What is Concrete Etching?

Concrete etching, also known as acid etching, is the process of roughening up the surface of concrete. It involves dousing the concrete with an acid and water solution, which strips away the top layer of concrete. This acid wash prepares the concrete’s surface by opening its pores, allowing the new coating to adhere well. 

There are a few ways to get a concrete surface ready, but acid cleaning your floor is the most economical. In addition to making the concrete surface rougher, which the coating can better “bite” into, the alkalinity of the concrete is reduced, further strengthening the coating’s attachment to the concrete. Coating concrete without first preparing it with acid or mechanical techniques might result in a weak paint bond that won’t hold up over time.

What's the difference between concrete etching and acid etching?

Etching concrete and acid etching are one and the same. It is a necessary process before coating concrete floors. Concrete etching provides a rougher surface for coating to grab onto, increasing the coating’s durability. Etching is necessary for the majority of concrete coatings, and should be performed regardless. If you want your epoxy concrete floor to survive for a long time, this is a crucial step.

concrete etching

Why is acid etching important?

Acid etching creates a textured surface that is visually pleasing and safe. Concrete is naturally porous, allowing for the absorption of liquids and gases. This can lead to deterioration over time if not treated with an epoxy coating or other protective finish. 

Acid etching creates a smooth surface, making it ideal for any application where you want to achieve maximum traction without sacrificing comfort. Countertops are one example: concrete is naturally rough, but when acid-etched, it becomes smooth and shiny.

Acid etching creates a level surface so that your flooring looks professionally installed. It also ensures that your floor is levelled.

Is concrete etching safe for my floors?

The simple answer is yes, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind. Concrete etching is safe for most floors that are structurally sound and were properly installed initially. But it’s not a good idea to use this technique on any floor that hasn’t been appropriately prepped beforehand.
best concrete etching

What is the process for concrete etching?

Concrete etching is a process that can be applied to concrete or masonry surfaces. The acid solution etches the surface, and exposing the aggregate beneath.

Concrete needs to be prepared before the application of the acid solution. This involves removing dirt and grease from the surface, then cleaning the surface with water. We recommend allowing it to dry before applying acid, but you can leave the surface completely wet as well.

If there is any sealant, paint, or staining on the concrete surface, this will need to be ground off before you can apply the acid for etching. If this is the case, you may need to call in a professional to handle the job.

Once preparation is complete, you’ll apply an acid-based chemical over your chosen area using a spray bottle or roller brush. There are many different types of acids available for this purpose.

Once applied, these chemicals will start eating away at your concrete surface until all that remains is a rough concrete surface. After the acid has done its work, wash down the surface. We recommend a light hose wash, then pressure washing the surface to achieve the best results.

Can I do my own concrete etching?

You can. But you should probably hire a professional instead. 

Concrete etching is a project that requires specialized training and equipment, as well as the ability to use chemicals safely. It’s not something you’d want to do on your garage floors with only the most basic of training and tools. Plus, if you’re working on an essential piece of architecture, there are risks involved with handling acid that can damage property and hurt people if they aren’t used correctly.

Acid etching vs. concrete grinding

Grinding

The smooth surface is ground away mechanically to reveal the unfinished concrete underneath. The floor is normally mechanically ground using an industrial grinder fitted with diamond grinding blocks or a personal grinder fitted with diamond discs. In order to produce the desired surface texture consistently, grinding is a useful technique since it allows for finer control over the profile of the ground material.

the bestest concrete etching
bestest concrete etching

Acid Etching

The top layer of a concrete floor may be removed via acid etching. If you’re planning a do-it-yourself job or installing fresh concrete, this procedure will do just fine to get the floor ready for a protective coating. Acid etching may, under ideal conditions, reveal the concrete’s pores, but it won’t get rid of typical stains like glues, caulks, mastics, and so on. If any of these chemicals have left a stain on your floor, you should clean the floor before attempting to remove the stain. 

Coating failure might occur if the wet concrete dust layer left behind after the etching process is not completely removed. Further, improper disposal of the acid may erode concrete, landscape features, turf, etc.

Can You Tell Me Which One Is the Best?

If you’re constructing your own garage floor but don’t have access to industrial grinders, acid etching may be the answer. However, we always advocate grinding prior to epoxy application for larger commercial work, aged concrete, or worn flooring. This is because there is a wide variety of a concrete, each with its own characteristics and limitations.

Depending on the surface, you may need to grind down the concrete anyway. And because you can achieve similar results to acid etching with concrete grinding, it might just be worth it to hire a concrete grinding specialist.

In order to produce a good surface profile that will last a lifetime, our team uses diamond grinders, employing a variety of grinding heads made specifically for different types of concrete surfaces. Although acid etching produces good results, it cannot compare to Ultra Grind’s precision grinding.

ultra grind

Choose Ultra Grind for Your Concrete Floors

Concrete grinding is a great way to prepare your concrete floors before sealing and coating. Ultra Grind’s team will work with you to create the perfect finish for your floor and have them ready in no time. Please let us know if we can help you restore the lustre to your concrete floors

We have been grinding concrete floors for over 30 years, and we’re proud to be a family-owned business that’s part of the community. We have a long list of satisfied customers, including many who come back to us repeatedly, reflecting our commitment to providing excellent service at reasonable prices. Call us today to learn more and get a quote for concrete grinding.