13 February 2018
Concrete Cleaning
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3 Reasons Why Acid Etching Is No Longer Suitable for Concrete Preparation

Author: David Belliveau

When concrete is being prepped, the biggest concern is making sure its longevity is long and will be easy to maintain. That said, you want to make sure that the floor is clean and does not have any issues with contaminants as well as laitance ruining the concrete in any way at all.

If you are unsure about what laitance happens to mean, that is when the fine particles of lime, cement dust, and sand accumulate and turn into a creamy-like substance on the concrete which is caused by too much water that is leaking out onto the surface. If that happens too often, the life of the concrete shortens!

The way that laitance was prevented was through a process called acid etching which was used for years as a method of concrete preparation. Commercial, institutional, industrial floor coating installed used acid etching until it was discovered that this way of concrete preparation had so many hidden dangers.

Before the dangers of acid etching are discussed, if you are unsure of what it entails, it is the process of applying hydrochloric, muriatic or buffered phosphoric acid to a concrete slab before rising it off with water. There are three main reasons why this method must no longer be used.

  1. Acid Etching Can Be Damaging To the Concrete. You must be wondering why this method was used for concrete preparation if it is damaging, but the fact of the matter is, when this is done too much, it will cause problems. Over-etching can actually create more pours inside of the slabs, which means more water can easily enter into it and create even more damage to the concrete. If the purpose of this method is to increase the longevity of concrete, it defeats the purpose if it is done too much.
  2. Results Are Not Consistent. Even though acid etching is supposed to remove laitance, it does not remove anything else such as oily substances and other contaminants which can also be just as damaging to concrete as laitance.
  3. Etching Can Be a Hazard to Humans And To the Environment. Think about being in contact with any kind of acid! You know what kind of dangers you could be potentially facing. That said, it can certainly cause injuries such as chemical burns. Not to mention, inhaling the fumes can be quite dangerous as well.

Even though clean rinse water is poured onto the floor after the etching has been done to help neutralize the acid to a certain degree, it is still not completely safe. That said, local and federal agencies have created restrictions on not allowing the solution being entered into the floor drains because of it is hazardous to people, animals and the environment as a whole.

Therefore, because it is quite known that acid etching is not safe, safer and eco-friendlier concrete preparation methods are used more and more. This way, the concrete floor will have a long life, and there will be no worries as far as being in contact with any acid at all.There are no concerns about inhaling potentially dangerous fumes either. Safety for people, animals, and the environment is the first priority, as well as keeping the concrete floors healthy and around for a long time!

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