Painted floor markings can be an effective way to convey a message within a facility. In the even that you no longer need these markings or you want to make adjustments to them, however, you may run into trouble. This is because removing painted floor markings can be surprisingly difficult. Whether you’re looking to get the paint up throughout your facility or just in one area, make sure you read the following information, tips and tricks to help you get the best results.
Why is Paint Hard to Remove?
The first thing to understand is why paint is so difficult to remove from the floors of most facilities. In most cases it is because it is applied to some type of concrete, which is porous. When applied, the paint actually seeps into the tiny holes in the flooring and seals itself in. This makes it very hard, if not impossible, to just scrape the paint away when it is no longer needed.
In most cases the paint will have been in place for many years before it needs to be replaced. This means that it has completely dried and hardened so that it is almost one with the concrete floor itself. While you can remove the paint, you’ll run into a variety of issues.
Scraping Paint from Flooring
When attempting to remove painted floor markings many companies start by trying to scrape the paint up. This is an especially common practice on smooth concrete floors since you can often get a blade under the layer of paint to effectively chip it away.
Unfortunately, the paint has often soaked slightly into the concrete itself. This means that while you can get most of the paint up, the floor will still have at least a tint of the color of the paint. In some areas the color of the paint may continue to show through quite clearly. For this reason, attempting to scrape away painted floor markings on concrete surfaces is typically not recommended.
Sanding Paint from Flooring
When scraping won’t work, many people will attempt to sand the floor to get rid of the paint. This can be a much more effective option since it will actually remove the top layer of the concrete, which is where the paint has soaked into. In most cases the amount of concrete you have to sand away will not cause a noticeable change in the floor.
There are, however, several potential problems associated with sanding the paint off of a concrete floor. Before staring any project make sure you consider these issues:
Concrete Dust – When sanding an area you will generate a significant amount of dust from the concrete. This dust can be very harmful to people in the area so you’ll need to make sure everyone is out of the facility before beginning. Providing those doing the work with proper respiratory gear is also essential.
Discoloration – When completed the area that was sanded will have a very different color than the surrounding area. This is because you’ll have not only removed the paint from the floor but also any stain, sealant and general wear that takes place over the years. In most cases this will result in a very white color where the paint was. This may or may not be more noticeable than the paint markings themselves.
Time Consuming – Due to the durability of the concrete flooring it can take quite some time to sand away all the paint markings.
Costly – You will need a high quality sander with very strong sanding drums to remove the paint and concrete. If you purchase the machine it can cost thousands of dollars.
Blasting the Painted Markings
One last option that can be effective is called soda blasting. This is similar to sand blasting but uses baking soda rather than sand so it doesn’t damage the concrete. For many facilities this is the ideal way to remove unwanted paint from concrete floors. Like sanding, however, it can be time consuming and costly.
Soda blasting uses a lot of baking soda and will cause the soda and paint chips to be pushed up into the air. For this reason, the facility must be shut down while the job is done. In most states you will need to hire someone who is licensed to operate a soda blasting machine like this as well, so make sure you keep that in mind when planning.
Of all the options listed in this post, this one will leave the concrete looking the best. Unfortunately, you will still have a discoloration wherever the paint was located after the soda blasting has been completed. If you don’t want that discoloration you may need to redo the entire floor.
Using Chemical Paint Removers
There are many different types of chemicals that can effectively remove the paint on your floor. These chemicals can cause the paint to loosen and dissolve into the chemical so it can be cleaned up. The problem, however, is that these chemicals will also remove any sealer or stain that has been applied to the concrete.
Once you remove all the paint you will be left with an area that has a significantly different look than the areas surrounding where the paint was. While this may be an improvement depending on your goal, it still doesn’t look like it should. If you opt to go with a chemical paint remover you may end up having to re-stain the entire concrete floor. This can be a lot of work. To get proper coverage you may need multiple applications.
Redo the Entire Floor
If you want to get your facilities floor looking perfect after removing painted floor markings, you will need to recover the entire floor. This is typically done using a high quality concrete stain or sealant. These products will cover up any ‘ghost’ images from where you removed the old paint so that you can have a nice, even colored floor when you are done. To redo the entire floor, however, you will need to ensure you follow these steps:
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Proper Cleaning – When resealing or staining a concrete floor you will need to have the entire area completely cleaned. This means removing any dust or debris and then washing the floor so that the new stain or sealant will properly adhere to the floor.
Applying the Product – Once the floor is completely clean, you can apply the sealant or stain to the concrete. It is best to start in one corner of the facility and apply it to the entire floor from there so you don’t accidently step on places that were already done.
Allow the Product to Dry – Finally, you need to keep everyone out of the facility until the sealant or stain has completely dried. The best bet is to give it at least 24 full hours so the whole facility will be dried. This will also ensure nobody is exposed to the fumes from the sealant or stain.
Redoing the entire floor can be quite time consuming and costly, but if you need the concrete flooring to look like new again, this is the only option. Many facilities will hire a professional cleaning and staining company to come in and handle it since it will require some special equipment and a skilled hand to make sure it is all done properly.
Always Test in an Unseen Area
No matter which method of removing painted floor markings you choose to try, make sure you start in an out of the way area. This is primarily important if you are concerned with how the floor will look when you are finished.
The best thing you can do is find a corner or an area behind machinery that has floor paint already on it. You can then attempt to remove it using the desired method and see how it looks. If you find that the results are to your liking, you can continue on with removing the paint throughout your facility. If, on the other hand, you don’t like the way it looks when you’re done, at least it will be in an area that is not often seen.
Avoid this Issue in the Future
One of the biggest mistakes people make when removing painted floor markings in a facility is going back and applying new painted markings. They may need new lines or symbols due to changes or updates in the facility and not realize that there are alternative marking options available.
The ideal option is to use floor marking tape for whatever type of markings you happen to need. This type of tape is very durable and will provide you with all the benefits of paint, but without the problems associated with removing it. You can use normal tape for straight lines, or order special shapes or symbols to convey a clear message.