I knew at an early age that I would be coating floors.
However, I needed to learn some better techniques to become successful. 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 is engineered to mix a certain type of material. These materials include 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 material is very different from stirring paint. In order to start the chemical reaction required for curing of plural component materials, the components need to be blended, cut together or incorporated into a homogeneous mix. It is difficult to achieve a homogeneous mix when stirring by hand. Mixing by hand can cause one or more of the following: Soft coating throughout, tacky soft spots, lack of chemical and/or stain resistance, poor inter-coat adhesion, difficult or impossible to clean surfaces, etc.
There have been many mixing blades in use over the years. Let’s review the equipment that’s readily available today:
Jiffy Mixer: Available online at places like www.midwestrake.com or at industrial paint stores, this is one of the most effective mixers for two component epoxies. This 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: All Floropoxy Systems, Florowear 7100, Florospartic, Floropoxy ESD and CON, Florothane CR 250 and ESD, Florothane MC 100, as well as the FloroCryl line.
Jiffler Mixing Blade: Available online at places like www.grainger.com or at industrial paint stores, in addition to some local hardware stores, the Jiffler Mixing Blade, after the Jiffy Mixer, is one of the more effective mixers for two component epoxies. This blade pulls very little air into the product during mixing. It has blades that can be adjusted up and down the shaft to accommodate for the mix size. It is effective at scraping the bottom, however, 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: All Floropoxy Systems, Florowear 7100, Florospartic, Floropoxy ESD and CON, Florothane CR 250 and ESD, Florothane MC 100, as well as the Florocryl line. 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.
Vortex Mixer: The standard paint mixing blade found in most hardware and paint stores, the Vortex Mixer Blade is effective for mixing colorant into single component urethanes and two component urethanes. The blade blends these similar viscosity materials together extremely quickly. They do not do a good job of scraping the bottom or sides of a mixing container. They also have a hard time blending different viscosity components together without introducing air into the mix. Florock systems that work well with this blade are: Florothane CR 250, Florothane MC 100, and the Florocryl line — except CRKT and N4 with fillers or aggregate.
Effective Mixers for the FloroCrete Line:
Auger Blades: Available online and at specialty paint stores, these blades 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.
Mud Mixer/ Wire Mixer: Widely available at paint and hardware stores, as well as online, this tried-and-true blade design is also good at combining the components of the Florocrete line. The wide blade pushes material together to incorporate well. While not as effective as an Auger blade, a Mud Mixer or Wire Mixer is a good 2nd choice, if your Auger Blade dies on the job – especially since it can be found at just about any 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, below.
Effective Mixers for FloroBuild Systems:
Mortar Mixers: Available from most rental yards, as well as from a variety of manufacturers, these units are gas engine powered and are capable of mixing 200-300 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: Available online and through a variety of manufacturers, this midsized unit is capable of mixing 100-150 pound batches. 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 is mixed very effectively in this machine.
Bucket Mixers: Available online and through a variety of manufacturers, these smaller units are capable of mixing 50-100 pound batches, depending on their container size. The mixer blade scrapes the entire length of the side of the container, as the bucket rotates. This type of machine is very efficient for smaller batches. *The 100 pound bucket mixer is the most effective equipment for combining FloroCrete HD.
The Mix Operator:
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 you’ll be working with, 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.
This product was mixed with the wrong equipment:
The crew spent the next day-and-a-half scraping and solvent-wiping the floor.
– Tom Lux, Florock Technical Service Manager