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An In-Depth Look at Epoxy Flooring


Note: this is a partnered post and consideration was received for its publication. Image by RedRhino Flooring.

Epoxy floors are becoming increasingly popular in commercial, industrial and residential settings. There are different types for specific purposes. Some them include, but are not limited to self-leveling, self-dispersing, mortar, graveled, terrazzo coatings, antistatic coatings, and vapor barrier.

Self-Dispersing Epoxy Flooring

 This type of epoxy flooring is commonly used in areas that receive forklift or heavy truck traffic frequently. It has very good mechanical strength. Another durable option is a type of self-dispersing epoxy with quartz sand. It has good anti-slip characteristics. This variety is best used in locations where liquids are present such as in food processing industries.

 Self-Leveling Epoxy Flooring

As the term indicates, these floors level easily, creating a seamless and smooth surface. They are also easy to install. These are usually used over new and old concrete floors. Kitchens, dining rooms, storage places, garages, warehouses, office buildings, and other locations are spaces where self-leveling epoxy flooring is ideal.

Mortar Epoxy Flooring

Being the strongest of all epoxy floors, this flooring type is used to repair cracks before laying other types of epoxy floors. It is commonly used in heavy industry applications.

Graveled Epoxy Flooring

This epoxy flooring is the most decorative and is used for adding brand marks, logotypes and decorative details to floors.

Epoxy Terrazzo Flooring

Just like the flooring type right before it, epoxy terrazzo is not only very decorative, but also easy to clean. It is used in several large areas. These include hallways and entrances of commercial buildings, office buildings and schools. It blends beauty with function.

Epoxy terrazzo is a popular choice for decorative flooring installations, especially in high-traffic retail facilities. It is ideal for commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities. Excellent for multi-colored patterns and designs because of the epoxy resin matrix, it can be pigmented to achieve an unlimited spectrum of colors.

Apart from color and design versatility, this mosaic-like floor topping for concrete substrates is virtually indestructible, durable and needs minimal maintenance. The thickness is only 1/4 to 3/8 inches. It can also be colored with aggregates, including chips of granite, marble, mother of pearl, recycled glass, and various synthetic materials.

Epoxy Antistatic Flooring

This specialized epoxy type is used where a static-free environment is needed. Static-sensitive electronic components are in permanent use. Some of them are electronics equipment manufacturing plants, hospitals and laboratories.

Vapor Barrier Epoxy Flooring

This type of epoxy provides an impenetrable surface that decreases the vapor transmission to nearly zero. It is applied directly over concrete floors. These liquid epoxy vapor barriers are typically applied prior to adding the final flooring surface, including carpet, hardwood floors, sheet vinyl, or tile.

Metallic Epoxy Flooring

This is a new type of epoxy-based flooring. It allows the concrete to be gilded to replicate the look of aged bronze, copper, nickel, silver, and other shimmery patinas. Some of these coatings contain real metallic powders. Others use special reflective pigments that are extremely popular. They are used in specific locations. These include floors in retail, offices and restaurant settings, where a modern and upscale look is desired.

Epoxy Flaked Flooring

This is an epoxy flooring technique and not exactly a type of epoxy flooring. It provides a decorative finish or look. Multicolored chips or flakes are added over the epoxy coating while it is still wet.

The type of fluid the epoxy is mixed with can also categorizes epoxy flooring. Some of these are:

Water-Based Epoxy Flooring

This water-soluble epoxy does not use solvents. It uses water as its main carrier and is not as reactive as solvent-based epoxies, which makes it safer. It is relatively easy to apply in thin/thick coats. Mainly for hydrostatic pressure applications on concrete and concrete slabs, it only needs water in order to be cleaned up.

This epoxy flooring uses a mixture of epoxy and a liquid solution. Water is always used as its main ingredient. Waterborne epoxy coatings are nontoxic, and are therefore safe to use in enclosed areas. It is more of a primer and a sealer. Due to its ability to penetrate into porous surfaces, it is used over degreased concrete surfaces. It gives them a smooth and glossy finish.

Since it spreads out thinly, it is touted as more user-friendly than 100% solid epoxy. However, it lacks durability and resistance. It gives a concrete surface protective capability against abrasions, chemical reactions and stains.

Solvent Borne Epoxy Flooring

One of the first flooring types ever created, solvent borne epoxy coatings are very cohesive. The solvent thins down the epoxy. It can be easily applied to the surface of the concrete. Relying on a mixture of epoxy and solvent, as the solvent dries, it evaporates, leaving only the epoxy behind. It contains solids ranging from 30 to 70 percent. It can be applied in a very thin layer across the surface of the concrete. It is a less favorable choice. It makes use of solvents when used as a floor sealer. As a primer, it is similar to the former.

This traditional kind of epoxy is mixed with a relatively high amount of organic compound called a solvent. The solvents are highly volatile. First used long before other kinds, it comes with built-in cohesiveness.

100% Solid Epoxy Flooring

This highly durable epoxy flooring can last up to 20 years, even on chemical reactions of chemically potent substances and from surfaces that require protection against hot tire marks or possible abrasions. It can also be subjected to heavy human traffic. Professional installers use hardeners that allow it to dry up into solid form as it bonds with the concrete substrate.

Though this type of flooring can become as thick as two millimeters, it is sensitive to temperature. Vapor-migration in the inner concrete should be checked. Made up of a 100% epoxy mixture, this type of epoxy does not have a liquid solution or fluid carrier and is highly viscous. It must be applied in thicker layers.

This epoxy is very different from its water based or solvent borne counterparts. The inner concrete slab needs to be prepared. It requires the application of a topcoat finishing to seal in the bond between the first layer of epoxy material and the substrate. It is much harder to apply. Thin coats or films cannot be produced with this kind of epoxy due to its high viscosity. However, it is very versatile and adaptable for numerous applications.

Out of all the three, the 100% solids epoxy is the most durable. It is strong and resistant. A complete flooring system, it lasts long enough to furnish ample benefits. Water-based epoxy flooring has only one advantage. Since it is cheaper, another layer of epoxy floor coating can be applied as frequently as needed. Lower cost is the only benefit. 100% solid epoxy is more abrasion resistant, chemical resistant, and stain resistant than its water based counterpart. It is used on garage floors most often. It is commonly used for commercial applications and works well as a color coat and medium to accept vinyl acrylic flakes.

Each of these types of epoxy floors has distinct characteristics that make it more or less suitable when compared to the others. Professionals can tell you more. They can also be consulted for more information about these types of epoxy floors or to determine which type is best for your purpose.