Concrete is a popular building material. It possesses properties of durability and cost effectiveness which have seen it widely adopted for a range of building projects. Bridges and even entire buildings can be created using concrete, but concrete isn't without problems as a construction material.

Some of the most serious problems faced by concrete structures are erosion, which leads the steel at the heart of reinforced concrete to rust, and the capacity of the concrete to absorb contaminants such as carbon dioxide and oil. These problems can lead to a shortening of the concrete's working life and the need for either expensive repairs or replacement of the material.

The solution

The most effective way to prevent the erosion of concrete and to stop the absorption of harmful elements is to apply a protective coating to the concrete. Protective coatings will stop the damage from occurring and ensure that the concrete enjoys the maximum possible working life before it must be replaced.

Which protective coating to choose

There are many concrete protective coatings available and you will have to choose the coating that is most appropriate for your location and structure. Most protective coatings designed for application to building structures are acrylics, urethanes/polyurethanes or epoxies. Each coating will perform a different function, so you will need to think about the particular stresses and challenges to which your concrete structure will be exposed before you select a coating. The protective properties offered vary from abrasion resistance to UV protection, so no single coating can cover all the possibilities.

Questions to ask before choosing a protective coating

  • What is the environment like surrounding this structure?

  • What weather conditions are predominate in this area?

  • Will this structure be subject to foot traffic or similar use?

Getting answers to these three questions should guide you in the right direction and help you locate the most suitable concrete protective coating. As a general rule urethane based coatings are applied to concrete surface that will experience foot traffic, and sometimes vehicle traffic while acrylic based protective coatings are used for areas without foot traffic, especially vertical surfaces.

How to apply a concrete protective coating

Concrete protective coatings can only be applied by trained professionals. To ensure that your concrete is correctly protected you will need to locate a company with the right level of knowledge and experience to apply the coating. If you have any doubts about the right protective coating for your concrete structure then they will be able to talk you through the options that are available, and guide you to the most suitable coating for your situation.