Driveways can be subjected to temperature extremes, the deleterious effects of ultraviolet light from the sun, aggressive deicing chemicals and tires that abrade as they rotate and make turns. Neither concrete nor asphalt surfaces keep an as-new appearance very long. Coating with an epoxy compound can improve appearance and extend driveway life considerably. One-part and two-part epoxy comparisons are largely relative to the expected degree of use.
Preparation procedures are the same for both one- and two-part products: Leave new concrete or asphalt to cure for at least 30 days. Remove any old paint; floor scrapers are normally available for rent from home improvement warehouses. Remove all sealers with a 30 percent solution of muriatic acid, then neutralize the acid with trisodium phosphate powder. Degrease oil spills, then thoroughly wash the floor -- ideally with a pressure washer -- and acid-etch the concrete to promote adhesion. Allow the concrete to dry completely before proceeding.
Applications and Limitations
Epoxies can only be used on level substrates; they will pond toward the low point on sloping floors and do not adhere to walls. Some poured concrete floors have fiberglass fibers mixed in -- called “kitty hair” in the industry -- to add strength and increase resistance to surface cracking. It is not recommended that epoxies be used on fiberglass-reinforced concrete. Epoxies are available in a range of colors; light colors reflect light better than dark, which is particularly a consideration in workshops.
One-part epoxy is a floor paint that has been specially formulated to resist mild marring from tire treads, infrequent chemicals spills -- including gasoline -- and staining by oil. It is for use only on home and hobbyist driveways, will not do well where forklift trucks are used and dries to a satin finish. No mixing is required; one-part epoxy is used directly from its delivery container. Although more convenient to apply, one-part epoxy does not adhere as well to the substrate as two-part products.
Multipart products must be mixed before use; they dry and cure through a chemical reaction, rather than through dehydration as do normal paints. Some professional installers roll out a coat of one component, then roll the second component over the top; this is strongly discouraged. Proper mixing is unlikely to take place. The two components should be mixed according to manufacturer’s directions in a metal vessel prior to application. Two-part epoxy typically dries to a high gloss and is ideal for use on driveways that see a lot of heavy use. These locations include driveways leading to showrooms, garages and service areas; light- to medium-duty workshops; light-aircraft hangars; and warehouses where only light forklift traffic is anticipated.
Three-part epoxy is available for driveways where heavy rubber- or steel-wheel traffic is anticipated and where chemical spills are likely. It is commonly used for industrial work spaces where heavy objects could be dropped and for hangars that accommodate large aircraft.
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