. Some contain a combination of chemicals, such as muriatic acid and phosphoric acid, whereas others contain only very weak non-toxic acids.
These specialty chemicals are a safer alternative to muriatic or hydrochloric acid because they emit fewer fumes and some goods may not require neutralization due to their eco-friendliness.
However, they can be more expensive and ineffective in some cases. Let’s have a look at the several sorts of acids that may be used to etch concrete.
The most frequent and effective acid for etching concrete is muriatic acid. A muriatic acid is an unrefined form of hydrochloric acid that has a distinctive yellow tint due to its high iron content.
It’s a strong acid that’s used to remove rust and extra mortar from masonry, but it can also eat through fabrics and corrode most metals. It can burn your skin, and inhaling the unpleasant fumes can harm your lungs and nasal passages.
Hydrochloric acid is used to produce steel, treat swimming pools, and manufacture batteries, in addition to being found in gastric acid (also known as stomach acid). Concrete etching can also be done with hydrochloric acid. Because it is just as potent as muriatic acid, it should be handled with the same caution.
Phosphoric acid is a weak acid that is commonly used as a food additive and can be found in household cleaning detergents. Muriatic acid and hydrochloric acid are significantly more dangerous to work with. The disadvantage is that it is not generally available and is more expensive, in addition to being less effective.
Citrus fruit contains citric acid, which is commonly used in the food processing sector. It takes longer to etch the surface of the concrete since it is a weak acid with a longer reaction time than muriatic acid or hydrochloric acid. It is safe to use and requires less protective equipment than phosphoric acid, albeit it does come at a higher cost.
Concrete Etching Product Suggestions
Rust-Clean Oleum’s & Etch for concrete comes highly recommended as a hassle-free and safer alternative to the above-mentioned chemicals. This is a specialist product that is made to be used in DIY projects with simplicity.
1. Rust-Oleum Concrete Etch 2 Gl
Rust-Oleum Clean & Etch is a product that is specifically designed to etch and clean concrete. From garage floors, driveways, basements, and patios, Rust-Oleum’s Clean & Etch offers a safe, two-in-one option that does not require you to neutralize any acid after etching. It is environmentally friendly and safe to use around plants and lawns. The formula does not contain dangerous chemicals or noxious fumes. One gallon of Rust-Oleum’s Clean & Etch will clean and etch up to 500 square feet of concrete.
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