One of the widest spread rumours about epoxy flooring is that they are short term flooring systems that need constant refinishing. This, however, is completely untrue and needs to be exploited for the lie that it is! Today, we are going to be taking a look at how long epoxy flooring can last when professionally installed and properly maintained.
Have you been grown accustomed to dull and less attractive flooring systems?
If so, it is the right time to give a dramatic transformation to your floors. As floors are one of the first things that your visitors will notice in your home, it is crucial they have catchy and luxurious features. With this, epoxy floors are the best option for you.
For both residential and commercial owners, epoxy floors are a convenient and smart option for long-lasting flooring. When it comes to durability, are epoxy floors worth your investment? How long do they need to be replaced? If you are thinking about installing epoxy coating on your floor, these are questions that you should consider.
Every type of flooring has pros and cons. This is especially true depending on what location you will be putting it in. Different types of flooring work better for different spaces and locations. You need to be sure that you pick a floor that will fit nicely with the needs of your specific space.
Spaces that have heavy foot traffic need flooring that is durable and can withstand the elements that it will come into contact with on a daily basis. This may cost more money initially, but it will end up saving you money in the long run. With limited maintenance and cleaning, you will save money on repairs and replacement with a durable, strong floor.
If you own an auto shop and need something durable for your flooring, you should consider polished concrete! It is durable and low maintenance, which is perfect for this location! You may be likely to consider epoxy flooring, which is common in some garages. Here are some reasons you should avoid garage floor epoxy.
What is Epoxy Coating?
First things first, let us know how epoxy floors became what they are now. Don’t be mistaken between epoxy paint and epoxy coating because they are two different things. Epoxy floors commonly deal with epoxy coating wherein two components are combined to finish the floor. One is the epoxy resin, and the other is polyamine hardener. They should mix well together before applying to the floor.
What comes next?
The mixture will be used for a given period of time. Yes, you heard it right! Epoxy coating is not applied to the floor automatically after mixing the components. You have to wait for some time for it to dry. By then, you can come up with a highly durable floor surface that can withstand the test of time.
Why Epoxy Floors Became a Popular Choice for People?
Epoxy flooring is highly tolerant of weight and regular usage. This is one reason why it’s a common choice for industrial, commercial and manufacturing industries. These types of environment face great deals on floor traffic every day that’s why owners should carefully choose the type of flooring or material to use.
With this, epoxy flooring comes into play. They can maximize their budget while ensuring high productivity. Epoxy floors are not just affordable but easy to maintain as well.
First of all, let’s not get confused about the epoxy flooring system that we are talking about today. Our professionally installed epoxy floor coatings are not the same systems that you can find at the local hardware store that can be rolled on. We use high-grade materials capable of lasting your home or business decades. The heavy-duty epoxy coating has a lifespan of 20-30 years depending on certain variables that can impact your concrete and your epoxy itself.
The next coating that we will be talking about is the stamped concrete overlay. Stamped concrete overlays may offer a durable finish, but not nearly as durable as epoxy flooring as stamped concrete is susceptible to damage and even cracking from heavy foot and vehicle traffic, dropped objects and heavy vibrations. Stamped concrete offers interesting and exotic options for customization such as using lifelike stamps to create finishes mimicking natural stone, wood, and even cobblestone. Though, these finishes can be dull compared to the finishes of epoxy flooring.
One of the biggest factors in how long that your epoxy coating is going to last is the current condition of your concrete slab. If your concrete is on the verge of structural damage with heavy cracking, gouges, and peeling surfaces, there is a more than likely chance that your concrete slab will fall long before epoxy flooring. This is why routine maintenance and repairs should be completed on your concrete slab before thinking about using an epoxy floor coating.
Location Is key
Another major deciding factor in how long your concrete flooring is going to last is the type of area that it is going to be placed in. For example, a professionally installed epoxy flooring system can last up to 30 years in a residential and light traffic area. Still, the flooring system may only last up to 15-20 years when placed in heavy-duty commercial and industrial facilities due to heavy traffic simply wearing the floor down rapidly.
Keep It Clean
Where epoxy flooring can appear to block all damage from accidents, spills and other forms of abuse, heavy abuse of your epoxy flooring can lead to the floor coating rapidly becoming worn down. This is why it is completely crucial to pick up any and all chemicals or any moisture exposed to the epoxy flooring ASAP. It is also recommended to try and limit items that are dropped on the epoxy if possible. Heavy objects especially can bring a quick end to your epoxy if dropped high enough.
The next factor is actually why epoxy flooring is not able to be placed on exterior concrete. Epoxy has an extremely weak resistance to UV rays and heavy exposure to the sun can bring your epoxy flooring down to needing replacement rapidly. Sunlight leading the epoxies binder to chalk and even turn yellow when exposed to heavy sunlight on a daily basis.
Prep Before Application
The final factor that we will talk about today is the actual surface preparation of your concrete slab. The process of surface preparation for epoxy is a rigorous and serious task that needs to be done perfectly to expect the full lifespan of your epoxy. If there is any moisture, if the concrete isn’t profiled well enough or if no primers are used before the epoxy is applied, your epoxy won’t only underperform, it will rapidly crack, deteriorate or not even stick to your concrete slab at all!
Epoxy flooring is far from the perfect flooring system, and this is why we only recommend that you use only professional contractors when choosing the flooring system to ensure that your epoxy is able to reach its maximum age and lifespan.
Factors that influence how long an epoxy coating lasts
Many factors influence an epoxy coating’s lifespan:
- The Strength of the Concrete Flooring Itself: The initial layer of concrete is the base of your floor, and is the first factor that will determine the lifespan of your epoxy floor coating. Usually, concrete floors in industrial or commercial establishments have a minimum strength of 3000 PSI. A concrete floor with a strength of 2500 PSI or less is not recommended. If needed, densifiers can be added to help with this issue.
- Surface Preparation: One of the main prerequisites of a well-performing epoxy flooring is going to be how thoroughly the surface was prepared before application. The surface should be free from dust, oil or other liquids, and should have no damage. (Here are the elements a proper surface preparation process entails.)
- The thickness of the Epoxy: An epoxy coating can range from 400 to 1,000 microns on industrial floors (that is, between 0.4 mm and 1 mm). The thinner your epoxy coating is, the sooner it is likely to wear down and need replacement. In some industrial settings, the thickness of the epoxy system can sometimes exceed 1,000 microns.
- Quality of the Topcoat: Often a floor coating contractor will recommend the epoxy has a urethane topcoat applied to resist abrasion and scratches. A thickness of 50 microns or more is recommended in industrial floors.
- The extent of Traffic: High levels of pedestrian traffic can wear down even a well-installed epoxy coating. Forklifts and other wheeled vehicles will take its toll as well. If your facility is subject to heavy traffic, consider an additional topcoat.
- Exposure to UV Light: Epoxy floor coating has very poor UV resistance. The binder will chalk, turning powdery when exposed regularly to sunlight. This is why epoxy coatings are not typically recommended for exterior applications.
When will your existing epoxy floor coating need to be replaced?
Indications that your epoxy floor coating is wearing down include localized breakdowns of the coating or miniature cracking appearing in certain areas of the surface. If you notice either of these issues or any other signs that your flooring is beginning to deteriorate, you’ll need to call in a floor coating professional to take a look.
Why do epoxy floors peel?
Epoxy is a very tenacious and tough coating to remove when applied properly. That is why there are so many successful, long-lasting epoxy garage floor coatings that people love. Just about every problem you may have heard about epoxy flooring can be avoided by paying attention to the details. With that in mind, we have listed the seven most common reasons for epoxy peeling up along with the solutions on how to avoid them.
Poor Surface Profile
As we stated earlier, a poorly prepared concrete surface is the main culprit to epoxy peeling. The number one problem associated with that is a bad surface profile. Surface profile is the roughness and porosity of the concrete that allows for the mechanical bond of the epoxy.
In order to obtain the correct surface profile for epoxy, you need to acid etch the concrete at the very minimum. Grinding the concrete is the preferred method, but it’s not always feasible for the average DIY install. You can read more about acid etching versus grinding here.
Profiling the concrete exposes the pores so that the epoxy can sink in a little to get the bite it needs to adhere as well as it does. If not done correctly, the epoxy will not adhere well and can start to peel at some point after application.
Once the concrete is profiled correctly, it should have a lighter appearance and a rougher texture to it that is similar to 100 grit sandpaper. Test it by dripping some water onto the concrete in various areas. The surface should immediately turn dark and absorb the water in less than a minute.
Beware of the clean and etch solutions that come with the lesser expensive, single coat garage floor epoxy kits. Many times these solutions are not effective enough to create the proper surface profile.
The reason for this is that these solutions generally consist of citric acid crystals. The main reason for using citric acid by these manufacturers is that it is safe for the environment, and it is much more difficult to harm yourself if used improperly. We have more info here if you are concerned about etching with safer alternatives.
The problem, however, is that citric acid is the weakest of the concrete acid etching solutions, and it will not profile a hard troweled or machine troweled surface effectively. It does not work well on extremely dense concrete either.
Another problem with these citric acid products is that they are touted as a cleaning solution as well. If these solutions are applied to a dirty concrete surface, they do not work well at cleaning and etching the concrete at the same time.
The second most common problem associated with the peeling of epoxy garage floors is moisture in the concrete.
Water vapour cannot pass through epoxy. Suppose you have moisture under any part of your slab that is below grade. In that case, the hydrostatic pressure that is created from water vapour being trapped under the epoxy coating can create enough force to lift the epoxy right off the surface.
Inspect your floor for signs of moisture. Efflorescence is the very first sign that you may have a moisture problem. So are dark spots on the floor.
If your slab is below grade on any side, then it’s imperative that you do a simple moisture test first before starting an epoxy floor project.
Oil And Contaminants
Once you have achieved the correct surface profile for epoxy, it’s important to check that any oil stained areas that were previously cleaned are absorbent and not repelling water. These are areas that you will want to check with the water drop test.
It’s not uncommon for a previously oil-stained area to be darker in colour than the surrounding concrete. As long as it absorbs water, then it will absorb epoxy and provide for good adhesion.
Other contaminants such as silicone from tire dressing products and polymer compounds that leach out of warm tires will not allow the epoxy to adhere either. Be sure to perform a water drop test around the areas where the car tires sit as well.
Acid etching will not remove silicones and tire polymer residue. If your acid-etched the concrete and these areas do not pass the water drop test, you will need to grind the concrete to remove the residue.
Acid Etch Residue On The Surface
When your acid etches your garage floor, the acid solution works by reacting with the free lime in the concrete. This causes a breakdown of the calcium at the surface, which exposes the open pores of the concrete. This calcium is then deposited onto the surface in the form of a very fine white dust.
Many epoxy floors had peeled up because this fine white dust was not effectively removed before the epoxy was applied.
Because the dust is so fine, it likes to stick to the irregularities in the surface and can be difficult to remove. If epoxy is applied over concrete with this fine white dust, the epoxy sticks more to the dust and not the surface. It will eventually peel up exposing the white dust on the underside of the peeled epoxy coating.
The amount of dust left on the surface after acid etching is dependent on how much free lime was present in the surface of the concrete, to begin with, and how well the floor was neutralized and flushed afterwards.
Never let the floor start to dry during the acid etching process and use liberal amounts of water when flushing the surface. It helps to use a deck brush to scrub the surface as it is being flushed lightly. If you end up with this white residue, it can be removed, but it may take multiple scrub downs to get it all off the surface.
A pressure washer works best. If you don’t have one available, wet the floor down in sections and use a solution of TSP and hot water to scrub the surface. Flush it well with a high-pressure nozzle and move on to the next section. It will come off, but it may take a few tries.
One thing to remember is that the lesser expensive garage floor epoxy kits will eventually wear out in high traffic areas. This is not the same as peeling. You will notice that the floor in these areas will become dull, and the concrete will start to show through. This is a result of abrasion at the surface of the coating and not from peeling.
Hot tire pickup is not necessarily a sign of bad floor prep either. Again, the lesser expensive epoxy products can be prone to this no matter how well the floor was prepared. The reason is due to the low solids content of the epoxy as well as the chemical makeup.
Applying a successful epoxy garage floor coating that does not peel truly is not that difficult. It just requires some attention to detail and knowledge of how your garage floor concrete should be prepared and tested before application.
With the exception of moisture issues, most of these common problems with epoxy peeling can easily be avoided just by grinding the garage floor.
However, whether grinding your floor or acid etching, if you pay close attention and follow these tips, you should have a successful epoxy coating that will not peel after application.