Epoxy is becoming an ever more popular product for residential, commercial, and industrial environments alike. There is some confusion in the market, however, about what the different epoxy products are called. Epoxy floor paint is actually a very different material from an epoxy floor coating and the methods for applying them also vary greatly. At the Epoxy Gang, we understand the importance of installing the right flooring to suit your needs, so let's take a look at the differences between epoxy floor paint and epoxy floor coatings as well as how to apply each of them.
While at first glance, it can seem like we are talking about very similar products when comparing epoxy paint and epoxy coatings, in fact, they are very different. And choosing the wrong one for your floor could mean you don't get the performance you were hoping for.
An epoxy floor coating is a high-performance, extremely hard, and durable floor coating. It utilises a chemical reaction between the epoxy resin and a hardener. This reaction triggers the cross-linking of polymer molecules that strongly bind the coating to the concrete surface beneath.
The resulting floor coating seals the concrete and is seamless and very hard, yet flexible enough to withstand high impacts. It is chemical resistant, can withstand high temperatures, abrasion resistant, waterproof, and hygienic.
You will often see epoxy floors in industrial settings, used as a garage floor, in commercial kitchens, medical laboratories, and areas where there is high foot traffic.
Epoxy paint mainly consists of latex acrylic with a small amount of epoxy added to the mix. You may see it marketed as "one-part epoxy floor paint" because it isn't mixed with a hardener before application like true epoxy floor coatings.
The epoxy helps the latex to bind with concrete floors and adds some durability to the flooring. But it does not bind with the concrete the same way that epoxy flooring does. It is simply a paint covering and will not create a seal.
Epoxy floor paint is a cheaper option than full epoxy flooring and is much easier to apply as a DIY project. It wouldn't be as suitable for something like a garage floor because it won't stand up to the heavy vehicle use but as a way of sprucing up a less used floor, it can work quite well.
For more learnings, you can check out our post "What Is Epoxy Flooring".
Epoxy resin floor paint is applied in the same way as standard latex floor paint.
You will need to remove any dirt, grime, dust, and debris that could get caught in the paint. This is particularly important for a garage floor because grease and oil can interfere with the paint's bond with the concrete.
Use a broom or vacuum cleaner to remove loose dirt and debris and then wash the floor with a detergent or degreaser and water before leaving to dry. You could also use a pressure washer to give the floor a thorough cleaning.
Check out: How To Clean Epoxy Resin Floors
It is a good idea to roughen concrete floors before applying paint. A smooth floor may not allow the paint to bond with the surface as well.
There are two methods for roughening a concrete floor. The first is acid etching. This involves using muriatic acid or another chemical to wash the floor, which will leave tiny etches on the surface. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and that you wear the recommended safety gear, including eye protection, gloves, and chemical-resistant clothing.
The second method is to manually create etches using a power grinder or sander.
Once you have finished roughening the floor, you will need to go back in with your vacuum cleaner to remove the loose dust before washing the floor and leaving it to dry.
Before you apply our paint, make sure that you have all of your safety gear in place and that the room has adequate ventilation. Breathing in paint fumes from resin-based paints can be toxic so you need to wear a mask.
Apply painter's tape to the edges of the floor where it meets the skirting board to prevent the paint from getting on the walls. While it can be tempting, you shouldn't use duct tape in place of painter's tape as it can be hard to remove and can leave a residue behind.
Applying epoxy floor paint is the same as any other floor paint. Apply the first coat using a paintbrush rather than a roller because this will allow you to work it into the floor more deeply. This can be more time-consuming but it can be worth it as it will ensure proper coverage. You can also slightly thin the first coat with a small amount of water to allow for better absorption into the concrete.
Make sure that you cover the entire floor with the first coat of paint and then leave it to dry. Solvent-based latex paints will usually be touch dry in a couple of hours.
You can apply a second coat without watering the paint down and you can use a roller instead of a paintbrush for the majority of the floor. You should start with a paintbrush for the edges, however, before going in with a roller as this will make sure that there aren't any gaps where the floor meets the wall.
If you need a third coat, wait for the second coat to dry before applying it.
You should let the floor dry overnight or for at least a day before walking on it and for around a week before driving any vehicles onto it.
The application process for epoxy flooring is much more complicated than for epoxy-based paints. It is often a job best left for professionals because you have one shot of getting epoxy coatings right and you have to work quickly and perfectly to get the right finish. If you need epoxy flooring installed in your home or business, the Epoxy Gang can help. We are an experienced and knowledgeable team of professionals who will ensure that your epoxy flooring is installed to the highest standards.
Correct preparation of the surface is key for the proper installation of epoxy flooring. The surface needs to be completely free of any contaminants. Use a scraper, wire brush, or stiff bristle brush to remove dirt, dust, wax, debris, and mould/mildew.
Then the floor needs to be scrubbed thoroughly. A mechanical power scrubber is the most efficient way of doing this but you can also scrub manually using a stiff brush, detergent, and lots of water.
Rinse the floor thoroughly with water or use a power washer. Then leave to air dry or use a wet vac.
Next, you need to go back in and remove any dirt that has been thrown up by the scrubbing process. An industrial vacuum is the best method for doing this if you have access to one.
Etching needs to be done before epoxy application. Again, you can either use acid etching with muriatic acid or you can manually etch using a power grinder or sander. This etching will create grooves that will allow the epoxy resin to adhere more strongly to the floor. If you are acid washing, it will also open pores in the concrete which will help the resin to absorb into the whole floor.
You will need to vacuum again after etching to remove the dust.
All cracks and holes need to be sealed up before you can apply the epoxy product. For larger holes, you can use cement grout and for smaller holes and cracks you can use epoxy grout.
You need to make sure that the environmental conditions are right before applying your coat of epoxy. The air temperature needs to be between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius. If it is too cold, the epoxy will take too long to cure and won't harden properly. If it is too hot, it will cure too quickly and won't adhere to the concrete fully which can cause lifting.
You also need to make sure that it isn't too humid as this can create a layer of moisture between the epoxy and the concrete which will prevent it from bonding properly.
You should apply epoxy flooring with another person because of how speedily the job needs to be done (you only have around 40 minutes of pot time).
Now you need to mix the epoxy resin with the hardener components. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully for mixing the two components. If this stage goes wrong, then the epoxy flooring may not cure properly and could crack.
It can be a good idea to apply an epoxy primer before the first coat. This will aid adhesion and can also help you to spot any cracks or holes in the concrete that you may have missed.
Use a nap roller to apply the epoxy resin to ensure an even coat. Start at the far corner of the room and move towards the exit.
The next coat should be applied after the first has dried. This can take between 16 and 25 hours. Prepare the epoxy resin and hardener the same way as you did for the first and then apply using a roller. You should go over the surface with a squeegee to make sure that it is completely smooth.
The cure time can be affected by air temperature, humidity, and the thickness of the coats but as a rule of thumb, you can expect epoxy flooring to be fully cured by around one week.
Epoxy resin paint and epoxy flooring are two very different products. Epoxy paint is a cheaper option that is easy to apply yourself but that doesn't provide the same level of protection, durability, resistance, and longevity as true epoxy resin floor coatings. Epoxy resin flooring can be difficult to install properly on your own without the proper training.
If you need epoxy flooring installed, don't hesitate to get in touch. At the Epoxy Gang, we pride ourselves on the quality of our epoxy floor installation based on our years of training, knowledge, and experience and we will ensure that your floor is of the highest quality.
While you're here, take a look at our post "Can I Apply Clear Epoxy Resin Over Wood Floors" for more additional information.