You may have heard the terms “epoxy floor coating” and “epoxy floor paint” used almost interchangeably. When looking at options for a project, a low-cost DIY epoxy floor paint could appear to be an attractive option when compared to a professionally installed epoxy floor coating. With names that are almost identical and some product labels providing only the minimally required information, epoxy coatings and paints may seem like equally viable options to the layperson. Are the two types of systems really all that different? Actually, they are.
To appreciate the difference between a true epoxy floor coating and an epoxy paint, it is important to understand the chemical components making up these products. Simply put, an epoxy coating consists of a two-component, high performance epoxy resin (Part A) combined with a polyamine hardener (Part B). Sometimes various aggregates such as graded silica sand, multicolored quartz or myriad others are added as part of the system during installation to further enhance the strength as well as visual appeal of the final product. Epoxy paints, on the other hand, are typically latex paints with relatively small amounts of epoxy resin included as a component in the product. For private homeowners looking for an easy DIY project, epoxy paints can offer better durability and strength than other floor paints lacking the epoxy resin ingredient. Nevertheless, the paints perform far below the level of true industrial grade epoxy floor coatings.
When selecting an epoxy flooring system, an important number to consider is the percentage of solids in the product. This number refers to the percentage of the original product that remains on the floor when it is finished drying or curing – paints typically have a lower solids percentage, with a relatively large portion of the product evaporating as it dries. Industrial grade epoxy floor coatings, on the other hand, chemically crosslink and cure rather than simply dry, and are available at up to 100% solids content. A higher solids percentage can be one indication that a product is primarily intended for professional use, as the coating application can then require greater experience and skill. When properly installed, 100% solids epoxy coatings result in much more durable floor surfaces than epoxy paint.
Epoxy paints can seem like an attractive option because they are so simple to install. No surface preparation is needed apart from cleaning the concrete substrate, and many people with no formal knowledge of flooring installation can apply these paints and achieve reasonably good immediate results. As such, epoxy paints offer homeowners a useful, short term, light traffic solution. However, in industrial, commercial or institutional locations, the wear and tear of daily use – heavy foot and cart traffic, frequent cleanings, and specific operational activities – can quickly damage and degrade light duty epoxy paint.
Busy facilities expect professional grade epoxy and other resinous floor coatings to provide optimal concrete protection and durability, in addition to a range of optional performance features. Installation of such coating systems requires far more surface preparation as well as professional installation. The concrete surface must first be mechanically prepared, shot-blasted, or diamond ground to ensure adhesion and a strong bond with the coating. Once the liquid components are mixed, there is typically only a brief window in which the coating can be installed. The application may require a combination of tools, including special rollers, rakes, screed boxes, notched and flat trowels. Several layers, including primers, midcoats and topcoats are typically involved. It’s easy to see that only a trained professional contractor should prepare the concrete substrate and install epoxy floor coatings. When correctly selected and installed, these resinous flooring systems provide commercial, industrial and institutional facilities with excellent durability and outstanding long term value.