In our last blog we looked at the Sundek SunCanvas (known in the decorative flooring industry as a micro-topping). Lets take a deeper look at another great set of interior flooring options – Epoxy Coatings!
The Early Days….
Did you know? Epoxy coatings were some of the first materials used for interior concrete floor use?
Yes, that’s right! Most of the initial trial and error for epoxy coating systems came from applications on warehouse floors and other commercial spaces starting way back in the late 1940s and 1950s!
These floors were very plain looking with added safety stripes and warnings markers being the only “decorative”elements. Most of these epoxy floor applications were restricted to large manufacturing facilities that needed a clean, dust free environment that also gave off a high gloss for better light refraction. The end results were to ultimately create an improved work environment, safety and improved production.
Jumping forward a few decades…
During the 1960’s 70’s and 80’s, the industry saw an explosion of new materials come onto the commercial flooring market as well as many improvements in the chemistry and performance of the epoxies. We saw the use of urethanes, acrylics and, more recently, the appearance of the polyaspartics. These materials have been around a long time but were restricted to use in large commercial areas or applications such as warehouse floors, assembly lines and light manufacturing. They were never thought of as anything decorative to say the least. My how times change!!!
Today….Epoxy use constrained only by the designer’s imagination and contractor’s capabilities!
Today, we see the use of various color combinations, color metallic, colored mineral aggregates, and vinyl chips which can be designed with amazing patterns and graphics!
It is incredible!!! That ugly yet practical warehouse floor just got cool and sexy!!
Now the question is which material or system do I chose for my floor. This goes back the series of questions we have to ask our-selves anytime we are planning a decorative concrete floor.
- How is the floor going to be used – night club dance floor, dining area, auto mechanic’s floor, industrial plant?
- What are the owners expectations i.e. budget-looks-maintenance
- Application Conditions –includes installer experience.
- What kind of shape is the substrate – wood – concrete – another material existing?
The actual material we select will come from using the criteria above. Let’s take a closer look at the top two system types:
EPOXY COATINGS: These materials are very tenuous when it comes to bonding to the surface prepared concrete and make great bond coats for other materials as final top coats.
- Bondability • Reactive to UV rays and can amber
- Versatile applications • Scratch easily
- Good price point • Breathability
POLYASPARTICS: This high tech material that can be used in about any situation and cold weather conditions.
- Durable – great for high traffic areas and mechanic’s shops
- Very fast cure times allowing area to be returned to use in short time
- Not real user friendly to install
- Can be expensive for buyer
URETHANES: great material for final top coats and provide a lot of gloss.
- Scratch resistant • Can get a little pricey
- Some slip resistance • Non-Breathable
- UV resistant • Difficult to strip if needed
- Very durable
ACRYLICS: another great material for top coating that is very user friendly and a versatile material.
- Breathable • Not as durable as the others
- Cost effective • Requires reapplication under moderate to heavy use
- UV resistant
The Bottom Line: All of these epoxy & polyaspartic materials can be used in a decorative floor situation combining color techniques, patterns, even some textures – depending on our material selection process discussed earlier. The decorative concrete market today is becoming more and more specialized so be careful when selecting your decorative concrete contractor. Just because he or she is great at doing stamped concrete doesn’t mean he is going to do a great job on your metallic finish for your kitchen floor. I always recommend that you look at a few jobs they have done with the products you are considering.
My next blog will get into the details regarding some of the most popular interior epoxy floors on the market today.
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