Improving Indoor Air Quality = AFM Safecoat ® MexeSeal Concrete Floor Sealer

To improve the indoor air quality of my Client’s Family’s ski chalet we knew that the original old carpet underlay was adversely contributing to the air quality and as such had be removed.  The plan was for me to remove the wall-to-wall carpeting in such a condition so that it could be laid down again once the new least toxic under-padding had been installed.

Having had experience with some of the other least toxic building products by AFM Safecoat I presented my recommendation that the AFM Mexe Seal Concrete Floor Sealer be used. Especially since her youngest son must deal with chemical sensitivity health concerns (MCS and EHS), my Client (with a chemical engineering background) studied the product contents information contained within the products MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) and determined that it was indeed the least toxic solution.

With the Client’s directive to proceed with this renovation project I removed the carpeting to find a bright red under-padding glued to the concrete floor.

Removing the carpet underlay was labourious work.  To make this task easier I rented an industrial vibrational scraper from a big box hardware store.  It was much like operating a upright vacuum cleaner: shaving the under-padding from the floor – like shearing sheep.  If you are lucky to have impact resistant gloves this would be a good time to wear them.  Having now completed hours of this task the best tip I can share is “Let the Machine do the work – just help guide the machine yet let the vibrations cut the foam away from the concrete floor”. This process removed most of the under-padding.

As my Client wanted to have all evidence of the under-padding removed it meant that most prized service of getting down on my hands and knees on a cold concrete floor and with my spatula /hand held scraper to apply elbow grease and boiling hot water to loosen up the old glues  / adhesives.  To strive for perfection, as in final inspection, before applying the concrete floor sealer.

Here is the list of equipment that was used to successfully complete this least toxic building project.

#1 Item: As in don’t forget them at home = KNEEPADS.  Buy the best if you can afford it as with good care they may last many years.  For maximum cost efficiency there is always a piece of high-density foam or even some wrapped up textiles (shirts, pants, towels, rags, etc.) covered in an old pillow-case as anything is better for your knees than a concrete floor.

The Sponge: Always great to have several Industrial-sized sponges in one’s AFM Safecoat toolkit (which of course is synonymous with the AFM Safechoice toolkit). Large Sponges are great for squeezing hot water onto specific problem areas that need to be cleaned.

Putty Knife / Putty Knives /Scrapers:  A straight hard edge – use anything and everything to devise the best scraping technique.  As surfaces are unique and combined with all the different chemicals and binders that may have been used in your wall-to-wall broadloom renovation project there are scraping techniques that you will discover that works best for your situation.  This exercise really challenges the question: How good are you?

The Large Metal Pot (and lots of hot water and heating source).  Remember that you will have to carry it.  If you have additional metal pots include them in the inventory – I had three large pots with me – two on the go and one in reserve.  Water access would be needed for this resource to be included in this list.

Industrial Work Gloves:  For operating the vibration machine I recommend wearing impact resistant gloves: (www.impacto.ca).  As a chore glove my choice the nitrile ¾ dipped knitwrist Dexterity manufactured by Superior Glove . For the sponging, scraping and applying the concrete floor sealer I choose the impermeable flock-lined Nitrile dishwashing glove style.  Since it is all about hand comfort versus dexterity you may also want to consider adding a jersey-lined gauntlet glove to your toolkit: You may find in the scraping process you want this jersey liner as added buffer between your palm and the blade handle (Nitrile gauntlet jersey-lined glove style). I like nitrile gloves as they offer the greatest abrasion resistance in wet conditions.

Safety Apparel: More Personal Protection Equipment:

Although the AFM Concrete Floor Sealer is perhaps the least toxic floor sealer for concrete floors when it comes to applying the coating I like to open the windows to allow for a cross breeze in the air flow ventilation.  As well I would recommend wearing a minimum of a NIOSH approved particulate respirator.  Myself I have invested in a 3/4 facemask respirator with HEPA filters.

The Eye Protection – Safety glasses.  It is good to wear safety glasses to protect the eyes from splashes although with the solution being applied on the floor this risk of occurrence is minimal.

With a clean concrete floor it was now just a matter of coating the floor.  No bucket was needed as I just poured an amount of Mexe Seal onto the concrete and using the sponge spread it out.  The concept of the sealers is that we want to create a thin membrane to cover the floor surface to lock in the off-gassing.  My Client had requested three coats of MexeSeal and as there were three bedrooms, a rec room and a hallway to be done it allowed the time required to dry before applying subsequent coatings.

This was a week-long project that was filled with much toil.  My suggestion is to commission a youth for this task: it will inspire them in the work ethic values.  Give them the chance and let them captain the building project with your tutelage.

Is MexeSeal the least toxic concrete floor coating?  My Client and her youngest son chemically sensitive believe it is.  After the coated floors had dried the new less toxic under-padding was installed and the carpeting laid back on top.  Looking at this completed less toxic building project it appeared that it was the same as before and yet we know improving air quality is not something you visually see.

Thanks to CBR Products for delivering the Mexeseal as required.  You are my choice for building products in Canada. And thanks to AFM Safecoat for manufacturing these least toxic building products.

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