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  • Writer's pictureShawn Kocab

The Various Types of Epoxy Flooring Systems

Updated: May 23, 2023

Are you growing weary of the traditional flooring options such as tile, carpet, and hardwood in your residential or commercial spaces? Perhaps polished concrete, stamped concretes, and concrete overlays haven't met your requirements in garages or commercial facilities. In such circumstances, have you considered exploring the possibilities of epoxy flooring? You may have heard that epoxy flooring is monotonous, gray, and suitable only for industrial settings. However, that couldn't be further from the truth! Thanks to recent advancements in the epoxy industry, there are now numerous ways to elevate your concrete floors into works of art using various types of epoxy. In this article, we will delve into the most popular types of epoxy and unveil their unique offerings. Let's commence our exploration!


What Is Epoxy? Is It Worth It?

To better understand the various types of epoxy flooring, it is important to grasp the essence of an epoxy flooring system. A genuine epoxy system comprises two essential components: epoxy resins and activators/hardeners. These two parts work in unison to create a durable and resilient flooring solution. It is worth noting that the one-part epoxies available at local hardware stores do not constitute true epoxy systems, but we will delve further into this topic shortly.


Pros Ultra-durable Long-lasting Superior chemical resistance Easily maintainable


Pros of Epoxy Flooring:

  1. Unparalleled Durability: Epoxy flooring exhibits exceptional durability, making it highly resistant to wear and tear. Its robust nature enables it to withstand heavy foot traffic, impacts, and other forms of mechanical stress.

  2. Longevity: Epoxy floors are known for their long lifespan. When properly installed and maintained, they can provide reliable performance for many years, making them a cost-effective flooring option in the long run.

  3. Superior Chemical Resistance: One of the remarkable features of epoxy flooring is its resistance to various chemicals, including acids, solvents, oils, and other corrosive substances. This attribute makes it an ideal choice for environments where chemical spills or exposure is a concern. Easy Maintenance: Maintaining epoxy floors is relatively straightforward. Their smooth and non-porous surface makes them resistant to stains, and they can be easily cleaned using mild detergents or specified cleaning agents. Regular sweeping or mopping is usually sufficient to keep them looking pristine.

Epoxy flooring's exceptional durability, longevity, chemical resistance, and ease of maintenance make it a compelling choice for a wide range of applications, from residential to commercial and industrial settings.


Cons of Epoxy Flooring:

  1. Slippery When Wet: One potential drawback of epoxy flooring is that it can become slippery when wet. This can pose a safety risk, especially in areas prone to moisture or spills. Adding anti-slip additives or textures to the epoxy coating can help mitigate this issue.

  2. Difficult to Remove: Once epoxy flooring is applied and fully cured, it can be challenging to remove. Removing epoxy requires specialized equipment and expertise, which can make the process time-consuming and costly.

  3. Toxic Fumes During Installation: Certain types of epoxy coatings emit strong odors and potentially harmful fumes during the installation process. Proper ventilation and following safety precautions are crucial to minimize exposure to these fumes.

  4. Challenges with Fast Cure Epoxies: Fast cure epoxies have a shorter working time, which can make installation more demanding. It requires careful planning and coordination to ensure that the epoxy is applied and spread evenly before it cures.

While epoxy flooring offers numerous benefits, it's essential to be aware of these potential drawbacks. Taking appropriate measures, such as addressing slipperiness, ensuring proper ventilation during installation, and carefully managing the application of fast cure epoxies, can help mitigate these challenges and ensure a successful epoxy flooring experience.


100 Percent Solid Epoxy

Undoubtedly, this particular type of epoxy flooring stands as the epitome of strength and durability, making it the unrivaled champion in the flooring market. Its exceptional robustness, however, comes with a higher price tag. But fear not, as the investment is commensurate with the remarkable benefits it offers. Despite its impressive attributes, it is important to note that this flooring may not be suitable for all environments and could be deemed excessive in certain settings.


When it comes to seeking optimum performance and protection for your concrete slab, there is no better choice than a 100 percent solid epoxy system. Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of using a 100 percent epoxy:

Pros:

  1. Impressive Weight Tolerance: A 100 percent solid epoxy system boasts an impressive weight tolerance of up to 15,000 pounds per square inch (PSI). This exceptional strength enables it to withstand heavy loads without compromising its structural integrity.

  2. Rapid Curing Time: One notable advantage of a 100 percent epoxy is its ability to fully cure in as little as one hour. This quick curing time minimizes downtime and allows for faster completion of flooring projects.

  3. Extended Lifespan: With proper installation and maintenance, a 100 percent epoxy flooring system can last up to 30 years. Its exceptional durability and resilience ensure long-term performance, making it a cost-effective investment over time.

Cons:

  1. Higher Cost: As compared to typical epoxy systems, 100 percent epoxy tends to come with a higher price tag. The increased performance and durability warrant the higher cost, but it's important to consider budget constraints when opting for this type of flooring.

  2. Limited Availability: Finding 100 percent epoxy may be more challenging than locating standard epoxy products. It is essential to research and consult with reputable suppliers or professionals to ensure access to the specific epoxy system you desire.

  3. Professional Installation: Due to the specialized nature of 100 percent epoxy application, it is often recommended to have it installed by professionals. This ensures proper surface preparation, precise mixing, and accurate application techniques to achieve optimal results.

While a 100 percent solid epoxy system offers outstanding benefits, such as high weight tolerance, fast curing time, and extended lifespan, it's crucial to consider the potential drawbacks, including the higher cost, availability, and the need for professional installation. By weighing these factors against your specific requirements and budget, you can make an informed decision regarding the suitability of a 100 percent epoxy flooring system for your project.


Two-Part Water Based Epoxies

The next level down from the 100 percent solid epoxy is the two-part water-based epoxy system. Unlike the pure epoxy resin to hardener composition of the 100 percent solid system, the notable distinction in water-based epoxy is the use of water as the solvent. The two-part water-based epoxy system stands as the most widely used form of epoxy, commonly employed in residential projects and low-duty commercial facilities. However, it is essential to consider both the advantages and disadvantages associated with this type of epoxy:


Pros:

  1. Easy Availability: The two-part water-based epoxy system is readily accessible, making it easy to obtain for various flooring projects. This accessibility enhances convenience and simplifies the procurement process.

  2. Cost-Effective: Compared to the 100 percent solid epoxy, the water-based system is more affordable. This affordability makes it an attractive option for individuals or businesses with budget constraints.

  3. Low Odor: Water-based epoxy emits lower levels of odor during application and curing, creating a more pleasant working environment. This attribute is particularly beneficial for indoor projects where strong odors may be a concern.

Cons:

  1. Reduced Durability: The water-based epoxy system is not as durable as the 100 percent solid epoxy. While it still offers reasonable strength and protection, it may not withstand heavy impacts or extreme conditions as effectively.

  2. Regular Refinishing: Unlike the long lifespan of the 100 percent solid epoxy, the water-based system typically requires refinishing approximately every five years. This periodic maintenance is necessary to maintain its appearance and performance.

  3. Extensive Concrete Preparation: Proper concrete surface preparation is crucial for successful application of the water-based epoxy system. This often involves thorough cleaning, removal of existing coatings or contaminants, and ensuring the concrete is in optimal condition before applying the epoxy.

Considering the advantages and disadvantages of the two-part water-based epoxy system allows for informed decision-making when selecting the appropriate epoxy flooring for your specific needs. Its easy availability, affordability, and low odor make it a popular choice for residential and low-duty commercial projects, although it may not offer the same level of durability as the 100 percent solid epoxy. Regular refinishing and meticulous concrete preparation are important considerations to ensure the best results with this type of epoxy.


DIY Paint Epoxies

It is important to note that DIY "epoxy" kits are not genuine epoxy and should not be considered unless the area you intend to coat is purely for showcasing purposes, such as model homes or showrooms. These so-called epoxies lack the benefits typically associated with authentic epoxy systems and are primarily valued for their affordability. If you are contemplating the use of a painted epoxy, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons:

Pros:

  1. Budget-Friendly: Painted epoxy kits are typically more affordable compared to genuine epoxy systems. They offer a cost-effective option for individuals on a limited budget.

  2. Easy to Find: Painted epoxy kits are widely available and can be easily obtained from various sources. This accessibility adds to the convenience of acquiring the necessary materials.

  3. Easy to Work With: Painted epoxy kits are generally designed for easy application and are suitable for individuals without extensive experience in epoxy coating. They often come with user-friendly instructions, simplifying the process.

Cons:

  1. Not Genuine Epoxy: It is important to recognize that painted epoxy kits are not authentic epoxy systems. They may lack the same durability, chemical resistance, and other beneficial properties associated with genuine epoxy coatings.

  2. Potential Delamination: With heavy use or exposure to harsh conditions, painted epoxy coatings may be prone to delamination, leading to peeling or flaking. This compromises the integrity and appearance of the coating.

  3. Limited Lifespan: Painted epoxy coatings typically have a shorter lifespan compared to genuine epoxy systems. While durability can vary depending on usage and maintenance, they may only last 2-3 years before requiring recoating or refinishing.

Considering these pros and cons allows for a more informed decision regarding the use of painted epoxy coatings. While they offer budget-friendly options, easy availability, and user-friendly application, it is important to acknowledge their limitations, including the absence of genuine epoxy properties, potential delamination, and a shorter lifespan.


Decorative Epoxies

Not all epoxy flooring systems conform to the conventional perception of gray and dull coatings typically associated with commercial and industrial settings. In fact, there exists a diverse range of decorative epoxies that are renowned for their attractive finishes. If you've ever wondered about the possibilities of decorative epoxy, let's explore a few of the different types available today:

  1. Metallic Epoxy Flooring: This type of epoxy creates a mesmerizing, three-dimensional effect that mimics the appearance of liquid metal or a shimmering metallic surface. It combines colored pigments with metallic additives, resulting in a unique and eye-catching finish. Metallic epoxy flooring is highly customizable, allowing for the creation of stunning designs and patterns.

  2. Epoxy Flake Flooring: Also known as chip or flake flooring, this type of epoxy incorporates decorative flakes or chips into the epoxy base. The flakes come in various colors and sizes, offering endless design possibilities. Epoxy flake flooring provides a speckled, textured appearance that adds depth and visual interest to the floor.

  3. Graveled/Quartz Epoxy: Graveled or quartz epoxy incorporates decorative aggregates, such as colored quartz or natural stone chips, into the epoxy system. This results in a textured, terrazzo-like surface that is both visually appealing and highly durable. Graveled or quartz epoxy flooring is popular in residential, commercial, and industrial settings due to its aesthetic appeal and excellent resistance to heavy foot traffic.

Now that you have learned about the different types of decorative epoxy flooring, you can consider where you would like to implement this stunning flooring solution. Whether it's a residential space, a retail environment, or a commercial establishment, decorative epoxy can elevate the aesthetics and functionality of your floors. We wish you the best of luck in your future projects and the creation of beautiful epoxy flooring.





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