Understanding epoxy floor coatings
Epoxy coating can be roughly divided into three types: solvent-based, water-based and 100% solid epoxy. More recently, you can find pre-tinted or metallic coatings, as well.
Solvent-based epoxy is the oldest type. It’s a mix of resin with a high concentration of solvent-based hardener. When left to evaporate after application, mixed resin and hardener generate toxic vapours, such as ammonia and carbon monoxide. To protect yourself from the fumes, wear a respirator during and after application.
Next, you have water-based epoxy. It produces the same glossy finish as solvent-based epoxy but is soluble in water, so there’s no need for solvent hardener. It doesn’t leave harmful fumes but creates a sturdy, non-toxic, waterproof surface.
Third, there’s 100% solid epoxy, which doesn’t need to be mixed with solvent or water. It’s also more resistant to abrasion and chemicals compared to water-based coatings. But, because of its viscosity, you cannot apply this in thin coats. It also dries rather quickly, so you need to work fast when using it. It’s better to let a professional handle this type of epoxy paint.
Finally, there is the metallic epoxy floor coating. It’s a multi-layer coating system that contains a metallic additive. Metallic pigments are spread using a roller or brush and are then twisted and turned to achieve the “swirling effect.”
Pros and cons of expoxy flooring
Every type of flooring comes with its set of pros and cons. To learn if epoxy is right for you, here’s a quick overview of its advantages and disadvantages.
Aesthetics: Epoxy’s glossy finish makes it exceptionally appealing. You can also experiment with a variety of colours to complement the design of the room you’re applying it to.
Cost savings: Epoxy flooring is usually cheaper than other types of flooring but by how much? According to hipages, epoxy flooring costs from $AUD30 to $AUD35 per sqm. Those who want a decorative finish need to spend about $AUD80 to $AUD100 per sqm. Compare this with vinyl tiles, which cost about $AUD40 to $AUD100 per sqm, or ceramic tiles, which cost $AUD90 to $AUD125 or more.
Resistant: Epoxy flooring is as tough as it gets. It’s resistant to oil, gas, bleach and other chemicals. You don’t have to worry about staining them in case you spill a few drops of oil in your garage. It’s also resistant to bacteria and germs, making it quite easy to clean. It’s for these reasons that you’ll usually find epoxy flooring in medical facilities.
Longevity: When applied correctly, epoxy flooring lasts decades without cracking and peeling. It’s also strong enough to endure heavy traffic.
Semi-permanent: Epoxy’s longevity is both a blessing and a curse. Removing and updating the epoxy coating is a costly and labour-intensive process.
How to apply epoxy flooring
Applying epoxy requires thorough preparation. Be patient with cleaning the concrete surface to ensure that the paint adheres well.
You can buy do-it-yourself epoxy flooring kits from home improvement stores. They’ll include primer, epoxy and decorative flakes. Here’s a list of all the products and tools you’ll need if you prefer to buy materials individually.
- Two-part epoxy paint
- Cleaning/degreasing solutions
- Rubber gloves
- Rubber boots or spiked shoes
- 32% muriatic acid
- Hand grinder or scraper
- Concrete fillers (if there are cracks)
- Wet-dry vacuum
- Stiff-bristle brush
- Power scrubber with a brush attachment
- Duct tape
- 9-inch paint roller
DIY epoxy flooring application
- Using a hand grinder or scraper, smoothen the concrete surface. Sweep or vacuum the dust away.
- Fill in any cracks and imperfections. Get rid of all the dust.
- Spray the entire floor with water. Then, use a power scrubber and a degreasing solution to clean the area. Use a brush to scrub corners that the machine can’t touch. Once the floor is clean, use a wet-dry vacuum to clean it up.
- Pour 12 ounces of 32% muriatic acid in a bucket filled with 15 cups of water. Sprinkle the mixture evenly.
- Sprinkle the acid mixture over a 10x10 foot area and scrub it for 10 minutes using a long-handled brush. Once you’re done, rinse three times to ensure that the acid is completely gone.
- Wait overnight and ensure that the surface is dry.
- Mix epoxy and solvent or water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pour the epoxy solution into a second bucket to ensure that the liquids are thoroughly incorporated.
- Apply duct tape directly beneath the door and perimeter. Using a hand brush, line the borders with epoxy.
- Start painting the rest of the area with a roller brush.
- Once your first coat is dry, apply a second coat. Apply anti-slip coatings or flake epoxy chips if desired.
- Paint the bottom 4 inches of your walls. This will act as a protective base.
Hire a professional
If you don’t like the idea of scrubbing concrete and rolling paint yourself, it might be wise to hire a professional. Choose a contractor that applies at least three coats of 100% epoxy with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Get quotes from multiple contractors. You can also find quote generators online.
6 epoxy flooring ideas
6. Use it in the kitchen
If you’re worried about staining tiles with spaghetti sauce, epoxy is the perfect solution. It’s resistant to most materials, making the kitchen easy to clean and mop.
5. Go with the basics
You don’t have to use decorative epoxy all the time. The least expensive grey finish is good enough for a garage or basement.
4. Anti-slip bathrooms
Make bathroom cleaning a breeze with epoxy coatings. Be sure to use anti-slip additives to make the surface safer when wet.
3. Emulate marble flooring
There’s no need to pay top dollar to get the elegant and luxurious feel of marble. Use metallic epoxy coating in your living room, and you’re good to go.
2. Keep it simple
The classic grey epoxy coating can work even inside the house. Pair it with exposed brick to achieve the charming modern industrial look.
1. Step on lava
Mix red with other colours to achieve this otherworldly lava-like finish.
Choose epoxy for your house
While epoxy coatings were traditionally used for garages and basements, new types of epoxy can now be used for other rooms in your home, like the kitchen or bathroom. Instead of limiting your options to tiles, timber and other traditional materials, try something new and unique. Once the epoxy coating has dried, you’ll be impressing your guests with your stunning, glass-like floors.