Commercial and industrial floors take a constant beating, and epoxy coatings reduce the amount of abuse the floor takes while providing an easier to clean and maintain surface.
Just to preface this article, the actual lifespan of a floor depends on the amount of abuse it is receiving, and the actual mileage will be different for every situation. Residential homes can see 10-20 years of life on a properly designed epoxy system, but for commercial and industrial it is rare to see them last that long.
We see a typical life span on industrial epoxy floors to be anywhere from 2-7 years. To help extend the lifespan of the epoxy, the epoxy floor care best practices should be followed.
If you’re here, you are likely considering an epoxy floor or are seeing signs of wear and tear on your existing floor.
In this article, we’ll provide you with advice and insights on an epoxy floor’s lifespan that will hopefully be helpful to you.
Situation 1: You’re Considering an Epoxy Floor for Your Business
Pros of Epoxy Flooring
Wearable: The epoxy layer acts as a barrier to prevent damage and impacts from destroying the floor underneath it.
Cleanable: Epoxy is nonporous and easy to wipe down or mop with a general cleaner like simply green
Nonslip: Aggregate can be added to reach the amount of texture wanted to prevent slips and falls.
Seamless: Epoxy is a great option for sensitive facilities as it prevents bacteria and dirt from finding cracks and crevasses to settle into.
Repairable: If you chip, crack or damage your epoxy floor, most times it can be easily and effectively repaired.
Resistant: Epoxy is extremely resistant to most liquids and will make cleaning up spills much easier without fear of staining or permanent damage.
Cons of Epoxy Flooring
Intrusive Installation: Epoxy is a two-part liquid applied floor system and it requires a team to come in and shut the area down during the process which can span several days or weeks depending on the size of the project.
Curing Time: Depending on the type of epoxy used it will require a curing time lasting anywhere from one day to a week, which means no activity on the floor while that is ongoing.
Slippery: Unless an aggregate is added, epoxy is very slippery while wet.
Fumes: Epoxy gives off a heavy chemical smell that can be harmful if continually breathed. Ventilation or proper respiratory equipment are a must if working near it when the floor is being coated.
Temporary: The largest downside of epoxy is that it is not a one-time solution for your floor. At some point in the future, it will need to be either redone, recoated, or removed. It acts as the renewable portion of the floor, so the concrete below doesn’t need to be rebuilt.
Situation 2: You’re Seeing Signs of Wear on Your Existing Floor
Peeling can be caused by many things. Listed below are a few common situations we see.
A bad batch mixture or poor surface preparation can cause the epoxy to peel from the floor. Installation issues like a bad batch or poor surface preparation usually mean the entire floor needs to be redone.
No Vapor Barrier
Concrete is porous and without a vapor barrier beneath the slab, moisture will come up through the slab. If epoxy is installed on a floor without making sure that there is a vapor barrier installed, it’s only a matter of time before it begins peeling or bubbling.
By now we’ve established that water getting behind the epoxy is bad. If it’s an area that is frequently washed down, making sure the walls are properly sealed is necessary. Water can enter through the walls and trickle down and under the epoxy.
To prevent further peeling, the walls need to be coated with a waterproof coating to prevent the water from infiltrating the walls. Once completed, the floor can be repaired as normal.
There are types of epoxies that are better designed for high-heat environments. If the floor is exposed to high heat without the proper type of epoxy being used it can fail and peel. Repairing is as simple as removing the peeling epoxy and installing a high-temperature epoxy in its place.
Epoxy is only as strong as the floor beneath it. Several things can cause an epoxy floor to crack. Here are a few common situations.
The ground and your concrete slab expand and contract with the temperature cycle. If the slab does not have the proper expansion joints and an epoxy floor is installed, it will quickly crack. Most times the floor already has the necessary expansion joints but if it doesn’t, they can be added.
It’s not uncommon to see concrete floors in bad shape, with chunks coming off the floor. Putting epoxy over a floor in this condition asks for cracks to form. Concrete can be repaired. We would recommend doing so before any attempt at putting epoxy on it is made.
If the epoxy floor is not properly keyed into the floor it can cause lots of internal stress in the epoxy causing it to crack and fracture over time. Stress fractures can be repaired but there’s no guarantee that the floor won’t crack again. The only way to ensure this is by redoing the epoxy and properly keying it to the floor
Epoxy is a plastic floor and depending on the hardness of the product used can scratch easily.
Common causes of scratches are when workers drag or pull things along the floor, drop tools, and move carts with stuck wheels over the floor. However, scratches on epoxy floors can usually be buffed or sanded out.
Epoxy Floor FAQs
Here are a few common questions we are often asked about epoxy floors.
Which industries and/or building types often use epoxy floors?
We see epoxy floors being used in all industries and almost every building has an area that would benefit from an epoxy floor.
Industries that often use epoxy flooring are:
- Food Industries
Are there situations where you wouldn’t recommend epoxy for a potential client?
Situations that we would not recommend epoxy are:
If your concrete is already heavily damaged, we would not recommend using epoxy until the floor is repaired.
Sub-surface Water or Vapor
If the floor is always wet or does not have a vapor barrier, we would recommend not attempting an epoxy installation. You need a dry and clean floor before you can apply epoxy. Once dry epoxy can withstand surface water extremely well. Water or vapor infiltration from underneath the concrete is what causes peeling or bubbling in the epoxy. A vapor barrier can be installed prior to the epoxy floor.
If a client expects the new epoxy floor to be the last floor they need to install, we recommend a different type of flooring or educate the client on the expected lifespan of epoxy. Unfortunately, epoxy is not the “end-all-be-all” of floors and will need to be addressed again in the future.
Does epoxy last longer than concrete?
No, epoxy does not last longer than concrete. Epoxy is designed as a protective system to go over floors and prevent wear to the floor underneath.
Can an epoxy floor be repaired?
Yes, most epoxy floors can be repaired. Sometimes it makes more sense to remove the floor entirely and start over but in most situations, the floor can be repaired.
Can you put new epoxy over old epoxy?
Yes! The floor must be sanded and prepped before a recoat can happen, but it is quite common to recoat old epoxy. If the previous floor is still in good condition, it is significantly cheaper to simply recoat.
About Our Flooring Team
Our epoxy floor coating team has installed commercial and industrial floors in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.
They have the equipment and experience to repair damaged concrete, prepare the substrate, and properly apply the epoxy to ensure your new floor achieves maximum longevity.