Reasons Epoxy Floors Fail
Without a doubt the most frequent inquiry we get is about failing epoxy floors that were either applied by the client themselves of by a contractor that just didn’t follow all the rules and applied a substandard product.
All floor coating materials are not created equally – and although they may look the same there is a huge difference in the durability and longevity. Store bough products will look good for a short amount of time but will never be as durable as floor coating products from the worlds largest manufacturers – there simply is no comparison and any reputable and experienced contractor will never recommend them for your project.
All this being said, I decided to put down the 8 reasons why Epoxy Floor Fail – there are many variables on every different slab of concrete and that’s why it is always necessary to perform an onsite inspection for each project – no one product or manufacture solves all issues with concrete.
Improper surface preparation:
Certain DIY kits say you can just acid-wash a floor before you apply their coatings – while this may work in a small percentage of floors, generally you have to diamond grind or shot blast the surface before priming and installing the new floor. It is absolutely essential to remove all contaminants and create a suitable profile for the floor coatings to achieve a chemical bond to. The floor surface must also be clean, dry and dust free.
Solvent based Epoxy Floors do not bond to humid or wet surfaces. You must make sure that the surface is completely dry and that there is no rising humidity or moisture from the ground.
When the concrete is of a poor quality and exhibits signs of excessive dusting it is most often caused by a substandard concrete pour. Seeing as most epoxy coatings are stronger than the concrete itself it will peel away from the concrete and you will often see remnants of the concrete on the epoxy when you peel it off. Again the initial onsite assessment will determine whether the floor is of a high enough quality to accept an epoxy floor coating. In certain cases it may be necessary to re-top the slab with a Urethane Cement or similar product but in very rare instances the concrete may even have to be removed.
Not Priming the Surface:
Concrete floors always need to be primed – once the concrete is prepared it is necessary to prime the surface and allow it to fully cure before the application of the next coat. Primers generally penetrate the concrete and create a smooth layer for all subsequent coats of material.
The most common failure here is the use of the wrong primer or not taking accurate moisture readings or no primer at all.
Too often we hear about contractors who use one brand of primer and a different manufacturers top-coats, maybe it’s to save money but you should assure that any applicator is using materials that are 100% compatible. If they are using different manufacturers the specific products need to be approved to use together and always ensure that this does not void any warranty.
This is most common on older floors where there is excessive contamination from old auto shops, oils, grease etc. If the floor is not properly prepped and degreased then the epoxy will eventually fail – ignoring these problems will lead to problems that will become evident within a year or two of installation.
If each component is not mixed in the proper ratios then the floor coating will not cure and will never cure. Floors where the ratios have been ignored will remain tacky and will need to be removed. This is a simple process but one that we have all heard about at some stage – properly organized mix stations and employees who are focused and trained in this task ensure that mistakes can be minimized.
Not allowing the floor to cure:
Most floors will be dry to the touch after 2-8 hours and while some MMA floors are ready to return to service within 30 minutes, floors need to chemically cure and most manufacturers will recommend keeping traffic off epoxy floors for at least 72 hours after the final coat is applied. Generally speaking the longer that floors can be left to cure the better but if traffic is returned to the surface prior to a floor fully curing then you may see signs of wear in traffic areas and it may eventually delaminate.
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