Resin floors for Dummies – A guide for flooring newbies – NZ

This page is not meant to insult those who do not understand resin floor systems, but rather take a simple, but detailed look at resin flooring systems.

What is a resin floor coating?

Here is what Wikipedia says – The word “resin” has been applied in the modern world to nearly any component of a liquid that will set into a hard lacquer or enamel-like finish. An example is nail polish, a modern product which contains “resins” that are organic compounds, but not classical plant resins. Certain “casting resins” and synthetic resins (such as epoxy resin) have also been given the name “resin” because they solidify in the same way as some plant resins, but synthetic resins are liquid monomers of thermosetting plastics, and do not derive from plants.

When it comes to floor coating resins, we are referring to synthetic resins

Why do we use resins?

Resin floor coatings allow us to apply a liquid over the concrete floor, allowing the wet product to absorb into the surface and create a chemical and mechanical bond to the surface of the concrete.

The purpose of the coating can be to

  • Protect the concrete surface from liquids
  • Protect the concrete from chemical attack
  • Make the concrete surface easier to clean
  • Improve the appearance
  • Add colour or effects
  • Add gloss and increase light reflection
  • Stop the surface producing dust
  • Increase durability
  • Hide repairs or stains
  • and many other reasons

There are many types of floor coating resins, and within those “chemical families” there are different formulation developed with different characteristics and benefits.

Think of it like a motor vehicle.  We have sedans, SUVs, vans, trucks, buses, motorbikes etc.  Then within each of those classifications we have different types. A 2 door sedan is great for a couple, but not practical for a family of 5.  A double decker bus is great for public transport, but no for central city parking and shopping.

The same goes for floor coating resins.  You need to look at the purpose first and foremost!  Will I use the Ferrari to get a load of fire wood?  Probably not.

I want to give a quick outline of the most common resins used as floor coatings

Acrylic resins

Acrylic resins are the basis of most wall paints.  They are relatively cheap, reasonably easy to apply and a great choice in many situations.  NB the formulations used for wall paint and concrete coatings are quite different.  It is not a good idea to use wall paint of concrete floors.

Acrylic floor coatings are mostly clear coatings and come in waterbased and solvent based.  Typically a waterbased floor sealer will leave the concrete a lighter “Dry” colour, and a solvent based acrylic sealer will give a darker “Wet” look.

These thin coatings are generally “low solids”, meaning that about 75-80% of what is applied, evaporates.

Many floor polishes (like used on vinyl floors) are acrylic resin coatings.

Acrylic resin floor coatings can be re-coated easliy, and have a good compromise between wear and markability.

There are thicker Acrylic resin coatings used in commercial and industrial situations called MMA.  These are very fast setting systems that form an acrylic plastic coating.

Epoxy resin coatings

Epoxy resin is a 2 component formulation with a base resin and a hardener (or catalyst).  There are easily 100,000 different epoxy formulations of epoxy and it is also commonly used as a glue.

Epoxy is probably the best known resin, having been first formulated in the 1920’s, it has a lot of history.

There are many types of epoxy floor coating systems.  It is widely used as a primer over concrete floors, for epoxy top coats as well as other resin top coats.  Epoxy has the ability to create a very strong bond to concrete and there are also formulation that are specifically designed to act as moisture barriers and prevent moisture coming through the surface of concrete (be that floors or walls).

As a concrete coating system it is used in 3 major ways
  1. As a roll coat or paint system.  Usually 2 or more coats are applied with a roller over a prepared concrete floor or wall.  Mostly as a coloured finish.
  2. As a thicker Self Levelling finish for harsher environments, such as processing plants or workshops where heavy impact is expected.
  3. As a mortar.  Epoxy resin can be mixed with various grades of sand to make a mortar mix.  This is useful where thicker and stronger coatings or repairs are required.  We commonly use this to make coving along walls in areas that require hygiene floors.

 

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