You may want to remove your site’s pristine epoxy floors because you’d prefer a different finish. Or, maybe the epoxy’s a few decades old, and your entire floor looks dated and grungy. Either way, you’re looking to learn how to remove epoxy from concrete.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly how to do that. But let us be clear: this is not a step-by-step guide. Epoxy floors are designed for extreme durability, and they’re just as valued as industrial and manufacturing floors as they are a suburban home’s garage floor. But it’s that same durability that makes removing epoxy paint such a challenge.
There are two ways to strip the epoxy floor coating off your concrete floors:
- Mechanically, using a floor grinder; or
- Chemically, using an epoxy paint thinner
Here, we’ll explain both methods. You’ll soon see that neither technique is easy nor safe enough for a layman DIYer to do themselves. To protect yourself and others, not to mention your floors and space, it’s best to get in touch with a professional.
If you’d like to learn more about epoxy flooring, contact Policrete’s specialists for a friendly, no-obligation chat. As Melbourne's first and foremost concrete specialist, we’ve got the experience to discover your perfect solution.
The risks involved
Safety first, always.
Whether you choose mechanical grinding or chemical stripping to remove the epoxy coatings off your concrete floors, you will generate copious amounts of hazardous waste. This waste can come in the form of room-filling clouds of epoxy dust, which can be inhaled by your, your loved ones, your staff or your customers and cause severe lung damage. Or, it could come in the form of caustic chemical fumes that can burn the skin and eyes.
Aside from the damage improper epoxy removal can inflict on people, the debris kicked up can also damage the surrounding space, ruining your home’s furniture, your store’s products or your garage’s equipment.
[feature_link]Removing epoxy paint from concrete without proper safety equipment can severely impact your health. It’s a process best left to the professionals.[/feature_link]
How to remove epoxy from a concrete floor
Removing epoxy through mechanical grinding
Grinding is our preferred method for removing old, hardened epoxy coatings from concrete floors. It’s highly effective, affords us the control we need, and we have the experience and equipment to do it quickly and safely.
Choosing the right grinding equipment
Grinding epoxy is a gradual and meticulous process. The person doing the job needs to be extremely careful not to damage the concrete substrate beneath, or to overtax and damage the equipment.
At Policrete, we use Husqvarna floor grinders. These cutting-edge grinders are equipped with multiple grinding disks, making them extremely effective and precise. They allow our team to tackle floors in all industrial, commercial and residential settings with ease.
Preparing the area
Before the grinding can begin, the area must be fully cleared of anything that could be damaged during the epoxy removal process. All cabinets, doors and windows will also need to be temporarily sealed to prevent debris from spreading.
Naturally, the floor will also have to be cleared. Any other flooring types (such as carpet, wood or vinyl) will either have to be removed or properly protected to prevent them from being damaged.
Ventilation solutions will also need to be brought in if working in an enclosed or indoor space. We use fans and vacuums to capture and clear debris and ensure fresh air keeps flowing into the area.
Our team will arrive armed with heavy-duty PPE equipment to protect their skin, eyes, nose and mouth from debris.
Clearing a test patch
Before attacking the entire floor, we’ll carefully grind a small patch of the floor so that we can better understand the type and depth of the epoxy coating, and the state of the concrete substrate beneath. Understanding these factors will help us determine how strong an abrasive we need, if and how we can soften the epoxy before grinding, and what proactive measures we can take to protect the concrete floor.
Time to remove epoxy paint from the entire floor
Grinding can be a time-consuming and labour-intensive process. Yet, at every moment, it must be done methodically to ensure that the grind is even. It’ll almost certainly require multiple passes with increasingly finer abrasion disks. All the while, care has to be taken to capture the dust debris so it can be disposed of properly.
Even once the epoxy is cleared, that’s no guarantee that the job is done. Depending on the state of the concrete beneath (which the test patch will hopefully have helped us discover), we may find that the epoxy resin has seeped into cracks and holes in the concrete. If so, we may recommend our concrete grinding service to restore your floors to their optimal state before you install your preferred finish.
Cleaning the floors and disposing of the debris
Once the epoxy has been totally removed from your concrete floors, there’s still the matter of cleanup. Epoxy particles can be quite hazardous and must be cleaned up throughout the process, not just at the end of it. Properly disposing of it is another chore in itself.
Leave the job to our specialists, and we’ll ensure your floors are fully restored and left in pristine condition.
Removing epoxy with a chemical solvent
Epoxy is lauded for its chemical resistance, which is why you’ll find epoxy flooring at industrial laundries and family-owned restaurants alike. However, though epoxy can’t be excessively damaged by solvents, it can be temporarily softened by them.
To remove epoxy from concrete using a solvent, you must soak a small area with the chemical until the epoxy has sufficiently softened and then scrap away at it with either a mechanical grinder or by hand. Professionals will use heavy-duty solvents, which you may be able to purchase from your local hardware store, but common epoxy-removal solvents also include:
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Denatured alcohol
The listed solvents are highly flammable, and all solvents emit toxic fumes that can injure people and damage the surrounding area. Solvents are usually the best way to remove epoxy from small areas — grouting, for instance. Though we may occasionally use solvents to soften epoxy, grinding is always our preferred method.