Epoxy flooring is a paint or coating system that is typically made up of two separate materials. When mixed together, the resulting substance quickly hardens into a durable semi-gloss or high-gloss flooring surface. Epoxy can be used on wood, cement, concrete or metal surfaces or as an undercoat beneath other flooring -- but it is most often used on concrete floors in commercial or residential garages and industrial warehouses. Before it dries, epoxy can be sprinkled with paint flakes or other chips to create designs or to simulate granite or other textures, and/or colored sand or similar abrasives to make the surface less slippery.
➦ There are three categories of flooring epoxies: 100% solid epoxy coatings are the most expensive, and are typically used by professionals on commercial floors, while solvent-based and water-based epoxies both contain about 40%-60% epoxy. Water-based epoxy paints are thinner and easier to apply but less durable than solvent-based epoxy coatings, which are thicker, cover more imperfections in the concrete floor, require workers to use respirators when applying, and typically cost more than water-based systems. A thick coating may require more gallons to cover the same square footage as a thin paint.
➦ A professionally installed epoxy floor depends on the type of floor pattern, type of epoxy used, number of coats/sealer applied, and the application method.
What should be included:
➦ The installer should always test for moisture in the concrete before installation (epoxy can't be used if moisture is present).
➦ Epoxy flooring systems can require one to seven coats to apply. A typical application might include a base coat, one or two epoxy coats, a broadcast coat of colored sand and/or flakes (for decoration and/or to create a less-slippery surface) and a top sealer coat. The first step is to patch, level or fill any areas that need repair. Then the concrete is cleaned and prepped so it will bond correctly with the epoxy, most professionals use a grinder or shot blaster (with tiny steel balls) machine to remove any previous coatings and open up the concrete surface.
➦ Next the parts of the epoxy paint or coating are mixed together and spread according to the manufacturer's directions. Epoxy typically needs to be applied quickly, and installers often wear shoe cleats (similar to golf shoes) to be able to walk on the wet epoxy. Before the epoxy is too dry, the desired amounts of colored flakes or anti-slip substances like sand are sprinkled on top in a process called broadcasting. Then the Sealer top coat is applied, which may take 1 to 3 coats to get the desired effect you would like.
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