Epoxy Floor coatings are a beautiful, long term solution to commercial and industrial concrete floor applications. There are an endless array of different epoxy polymer floor systems, each designed for particular facility use. Before choosing a color scheme, the epoxy flooring purchaser needs to evaluate the actual environment the epoxy floor will be installed in. For example, is this simply a dry environment such as an office or showroom that needs a decorative epoxy floor to enhance the visual space? Or, is this an industrial warehouse with forklift traffic and constant oil and chemical spills? Maybe its a dry office environment that will only see foot traffic but the parking lot and immediate entrances are gravel…bringing in constant fine sands and stones under shoes to scrape the surface of the epoxy.
By basing your epoxy flooring off your final flooring use, you can prolong the life of the epoxy flooring chosen. Perfect CC Midwest does not simply install a client requested beautiful epoxy floor, we evaluate your floors’ environment and put longevity over beauty. Epoxy flooring installation between Perfect CC Midwest and the end user should be a compromise, the client will almost always want the most decadent epoxy floor installed- we will educate and negotiate a fine balance between beauty and longevity.
The Main Types of Epoxy Floor Coatings
Smooth, Decorative Epoxy Flooring
Most common in office and storage spaces; these epoxy coatings are meant to enhance the overall beauty of the area they are applied. Typically, decorative epoxy floor coatings have a smooth finish that, while initially beautiful, can be rapidly damaged in the form of surface scratches if they are subject to heavy wheeled traffic or items dragged across the surface routinely. Keep in mind, while an office space may have nothing but foot traffic- rolling office chairs in cubicle areas may wear the shine layer off the top of these floors if a preventative measure such as plastic floor mats are not placed. There are some decorative options made to take further abuse ;theoretical in heavier workload environments where a decorative appearance is demanded.
Flake Decorative Epoxy Flooring
Typical to what is installed in residential garages, flake broadcast epoxy coatings add an extra layer of abrasion resistance and a very decorative appearance to the epoxy floor. An increase in slip resistance is achieved with this epoxy flooring type though the slip resistance is not nearly as variable as the quartz or aggregated counterparts.
Aggregated Epoxy Flooring
Adding any aggregate to an epoxy floor greatly increases the epoxy flooring durability, slip resistance and overall lifespan. The aggregate options are endless and the differences between them greatly affect those characteristics. Some epoxy flooring aggregates fit into the decorative epoxy flooring category; adding a little slip, abrasion resistance while giving an overall decorative appearance above a simple solid colored, epoxy floor. Others may be the solid color epoxy flooring with silica sand or even oxides of different grits as the aggregate- offering immense slip resistance and abrasion resistance.
It is up to a professional epoxy flooring installer to choose the correct grit for the epoxy floor application- while a heavier grit will achieve slip resistance, it will be difficult to clean with a mop and bucket. A lighter grit used in an aggregated epoxy floor may easily be cleaned with a mop and bucket but will not have the necessary slip resistance values in constant spill areas. Clean-ability and slip resistance are another area of compromise in the floor coatings
Quartz Decorative Epoxy Flooring
A quartz epoxy floor comes in many decorative color blends to offer abrasion resistance to an epoxy floor that also achieves an eye catching colorful final appearance. The quartz granules that are fully broadcasted into the wet epoxy floor can give a heavy texture that is adjusted to the facility slip resistance needs by going thinner or thicker on the top epoxy coats above it.
Urethane Mortar Flooring
Urethane mortars are the strongest epoxy flooring option, typically used in heavy industrial or food processing applications. The key factor for urethane mortar flooring is the resistance to thermal shock- many food processing facilities have hot water washdowns to clean food bio from the floor on a daily basis. These washdowns use water in temperatures up to 140 degree, creating what is known as thermal shock due to the standard 70 degree room temperature and especially in meat coolers where the floor temperature is typically in the low 30 degree mark. Hot water placed atop any cold surface creates a thermal shock to the surface and quickly causes standard epoxy coatings to delaminate from the surface.
Urethane mortars resist this thermal shock and have a very high abrasion resistance.
Trowel Down Epoxy Mortar Flooring
Whereas thermal shock is not an issue, no drastic change in temperatures, trowel down epoxy mortar flooring takes immense amounts of abrasion and impact. These floors use standard epoxy coatings, mixed heavily with silica sand or quartz blends. The heavy trowelable mix is laid upon the surface to the required depth (typically 1/4″) and smooth troweled flat. Various topcoats are than applied to seal in the porous aggregate mix.
YOU MUST KNOW;
Professional Epoxy Flooring Companies Can Further Adjust an Epoxy Floor Installations' Slip & Wear Resistance with Additives to the Epoxy Coatings' Topcoat
Typically in the form of a Urethane Topcoat, minuscule additives can be put in the thin film urethane mix while wet to add slip and abrasion resistant characteristics. For example, on a smooth decorative epoxy floor; glass bead (very fine ground glass) is added to the final urethane topcoat. This will slightly reduce the final epoxy floors’ gloss due to the fine texture which aids drastically in hiding micro scratches in surface. The glass bead also enhances the slip resistance of the floor, leaving the texture comparable to that of knobby feel of an american football.
Whereas a client may want a very strong wearing but smooth final epoxy coat- heavy amounts of finely ground, powdered oxides are added to the wet urethane topcoat mix. These oxides do not add any texture or slip resistance but give the smooth surface an armoured layer of further scratch protection due to the actual aluminum oxide embedded in the epoxy floor coating.
Concrete Preparation For Epoxy Flooring Installation Is Equally As Important as the Epoxy Flooring Materials Themselves...
New or old, all concrete flooring must be correctly diamond ground or shotblasted to prepare it to receive epoxy floor coatings. Even brand new concrete must have the surface ground to create the porosity and surface texture required for the epoxy coatings to adhere. Acid etching is not recommended as a means for epoxy floor preparation as it is difficult to fully neutralize the concrete slab which could cause the chemicals to repel the epoxy coating.
Simply running diamonds across the concrete without expertise in reading the concrete or knowing the diamond tools capabilities is also contradictory to the surface profile that needs to be achieved. This is because all concrete has different levels of hardness, which takes different hardness bonds of diamond tools to grind and correctly open up the surface. For example, on a hard concrete floor- a hard diamond tool will only scratch the surface, not actually open up the uppermost concrete layer. Post running the diamond grinding tools, the operator needs to have the knowledge to check that the correct surface profile was achieved to warrant the epoxy application.