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Old 08-26-2008, 10:12 PM   #1
FunfDreisig
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Default Protecting a slab DURING construction?

What is the best method to protect a garage slab from both cosmetic and real damage during the construction phase?

Should I apply a sealer/protection now or wait until I get it dried in?

What kind of sealer/protection would keep future flooring options as wide as possible?

Background:
The slab for my 25x42' 3 bay garage has been curing for the last month while I worked on site prep (septic line repair and reinforcement, drainage improvements, etc.). During this time I have rarely even walked on the slab, let alone drove on it But now that I need to begin building the concrete block stem wall, framing, etc. it would be nice to use the Kubota's fork lift to move materials around. Of course this will lead to at least some cosmetic blemishes from tire scuffing etc., if I don't do something to protect the slab. FWIW I had the slab hard toweled because my plan was to keep a "natural" gray concrete look by applying a clear sealer. But I'd like to keep future flooring options as open as possible ( e.g. sealer, epoxy, tile, etc.).

Thanks in advance - Funf Dreisig

p.s. I searched but didn't find an answer. Please post a link if this has been answered previously.
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

You could cover the entire slab (or at least the portion you'll be working on) with masonite - probably wouldn't work so well when you start driving on it.

Another option is to get a set of tire covers for the forklift tires. On commercial jobs, we make contractors use non-marking tires or plastic wraps on the tires of lifts and other equipment that drives on our slabs. Makes finishing the floor easier down the road.

Something like this:

http://www.notiremarks.com/home.php
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:30 AM   #3
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

You could put down a good epoxy, one that will hold up and protect the substrate from the construction punishment.

It might take a few hits during that build out phase, but when things have settled down clean it up a bit (if needed, which it may not) and put down a final clear coat to get the nice high gloss look.

We have coatings in far more extreme environments that barely show any wear after months of 24/7 service, including forklift traffic.
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Old 08-27-2008, 06:26 AM   #4
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Either do the masonite overlay or something thicker like 1/2 inch OSB laid out. Or do nothing and address it later when you coat it (colored coating would hide better). The wood butcher carpenters in my neck of the wood seem to thick its ok to cut nail diagonal bracing for the walls straight to the slab - so hopefully you have had a good talking to your carpenters about protecting the slabs finish. I suspsect even if you manage to protect the floor perfectly, you will get some cracking in the slab which would marr your "clear floor" finish.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Sealers will likely interfere with epoxy or other coatings down the road. We spec the masonite panels in situations where we are doing stained concrete or other custom concrete work.
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:29 AM   #6
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Thanks for the quick replies guys!

A little more info. The Kubota is my tractor with a quick attach on the front end loader that allows me to swap between a normal bucket and a fork lift that can handle up to 3/4 ton. It just isn't cost effective to put non-marking tires, etc. on it. Besides I'll be driving on and off the slab to fetch materials off lumber trucks etc. So the tires will get dirty anyway.

I considered the masonite/OSB temp floor covering idea. But I've seen some disastrous results recently where the slab was permanently stained by the moisture/mildwew trapped under the material. This left the slab blotchy with very obvious "seams" where the sheets were taped together but the moisture escaped anyway leaving these lines un-blotched. Has anyone else seen similar problems? Is there an easy way to avoid this?

The slab is out in the open surrounded by live oaks that seem to shed leaves a twigs every time the wind blows. Is it practical to apply epoxy out in the open? How much time does an epoxy coating need to set up and avoid trapping debris in the finish?

FWIW I'm not so worried about hairline cracks etc. We have been in drought conditions since early this year. In the month since this 5.5" 4,000 PSI slab was placed, we have had at least 15 days at over 100 degrees (typically 104-5). I kept the slab covered in black plastic for the first week or so to help it cure more evenly. You can obviously see the wrinkles in the plastic and even the location of the #3 rebar 1' OC grid in the slab. OTH the areas over the 12"Wx24"D interior beams are "clear" even though the #3 rebar grid spans the entire slab and goes over the top of the steel in the beams. But in the end, I was unable to keep this slab wet enough, long enough, to avoid hairline cracks Besides they add character

This will be a working garage. 2 bays will be fully enclosed and house the lift, small mechanics workshop, storage for two cars in various states of restoration, etc. It would be nice to be able to wipe up fluids (e.g. oil, transmission fluid etc) before they stain the slab in this area. The 3rd bay will be for the Kubota and it's more expensive attachments when they aren't installed (e.g. the back-hoe). This bay will always have big grubby black tires running over it. So it may not be worth trying to keep the 3rd bay "new looking" very long

Thanks Again - Funf Dreisig
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Will you be using chips?
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:36 AM   #8
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by larry4406 View Post
... The wood butcher carpenters in my neck of the wood seem to thick its ok to cut nail diagonal bracing for the walls straight to the slab - so hopefully you have had a good talking to your carpenters about protecting the slabs finish...
Don't worry. I'll be sure to have a stern chat with the lead carpenter every morning... when I look in the mirror

Seriously, I'm still working out where/how to brace/rack some of the walls during framing.

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Old 08-27-2008, 09:39 AM   #9
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlphaGarage View Post
Will you be using chips?
I'm not sure what you mean. But I have already put down 4 cu yrds of cedar mulch to cover the job site between the drive and the slab (roughly 24'x42') to cut down on tracking mud etc.

Edit: i just did a search and realize you probably meant chips in the floor finish. Not wood chips on the job site

I hadn't planned on using anything more than a sealer now. So all the other flooring options are down the road (if ever). I'm just trying not to do something now that will preclude a better floor later.

Funf Dreisig

Last edited by FunfDreisig; 08-27-2008 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:42 AM   #10
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FunfDreisig View Post
I considered the masonite/OSB temp floor covering idea. But I've seen some disastrous results recently where the slab was permanently stained by the moisture/mildwew trapped under the material. This left the slab blotchy with very obvious "seams" where the sheets were taped together but the moisture escaped anyway leaving these lines un-blotched. Has anyone else seen similar problems? Is there an easy way to avoid this?
Put down a layer of poly under the masonite.
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:44 AM   #11
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

By chips I mean the decorative colored "flakes." Some folks like them because they help hide imperfections, they also mask dirt and grime allowing a bit more time between cleaning, and they can give the floor a sharp custom appearance.
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:59 PM   #12
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAToyota View Post
...We spec the masonite panels in situations where we are doing stained concrete or other custom concrete work.
Just curious, but do they really install the masonite panels BEFORE they dry in the structure?

FWIW I'm beginning to believe that this a one of those dirty little garage flooring secrets? Few (if any) here have actually protected their slab until AFTER the structure was dried in? And then they laid on the high cost floor coverings, which OBTW happen to cover up the bobos during construction

Funf Dreisig

Last edited by FunfDreisig; 08-27-2008 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 08-27-2008, 11:56 PM   #13
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

I just put a very large tarp over my concrete to protect it form the drywall people and from painting which I did.
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Old 08-28-2008, 12:22 AM   #14
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FunfDreisig View Post
A little more info. The Kubota is my tractor with a quick attach on the front end loader that allows me to swap between a normal bucket and a fork lift that can handle up to 3/4 ton. It just isn't cost effective to put non-marking tires, etc. on it. Besides I'll be driving on and off the slab to fetch materials off lumber trucks etc. So the tires will get dirty anyway.
That's exactly why our contractor is using the non-marking wraps on the tires of the man and fork lifts while he's working on the slabs of our two projects. Doesn't matter if he drives outside or in because dirt isn't really the main problem. It washes off relatively easily. It's the black tire marks that create problems down the road - only way to get rid of them is to just let them wear away naturally.

According to one of our industrial clients, there isn't really such a thing as a non marking tire. Since the tires are off white or gray and the concrete is gray, you just don't see the light colored tread marks left behind.
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:34 AM   #15
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FunfDreisig View Post
Just curious, but do they really install the masonite panels BEFORE they dry in the structure?

FWIW I'm beginning to believe that this a one of those dirty little garage flooring secrets? Few (if any) here have actually protected their slab until AFTER the structure was dried in?
Typically, the floor gets poured after the structure is dried in...
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Old 08-28-2008, 09:01 PM   #16
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

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Typically, the floor gets poured after the structure is dried in...
Maybe up north But here in the southern parts of the USA most slabs are placed PRIOR to any structural framing, etc. In fact, most "slabs" down here ARE the entire foundation, incorporating the "floor" and the structural beams. So all of the framing, shear panels, roof structure (rafters or trusses), and roof deck etc. are installed AFTER the slab. Hence my original question of how to protect a "slab" DURING construction, which down here includes the process of drying in the structure.

FWIW I just replaced the temporary OSB deck on the cabin with Brazilian hard wood. So I now have several hundred sq ft of used OSB. I'll probably just cover the slab with 6 mil poly and build walk ways and driveways out of the used OSB to handle the areas with the heaviest traffic.

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Old 08-29-2008, 08:56 AM   #17
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

We do the slabs after for a variety of reasons. As you state, with frost lines we need to do a separate foundation and stem wall. But the other advantages are that you have the space enclosed and can better control the concrete cure and you don't have to protect the slab during much of the construction.
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Old 08-29-2008, 10:42 AM   #18
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

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We do the slabs after for a variety of reasons. As you state, with frost lines we need to do a separate foundation and stem wall. But the other advantages are that you have the space enclosed and can better control the concrete cure and you don't have to protect the slab during much of the construction.
Except when everything is running behind schedule and pouring the slab is the only activity that can take place.

I have two pre-engineered steel maintenance buildings going up for a client now where we had to pour slabs a few weeks ahead of getting structural steel. Oh, the joys of working with incompetent contractors who can't order material on time.
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Old 08-29-2008, 03:29 PM   #19
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

go to the local home depot, lowes or other big box store and you will see a polished concrete floor that stands up to lots of abuse.

I recomend the route of polishing the concrete and then sealing it. if you want a shine you can go to a finer polish and even wax the floor.
the polished concrete holds up to the wheels and traffic very well

bob
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Old 08-29-2008, 04:22 PM   #20
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Default Re: Protecting a slab DURING construction?

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go to the local home depot, lowes or other big box store and you will see a polished concrete floor that stands up to lots of abuse.

I recomend the route of polishing the concrete and then sealing it. if you want a shine you can go to a finer polish and even wax the floor.
the polished concrete holds up to the wheels and traffic very well

bob
That was my original plan. I like the look of polished concrete. I just need to protect it until I get the garage dried in enough to work on the "floor".

Has anyone polished/sealed the slab/floor of their garage prior to drying in the structure?

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