Epoxy coatings are a popular option when it comes to surface coatings thanks to their versatility in terms of the finished look they provide and at a relatively low cost, when compared to other products available on the market.
What Is an Epoxy Coating?
While epoxy itself is a synthetic polymer which can be an adhesive, paint, or some other material found in different substances used for preventing corrosion, such as coatings or resins, an epoxy coating is a two-element compound consisting of an epoxy resin and a catalyst (a polyamine hardener). It has become very popular in flooring applications.
Epoxy and Its Many Benefits
Despite several drawbacks (discussed below), epoxy flooring does offer many advantages as a relatively less expensive option.
- Customisable look – epoxy flooring offers a wide range of possibilities, starting with colours and gloss level (glossy, satin, or matte), and ending with endless design possibilities thanks to the use of metallic pigment additives and colour microchips.
- Efficient waterproofing – because epoxy is a seamless, continuous application, it fully seals the surface protecting the substrate underneath.
- A lasting solution – even though epoxy does not fare as well as polyurea (a much more expensive option) when it comes to durability, it still offers protection for many years, especially for indoor surfaces.
- Chemical and abrasion resistance – epoxy floors can resist different types of stains, chemicals, and scratches.
- Ease of maintenance – only standard cleaning is necessary (without any waxing or buffing) to keep the floor surface looking new.
- User safety – because non-slip aggregates can be added, the newly repaired floors are safe to walk and drive on.
- Environmentally friendly – its solvent-free, low-VOCs formula presents no environmental hazards.
Epoxy Application Method
For an epoxy floor installation, a five-step procedure is followed.
For proper adhesion and an even installation, concrete substrate must be prepared – cleaning, including stain removal, grinding and complete dust removal by vacuum must be done to ensure there is no loose material which could lead to epoxy delamination.
Any area where epoxy will not be applied should be delimited with tape.
Once the concrete surface is completely ready – dry and free of any stains or loose material – the two epoxy components should be mixed until fully blended.
Epoxy is usually applied in 2 methods - as a two-layer application using our primer-less epoxy base coat followed by an epoxy top coat; or as a three-layer system using an epoxy primer followed with an epoxy base coat and finally the epoxy top coat – the epoxy is applied with a roller, or spread using a notched squeegee followed by a roller to even out the coating - (it is important to keep the edges wet to ensure a seamless installation) – each layer of epoxy is allowed to become talk free dried before the next layer is applied – the finished epoxy coating can be walked on after 24 hours and requires 7 full days to reach full curing strength. For concrete substrates that have higher than 4% moisture content you must initially use one of our moisture vapour barrier epoxy coating primers.
A finish coating using a clear urethane or polyaspartic is sometimes recommended when added durability and resistance are required.
Epoxy Floors and Their Versatility
Even though each of the types of epoxy floors explained below are simply referred to as “epoxy floors” or “epoxy flooring”, it is important to know what the differences are, to make the right choice for the project in question.
A popular choice for warehouse floors and parking lots or garages, epoxy paint is a thinner application (20-22 mils or 0.50 to 0.55 mm) than an actual epoxy coatings. Sometimes, though, they are referred to as “epoxy floor paint” or even “epoxy floor coating”.
Self-levelling epoxy floors
Because of its chemical and mechanical resistance, this system is widely used in industrial settings. Depending on the substrate conditions, where floors have sloping a trowelable epoxy mortar (2-3 mm in thickness) is used –, or when flat level floors are required, a self-levelling epoxy floor coating (2-3 mm thick) is used.
Antistatic epoxy flooring
For areas where there is a risk of a static discharge – laboratories, computer rooms, and more – an antistatic epoxy system provides a seamless coating that does not allow electrostatic discharge to accumulate on the floor surface. This coating can be adjusted for different levels of traffic.
Multi-layered systems (epoxy floors)
With an average thickness of 1-2 mm of overall thickness, these systems incorporate non-slip aggregates to be added for user safety. If a decorative finish is desired, coloured quartz aggregates can be used, or any of the other options listed below.
3D vinyl or artistic epoxy
For customers who would like to have a particular 3D graphic design on the floor, this requires an epoxy primer, a self-levelling epoxy layer as described above (2) at 2-3 mm (40-80 mils) in thickness to achieve a perfectly flat floor. The custom 3D graphic design is installed over the self-levelling epoxy, and an additional layer of self-levelling clear epoxy is poured over the 3D graphic vinyl surface, coating the image and fully protecting it.
Epoxy terrazzo coating
Another way to achieve a unique design is by using larger coloured stone aggregate mixed in with epoxy. The overall system thickness is approximately 3/8 of an inch (10 mm). Once installed, it is ground, polished and sealed for a smooth finish. A very expensive finish but well worth the cost as it is stunning and will last for a very long time as it’s durability is outstanding.
Epotel Terrazzo is a two-component, pigmented epoxy resin binder for epoxy-based Terrazzo Flooring systems. Epotel Terrazzo is a low odour, low VOC, chemical resistant, durable and easy to maintain epoxy resin matrix with self-priming capabilities. It is designed as a light-weight replacement to cement based terrazzo systems. Epotel Terrazzo is formulated to be mixed with a wide variety of mineral and non-mineral aggregates and fillers as part of a decorative Terrazzo Flooring System.
Epoxy vinyl flake coatings
Broadcasting vinyl flakes over an epoxy base coat is another way to obtain a unique design. The customer chooses the desired coloured flake combination as well as the size of flakes preferred, which are then broadcast onto the base coat. The colour of the epoxy base coat is chosen to blend well and compliment the colours of flake that weres chosen. The flakes can be broadcast as a full saturation also known as full broadcast, or they can be lightly broadcast in which case more of the colour of the epoxy base coat shows through the flakes. Once the epoxy base coat has dried, the extra flakes that are scraped and vacuumed away and at this time a top coat with clear epoxy is applied as a finish coat to fully seal in the flakes. If UV protection is required for the flakes, the top coat can be switched from an epoxy clear coat to either a polyurethane clear or polyaspartic clear coat.
Epoxy quartz coatings
Epoxy-Quartz Broadcast System is a seamless, decorative floor coating system utilizing coloured quartz granules of a 40 mesh size (0.4 mm). Epoxy quartz flooring is offered in a single broadcast coat, a double broadcast coat, or a troweled system which uses a 25 mesh (0.7 mm) granule size of quartz. This single broadcast system is built using an epoxy primer, a 100% solids epoxy base/body coat with a full broadcast of decorative quartz finished with one clear 100% solids epoxy seal coat (aka grout coat), and a 100% solids epoxy topcoat ensuring excellent wear and protection. This provides a natural anti-slip texture due to the quartz granules. For UV protection as well as added chemical resistance the epoxy seal coat and top coats can be substituted with either a clear polyurethane or clear polyaspartic coat.
For a heavier duty or commercial application, a Double Quartz Broadcast System is used. An additional base coat with an additional broadcast layer of coloured quartz is added thus substantially increasing the durability of the floor system.
A decorative Quartz Trowel System is a heavy build multi-coloured decorative epoxy floor system providing a durable, seamless floor that is aesthetically satisfying. With an overall thickness of between 3-6 mm (1/8” – 1/4”), Quartz Trowel System is an attractive, extremely durable flooring system that is a perfect choice to refurbish damaged concrete floors from abrasion, impact, wear and tear, and form mild chemical attacks in a variety of institutional, commercial and industrial environments.
- Metallic Epoxy
Metallic Epoxy Systems are pearlescent metallic pigment powders blended with epoxy resins, to form a seamless designer epoxy flooring system. This architectural stunning epoxy floor system creates a multi dimensional, one of a kind, remarkable appearance with extraordinary durability and ever-lasting performance. Metallic Epoxy Systems are designed to be installed over concrete, wood and tile substrates, to achieve a unique architectural masterpiece. The entire system is made up of multi layers, including an epoxy primer, colored epoxy base coat, metallic body coat, and one to two coats of clear cot used to protect the artistic floor finish. The total system thickness is approximately 80 mils or 2 mm.
A thicker flooring system – typically starting at between 4 mm and 6 mm and even thicker application – epoxy screeds are ideal for more demanding environments, such as food or beverage processing plants, or other types of manufacturing facilities. They are used as a heavy-duty base layer which can be coated with different types of resin flooring, including self-levelling epoxy coatings, non-slip coatings, and more. They are also ideal for application where the existing concrete is in really bad shape to begin and hence an epoxy screed floor coating is an ideal choice to restore the concrete.
Epoxy Compared to Other Options
Despites its many advantages, including a lower cost when compared to other systems, epoxy does have a few drawbacks – since in itself it does not have UV-resistant properties, when applied to outdoor surfaces, it will become yellower or chalky with time, and the color will not last as long as it would indoors. This is especially true with lighter colors such as white finishes. Therefore, it might better to explore other options available on the market, depending on project characteristics, goals, and budget.
Epoxy vs Polyurethane
Even though both systems consist of two components that combine via a chemical reaction to form a seamless waterproofing coating, there are differences between them, making them best suitable for certain applications.
Because of its denser molecular structure, polyurethane (PU) is more durable since it can handle heavier wear-and-tear – foot and vehicle traffic, other physical and chemical impacts, as well as temperature extremes (PU can withstand up to 120°C, while epoxy – only up to 65°C) – which makes them a better choice for industrial flooring (including food processing plants where floors are impacted by corrosive acids) or outdoor surfaces. However, if a uniquely designed floor is desired, epoxy is much more superior, as it comes in a wide range of colours, offering infinite possibilities via the addition of coloured stones, flakes, and more. For indoor applications where extremely high chemical resistances are required, Novalac Epoxies are formulated to provide this level of protection which will outperform polyurethanes. Another main difference between epoxies and polyurethanes is that epoxies have very little flexibility, usually about 4% where polyurethanes are formulated to have between 75% - 150% elongation so when flexibility from substrates that have some flex in them or in areas that undergo a constant change from cold to hot temperatures, polyurethanes are the better choice.
Epoxy vs Polyurea
While both systems can be used for the same types of projects (garage floors, for example), polyurea is a much more durable option, albeit much more expensive. It is more flexible and offers a higher resistance to changes in temperature and movement of the substrate.
Epoxy – a Versatile Solution
Looking to spruce up your interior design by installing a unique floor? In that case, epoxy can do wonders. It can also be a suitable waterproofing solution for other spaces, even though it cannot compete with polyurethane or polyurea in terms of flexibilty. Choosing epoxy coatings over other options available on the market will depend on project characteristics, customer requirements and the budget allocated.