WHAT IS EPOXY FLOORING?
Epoxy is becoming more and more popular as a flooring option in residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Epoxy floor coatings are typically two-part systems consisting of a Part A resin and Part B hardener. Specialty additives like flow control, UV inhibitors, adhesion promoters, accelerators, etc, are added to create coatings that perform well in a wide variety of flooring applications. Using these specialty additives, epoxy floor coatings are formulated to achieve different desired performance characteristics like a more rapid cure, increased abrasion resistance, higher chemical resistance, higher or lower viscosity, and many others. Different pigments, decorative colored quartz aggregate, vinyl flakes, glitter, and other additives are added to the epoxy floor resin to achieve a different performance and aesthetic characteristics. Lastly, different types of aggregate sand blends (slurry, trowel, broadcast, etc) can also be added to the epoxy as well to create thicker, more durable flooring systems, and add non-slip texture. Epoxy Floor Coatings are an extremely versatile flooring option and can be made and applied in a large variety of performance and aesthetic characteristics.
HISTORY OF EPOXY
Epoxy resins were first introduced by Pierre Castan in Switzerland, in the year 1936, who synthesized the first epoxy polymer via the curing of it with a phthalic acid anhydride. In 1946, epoxy resins were first offered commercially, at the Swiss industry fair. Today, epoxy is something that is used in a wide array of industries, and especially for the building and construction industry. Other industries that epoxy is used in includes aerospace and aircraft applications, automotive and racing, marine, military and defense applications, and sporting applications including snowboards, skis, or hockey sticks, and even for the food industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and other manufacturing.
During the mid 20th century, Dr. Sylvan Greenlee also created epoxy resins in the United States, by reacting epichlorohydrin and Bisphenol A specifically. Through this, Dr. Sylvan Greenlee was able to create one of the most widely used forms of epoxy today, known as DGEBA or BADGE. This form of epoxy is in fact the most popular commercialized resin of its kind in our current age. Epoxy can also help with mold applications and almost any composite part.
HOW DOES EPOXY WORK?
More precisely, epoxy resin is the result of the chemical reaction which is known as curing. Curing is the chemical process that involves chemicals together with epoxides, knowing as curing agents, or hardeners. The hardening mechanism is created through the cross-linking of polymer chains. This result of curing is what creates epoxy thermoset polymers, which hold distinct resistance, durability, versatility, and adhesion. Epoxy curing is initiated through heat and high temperatures. In other words, epoxy is a thermosetting substance. If the surrounding temperature is not sufficient to create the curing process, then curing will not occur. Epoxy cannot be uncured once it has been cured.
There are different forms of epoxy resins that have the ability to be merged together, depending on an individual’s desired outcome. A more customized solution of epoxy can be created through the mixing of plasticisers, fillers, or additives. These additives are used in order to adjust the final properties for individual uses.
PROS AND CONS OF EPOXY FLOORS
The benefits far outweigh the challenges when it comes to epoxy floors. Some of the benefits include:
Visual appearance – Epoxy floorings provide a shiny finish, which is great for garages, other residential spaces, and commercial buildings. The polished texture also makes these floors easy to clean, letting the sheen last for many years.
Durability – The strong chemical bonds of epoxy floorings make them ideal for high-traffic spaces and facilities with heavy lifting or potentially intensive processes.
Affordability – Epoxy floors are more affordable than other flooring options. Considering their durability, this means you also get more bang for your buck.
Regulatory standards and safety – Epoxy floors are well-trusted in various industries. For instance, there is USDA and FDA approved epoxy floors for use in food and beverage processing and distribution facilities.
Smell, moisture, and sensitivity are the three main issues that people encounter when installing epoxy floors. Luckily, all three are easily resolved with a quality installation. The smell of epoxy only lasts during the installation process, so you won’t have to worry about this too much. Epoxy is moisture-resistant unless it gets trapped before installation. Our epoxy installers will make sure your floor is completely dry before beginning the process to eliminate the possibility of wetness. Finally, epoxy can be sensitive if installed incorrectly or during the wrong time of the year. As for the latter, it’s usually best to install epoxy during times of low humidity. Since our installation process is tried and true, you can be sure that we’ll operate with accuracy and precision.
EPOXY FLOOR COATING APPLICATION PROCESS
The epoxy floor coating application process is important for ensuring the correct application of epoxy floor coating. The application of epoxy floor coating includes the application of various layers. These include the priming layer phase, the body coat layer phase, and the top coat layer phase. This creates a floor that is thicker and more durable than a floor that has only one of two coats of paint.
During the epoxy floor coating application process, the first thing that must be ensured is that the floor concrete is grinded and that it is in good condition. The floor’s surface must be prepared so that it can accept the new coat of epoxy coating on its top. Preparation includes the elimination of dust particles, grinding, shot blasting, and scarifying. The next phase is the priming phase. During priming it is important that the primer makes its way deep into the floor, ensuring that it is in a good condition for application.
Following the priming phase, the next stage consists of filling in all of the floor’s visible holes and visible cracks, with epoxy. This is the application of the first coat in the epoxy layer system. Following this application, the floor must be lightly grinded, sanded, and re-layered. In order to test for sealant, a compacted amount of water may be applied onto the floor. If the water is not soaked in, then it is very likely that the floor is not yet suitable and ready for the epoxy floor coating application phase. During the second epoxy coating phase, the epoxy resin is mixed together with the epoxy hardener products, making sure that the entire component is emptied out. Once again, all visible dust must be removed, in order to achieve the appropriate final finish.
It is important to note that epoxy resin is based on heat and chemical reactions; however, epoxy resin tends to be significantly steady at room temperature. The curing process is only initiated when the epoxy resin creates a reaction with another curing agent.
THREE MAIN TYPES OF EPOXY FLOOR COATING
There are three main types of epoxy resins commonly used in epoxy floor and wall coatings: Bisphenol A, Bisphenol F, and Novolac. Epichlorohydrin and phenolic reactions form all three and the physical and performance properties are determined by the number and kind of phenolic compounds. All three types of resins have certain advantages and formulators need to use specialty additives to impart balanced properties that are desirable to coatings installers like surface appearance and application properties.
The most popular form of epoxy resin that is used for epoxy coatings is Bisphenol A. Bisphenol A has a honey-liquid consistency and is an extremely versatile resin. Bisphenol A is available in many molecular weights. Their variety of molecular weights is what makes Bisphenol A especially versatile for the epoxy application. Bisphenol A is most widely used for flooring systems, in addition to solid coatings. Bisphenol A epoxy resin is the most common type for concrete coatings because of its excellent adhesion, toughness, abrasion resistance, and chemical resistance. Due to its especially thick natural consistency, there will commonly be additives and diluents which are added into the Bisphenol-A epoxy formula to enhance workability and adhesion. These additives lessen crosslink density which lowers the chemical resistance.
Bisphenol F epoxy will typically be more expensive than Bisphenol A epoxy. This is because Bisphenol F epoxy is able to be used for a greater variety of applications. Bisphenol F resins have lower viscosity which means fewer additives and diluents are added which translates to higher chemical resistance. Bisphenol F is especially chemically resistant, and are more likely to be used as varnishes or lacquers, and for application regarding water pipes, adhesives, supermarket food packaging, plastics, dental sealants, and liners. Another advantage is that Bisphenol F has less tendency to crystallize at lower temperatures compared to Bisphenol A resins. Bisphenol F can be blended with Bisphenol A and other resins to reduce viscosity and increase resistance to crystallization.
Novolacs are made using excess phenol and modifying Bisphenol F Resins. The viscosity of Novolac resins is higher than Bisphenol F and its functionality is considerably greater than both Bisphenol A and Bisphenol F resins. The higher viscosity and greater functionality of Novolacs give them superior heat and chemical resistance than their Bisphenol A and Bisphenol F counterparts. The greater chemical resistant qualities is a result of the very tight crosslink density because of Novolac’s higher functionality. These properties also make Novolac resins more brittle than Both Bisphenol A and F resins so formulators need to address that with additives and hardener selection. The greater heat resistance is the result of the larger number of aromatic rings. As to be expected Novolac resins have a higher cost to go along with their higher performance.
This type of epoxy flooring is durable and has a visual effect that is not able to be created through the use of regular paint. Unique metallic pigments are able to create a sense of movement and depth on a floor. This type of coating is very popular for commercial and high traffic retail applications, leaving a stunning effect on any floor’s surface.
Clear Epoxy Floor Coating
What is clear epoxy floor coating, and what is it used for? Clear epoxy floor coating is typically used to cover concrete flooring, due to the advantages that the materials that it contains have. Clear epoxy floor coating can be used on top of an originally painted surface, to cover the paint structure with a more durable and long-lasting consistency. Clear epoxy floor coating is especially used for the application of garage floor epoxy coating.