Understanding an epoxy resin floor

Understanding Epoxy Resin Floors

Epoxy resin floors are simple, yet highly durable class of floor coating systems. As the following article presents, there are a range of benefits, considerations for installation and opportunities to use an epoxy resin floor for your application. 

1. what is an epoxy resin floor?

What is an epoxy resin floor?

An epoxy floor is part of a wider class of resin floors. Epoxy itself is a type of polyepoxide, a form of reactive polymer that contains epoxide groups. 

Used to make composites, they also offer outstanding adhesive and protective properties, making them excellent chemical coatings for a variety of surfaces, from floors to walls, industrial equipment and many other surfaces. Not only does it provide a seamless, clean looking surface, it also significantly strengthens the underlying surface, whether its concrete, metal or wood.

How is an epoxy resin floor installed?

Epoxy resin floors are liquid during installation, making them perfect for penetrating cracks and filling structural deficits. However, over a period of a few hours, the epoxy cures or “hardens”. In the most basic sense, the epoxy resin reacts or “cross-links” with itself as solvent gradually evaporates off, leaving a hard, impermeable barrier protecting your surface.

What are the benefits of an epoxy resin floor?

Versatility: epoxy flooring systems can be applied to a huge range of surface types and conditions, from floors to walls amongst other bespoke applications.

Design: epoxy resin floors can be tailored to required applications:

-       Colour: most epoxy flooring systems can be tailored to your colour scheme – and, colour stripes and lines can also be included to factor in high-risk areas.

-       Texture: simple epoxy coatings can be designed to present smooth, sleek coatings or variants with textured finishes.

-       Grip: environments prone to spillages, and frequent damp, grease and oil presence require enhanced grip. In such environments, we recommend adding a non-slip coating to such floors as an industry-recognised way to enhance grip, as recommended by the Health & Safety authorities.  

Performance: a hardened epoxy resin itself is renowned for its exceptional surface coating and protective abilities, having been used for a wide variety of applications, having been used by the chemicals, petrochemicals, electronics, automotive and marine industries.

Chemical resistance: unreactive and impermeable to a wide range of substances, from engine oil to acids and of course water.

 

2. TIPS FOR cOATING FRESH CONCRETE WITH epoxy RESIN

Any new flooring project has a good chance of seeing freshly laid concrete. Whilst pre-laid, existing concrete floors can be quickly resurfaced, new concrete has a high moisture content due to the water inside it.

This article provides a series of recommendations - particularly if you are thinking about coating freshly laid concrete with epoxy resin.

BENEFITS OF AN EPOXY RESIN FLOOR

Resin floors - particularly epoxy ones, have 3 key benefits:

  • Protection of the structural aspects of the concrete floor from accelerated wear and tear
  • The creation of an attractive appearance for the floor
  • An increase in aesthetics and safety, particularly in wet, industrial environments where a non-slip coating is desired and a seamless coating preferred.

CAN I COAT FRESH CONCRETE WITH EPOXY RESIN?

We often get asked if a resin floor can be immediately coated with epoxy. Our quick response is no; moisture within concrete must be allowed to evaporate for it to harden and achieve its ultimate strength. A resin coating here would prevent the moisture from escaping, which leads us to the second reason: epoxy coatings require a dry surface with a low moisture content before coating.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COATING FRESH CONCRETE

At a minimum, we would recommend a semi-permeable epoxy coating, although this type lacks the robustness and durability of standard epoxy resin floors. So, in most cases, we would recommend you allow the concrete floor to dehydrate before coating. Failing to do this would see your epoxy resin floor suffering from bubbles, cracks and flaking – all of which are highly unsightly.

HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT BEFORE APPLYING AN EPOXY RESIN FLOOR COATING?

From our experience and according to leading manufacturers, you should wait for a month or more prior to coating. However, this could vary depending on the weather: heat accelerates evaporation, whilst coat restricts it as does dampness and humidity.  

3. Key STEPS TO CREATE THE PERFECT EPOXY RESIN FLOOR

Epoxy resin floors are greater for a variety of demanding environments. From warehouses to car garages, chemical processing plants and bunds, epoxy is an excellent protective coating. In the following section, we provide a basic overview of how to install a resin floor made from epoxy resin.

1. PREPARATION

The underlying flooring preparation is important in creating a smooth, flat coating that’s stable and built to last. To do this there are usually two scenarios that we encounter:

  • NEW CONCRETE FLOORS: those involving freshly prepared concrete, we recommend you allow it to set for as long as possible since the presence of moisture will interfere with resin-concrete penetration and bonding. You should also measure the moisture content using a special tool to make sure the resin is within the range of the recommended moisture level.
  • CONCRETE FLOOR REFURBISHMENT: in such cases, we recommend you scale back the existing surface using a diamond floor grinder. This is designed to remove the outer layer and a thin layer of concrete to expose the stronger surface. Care should be taken to ensure that the resurfaced concrete has some roughness to allow the resin to “grip” the concrete; very smooth, polished concrete will provide a weaker bond. With existing floors, you can also expect some degree of repair work to be required. We typically recommend using a concrete filler in such instances, prior to grinding back.

2. SURFACE PRIMING

Once the concrete has been prepared, we’ll prime the surface using a resin-based primer. This is designed to penetrate into the concrete to help create a strong bond. It does this because it has a lower viscosity than the epoxy resin, so it gets deeper into the concrete, ultimately creating resin-based anchors that enhance bond strength when cured. It also bonds exceptionally well to the subsequent epoxy layers, so there is no adhesion loss.

To apply the primer, ensure that it has been fully mixed prior to pouring sufficient quantities onto the surface and then performing a rolling motion to ensure dispersal. This layer should be relatively thin; we recommend you leave it for up to 24 hours - or depending on manufacturer’s instructions, although warmer temperatures can accelerate curing.

3. EPOXY RESIN APPLICATION TO CONCRETE

Once the primer has been applied and has cured prepare the epoxy resin. This involves following the manufacturer’s instructions, but as a loose guide, we outline a basic procedure.

Note that the dispersal of resin on the concrete should be performed in a front to back motion using a foam roller. This should be performed twice, prior to then being applied left to right. This helps to cover the surface and create an even surface.

The first step concerns the mixing of epoxy resin with catalyst. This should be well mixed to ensure that the resin is fully catalysed, although you should not mix such that excessive bubbles as this could affect resin binding. We then recommend you pour the freshly mixed resin onto the primed concrete surface and immediately roll the resin across the surface.

Once the epoxy resin has been applied to coat the surface, allow it to cure for up to 12 hours. Then apply a second layer of epoxy resin using the same procedure. This should also be allowed to cure for 12 - 24 hours, depending on the type of epoxy resin. The resin surface should then be ready to walk on.

Non-slip coatings are also an excellent way to increase grip strength of your floor.

 

4. EPOXY VS. POLYURETHANE RESIN FLOORS

Both epoxy and polyurethane resin flooring come with their own characteristics and strengths. For the most part, both epoxy and polyurethane resin floors are similar: they’re durable and hard wearing and also provide excellent waterproofing protection to concrete floors and also from dirt and damage.

Yet in spite of these similarities, there are some subtle differences between the two systems.

MECHANICAL STRENGTH

The main difference is that as a polymer, polyurethane resin is quite flexible and elastic, while epoxy resin is much harder and more brittle. and is often recommended for heavy industry. Polyurethane on the other hand is used to enhance concrete; when combined, it provides both flexibility and strength. What is more, the lower cost of concrete aggregate and screed, which provide enhanced mechanical strength, offsets the comparable cost of the polyurethane resin.

Epoxy has a much higher compressive strength than polyurethane. This makes them the best flooring system for demanding environments in heavy duty industries like warehouses, logistic centres, and other places with heavy, frequent forklift traffic. Whilst epoxy is mechanically hard, polyurethane is more flexible, allowing it to be used in areas where the temperature is more variable, given its ability to expand and contract in accordance with the temperature.

Chemical Resistance

It is worth noting that both epoxy and polyurethane resin floors react differently to different chemicals that they are exposed to. Epoxy and polyurethane resins are generally very resistant to a wide range of harsh industrial chemicals. This is why they’ve been chosen for a wide range of installations, from warehouse floors to food processing facilities. Epoxy, for instance, is highly resistant to sulphuric acid and hydrochloric acid. Yet polyurethane systems possess greater resistance to organic chemicals like lactic acid seen in milk and dairy production, which is the reason many customers in the food processing industry request it.

Repairs

Both resin types can be used to make repairs to damage concrete. For small cracks, epoxy is preferable; it's a thinner resin with good mechanical strength that binds up weaker concrete. On the other hand, more flexible polyurethane flooring compounds are ideal for bridging gaps and cracks in an existing substrate.

Speed

The installation and curing times quite a bit between the two resins. A multicoat polyurethane surface can be cured to full strength over a weekend, whereas the same area of epoxy flooring can take a whole week to fully dry.

Ease of installation

Again, both types of resin vary in terms of installation speed. Epoxy resin floors are generally easier to install and more forgiving. They’re also less sensitive to moisture compared to polyurethane resin floors, which are exceptionally sensitive to humidity. If attacked by moisture, a curing polyurethane resin floor will blister and warp, which is why it’s critical that a full moisture assessment is performed prior to coating.

 

5. Why CHOOSE AN EPOXY RESIN FLOOR?

BENEFITS OF AN EPOXY RESIN FLOOR

Resin floors - particularly epoxy ones, have 3 key benefits:

  • Protection of the structural aspects of the concrete floor from accelerated wear and tear
  • The creation of an attractive appearance for the floor
  • An increase in aesthetics and safety, particularly in wet, industrial environments where a non-slip coating is desired and a seamless coating preferred. 

CAN I COAT FRESH CONCRETE WITH EPOXY RESIN?

We often get asked if a resin floor can be immediately coated with epoxy. Our quick response is no; moisture within concrete must be allowed to evaporate for it to harden and achieve its ultimate strength. A resin coating here would prevent the moisture from escaping, which leads us to the second reason: epoxy coatings require a dry surface with a low moisture content before coating.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COATING FRESH CONCRETE

At a minimum, we would recommend a semi-permeable epoxy coating, although this type lacks the robustness and durability of standard epoxy resin floors. So, in most cases, we would recommend you allow the concrete floor to dehydrate before coating. Failing to do this would see your epoxy resin floor suffering from bubbles, cracks and flaking – all of which are highly unsightly.

HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT BEFORE APPLYING AN EPOXY RESIN FLOOR COATING?

From our experience and according to leading manufacturers, you should wait for a month or more prior to coating. However, this could vary depending on the weather: heat accelerates evaporation, whilst coat restricts it as does dampness and humidity.  

6. TYPES OF EPOXY RESIN FLOORING SYSTEMS AND WHERE TO USE THEM

There are several types of an epoxy resin floor. The precise flooring system used will depend on the customer budget, working environment and demands. One of the benefits of an epoxy resin floor is that it can be fully tailored to your environment. Below we outline the most popular types of epoxy resin floors

SELF-LEVELLING EPOXY RESIN FLOORS

This is the simplest form of epoxy resin floor to create. It’s commonly used on new or existing floors undergoing refurbishment. Self-levelling epoxy resin floors offer a glossy, seamless appearance that is perfect for industrial, domestic and residential spaces. 

Where are self-levelling epoxy resin floors used?

A self-levelling epoxy resin floor is used in a variety of applications, from warehouses to car showrooms, domestic garages, manufacturing environments and chemical & water processing facilities 

EPOXY RESIN MORTAR FLOORS

An epoxy mortar floor is built from solid epoxies and a range of sand or quartz particles. The size of the particle can vary according to application. These mortar systems are perfect for heavy industry; those requiring the most durable type of floor that can withstand heavy, direct impact from machinery and structures as well as chemical resistance. 

Where are epoxy resin mortar floors used?

For the most part, an epoxy resin mortar floor is used in industrial environments, like aircraft hangers, warehouses, manufacturing facilities and chemical processing plants. They’re also commonly used for domestic and commercial garages. They can be further enhanced by embedding quartz grit to present an excellent non-slip coating. 

QUARTZ-BASED EPOXY RESIN FLOORS

These are epoxy resin floors built using quartz grains of selected sizes. They’re often used for decorative purposes that also require a high-grip surface to offset water and chemical spillages. Quartz embedded in epoxy resin also presents an excellent non-slip coating, whilst the resin itself offers excellent chemical resistance and waterproofing. 

Where are quartz-based epoxy resin floors used?

These floors are often found in laboratories, sanitary rooms, cafeterias and any other floor spaces where foot traffic can be exposed to frequent spillages that require excellent grip strength. 

ANTI-STATIC (ELECTROSTATIC DISCHARGE - ESD) EPOXY RESIN FLOORS

Epoxy resin floors resistant to electrostatic charge (ESD) are anti-static, such that they possess a conductive element that builds up static electricity and dissipates any dangerous discharge. These floors are a requirement in facilities containing flammable compounds, whether its fuel storage or chemical manufacture. 

Where are anti-static epoxy resin floors used?

Anti-static epoxy resin floors are often a requirement in facilities dealing with electronics, chemicals or any other compounds that could combust when accumulating dust.

WHEN TO CONTACT A RESIN FLOORING SPECIALIST?

If you're unsure about how to install a resin floor, get in touch - we've been protecting surfaces for almost 50 years. At Strandek, we offer a range of tests and service to assess the condition of your concrete and its moisture content. If you’d like to find out more, give us a call on 02921 900011 or fill out our online form.

ABOUT US

Established in 1976, Strandek are leading installers of resin floors. Our expertise ranges from floor resurfacing to epoxy resin flooring, GRP linings and non-slip coatings - all of which are perfect for flooring applications. 

 

 

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Why Choose Strandek®?

Since 1976, Strandek has provided high-quality glass fibre and other resin-based coatings to a range of satisfied customers in industry, government, construction and residential sectors alike. 

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Our team have extensive experience and we pride ourselves on reliable workmanship and competitive pricing.

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