If you’re looking for a flooring solution that balances durability, cost effectiveness and is aesthetically appealing, then epoxy is a great choice. But not all epoxy resins are created equal. It’s important to understand the different types available, so that you get the best, longest lasting finish possible. As a result, the following questions must be answered in order to identify which product is best for your area and requirements.
So, what is epoxy flooring, what are the different types available, and why does this matter?
What is epoxy flooring?
Epoxy is a highly durable coating that is applied directly on top of prepped concrete. And a finished epoxy floor is a chemically bonded combination of epoxy resin (part A) and hardener (part B), which cures to create a hard protective barrier over the concrete.
Epoxy floors are hard wearing and provide a seamless coating with a number of decorative finishes such as flake, marble and metallic. This means epoxy is great as a flooring option for many kinds of environments, be it for a garage, kitchen, shop floor, warehouse, office or any other room.
Choosing the right type of epoxy product
So now that we’ve answered the question of “What is epoxy flooring”, we’ll answer the next important question – why does the type of epoxy matter?
There are numerous types of epoxies available, but the three most commonly used types in Australia are:
- Solvent based epoxy
- Water based epoxy
- 100% solids epoxy
The type of epoxy that you apply will directly affect:
- The thickness of the finished coating (and resultant life expectancy)
- How long it will take to dry after being applied
- What protective steps are needed during application
- The overall cost
- Durability and resistance to chemicals
- Level of slip-resistance required
A solvent-based epoxy contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as a carrier agent to help extend its pot-life during application and its penetration into the concrete substrate.
VOCs slow down evaporation. Unfortunately, it creates harmful fumes that make handling the epoxy hazardous without full protection. VOCs can cause irritations with to the throat, nose and eyes. These compounds can also cause breathing problems and have been proven to damage the central nervous system as well as other areas of the body. Some VOCs can also cause cancer.
The fumes from this substance is also known to cause nausea and headaches when inhaled. They are particularly harmful for those suffering from asthma, as they can worsen the condition. Even if the product specifies that there are only low amounts of VOCs present, it's better to avoid using epoxies that include it.
The scent of these compounds will also linger for a longer time, even after the epoxy has fully cured. VOCs can also embed in fabrics and will continue to be released into the environment long after the job is finished.
Hence, solvent-based epoxies may be cheaper, but they are not ideal given the risk during and after application.
However, solvent borne epoxies are also known to be 'softer'. This means that they often do not require a slip-resistant coating after.
A water-based epoxy, while safer to use and apply than a solvent-based epoxy product, comes with its own shortcomings. The benefit of a water-based epoxy is that it has an extended pot-life without the harmful fumes of a solvent-based epoxy product. The downside, however, is that using water as the carrier agent results in a weaker coating that doesn’t have the same durability.
This form of epoxy has a slower evaporation rate than solvent-borne epoxies, which can lead to entrapment and disastrous results.
Thicker sections of this epoxy commonly have this issue because the water can't escape before the epoxy begins its process of cross-linking and hardening. If the epoxy doesn't cure as it should, then it can create a 'soft spot' that's weaker than the other areas.
Soft spots are especially problematic if the epoxy flooring is meant to withstand for high-traffic, such as garage floors. The pressure exerted by a parked car's tyres can quickly result in delamination.
100% solids epoxy
A 100% solids epoxy product is one that doesn’t use a carrier agent - no water or solvents, just resin and a hardener. This means it has a much shorter pot-life, and must be applied immediately after mixing. It is as close to 'organic' as epoxies can be.
The cost of coating a floor with 100% solids epoxy can be higher than using a solvent or water-based product, but is still more economical than many alternative flooring solutions.
It delivers one of the highest durability of finishes, so you get a floor coating that not only provides seamless protection for your concrete, but will continue to do so for many, many years. This is where you see the real benefit of a quality epoxy product, and why spending a bit more will pay off in the long run.
Solventless epoxies are applied thicker than water or solvent-based epoxies. It doesn't penetrate as deeply as the other two types of epoxies. Therefore, epoxies containing acetone or something comparable to acetone will help it penetrate deeper if the concrete base is unstable, pourous, or requires a penetrating primer.
Choose an epoxy flooring solution that will keep on delivering
What is epoxy flooring? It’s one of the best flooring solutions you can choose, if you want to balance durability, cost and attractiveness. Here at Tough Floors, we want you to understand the real benefits of an epoxy flooring solution, and why we choose to use a 100% solids epoxy.
Our solids epoxy product contains no solvents and provides a thicker, stronger finish than you’d get from a water-based epoxy. Because we firmly believe in safety and quality, we use tested and trusted epoxy resins sourced from reputable suppliers. We’re also QBCC accredited, so you have the assurance of being in safe hands.
It doesn't matter if you're looking to get some excellent epoxy garage flooring done, or any other type of epoxy flooring, for a finish that will keep on delivering benefits for many years to come, get in touch today. We’re here to help.