Concrete Protection: Oil

Concrete is rightfully used as a solid foundation for most buildings in California. Many homes and businesses use concrete for their main floors, providing strong, solid ground underfoot. Although time breaks down a concrete floor to the point where it is no longer safe, it’s certainly not the only thing that damages this durable material. In a series of articles on concrete protection, West Coast Epoxy will discuss common substances that can destabilize or compromise the integrity of your Sacramento concrete floor. This installment of the series focuses on different types of oils.

Motor Oil and Concrete

If you see a pile of kitty litter spread over a concrete driveway, there’s little doubt what happened: an oil change left a few challenges. Sadly, even if most of the oil is absorbed, removing the litter invariably reveals an unsightly stain. One reason for this is because unprotected concrete is porous. Once that dirty motor oil makes contact, it finds every single nook and cranny available, and no amount of litter can siphon all the oil from those hiding places. The stain is effectively permanent.

But that’s not the only problem with motor oil. It also contains sulfur and other additives that combine with molecules in the concrete to create acids. Since concrete is an alkaline substance, exposure to acidic compounds destabilizes the concrete matrix, breaking down its consistency. As time goes on, the concrete’s resilience crumbles — as does the concrete itself.

Food Oils and Concrete

Granted, food oils and motor oils are not the same thing. Motor oils are petroleum based — they come from the Earth’s crust and are toxic if ingested. It makes sense if they have an adverse effect on concrete. But what about oils that are squeezed, crushed or extracted from plants or animals? “Types and Causes of Concrete Deterioration”, an article provided by the Portland Cement Association, lists several foods that promote moderate deterioration of concrete, including:

  • castor oil,
  • cocoa bean oil,
  • cocoa butter,
  • coconut oil,
  • cottonseed oil.

Several other more esoteric oils and compounds are also listed by experts as potentially damaging to concrete. You aren’t likely to see these oils in a garage, but you will see them in restaurants, warehouses, processing plants, and kitchens.

Whether it’s an industrial floor, a mechanic’s shop, a gas station, or a home garage with motor oil stored on one side and corn oil on the other, concrete floors need protection from the different oils we use in everyday life. West Coast Epoxy offers several solutions to protect your concrete. We tailor the topcoat to protect against your chosen products or services, so that it not only provides an ample barrier between oils and concrete, but also looks spectacular doing it. Give us a call or schedule a consultation online so we can help you keep oil away from your concrete.

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