There are so many different epoxy flooring products on the market today, it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. Some are labeled as “epoxy floor coatings”, and others as “epoxy floor paint”. Which is the best product? What are the similarities and differences? Let’s shed some light on this topic, to try and pinpoint which epoxy product is best under which circumstances.
Coatings vs. Paint
Is epoxy really paint? No, epoxy, in any form, is not really paint. It’s comprised of an entirely different chemical make-up than say, latex wall paint. The term “epoxy paint” was coined by people searching for epoxy floor coatings online, through search engines. Epoxy manufacturers took note of how many people were searching for the term and decided to advertise accordingly. If the general public thinks epoxy coating is paint, then retailers will call it paint, so that consumers can easily find their products online. Unfortunately, this practice has created a lot of confusion about what product is most suitable for buyers.
Types of Epoxy Products
One type of epoxy floor coating that’s available for residential use is a “solvent based” product. Solvent based epoxy paint products contain anywhere from 30% to 60% epoxy solids. Epoxy solids are what cure into hard epoxy. During the curing (drying) stage, the solvents in these products will evaporate, leaving only the epoxy solids on the floor and leaving a strong chemical smell. The evaporation of the solvents also causes thinning and shrinking of the applied epoxy. At the time of application your epoxy paint may have a thickness on the floor or 3-4 millimeters. After the curing and evaporating is complete, you will notice the coating is much thinner, possibly spotty and in need of another coat of epoxy.
Another flooring option that is available for residential use is “emulsion resin”, or water-based epoxy paint. Water based epoxy paint products contain anywhere from 30% to 60% epoxy solids and also a small amount of solvents. During the curing process the water and solvents evaporates, leaving only the epoxy solids. Please keep in mind that if the product you are using contains 40% epoxy solids, you will lose 60% of the product during curing! You will need to consider this when deciding on how much product you will need to purchase. This applies to both water and solvent based products. One positive aspect of water based epoxy paints is that because of the lower solvent content, the chemical smell given off during the curing process is not as strong.
To eliminate floor coating shrinkage and the need for multiple coats of product, a buyer can choose the final type of epoxy floor paint. Called 100% solids epoxy flooring, it is just that. These products don’t have any water or solvents mixed in. 100% of the epoxy that is put onto the floor stays there, there isn’t any evaporation during the curing process. The products are stronger, longer lasting and don’t require more than one coat to get a smooth, even surface. They are also a bit pricier than the other options. The chemical smell during application is not as strong as a solvent based product, and the floor can be cured and safe for foot traffic in 24-36 hours. 100% epoxy solids products hold up better against grease, oil and other spills, are road salt, acid and heat resistant, and are water and rust proof.
Which is Best?
To decide which of these products are best for you, just disregard the word “paint” and get the facts about the products you are considering for purchase. It all depends on your personal situation. Would you like to epoxy your basement floor? A water based epoxy could be used, due to the lack of stinky fumes and lower cost for an area where cars won’t be driving. However, 100% epoxy solids would be best for a garage or workroom floor due to its greater durability and quicker curing time. A buyer must take into account the benefits and the downsides of each type of epoxy floor paint before choosing, to guarantee that the end result is what was expected.