Acid Etching vs Grinding

Should I Acid Etch or Grind My Garage Floor?

You want your concrete floor coating to last long time, and that means your floors must be prepped correctly.  Proper preparation includes opening up the pores of the concrete in order to ensure a bond forms between the floor coating, and the exposed concrete. The number one cause of floor failure is insufficient preparation, leading to a poor bond, and a peeling floor.

Whether old or newly poured, all concrete needs to be opened to have the pores exposed and an ideal texture created for the floor coating to bond to.  This process is called profiling.

There are two different ways of profiling the surface of your concrete.  The first is by mechanically grinding the surface, to remove the smooth top layer, exposing raw concrete beneath.  The second method is called acid etching and involves applying acid to eat through and remove the top surface of the concrete floor, essentially achieving the same results as grinding.

Acid versus Grinding

Many homeowners wonder if acid etching is good enough to prepare the concrete for the application of protective floor coating, particularly if they are thinking about a DIY project.  After all, it’s much easier, involves no dust, and provides at least some profiling of the floor, unlike pressure washing.

Under ideal circumstances, acid etching works to expose the pores of the concrete.  However, acid etching won’t remove glues, mastics, caulk, and common stains,  If your floor is marred or stained by these substances, you’ll need to resort to grinding at least part of your floor.

Grinding allows for a more effective profiling of the floor and puts you completely in charge of the floor’s profile–allowing you to not only expose fresh concrete, but also to level off uneven areas that could have occurred as the foundation settled.  Grinding, however, requires expensive equipment and, if not done correctly, can leave gouge marks and uneven areas in your floor.  We recommend hiring a professional floor coating company to perform a grind on your concrete surface to ensure a consistent, well profiled surface.

Is Acid Etching as Effective as Grinding?

In our experience, the simple answer is no. While acid etching is better than doing nothing to profile the concrete, it simple does not work as well as a floor grind. There are a wide range of concrete types, varying in composition, hardness levels, and texture–meaning there isn’t a one size fits all solution. Diamond grinders can utilize a variety of grinding heads designed to account for these variations in concrete surfaces, ensuring that you get a proper surface profile and a floor coating that lasts a lifetime.

Many of our customers are do-it-yourselfers who attempted an acid etch floor coating that later peeled off. Acid etching it off the shelf products can look great when they are first applied, but generally they will begin fading or peeling within a year with significant degradation often following quickly.

Go With Professional Flooring Installation

If you’ve contracted with a professional service to apply your polyurea coating, they’ll do all of the prep work and see to it the application of your new floor coating is a success.  At White Rabbit, we’re so sure of our process, we warranty all of our interior residential floor coatings for life. Contact White Rabbit and don’t worry about making sure the prep work is done correctly. Our methods go beyond “good enough”.