As is the case with any product, the properties and thus, the quality and value of epoxy floor coatings vary among different brands and manufacturers. By knowing what the experts look for, you will be better prepared to evaluate the various epoxy flooring systems on the market and select the products ideally suited to your needs – for the best value.
Epoxy resins are polymers, that is, large molecules created by joining many smaller molecules, called “monomers”, together. The joining process occurs during a chemical reaction called “polymerization”. True industrial grade epoxy coatings are made up of at least two components—a base resin and a curing agent/hardener—that get blended together in a precise ratio. Properly combining the two components results in a chemical reaction that “cures” the liquids into a hard substance.
Several characteristics of epoxy include excellent durability, high bond strength and outstanding chemical resistance. Another benefit of industrial epoxy coatings is their low permeability, critical for protecting concrete substrates.
There are several key performance measures that experts use in comparing one epoxy coating with another and to determine if an epoxy is really industrial grade. All things being equal, some floor coatings pass performance testing with higher marks than others. The best of these will tend to have greater durability, enabling longer periods of use between recoats or replacements.
When comparing two epoxy products, it is vital to carefully examine the standardized test methods used to measure each. The tests and selected parameters used to measure both products must be exactly the same for correct evaluation. If not, then there is no way to compare apples to apples, thus leading to choices made on incorrect assumptions. Below are some properties to look for in epoxy floor coatings:
A 100% solids, aliphatic epoxy with a urethane topcoat is considered by many to be one of the most reliable and durable floor coating systems available. While that may be true, the majority of epoxy resins exhibit some change in color over time when exposed to UV light, though varies aliphatic types tend to be better color stability. Aliphatic thin film urethanes, on the other hand, can be very UV stable and are used as finish coats over epoxies to create non-yellowing, color-stable floor surfaces. This is best achieved with colored systems, since a clear aliphatic urethane does not act like a sunscreen – in other words, the epoxy basecoat under a clear aliphatic urethane can still change color from UV exposure.
The term “100% solids” refers to the fact that the product contains no volatiles, that is, nothing will evaporate during installation. The thickness of the wet film is the same as when it dries, so fewer coats may be needed. And because 100% solids coatings contain zero V.O.C.s., they offer improved air quality during installation and are better for the environment.
Decades of successful installations of epoxy floor coatings does not mean that there is no room for improvement or innovation. The following describes several specific areas that are currently.
Although “epoxy flooring” is typically spoken of as if it were a singular, item, it is actually a multilayer system, consisting—at a minimum, usually—of a primer, a quartz or sand broadcasting layer, a bearing layer, perhaps another quarts broadcasting layer, and a topcoat, or finishing layer. Depending on the application, there may even be an additional primer laid down. Manufacturers are working on developing more effective self-levelling mortars to eliminate the need for at least one of the broadcast layers.
Moisture Vapor Transmission (MVT) is a phenomenon occurring in some concrete floor slabs that can wreak havoc on nearly any type of flooring, whether resinous coating, wood, tile or carpet. Moisture vapor from below or within the slab rises up through the concrete to condense under the floor material. As it moves through the concrete, the moisture becomes extremely alkaline and can damage or destroy the floor covering above it. New MVT mitigating primers and coatings are now available to help control this undesirable condition.
With greater mechanization and automation in nearly every industry, sensitive electronic equipment is becoming ubiquitous in more and more facilities. To help protect both the expensive equipment as well as employees, the use of electrostatic dissipative and conductive floor coatings is growing, as is manufacturers’ research and development of new static control systems.
Epoxy floor coatings can be installed in a variety of different ways, utilizing different application techniques that can include a broad spectrum of additives and enhancements to meet the demands of industrial, commercial and institutional operations. Florock has been a leader in the development of new flooring technologies for more than 60 years. Call us today for reliable advice on what will work best in your facility.