The first thing you need to know is that garage floor epoxy coatings are not like regular floor paint and that all epoxies are not the same.
Epoxy Flooring, to some people, is absolutely a new concept in interior and exterior flooring design. It is not, and this article explores what you must know about epoxy flooring in 2022, the facts, the fiction, and the reality. Some also know epoxy flooring. Some also know epoxy flooring as epoxy floor coatings or epoxy floor coats.
So exactly what is epoxy flooring? Epoxy flooring consists of a Resin and a Hardener parts, much like epoxy glue. Epoxy flooring places floor coatings on the floor, and they are usually two-part solids based, solvent based, or water based. The standard garage floor paints are usually partly floor paint and oil-based or water-based paints. After reading this article, we guarantee that you will make decisions that will save you time, money, and a lot of stress.
What Do you Need to Know About Epoxy Flooring?
Many people have decided not to apply epoxy floor coatings and have concluded that they are not worth it. Their findings and many others have given one of the most beautiful, desirable, and durable coatings a bad name because they have decided without a complete understanding of the chemistry of epoxy coatings. Epoxy coatings must not be confused with semi-gloss, enamel or oil paints. When you compare a shoe made of plastic and a shoe made of leather: they both cover our legs and help us move around. Still, one can have durability and ecstatic appeal, making us look good, while the other could only cover our feet from soaking up water when we are walking on water. The leader’s hoe shoes its sagacity when we need it for the next 12 months, and it is there to serve us when the rubber shoe would have wound up its service life. Just like understanding the different kinds of coatings, We must know the different types of paints and the various types of epoxies to make a better decision when we need to make a floor that looks nice and done right. When we make bad decisions, we end up with floors that will peel off and may immediately require us to grind off the floor and think of applying a new one. The efforts of applications demand a lot of effort and money.
We have done in this article to help you learn a lot about epoxy flooring in residential garages and even in the most demanding floors of military applications.
Epoxy floor coating is a two-part coating that you mix rather than a single component; it will adhere to your garage floor or any concrete floor better than conventional oil-based coatings, water, or enamel paint. Think epoxy glue type adhesion vs. duct tape adhesion. The base with the epoxy coating will have a much more beautiful look to it with a high gloss finish. No conventional paint can match the beauty of an epoxy floor coat. Epoxy floor coatings are waterproof, mold & mildew proof. When cured, a good epoxy floor coating is just about stain proof, and cleaning it is similar to cleaning your Teflon pan. epochem epoxy coatings are available in different colors, with custom colors available for more extensive size floors. You can use decorative floor flakes to color your epoxy floor projects. We have decorative color flakes that you can add to the epoxy for a granite-type look. Our Epocoat epoxy floor coating, though easily installed, can last you up to 20 years.
This article discusses what we have learned from over 25 years of being in the epoxy business and from being the largest epoxy flooring installer in Nigeria. We’ve done every type of floor there is to every kind of product ever invented, so we know exactly what works and what doesn’t work, and it’s a reason why we are the largest online epoxy flooring sellers in Nigeria.
Some answered questions about epoxy flooring.
Are There Different Kinds of Epoxy Floor Coatings?
The answer is a capital “Yes” the best floor epoxies are solidly based, with Aliphatic 100% solids being the best type. Let us explore what this means? It means that with 100% solids, you are getting 100% paint so whatever you put down is what you get. Alternatively, epoxies that are not 100% solids, whatever percentage lower than 100% Some portion of the paint will evaporate as it dries. The part that disappears is either solvents in the case of solids paints or water in water-based epoxy paints. For a better explanation, when you read in the product data sheet that epoxy is 50% solids, 50% of the coating you apply will evaporate away as it dries. It is essential to understand that the lower the percentage of solids, the lower the quality of the epoxy paint; this is a rule of thumb in the anti-corrosion application industry, understandably water-based paints being the most inferior quality. The exceptions are Primers & Topcoats; Primers usually have a lower percentage of solids because they are made thinner to kind of soak into the pores of the concrete. Topcoats should have Urethane which displaces a portion of solids. So it’s ok for primers & topcoats to be lower in solids; try not to use water-based products. If you see a WB or (water-based) in any product name or part number, it’s water-based. 100% solids epoxy is not just for hiding blemishes; it’s to make sure you’re purchasing the highest grade epoxy possible, plus the highest build possible to avoid hot tire lifting when using chips. Polyurea coatings are similar to lower percentage solids epoxies with similar performance issues. We classify these as glorified concrete sealers.
We should also note that high percentage solids epoxies are not as good as 100% solids epoxies. Never have been, will be, and should only ever be used as a primer. Same with all Cycloaliphatic Epoxies, even if they are listed as 100% solids, they all are just a cost-saving Hybrid Epoxy that wears prematurely, bubbles during application, and is quickly yellow. Sometimes you will see stuff like lifetime guarantees, don’t be fooled; they don’t cover wear, dulling, staining, or bubbles during application. They’re just a marketing gimmick. Epochem alone guarantees against wear and accepts anything written in their data sheets!
Epoxy Coatings That Don’t Need Floor Prep or one-part epoxy coating
Most epoxies we have tried that are one part epoxies don’t work. They tend to be thin, difficult to work with, and not a good idea when using color flakes. They’re thin, to begin with and then when you broadcast flakes onto them, the flakes displace some of the epoxies underneath them, leaving you with an even thinner coating on the concrete. In heavier flake applications, the flake can sink onto the concrete, meaning you have little to no epoxy on the concrete; this is why we don’t use color flakes with our commercial coating. The base coat is designed to be a little thinner to soak into the concrete, and it works great for what it’s intended to do. But it doesn’t hold flakes well, and we don’t want flakes displacing any coatings. It’s why our epochem-branded epoxies are thick and viscous. They stay on the surface when you toss chips onto them, leaving plenty of epoxy coating underneath them.
Epoxy floor paints that don’t need floor prep are, at best, a scam; all applications need floor preparations. Floor prep is critical for all epoxy flooring jobs. The two main ways to prep your floor is grinding or acid etching. When you plan to get epoxy flooring services, look for professional installers with enough tools. Floor preparation tools and grinding machines are a must. Most jobs can use the Floor Prep Machine from GZ industrial supplies, and they have the best floor grinding machines with connected vacuum cleaners that extracts all of the dust during applications. GZ’s floor grinding machines are buffing machines with diamond brushes and do a good job for small to medium jobs. If you have a big job, rent the largest diamond grinder you can handle with new 25 grit bits, and always ask if a vac attachment is available on any grinding machine you rent GZ have all of this. For etching, make sure you use enough epochem degreasing liquid or muriatic be sure of the amount you use and be mindful to ensure the floor is clean to the required standard, every applicable standard is essential to achieve the required standard that will stand test of time, also ensure to rinse thoroughly, this brings your slab back to the proper PH to ensure the maximum bond. If you are getting etch with a kit you’re purchasing, check the quantity! Make sure you’re getting the proper amount! Our team would never do a floor without prepping it and neither should you. Super preparation before epoxy flooring is a big deal; take it seriously
Every year there seems to be some new magic formula that hits the market with outlandish promises. Recently it has been “High Solids Epoxy” are good enough. We say they are lying, and they are not. Most companies’ epoxies don’t even equal our primers, and indeed, their high solids epoxies are even less qualified. High Solids epoxies are primers, period. We make and will continue to make what has worked in the past and will continue to work in the future. Don’t fall for marketing hype. EPocaot products remain the very best in Nigeria.
Why you need a primer for your job
Many people keep asking if they need a primer for their epoxy flooring job. As professionals, we answer, “not always.” A primer always makes for a better job because it adds another layer of epoxy and seals the floor simultaneously. Some flooring epoxies will claim to be a primer, an epoxy, and a topcoat all in one. That may be so, but they will be masters of none, as the saying goes. If you have heavy-duty traffic, you need a primer and a proper topcoat. For industrial floor epoxy applications, such as warehouses, hospital operation rooms, etc., you need a primer, a thick epoxy layer, and a topcoat. Our Epocoat Industrial and Commercial application process include a dedicated primer/base coat layer.
There are times when you need a primer for even a simple garage application, such as if your floor is pitted from road salts, or a low grade of concrete was used when it was poured and is now granular or chalky, in poor condition with exposed aggregate due to age or is oil stained, etc. A primer is also great to use when you need to extend the coverage of the epoxy layer since the epoxy is now going over a sealed surface rather than porous concrete. Primer can extend your epoxy coverage by up to 25%. We have primers for just about any floor condition. If your floor is not typical, we suggest you talk to one of our experts before purchasing and applying an epoxy coating.
The Difference Between Garage/Commercial Grade Epoxies and Epoxy Paints?
It is crucial to know the differences between basic or garage floor epoxies and garage paints and between different types of epoxies. Regular garage floor paints are single component products made in either oil or water-based formats. They’re usually used for wall and ceiling applications. They are not suited for applications like epoxy flooring that can have anything from heavy foot traffic to vehicles weighing many tons rolling over it. Epoxy floor paints are mostly a two-component product, whereas regular floor paints are a single component. Epoxies consist of Part A, the resin/pigment part, and Part B, the hardener part. Much like epoxy glue, when you mix Part A & Part B, they harden to form a durable coating. That is if you use a good quality epoxy. Please note that most water-based epoxies are inferior and are no better than regular semi-gloss paint. Many solids-based epoxy flooring paints are also inferior, but it’s much harder to tell which are inadequate and high quality. In the following paragraphs, we will teach you how to distinguish between actual industrial grade floor epoxy paints from those that are just industrial grade in name only.
What Does Pot Life mean when using an Epoxy Floor Coating
Look at the pot life, which is the time you have to work with once the epoxy is mixed. A long pot life or, even worse, unlimited pot life is a sure sign of an inferior floor epoxy. Suitable epoxy flooring will have less than an hour of pot life at 70 degrees. Any epoxy floor coating with an hour or more of pot life or that needs a wait time(induction time)after mixing is an epoxy to steer clear of. When working with Mil grade epoxy, you want to mix no more than one gallon per person rolling. If two people are rolling, you can mix 2 gallons of epoxy, but you need to split that into two separate pails right after mixing. Our Mil grade epoxy cures via a thermal, chemical reaction and not by air. So the more epoxy there is, the more thermal response you get. Splitting a sizeable mixed quantity into smaller portions slows down the curing process. An adequately mixed batch of epoxy flooring will give you 40-45 minutes to apply without rushing. Then when you apply the next batch to the wet edge, it will reactivate the curing process and blend in with no seam lines. A high-quality epoxy will cure a seamless monolithic sheet of rock-hard high gloss epoxy. Low-quality epoxy paints will leave seam lines and cure to a much softer finish that will not look so good in a short period.
What is an Epoxy Topcoat, and Why Is It needed?
The first thing you need to know is that epoxies and topcoats are two completely different products. Epoxies are either a base coat or a middle coat but always a coat that gets a coating over it, which we call a topcoat. Why? Because topcoats are made to be chemically harder than the epoxy coatings they go over. Epoxies are made to provide thickness and adhesion. ArmorGarage Topcoats are made with high-quality Urethane to provide durability and UV protection. So you must know about topcoats. Please be aware that applying a clear epoxy version over a pigmented layer of the same epoxy does nothing, even if you add in UV additives. It’s still an epoxy and not a topcoat. It doesn’t have the impact rating nor the abrasion rating needed for long-term durability.
Any epoxy flooring product that claims not to need a topcoat is a product to avoid. If you’re applying it in your garage, your hot twisting/turning tires will wear the high gloss finish off in no time. This applies to even 100% solids epoxies. Even though they are of higher quality, they are nowhere near as hard as they have to be for vehicle-generated abrasion. More detail on topcoats is explained in the next section below.
What are your epoxy coating’s ratings/specifications, and what do they mean?
So how do we know whether your floor epoxy and or topcoat can stand up to hot twisting tires on your garage floor? The easiest way is to understand what the Abrasion Loss Rating is. The known industry standard method for testing epoxy flooring is the Taber C-17 abrasion test. All other test methods are just marketing gobbled-gook. What the Taber C-17 test does is to take a coating and apply an abrasion wheel with a specific weight on it and spin it at a certain RPM for a certain amount of time. Then the amount of material that got worn off is measured in mgs. This test mimics wear and tear from tires, wheels, foot traffic, etc. So the lower the number of mgs that came off the coating, the better. Even the best garage floor epoxies have an abrasion of rating of 25mgs or higher. This is too soft for garage floor duty or any application that has vehicles, dollies, pallet jacks, shopping carts, or even a high volume of just foot traffic. The minimum rating for a garage floor epoxy, in our opinion, is 20mgs, under 10mgs for commercial/heavy duty floor epoxy applications, and for the highest level of protection you want, under a 5 mg rating. Also, keep in mind that these ratings are like the Richter scale, with each mg making an exponential difference in the longevity of the epoxy coating. Also, note that just because an epoxy comes with a topcoat, don’t take it for granted that it’s a garage or commercial floor duty rated. Most topcoats are no better than the epoxy they cover and have very high abrasion loss ratings. The moral of the story is, always know the abrasion loss rating and make sure it’s always lower than the epoxy you’re using.
There are other important ratings you should be aware of; even though they may not be as crucial as the abrasion rating, they are still good to know. First, you want a floor epoxy with at least a 350 psi adhesion rating. That should not be difficult to find. Most non-water-based floor epoxies have good adhesion to concrete. Second, you want an epoxy with an impact rating of 125-inch pounds or more, Epocoat Epoxies all have 160-inch pounds ratings or higher, which is very important since many people like to tinker in their garages. So a floor epoxy with a good impact rating will not chip or crack when tools or parts are dropped onto the floor. These are some of the critical capabilities of an epoxy that you must know before purchasing and applying it to your floor!
What You Don’t Have To Know About Epoxy Floor Coatings
Just as important to know what is a quality epoxy flooring product is to understand how to spot useless information. You may see other ratings when buying floor coatings, but they’re primarily useless marketing hype at best and what we call fiction. Ratings such as compressive strength and tensile strength are meaningless to all but the most complicated/specialized applications. Certainly not relevant for 99.9% of epoxy flooring applications. All epoxy floor paints have a compressive strength much higher than 5000 psi. 5000 psi concrete is about the hardest concrete floor you’ll find 95% of the time. So that means most floor epoxies have a higher crush rating than the concrete it’s going on. The compressive strength rating is meaningless unless you roll a D8 Cat Bulldozer for construction onto your floor. If you own a warehouse that has to house huge machinery, then heavyweight comes to play, but for 99% of the other floors in the world, you are just not going to place a load onto your floor that will crush your slab! The same goes for the tensile strength, and you’re just not going to be able to put anything on the floor that will come anywhere near to the breaking point to all but the cheapest floor epoxy paints. Another spec some companies like to tout is Flexibility. Again this is useless unless you apply your epoxy coating over a wood floor or precast concrete planks that have actual deflection. In which case, you would use a flexible epoxy designed to go on floors that have deflection. Please don’t use a standard epoxy on floors with deflection, no matter their flexibility rating. We do not have epoxy for floors that have deflection.
The critical factors for epoxy, which we call crucial capabilities, are adhesion rating, impact rating, dried thickness, what type of epoxy it is, and the most important being the hardness(abrasion rating) of the final topcoat that will be exposed to the wear and tear of the traffic on it.
Another meaningless criterion is the cost per mils! That means nothing because what that is saying is that the more you get of an inferior epoxy, the better the buy/epoxy it is. Bad epoxy is bad epoxy no matter how much of it you get! Stick to the cost per square foot and how long your epoxy will last and by last we mean how long it will look new, not just stay stuck to your floor. Don’t get distracted by meaningless numbers or guarantees regarding peeling. A lifetime guarantee means nothing if your floor gets ugly in a year. Lifetime guarantees don’t guarantee against wear or dulling. Abrasion wear on an inferior epoxy will dull it in no time. Over time you will have a floor that looks dirty, old, yellowed, and worn out that is guaranteed to be stuck to your floor for life! Isn’t that great? You either have to live with what you end up with or spend more than double to redo your floor.
Finally, ensure the epoxy floor coating you buy is 100% solids-based and an Aliphatic type instead of a Cyclioaliphatic type, low solids, or polyurea. Use a true topcoat with an abrasion rating suitable for the traffic on your floor. Avoid water-based epoxies and any coatings that don’t publish their performance ratings. Not knowing these ratings is really rolling the dice. So the next thing you need to do after familiarizing yourself with the different epoxy systems below is to evaluate your concrete. It it’s a new slab all you need to do is grind or acid etch twice. If it’s an older floor tape some plastic down and check for moisture and read this page What Can Cause Epoxy Coatings To Fail. It’s another 10 minutes of reading but again it can save you thousands of dollars and many hours of wasted labor. The main objective here is to purchase the right product and install it the right way so you only do this once!