When installing your own epoxy flooring, there are several critical things you need to know. Follow these important tips to make the installation a long-term success.
Moisture testing is highly recommended before you apply any coating to concrete. It is critical because with high results, a standard epoxy primer will fail to bond. Testing takes 72 hours and must be done before the first coating is applied. Moisture test results help identify if you need a moisture vapor barrier epoxy primer and how thick to apply it. Also, many epoxy manufacturers require moisture testing before they will provide a product warranty.
Concrete Surface Preparation
Improper preparation is a common reason why epoxy floors fail. Concrete surface profile or CSP is critical to how well the epoxy bonds to the concrete. The thicker the coating system, the higher the required CSP to get a good bond. When the concrete surface is too smooth, coatings bond poorly. To achieve professional quality results, use a diamond grinder or shot blaster to provide the correct CSP. It is also important to identify if your concrete is sealed, preventing the concrete from adhering. Another key factor to watch out for is oil and chemical spills on the concrete which can cause failures if left untreated.
Epoxy Thickness Measurement – “MILS”
“Mils” is the industry-standard measurement used for epoxy on almost all epoxy product data. Every type of epoxy will have different recommendations on the mil thickness required. This term is commonly mistaken for “millimeters”. That is NOT correct. A millimeter (mm) is 1/1000th of a metric meter. However, in the paint and epoxy coating world, the term “mil” is an English unit of measurement, meaning 1/1000th of an inch. Understanding what a mil thickness means is critical to installing epoxy correctly.
For example, if an epoxy installer applies a primer coat at a thickness of 8 mils, it means the coating is 8/1000 inches thick or when converted to metric units, 0.2032 millimeters (mm) thick. From this, it’s easy to see that “8 mils” (0.2032 millimeters) is very different from “8 millimeters”!
Newly Poured Concrete
The moisture content in newly poured concrete will cause most coatings to fail, so it is recommended to wait at least 28 days before any epoxy flooring installation. New concrete must still have a CSP ground or shot blasted and cleaned surface prior to epoxy coating. Diamond grinding the surface before it is fully cured is not recommended.
Choosing the Correct Epoxy System
The epoxy system is chosen based on the desired function, characteristics, substrate, and flooring installation locations. There are dozens of different types of flooring epoxy available. The key is to ask, “What do I need here?” Are you installing on wood or concrete? Is it a garage, workshop, or bathroom? Residential or commercial? Do you need anti-slip properties? Was the moisture testing high? Is it a high-traffic area? Is it a metallic, flake or solid color floor? Do you need special characteristics like anti-static discharge (ESD) or anti-microbial? Does your clear topcoat need UV protection from yellowing? Carefully consider the specific needs of your installation location.
KEY TERMS: Working Time or Pot Life, Cure Time (To Touch & Full Cure), Epoxy Recoat Window
These terms are critical to know for every epoxy product you work with. Some terminology is different in the Epoxy Product Data. Your working time or pot life is how much time you have once you have mixed the Part A (Resin) with the Part B (Hardener) before it hardens and cannot be manipulated anymore. This time can be shortened depending on many factors including: room temperature, mixing time, and humidity. It is important to plan for the working time of the epoxy used.
Cure Time to Touch refers to how much time is needed before the surface of the epoxy is no longer wet or sticky. This time frame is important to protect the surface from contaminants like hair, dust, or bugs. Cure Time to Full Cure refers to the time needed before the epoxy surface has cured to full hardness. This time frame is important because the epoxy surface can be easily damaged or scratched until fully cured.
The Epoxy Recoat Window is critical for epoxy systems that require more than one coat. This tells you how much time you have, to apply the next coat. If you exceed the epoxy recoat window, you must sand the epoxy surface before you apply the next coat. This is to create enough surface profile to make a strong bond. If you exceed the epoxy recoat window and do not sand, the bond on the next coat will be weak, causing disbondment. Refer to your specific epoxy product data for more information on all these issues.
Contact Alaska Resin Supply today to learn more about your options. We have a full epoxy resin line available for DIY Projects. You can call us at (907) 671-9900 or visit us at 201 E. Swanson Ave. Suite #1 in Wasilla.
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