One of the occasional questions we receive is how to remove tire marks or tire stains from epoxy coated floors. This is usually followed up by a second question of why does this happen. After all, it can be a bit frustrating to put down a nice coating to discover that your car is starting to leave ugly black tire prints – usually right where you park every day. So let’s take a look at what causes this to happen and what can be done to remove those offensive tire marks.
What causes tire marks on epoxy
The process that causes tires to leave black marks on your epoxy floor or any other type of floor covering for that matter is called “plasticizer migration”. Plasticizers, which are a combination of polymer compounds, are used in the tire industry to create a more flexible rubber compound. This flexible compound will give a tire more traction and help to keep it soft and pliable in cold weather.
When a tire heats up from driving, these plasticizers tend to relax and leach out of the tire leaving these oily marks on the epoxy coating. It is more noticeable with high performance tires and good quality all-season tires. This is why some people comment that one car in the garage has a tendency to leave these marks or tire stains and another car will not. If a car tends to sit for long periods of time in one spot, this same plasticizer migration can occur, but at a much slower pace.
So how easy is it to remove tire marks from your garage floor? Well, it depends on the quality of your epoxy floor coating and how long the marks have been left there before attempting to remove them.
When a sealer such as epoxy cures, it creates a cross linking pattern that gives the sealer strength as well as density. The greater the cross linking, the stronger and more dense the sealer will be. This is why your commercial quality epoxies, polyurethanes, and polyureas are much easier to clean tire marks from than the lesser quality products. The high density of cross linking does a better job of preventing the plasticizers from penetrating into the sealer which can make it harder to remove.
How to remove tire marks
Generally, the easiest way to remove these marks is to soak the area for a few minutes first with a good cleaner such as Simple Green or a concrete degreaser. After it has soaked, use a real stiff bristle nylon brush to remove the tire marks. Be careful if using a scrub pad as these will sometimes degloss the finish.
It may take a bit of scrubbing and a second soaking to remove it all depending on how long you have let the marks build up. Another product that people have had success with is Goof Off. You can usually find it at your local home improvement centers.
Every once in a while someone will have tire marks that just don’t want to come up due to a long period of buildup that has allowed the plasticizers to migrate further into the coating. Sometimes an inferior epoxy can be the blame as well. When this happens there are some commercial products that are designed just for this.
An example of one such product would be NAB Black Streak and Tire Mark Remover. It’s produced by North American Bioindustries and is available in a sample size to try out, as well as a 32oz. size bottle. It has been used successfully to remove stubborn tire marks on factory floors.
Just remember, if you do have a car that is leaving tire marks on your epoxy garage floor, the best thing you can do to prevent any permanent tire stains is to not let the marks build up over a period of time. If you do regular garage floor maintenance and clean the stains up you should not have any issues. Also, if you have a car that sits for long periods of time, you may want to park each tire over a small scrap of cardboard, carpet, or any other material that you can discard.