I knew at an early age that I would be coating floors.
As Florock’s Technical Service Manager, I often get asked about industrial flooring mixing equipment. Despite a shaky start (see above), over the years I’ve had the opportunity to discover what works. Today, I’d like to share some of the information I’ve acquired during the course of my career. Let’s start with mixing blades.
There are many different mixing blade designs, each engineered to mix a certain type of material—coatings and primers, slurries, mortars, etc. Selecting the correct blade for each material helps to ensure proper cure and finish.
Mixing two-, three- or four-component materials is very different from stirring paint. In order to start the chemical reaction required for optimal curing, the components need to be blended into a homogeneous mix, which is difficult to achieve when stirring by hand. Mixing by hand can cause one or more of the following results:
There have been many mixing blades in use over the years. Let’s review the equipment that is commonly used today:
Available online at Midwest Rake or at industrial paint stores, this is one of the most effective mixers for two-component epoxies. Its blade pulls very little air into the product during mixing. The Jiffy mixer has blades for scraping the sides and the bottom of the mixing container and has the perfect blade edge for blending two components of different viscosities together. This is also a very good mixer for combining fine aggregates or flour with epoxies. Florock Systems that work best with this blade are.
After the Jiffy mixer, the Jiffler mixing blade, available online, at industrial paint stores and even some local hardware stores, is one of the more effective mixers for two-component epoxies. This blade also pulls very little air into the product during mixing, and has blades that can be adjusted up and down the shaft to accommodate for the mix size. It is effective at scraping the bottom, but has no blades to scrape the side of the mixing container. Jiffler blades have an effective angle and porting to blend two components of different viscosities together. This is also a very good device for mixing fine aggregates or flour into epoxies, as it has a bottom scraping feature. Florock Systems that work well with this blade are:
NOTE: When using a Jiffler blade in epoxies, care must be taken not to mix at too high of an RPM.
Both the Jiffy and Jiffler mixing blades require utilization of a variable speed drill. It’s also important to select the right size of mixing blade for the mix size and container, in order to prevent a vortex of air from being whipped into the resin. Any air that’s been introduced into a coating will take a long time to escape, often resulting in bubbles in the cured finish coat. Jiffy Blades and Jiffler Blades are best suited for coatings, primers and low viscosity slurries. These mixing blades blend resins very well, typically without whipping too much air into the resin.
The standard paint mixing blade found in most hardware and paint stores, the Vortex mixer blade is effective at mixing colorant into one- and two-component urethanes. The blade blends these similar viscosity materials together extremely quickly, but is not effective at scraping the bottom or sides of a mixing container. It also has a hard time blending different viscosity components together without introducing air into the mix. Florock systems that work well with this blade are:
Auger blades are available online and at specialty paint stores and are very effective at kneading materials, as required by the Florock FloroCrete line of urethane concrete products. This kneading process is a useful method of incorporating the components together quickly, with little air being introduced to the mix. Auger Blade Mixers normally come with a dual handle driver and either a dual blade or single blade configuration. You can also purchase an auger blade for a regular ½” drill. However, the reduced operator fatigue and ease of operation makes the dual handle drive worth the extra money.
Another tried-and-true blade design that’s efficient at combining the components of the FloroCrete line is the mud mixer/wire mixer. Here, the wide blade pushes material together to incorporate well. While not as effective as an auger blade, a mud mixer/wire mixer is a good second choice, particularly if your auger blade stops working in the middle of a job—mud/wire mixers can often be found at just about any local hardware store.
NOTE: Though auger blades, mud mixers, and wire mixers are effective for use with the FloroCrete line generally, the stiffer mortar mix of FloroCrete HD* does best using one of the mid-size bucket mixers or the electric mortar mixer, pictured below
Mortar Mixers, available from most rental yards as well as a number of manufacturers, are gas-engine powered and are capable of mixing 200- to 300-pound batches. Mortar mixer blades rotate through the container and effectively mix the aggregate and epoxy resin together. The mixer tilts forward to dispense the blended FloroBuild epoxy mortar into the transport container
Electric mortar mixers are a midsized unit is capable of mixing 100- to 150-pound batches and can be found online by a variety of manufacturers. An electric mortar mixer’s blades also rotate through the material, scraping the bottom, sides and center of the mixing vessel to effectively blend the aggregate and epoxy resin together. This mixer features a bottom chute to allow the mortar mix to be loaded into the transport container. *FloroCrete HD can also be mixed very effectively in this machine.
Finally, bucket mixers, which are smaller units capable of mixing 50- to 100-pound batches, depending on their container size, are also widely available. The mixer blade scrapes the entire length of the side of the container as the bucket rotates. *The 100 pound bucket mixer is the most effective equipment for combining FloroCrete HD
This person has one of the most important jobs on the flooring crew. The Mix Operator makes sure that the products are combined correctly, manages the product going onto the floor (so it doesn’t “kick over” in the bucket) and tracks consumption of product (so you don’t run out before reaching the end of the floor). By providing your technician with clean mixing equipment that’s correctly matched to the flooring products being utilized, you give him/her the ability to quickly mix the components properly. Remember that improperly mixed product will be softer, slower-curing and problematic to install. Using the right mixer ensures that your resinous flooring materials will perform as designed.
Again, clean blades are vital to achieving proper mixes. Dirty, epoxy-caked mixing equipment will become very ineffective, even if it is of the correct type. Taking a few extra minutes to clean off your mixing blades pays off— your equipment investment will last longer and your clean blades will help ensure error-free mixing going forward.
A Final Note on the Importance of Using Proper Epoxy Mixers
This product was mixed with the wrong equipment:
The crew spent the next day-and-a-half scraping and solvent-wiping the floor.
Don’t let this happen to you! Contact a knowledgeable epoxy flooring specialist at Florock to help ensure your project’s success.