What is Epoxy Flooring?
Epoxy is becoming more and more popular as a flooring option in residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Epoxy floor coatings are typically two-part systems consisting of a Part A resin and Part B hardener. Speciality additives like flow control, UV inhibitors, adhesion promoters, accelerators, etc, are added to create coatings that perform well in a wide variety of flooring applications. Using these speciality additives, epoxy floor coatings are formulated to achieve different desired performance characteristics like a more rapid cure, increased abrasion resistance, higher chemical resistance, higher or lower viscosity, and many others. Different pigments, decorative coloured quartz aggregate, vinyl flakes, glitter, and other additives are added to the epoxy floor resin to achieve a different performance and aesthetic characteristics. Lastly, different types of aggregate sand blends (slurry, trowel, broadcast, etc) can also be added to the epoxy as well to create thicker, more durable flooring systems, and add non-slip texture. Epoxy Floor Coatings are an extremely versatile flooring option and can be made and applied in a large variety of performance and aesthetic characteristics.
History of Epoxy
Epoxy resins were first introduced by Pierre Castan in Switzerland, in the year 1936, who synthesized the first epoxy polymer via the curing of it with a phthalic acid anhydride. In 1946, epoxy resins were first offered commercially, at the Swiss industry fair. Today, epoxy is something that is used in a wide array of industries, and especially for the building and construction industry. Other industries that epoxy is used in includes aerospace and aircraft applications, automotive and racing, marine, military and defense applications, and sporting applications including snowboards, skis, or hockey sticks, and even for the food industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and other manufacturing.
During the mid 20th century, Dr. Sylvan Greenlee also created epoxy resins in the United States, by reacting epichlorohydrin and Bisphenol A specifically. Through this, Dr. Sylvan Greenlee was able to create one of the most widely used forms of epoxy today, known as DGEBA or BADGE. This form of epoxy is in fact the most popular commercialized resin of its kind in our current age. Epoxy can also help with mold applications and almost any composite part.
How Does Epoxy Work?
More precisely, epoxy resin is the result of the chemical reaction which is known as curing. Curing is the chemical process that involves chemicals together with epoxides, knowing as curing agents, or hardeners. The hardening mechanism is created through the cross-linking of polymer chains. This result of curing is what creates epoxy thermoset polymers, which hold distinct resistance, durability, versatility, and adhesion. Epoxy curing is initiated through heat and high temperatures. In other words, epoxy is a thermosetting substance. If the surrounding temperature is not sufficient to create the curing process, then curing will not occur. Epoxy cannot be uncured once it has been cured.
There are different forms of epoxy resins that have the ability to be merged together, depending on an individual’s desired outcome. A more customized solution of epoxy can be created through the mixing of plasticisers, fillers, or additives. These additives are used in order to adjust the final properties for individual uses.
Three Main Types of Epoxy Floor Coating
There are three main types of epoxy resins commonly used in epoxy floor and wall coatings: Bisphenol A, Bisphenol F, and Novolac. Epichlorohydrin and phenolic reactions form all three and the physical and performance properties are determined by the number and kind of phenolic compounds. All three types of resins have certain advantages and formulators need to use specialty additives to impart balanced properties that are desirable to coatings installers like surface appearance and application properties.
The most popular form of epoxy resin that is used for epoxy coatings is Bisphenol A. Bisphenol A has a honey-liquid consistency and is an extremely versatile resin. Bisphenol A is available in many molecular weights. Their variety of molecular weights is what makes Bisphenol A especially versatile for the epoxy application. Bisphenol A is most widely used for flooring systems, in addition to solid coatings. Bisphenol A epoxy resin is the most common type for concrete coatings because of its excellent adhesion, toughness, abrasion resistance, and chemical resistance. Due to its especially thick natural consistency, there will commonly be additives and diluents which are added into the Bisphenol-A epoxy formula to enhance workability and adhesion. These additives lessen crosslink density which lowers the chemical resistance.
Bisphenol F epoxy will typically be more expensive than Bisphenol A epoxy. This is because Bisphenol F epoxy is able to be used for a greater variety of applications. Bisphenol F resins have lower viscosity which means fewer additives and diluents are added which translates to higher chemical resistance. Bisphenol F is especially chemically resistant, and are more likely to be used as varnishes or lacquers, and for application regarding water pipes, adhesives, supermarket food packaging, plastics, dental sealants, and liners. Another advantage is that Bisphenol F has less tendency to crystallize at lower temperatures compared to Bisphenol A resins. Bisphenol F can be blended with Bisphenol A and other resins to reduce viscosity and increase resistance to crystallization.
Novolacs are made using excess phenol and modifying Bisphenol F Resins. The viscosity of Novolac resins is higher than Bisphenol F and its functionality is considerably greater than both Bisphenol A and Bisphenol F resins. The higher viscosity and greater functionality of Novolacs give them superior heat and chemical resistance than their Bisphenol A and Bisphenol F counterparts. The greater chemical resistant qualities is a result of the very tight crosslink density because of Novolac’s higher functionality. These properties also make Novolac resins more brittle than Both Bisphenol A and F resins so formulators need to address that with additives and hardener selection. The greater heat resistance is the result of the larger number of aromatic rings. As to be expected Novolac resins have a higher cost to go along with their higher performance.
Metallic Epoxy Floor Coating
This type of epoxy flooring is durable and has a visual effect that is not able to be created through the use of regular paint. Unique metallic pigments are able to create a sense of movement and depth on a floor. This type of coating is very popular for commercial and high traffic retail applications, leaving a stunning effect on any floor’s surface.
Clear Epoxy Floor Coating
What is clear epoxy floor coating, and what is it used for? Clear epoxy floor coating is typically used to cover concrete flooring, due to the advantages that the materials that it contains have. Clear epoxy floor coating can be used on top of an originally painted surface, to cover the paint structure with a more durable and long-lasting consistency. Clear epoxy floor coating is especially used for the application of garage floor epoxy coating.
If you want to learn more about epoxy and how we can help to create the best and most durable floor for you, contact us.