Epoxy Resin Flooring
Epoxy resin flooring is probably the most well-known type of ‘resin flooring’ by name in the UK, and is the most commonly and widely used type of resin flooring throughout all types of different manufacturing and industrial facilities, as well as for floors in retail, commercial and many other buildings and structures throughout the UK. However, it is not so well known that there are big differences between different types of epoxy resin products and systems. There are several different types of epoxy resins that can be used for resin flooring and these different types have different application characteristics and different performance properties, as well as significantly different costs!
As a result it is never acceptable for owners and specifiers to specify ‘epoxy floors’, because they will probably get something that is totally unacceptable for their purpose, but this is not necessarily because the product is a bad material, it will be the cheapest and easiest solution the builder or main contractor can find and this should not be a surprise!
Therefore if you want a durable epoxy resin floor on your project, then it is important to understand the different types of generic epoxy resin flooring materials, together with their respective characteristics, application limitations and performance properties and capabilities. So – firstly the different types of epoxy resin flooring materials include:
- water dispersed epoxy resin floor systems
- solvent containing epoxy resin floor systems
- solvent free epoxy resin floor systems
As stated, and typically with many resin technologies, each of these different types of generic epoxy resin flooring materials have their own characteristic advantages, disadvantages, limitations, and benefits, for use in resin flooring, though again as you would expect, there are some common aspects as well. For example, the basic nature and chemistry of epoxy resins makes them amongst the easiest and reliable resin flooring materials to mix and apply on site, where they can provide a durable industrial flooring system that can last for many years. This is because the standard mixing ratio of a base epoxy resin component to the hardener component, is usually relatively easy to formulate at around 4 : 1, which makes the two viscous liquid materials relatively easy to control and mix together, ensuring thorough homogenous mixing.
Note: This ease of mixing is a real advantage of many epoxy flooring products, unlike some other synthetic resins that have much more difficult mix ratios of up to around 20:1 and/or they can require additional amounts of a 3rd component, usually catalyst that is used as an accelerator or retarder to regulate the speed of the reaction. This obviously makes life more complicated and introduces more variables, and so ensuring complete and thorough mixing is also more complex as well as more critical, which all increases the risk of problems on site.
As a result, today the UK resin flooring industry itself widely accepts that epoxy resin based flooring systems are generally speaking, the safest, easiest and most reliable resin technology option, for all but the most critical and onerous installation and performance requirements i.e. their limited UV light resistance and hardness means for example that they are not sufficiently non-yellowing or crack-bridging for use on exposed car park decks, plus they require dry substrates and conditions for application, which means that epoxy resin floors are not ideal for installation over relatively fresh (young/green) concrete, or on existing concrete substrates that are wet / water saturated, to provide floors as are frequently required in food and beverage industries.
However, on the other hand, epoxy resin flooring systems are the ideal solution for a large majority of situations, where the extremely ‘sticky’ nature of the freshly mixed epoxy flooring materials also helps to ensure a good and strong bond to the dry concrete substrate. The hardened epoxy resin ‘pull-off’ strength being higher than the cohesive strength of concrete, means that the floor finish can only be removed by a break in the concrete itself and the potential for any floor delamination is therefore minimised and the concrete floor slabs are reliably protected against impact, wear and abrasion or ingress and attack from water and many other aggressive chemical liquids.
Another general advantage with epoxy resin flooring materials is obtained through the tight cross-linking nature of the epoxy resin and hardener reaction, mentioned previously. This type of cross-linking reaction in this order of optimised mix ratios, can be visualised as being rather like a ‘clamping’ effect, which securely closes and holds the now hardened surface of the floor. This means that once epoxy resin flooring products have fully hardened (also known as curing’), the epoxy floor finishes are extremely watertight and many epoxy products will have excellent resistance to full immersion against a wide range of oil and chemical spillages, as well as full resistance to most industrial cleaning products – such as strong industrial disinfectants and detergents that can be aggressive to many surfaces.
The resin flooring specialists at NCC can advise you in more detail on the suitability of epoxy resin flooring for your projects, including the best type and specifications for the best epoxy resin flooring product(s) for your specific project needs. Please call 01257 266696 for specific assistance from our resin flooring experts.