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Etch n' Clean Application Instructions

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No matter how new OR clean the concrete is, it will need a rough textured surface in order to achieve maximum epoxy adhesion. The rougher the better. There are many ways to etch (or roughen) the surface of the concrete: Acid Etching (using muriatic acid or our etch n' clean solution), Grinding the surface with a Floor Grinder/Scarifier, or Shot Blasting. PROPERLY ETCHING THE CONCRETE IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF APPLYING AN EPOXY FLOOR SYSTEM. The key here is to open up the pores of the concrete so the epoxy has something to sink into. If the concrete is trowelled to a glass-like finish you may have to etch multiple times to get the surface to the right texture. In the case where you will need to etch the concrete again, Muriatic Acid is a more aggressive acid that should be considered. Though much less user-friendly than our etch n' clean (note: it does not have a cleaning agent so we advise using the Etch N' Clean prior to Muriatic Acid). If you wish you use the Muriatic Acid please use with caution. Follow the tutorial below:
Download a PDF file of etching concrete using MURIATIC ACID here. (283kb)pdf logo

Concrete floors require preparation before applying epoxy coating system. The preparation usually involves cleaning the surface to remove oil and other unwanted contaminants then "profiling" the concrete by etching with acid or by mechanical abrasion (ie;shot-blasting or etching with a diamond grinder). If the concrete is new or does not have heavy oil contamination it still needs to be etched. Etching / Roughening the concrete will provide proper epoxy adhesion. The Original Color Chips Floor Coating System Etch 'n Clean will provide both the cleaning and the profiling in one operation.

New concrete may have been treated with a sealer (ie:"cure & seal") to provide resistance to water. Etch 'n Clean will NOT properly etch a sealed floor. However, if the concrete is very old, there could be a possibility the sealer has 'worn off'. You can pour water on the concrete to see if it soaks in to test.

If the concrete has been steel-trowelled, the surface will be very smooth. This finishing technique works fine cement particles to the surface creating a very hard, dense finish. Steel-trowelled floors may require multiple applications to achieve the desired profile.

  • Plastic sprinkling can or 3 gallon plastic garden sprayer
  • Push broom with stiff bristles (natural or synthetic)
  • Water for rinsing (hose with high pressure)
Optional Equipment
  • Long-handled squeegee
  • Wet-dry Vacuum
Usage Tips
  • Work in 10'x10' sections. Working in larger sections may prevent rinsing before the solution begins to dry resulting in white powdery residue.
  • If available, use the squeegee or wet-dry vac to remove the etching solution before rinsing.
  • Do not apply the solution with a mop. Mopping smears the solution over the surface and does not apply enough solution uniformly for effective etching.
  • We recommend using a stiff bristle broom and scrubbing the pores of the concrete as you pour out the solution.
  • Dampen a 10'x10' section. A little water on the surface helps activate the etching solution.
  • Apply the Etch 'n Clean solution so that a uniform film covers the section to be treated.
  • Allow 5 minutes contact time.
  • Using a stiff-bristled push broom, scrub the solution into the floor working in one direction and then scrub across the surface at 90� to the first direction.
  • Allow the solution to remain on the surface for an additional 2-5 minutes.
  • Saturate the surface with water to neutralize the acid. If available, use a squeegee to remove the etching solution before rinsing. Otherwise, rinse using plenty of water. Scrub the surface while rinsing to insure complete removal of the etching solution. If you have a pressure washer use it to thoroughly rinse the surface.
  • Move to an adjacent area and repeat the process.
  • A white haze, white streaks or white, powdery dust on the surface after drying is caused by waiting too long before rinsing or by inadequate rinsing. The white powder is a combination of cement particles released from the surface and a precipitate byproduct of the etching reaction, insoluble calcium phosphate. Remove as much as possible by sweeping , scraping or vacuuming. A light dusting typically will not show through a clear coating and will not affect adhesion.
  • Look for areas on the treated surface that are darker or shinier than the rest of the treated surface. Water beading or breaking on these areas signal that the surface is not ready for the coating application and should be treated again.
  • If water soaks into the treated surface without beading or breaking and the surface has the degree of profile specified by the coating manufacturer, the surface is ready for the coating application.
  • Neutralizing the surface after etching is not required because Etch 'n Clean is self-neutralizing. Once the bubbling stops, the remaining mildly acidic solution is easily removed by thorough rinsing.