Epoxy is no longer just a treatment for garage floors. Restorative, functional and decorative are not mutually exclusive. You can have it all with the proper research and selection upfront.
When specifying epoxy coatings, it’s best that decision-makers – including architects, owners and facility managers – consult an experienced and knowledgeable flooring professional throughout the design process to ensure the proper floor is selected. Provisions for flooring mock-ups (that will show thickness, color and texture), long-term maintenance and repair needs, should be incorporated into the specifications.
Environment Design and Selection Criteria
There are several environmental issues that may be overlooked when specifying a fluid applied polymer floor system. While they may not contribute to the function of the finished floor, they are nonetheless important to the successful installation, appearance and life expectancy of the system, and ultimately, the owner’s satisfaction.
- Aesthetics – The finished appearance of the flooring system can sometimes be more important to an owner/end user than the function of the floor itself. As the specifier/designer, it’s important to understand that functionality and aesthetics are not mutually exclusive. With all of the fluid applied flooring options available in the marketplace, the required functionality can be achieved with a variety of decorative options and textures.
- UV Stability – Polyurethanes are for the most part UV-stable while epoxies are not UV-stable. UV inhibitors are available as an additive. They can be incorporated into epoxies for interior use and should always be incorporated into the epoxy and the polyurethanes on exterior applications. Interiors that will be subjected to bright sunlight should also receive consideration for UV inhibitors.
- Anti-Microbial – Additives are available to control germs and pathogens. These additives should always be considered when installing polymer flooring in areas such as medical facilities, bathrooms, biomedical facilities or any other area of concern.
- Low VOC/No VOC – Many of the solvent-based systems and resins will have inherent odors. In occupied areas or areas where food is being prepared or packaged, the installation of polymer flooring with low VOC, low odor or no VOC should be factored into the selection.
- Electrostatic Dissipative (ESD)/Conductive Coatings– There are several situations – including those in fuel storage areas, electronics manufacturing, explosives manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing and clean rooms, to mention a few – that may need specialized flooring that is designed to prevent electrostatic damage to products and equipment, limit the ability of personnel to build up a charge on their person and quickly remove a charge on a person or equipment.
- Slip-Resistance– This should always be factored into the finished floor. The texture of the final finish coat and various aggregates such as silica sand, bleached aluminum oxide and glass beads are some of the methods and materials available. In addition, many decorative and functional systems have slip resistance built in, such as color quartz floors. Slip resistance requirements are defined by OSHA and ADA standards.
- Budget – While cost is important, it must be understood that installing a floor based strictly on the lowest cost could lead to repeated repairs down the road, or in the worst case, complete removal of the failing floor and re-installation of a new system.
Form and Function
There is a wide variety of polymers that offer both performance and decorative options including epoxy, polyurethane, polyaspartics, urethane mortars and acrylics. Each one of these materials possess different characteristics that will affect the final performance and aesthetics of any system.