What is Epoxy?
First lets find out what epoxy itself is. Epoxy resin is a two part chemically mixed resin created from prepolymers and polymers. It is a petroleum based chemical (some created from plants as well) that when mixed with amines, acids and other form of chemicals which aid in the hardening or curing of the resins.
Once cured, the epoxy creates an impermeable and chemically resistant coating that is high gloss. Epoxies come in many forms, but lets discuss those involved in epoxy flooring. Today you will learn about the somewhat new type of epoxy materials that is hitting the markets and dropping jaws everywhere known as Metallic epoxy flooring, aka designer epoxy floors and pearlescent epoxy flooring.
What is Metallic Epoxy Flooring?
Metallic epoxy flooring is a relatively new type of floor. While it has been around for about 10 plus years, it still is pretty much an unknown floor type. Basically unlike most solid pigmented epoxy resins used in industrial floors, metallic epoxy flooring material is made up of a crystal clear epoxy and coupled with a mica powder pigment. Metallic Mica powder pigment is used in make up, metallic paint for cars and anything where a luster is sought to give the metallic look.
When combined with the clear epoxy resin, you have a 2 tone color variation from the heavy amount of mica powder that is added to the resin. Special epoxies are created specifically to give the installer more “open” time to manipulate and place metallic epoxy floors. You can’t just use any old clear epoxy to get the right “movement” or “flow” of the mica pigments. Certain epoxies such as Gorilla Flo create these special clear epoxies which do just that, give the epoxy a longer time to stay uncured so the pigments flow and create amazing patterns in the floor, all while self leveling to a clear flat sheet of glass.
How is Metallic Epoxy Flooring Installed?
These types of floors entail are very detail oriented installation. It is not recommended that a do it yourself-er try this. First of all the equipment required is very costly for preparation and can not be rented readily and secondly this is the type of installation that requires hands on experience. There are many factors which can change the dynamics of a metallic epoxy flooring installation and this is why you want to hire a professional in the field. I have listed a few of the metallic epoxy flooring installers in New Jersey and New York below if your in the area. I also will list installers nation wide that we provide materials that I personally know do good work.
Metallic epoxy floors require you diamond grind the concrete floor you are installing it on. All cracks must be repaired using a cement or epoxy based patch and ground flat. All edges must be hand ground with a angle grinder, concrete blade and dust shroud to remove the old layer of concrete and any carpet glue or material on the floor from previous installation.
You will then need to diamond grind using either a large angle grinder or a planetary machine polisher (for a more professional and flatter looking floor) the entire concrete floor. This is achieved using a 16-30 grit diamond providing the epoxy coatings the best mechanical bond. Floor must be vacuumed using professional dust free vacuums and most importantly a vacuum handle that will pick up all of the fine dust created on the floor.
After this step comes the vapor barrier. An epoxy coating designed to hold back any water from penetrating the coating due to hydrostatic pressure is installed for a professional metallic epoxy floor. This will protect you from any high water level caused by storms, plumbing etc etc under your floor.
After the vapor barrier the coating is then screened for mechanical adhesion using 60 to 100 grit sand paper and a black base coat is installed. This base color will provide a second level of priming and create an undertone effect for your metallic epoxy pigments installed on top. A pearl white floor for example might use a white base coat or a light brown or gray to slightly penetrate through the metallic coating.
After this base coat you know have a more level and flatter floor, which will then be screened and prepped to accept the metallic epoxy coating. The metallic epoxy is then properly mixed. Even this step is crucial in getting a great looking metallic epoxy floor. Mixing requires that you slowly introduce the mica powders into the part a of the resin. Once it is slowly mixed, making sure you do not create air bubbles, you then will let the epoxy sit and allow the air from the mica pigment to escape and then after about 5 minutes slowly mix again. The hardener is then introduced to the part A resin and you will mix for 3 minutes making sure you get the entire part a and b from the sides of the bucket to create a homogeneous mix.
You will have to pour all the metallic epoxy out of the bucket immediately and spread using either a magic trowel squeegee, v-notch gauge rake. You want to achieve at least 50 to 65 sq ft per gallon of metallic epoxy to create a nice depth and flat looking floor. Some installers will roll the epoxy after it is on the floor to blend, even out and create effects using a smaller roller. Some installers prefer to just use a magic trowel squeegee to manipulate it. Metallic epoxy flooring is an art and every artist has his own style.
Finally the floor should be sanded one more time and a polyurethane top coat installed for optimal scratch resistance. Some instances in residential leaving the epoxy with no top coat may be sufficient but is not recommended. Having a good urethane top coat will keep scratches from forming on your floor, especially in high traffic areas such as under chairs, by the entrance of a house etc etc.
Where is Metallic Epoxy Flooring Installed?
Because of beautiful appearance, metallic epoxy flooring is installed in retail and commercial settings to really change the dynamics and ambiance of a room. Its perfect for nightclubs, restaurants, hotel lobbies, offices and more. You also see it in industrial applications where a more vibrant but super tough floor is required.
In residential settings it is placed in garages, kitchens, bedrooms and basements. Metallic epoxy flooring is flexible in the type of look you can achieve, you can have subtle more classy tones or go all out and have highly contrasting colors that create lots of movement. This type of floor can also go over wood and tiles with the right preparation, just ask your qualified installer what your options are.