Updated: Apr 19, 2021
We are in the midst of the coldest months of the winter, and we all know what that means, not building snowmen and sipping hot chocolate, but installing epoxy in temperatures below freezing.
The higher or lower the ambient temperature is when installing epoxy directly corresponds to the amount of heat or lack thereof generated. When Part A and Part B are mixed it creates a chemical reaction called an exothermic reaction which produces heat. So, if the surrounding temperature is cold it can affect the characteristics of your epoxy:
Minimum floor temperature for coating is 55°F (13°C). Product should be applied when ambient/air temperature is 60-85°F (16-29°C).
Rate of reaction
Colder temperatures slow down the rate of reaction which affects the cure time of your epoxy. When your client’s request a deadline, or you give a deadline, take into consideration what the temperatures look like for the next week because a project that could normally take 3 days may take 6.
Degree of cure
Colder temperatures can cause your epoxy not to cure at all which results in tacky or sticky resin where the reaction did not occur as it should have.
As the temperature drops, epoxy becomes much thicker and will not flow out easily. As a result, your epoxy that is meant to be self-leveling may not actually level.
In the cold months, If the water vapor content stays the same and the temperature drops, the relative humidity increase. As a result you may get moisture settling on the uncured epoxy. This may lead to blushing, reduced gloss and surface defects on your floor and just overall ruin the finish.
So, you can’t change the weather but how can you change your outcome and ensure a smooth job? Well, here are 5 techniques to help you when you find yourself installing in the winter.
Add some heat:
Whenever possible warm the ambient air by turning up the thermostat in the application area or use radiant heaters to keep the temperature from dropping too low. Heat lamps can also be used to warm the products. Keep your resin and hardener with your heat lamps until you are ready to use it.
Check the Slab Temperature
Warming the surface of the slab with portable heaters, hot air blowers, and/or heat lamps will ensure that the material flows smoothly, penetrating porous surfaces and creating a strong bond with the substrate.
Use The Right Product
It is also important to use the right epoxy products when applying coatings in cold temperatures and make sure the resin and hardeners are dispensed in the proper mixing ration only. Always look carefully at the epoxy coatings tech sheet for information about whether or not the material can be applied in temperatures under 55°F. Our RIO SHIELD MMA Line and Deck Coatings can go down to 40°F. Polyaspartic, such as our UPA, will cure faster at colder temps compared to epoxy. Fast Hardener for our RIOCOAT system is always nice in the winter to use with RIOCOAT EMP and EPT.
Prepare surfaces carefully
When coating at cold temperatures between applications, the slower cure can result in the formation of an amine blush on the surface. The blush feels like a waxy film on the surface of the cured epoxy. Just before applying subsequent coatings, wash the surface with warm water using a 3M Scotchbrite® abrasive hand pad. Before the water evaporates, dry the surface with plain white paper towels and sand any remaining glossy areas with medium grit sandpaper.
Allow additional cure time
As a general rule, double the cure time for every 18°F drop in temperature. Allow extra time for pre-stressed joints and joints that will be subject to high loads.
Post-cure the epoxy
Post-curing can help to complete the epoxy mixture’s crosslinking and boost the epoxy’s physical properties even after a week or two of cold temperature. Post-curing simply is the process of applying heat to complete or speed the cure after the epoxy has reached a partial cure at ambient temperature.
Do the research, check the temperatures, be mindful of your environment and don’t let the freezing temperatures trip you up. If you have any questions or want to learn more about our products visit www.riofloor.com or call 216-513-0992.