Epoxy application - bad application habits
I talk a lot about the right habits, but what about the bad ones? Identifying the things you do that aren’t particularly helpful is a logical first step on the road to better practices, so let’s take a quick look at these.
First of all, I believe good habits come from proper education and strong mentoring right from day one. If no one shows you how to do something properly and set the right standard, you’ll naturally do what you think is the easiest, quickest or cheapest. If you get away with it, you’ll probably just repeat it until you inevitably pay the price (and it’s often a hefty one at that).
With that in mind, I thought I’d play my part and pass on some pearls of wisdom to help you avoid the pain bad application habits can lead to. The items below are what can be seen as the pound-for-pound champions of bad habits - five simple things I feel don’t get enough attention and lead to very common, very avoidable problems. Cut these out of your business and I guarantee you’ll notice the difference!
Sampleboards are the ultimate application tool, yet in my experience very few contractors ever get into the very rewarding habit of doing them.
Why are they so valuable?
For starters, they represent the perfect proving ground for the products you use. To be honest, I’m still amazed at the willingness of contractors to learn on the job and I get calls all the time from guys in the field looking for advice because they’re in trouble. They’ve been handed a new product and jumped straight into application without testing it for themselves; without proving what the manufacturer told them; without getting a feel for how it behaves in the pot or on the floor; without making sure the system they’ve put together actually works. It’s such a big gamble!
Once a sampleboard has been done and confidence in the product established, the next phase of their value kicks in. This time, it’s all about the client. While it sounds obvious, I’ve learnt the hard way that your average Joe is not an expert and you can’t expect them to know exactly what the finish will look like. If they don’t get a chance to see a sampleboard before work begins, they could easily have some unrealistic vision in their mind and that can spell trouble. This also includes industrial work because although these jobs are fundamentally about performance, you can’t assume aesthetics won’t be an issue if they don’t meet expectations.
Budget roller covers
I understand that cutting costs in business is often a good thing, but in my opinion contractors simply can’t afford to be skimping when it comes to roller covers. I’ve lost count of how many floors I’ve seen ruined by loose fibres and the poor contractor has had no choice but to put down an extra coat in order to rectify it. Such a costly exercise could’ve easily been avoided if they’d been prepared to pay for roller covers with much better fibre retention. It’s such a small cost in the overall scheme of things!
If using budget roller covers can’t be avoided, consider only using them for basecoats and de-lint thoroughly by wrapping the roller in masking tape and removing. Repeat this process, fluffing the roller cover in between until there are no fibres visible on the back of the tape. If that sounds like hard work, you can give them a wash in a washing machine instead (with no detergent of course).
Sanding concrete is not what I would call preparation; neither is sweeping or hosing. You may be lucky and get away with poor preparation in some instances because the conditions are favourable, but statistically the odds are against you. The ironic thing is that you actually don't save any time or money by taking shortcuts with preparation. Most people quote to do a job once, so if your preparation isn’t up to scratch you’ll just end up blowing your profits in call backs.
Adding solvent to extend coverage
Trying to save a few dollars by diluting your product and stretching out a “skinny” coat isn't a good idea. There might be situations that genuinely benefit from adding solvent, such as better penetration for sealing applications or easier handling in the cold, however adding solvent just because you’re trying to make it go 10-20% further is crazy. Quote to do the job once, with the right products applied at the right film thicknesses, and you'll reap the rewards.
Starting early and rushing
This is pet peeve of mine because no matter how many times I say it, I still get ignored! Put simply, if you want the best possible finish on your job then you should aim to be applying in the afternoon and not the morning. If you apply in the morning when the concrete is starting to warm and the air is starting to expand, you’re increasing the risk of developing bubbles and blow holes in the film. I get that busy schedules and access issues don’t always allow this to happen, but if you’ve only got one job on for the day then you probably don’t have an excuse.
On a similar note to the scheduling of your work is rushing. With flooring in particular, the exit point is the most critical because it’s usually the spot your client sees first. If you have rushed it, spread it thin or not taken care in other ways, it will show and leave a very poor first impression. Take your time and be sure you have enough product and patience to get out the door with a great finish.
I hope the majority of these bad application habits don't apply to you. If they do then take heart that it's never too late to make a change for the better. In the next post I’ll deal with the other side of the coin - some of the best simple habits I believe have a big impact.
Take care and keep smiling,Jack