Why Getting Rid of Your Floor’s Latent Layer is a Critical First Step in Adding Floor Coating

Concrete floors have layers. Whether it’s the slab of your home’s garage or the concrete under your carpet and tile, concrete floors are more than just a single layer of concrete. Many homes have a layer of insulation and damp-proof membrane below the concrete itself to separate the infill from the concrete and to prevent moisture from seeping through the underside of your floor.  Above the concrete are the screed layer and then, inside your home, the floor level of tile, wood, carpet, or vinyl. Even the concrete itself has internal layers, and the topmost layer, called the latent layer, has a significant impact on the durability and strength of the concrete.

What is the latent layer in your concrete?

The latent layer is created during the curing period of a concrete slab. Concrete is a liquid when it is initially poured, and as the moisture within the compound evaporates, the material settles and hardens. That process strengthens the concrete and creates wide pores. However, the moisture is driven up into a new layer one-sixteenth inch thick along the top of the concrete slab. This latent layer is weaker than the remainder of the concrete.

Why should the latent layer be removed before any flooring renovations?

The latent layer is weak and poorly connected to the underlying main aggregate layer of the floor. This layer also faces the highest accumulations of contaminants such as oils and chemicals. If your car leaks in your garage, the grease and fluids can seep into the concrete but usually only penetrate the latent layer. The same hazard exists for chemical spills, oil from equipment maintenance, and paint stains. The latent layer is also home to the majority of hairline cracks, crumbling corners, and worn edges. Removing the damaged surface layer gives you a better, more level, and more solid starting point for refinishing your garage.

Because of the layers minimal pores, it is also removed during professional floor coating applications so the flooring compounds can access the porous underlayer. The coating adheres to the coarser substrate underneath this layer and fuses tightly to the surface for a longer-lasting, more durable coating. 

How is the latent layer removed without damaging the underlying concrete or surrounding materials?

PolyTek Surface Coatings uses a process called shotblasting to remove the latent layer with precision. The equipment propels blast media, such as small metal shots, at the top layer of the concrete at a high velocity by a rapidly rotating blast wheel. The blast media chips away at only the weakest portions of the floor and removes not only the weakened concrete layer, but concrete chips, dust and dirt, dried contaminants and chemicals, and any deteriorations. The process leaves behind the stronger, more porous substrate that makes a perfect base for your floor coating.

What other layers are involved in your garage floor coating?

Depending on which system of floor coating you choose for your renovation, each floor coating is made of a varying number of layers. The chip style is made of three durable layers that act together to keep your underlying concrete protected and the floor as a whole durable against physical and chemical damage for years: the solid base coat, a layer of blended flakes, and the polyaspartic polyurea topcoat, which is the heavy-duty layer of protective coating. The number of layers can increase, especially in the case of quartz flooring which has a solid base coat, doubled layers of quartz, a strong binding layer, and the sealing topcoat. No matter which flooring style you select, your garage floor will have layers and layers of protection.

Hiring a professional to install a floor coating in your garage does more than add a protective sealant; it removes the weak latent layer in the material, blasts away blemishes and chemicals, and leaves your garage with a multi-layered system of vibrantly colored flooring that can stand up to chemicals, UV damage, and physical impact. Go to PolyTek Surface Coatings to learn more.