Four Reasons your DIY epoxy flooring may fail even if you DO follow the instructions

Four Reasons your DIY epoxy flooring may fail even if you DO follow the instructions

Today I stumbled upon a post about a DIY epoxy project. Bridget looks quite happy while coating her garage with Epoxy resin just by herself.

diy-garage-epoxy-rustoleum-bridget-painting

Credit: DIY playbook rookies.

So why should we consider hiring contractors to do the job for us?

The fact is that it requires a little bit of hard work and the self-realization that it really isn’t as simple as some companies make it sound.

A quality floor coating requires certain steps be taken to insure a long lasting floor.

Chances are you end up having an epic fail as Heather had:

epic-fail-epoxy-flooring-DIY

Many of the DIY projects may go wrong because the installer is not aware of the issues with epoxy flooring. Bridget has made this point bold: “Follow the instructions carefully

Heather didn’t, and she had that gigantic white spot in the middle of her dining room.

But there are cases that people do follow the instructions and still they get terrible results.

I will briefly show you four possible situations that a DIY epoxy floor peels, even if the instructions are followed completely.

1. Poor surface preparation

A surface needs to be properly prepared in order for it be able to bond mechanically with epoxy coating.

This means it should be clean, dry, dust-free, and the surface must be ground or shot-blasted before applying the primer.

What! Shot blasted! It was supposed to be a simple DIY project!

Grinding re-surface the concrete profile to some extent, and our DIY kit preparation acid does a poor job to make physical bonds feasible.

Shea from allgaragefloors.com balmes the Epoxy-DIY-Go-Wrong at acid wash component and he is absolutely right. As he puts it:

“It is not really feasible to remove all those aged grease from the floor just by acid washing it. It takes hours of diamond grinding and vacuuming to reach a keyed surface.”

Allow me to explain that further.

Most of epoxy paint kits will instruct the DIY user to just clean the floor or etch it with muriatic acid.

Cleaning by itself will make zero difference. No matter what type of degreaser you employ, it will have no impact on the concrete profile.

Acid etching, while a valid preparation method, will only work if the concrete’s pores are open enough to allow the acid to react and remove the thin cement paste on the very top.

The preparation made by acid etching is just skin deep. As a result, acid etching will not be enough for areas of the concrete which are sealed, oil stained, painted or contaminated.

The International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) has prepared a technical guideline #03732.

It describes the preparation level of concrete on a scale from CSP 0 to CSP 8, with CSP 0 being the initial stage before modifying the surface and CSP 8 an extreme shot blasting.

concrete-profile-surface

Most epoxy flooring requires a minimum preparation of profiles as CSP2 or grinding to achieve the proper mechanical bond.

To ensure a proper concrete surface profile (CSP 2 or 3), contractors normally utilize a shrouded concrete grinder.

On rare occasion, shot blasting the concrete might be the only way to go. This is the case for the contaminated concrete floors.

Even if the concrete is properly prepared, contaminants such as fatty acids (from cooking), silicone, siloxane and acrylics can soak in deep enough to still present an issue for proper coatings adhesion.

That is the reason that often, heavily contaminated concrete areas must be heavily shot blasted (CSP-4 or greater) or cut/replaced.

But back to our subject, it is needless to say how useless acid etching appears compared to all these other methods.

So, even if you do follow the instructions, there is still a good chance that your concrete profile remains mostly the same.

And that is one of the reasons your DIY project may peel off within a year or two, even if you follow the instructions CAREFULLY.

2. Humidity

Epoxy doesn’t bond well with water. Presence of moisture and humidity can cause serious problems.

Moisture will change the course of chemical reaction that is going on in molecular level, and will not result in your desired durable epoxy coating.

But moisture may causes a more serious issue.

When too much moisture is trying to migrate upward through a concrete slab, it will put pressure on the coatings.

Once high enough, that pressure will force either the coatings off the concrete or the coatings will pull apart the near-wear-surface of the concrete.

These problems usually exist due to poor garage floor construction (no stone base under the concrete slab) or due to water migration issues (spouting and downspouts directing water under the garage floor).

On occasion, they may exist due to improper grading of the landscaping around the garage.

This is to the extent that Epoxy manufacturers will not guarantee epoxy coating when surface exceeds a certain humidity level.

Surface moisture level is one the items that every contractor will keep a record of while installing your epoxy coating. You want to do the same, for good reason.

So, make sure that the surface is completely dry.

If not sure, feel free to use a fan heater to dry it out completely and then check it after a while if there is any sign of moisture.

The other form of water that can cause problem for flooring is humidity.

Excessive humidity during the coatings installation can affect the inter-coat adhesion that is the strength of the bond between layers of polymer coatings.

In general, polyurethane, polyurea and polyaspartic are more humidity sensitive than most epoxies and acrylics.

Too much humidity will cause delamination, cloudiness and improper curing.

So you will need some extra gadgets that are not provided/advised in your DIY epoxy kit.

I advise the use of any known brand of Moisture Meter, specially the ones can penetrate into the surface. For instance you can purchase “Calculated Industries 7440 AccuMASTER XT” Digital Moisture Meter from Amazon.

Here is the link if you want to purchase it.Calculated Industries 7440 AccuMASTER XT Digital Moisture Meter

Most importantly, there must be no rising humidity from beneath the ground. Please bear in mind that, expoies are water-resistance; however, any humidity from below or sides, can penetrate and destroy them in time.

3. Weak and/or Incompatible substrate

Chances are that you are applying your epoxy resin on an aged concrete.

The concrete slab is worn out and you have decided to apply a new shiny epoxy coating to rejuvenate your garage floor.

This presents a different kind of problem to all other previous ones.

The Epoxy resin will be much stronger than the substrate. So instead of epoxy detaching from the cement, the cement will be torn apart.

The picture below shows the catastrophic effect of applying epoxy resin on a weak substrate very clearly.

epoxy-resin-on-a-weak-substrate

Credit for learncoatings.com

The other common example is applying epoxy resin on timber.

Make sure the substrate is compatible for epoxies both in terms of adhesion as well as tensile strength.

For instance, wood is far more flexible than epoxies which leads to the epoxy cracking simply because it cannot follow the expansions of the wood floor.

The solution that is often proposed for epoxy coating is to have a cement board on top of the wooden floor and then have all the joints filled.

Then only you can coat the cement sheet with epoxy resins.

If you feel like that’s not within the scope of an DIY floor coating, it is time to call a contractor who knows how to do it.

4. Insufficient Wicking / Wet-Out

Any type of coating should “wet-out” the substrate. Epoxies are no exceptions.

Properly prepared concrete should be completely wet by the epoxy resin – meaning the resin soaks into all the open pores and surface imperfections that are created by the prep process.

This is where professional coatings shine and DIY epoxy paints fail.

A good coating will have an adhesive strength that exceeds the concrete surface pull-strength.

Most kits fail here, as they are often just an epoxy fortified latex paint or have too many fillers.

This modification makes the epoxy easier to roll out and cheaper, but greatly decrease its bond strength.

The take a way here is that even if you are doing the epoxy flooring by yourself, please keep in mind that buying from some professional supplier may work to your benefit on a long run.

5. Conclusion

Epoxy floors look glamorous, but one has to bear in mind that installation process of these coatings is a pretty messy process.

It takes a lot of preparation hard work, even if all other factors such as humidity and moisture level are within the limits.

There are also some substrates that you simply cannot apply the epoxies.

In this article I omitted all of the other obvious parameter that epoxies fail to operate, whether commercial grade or DIY samples, for instance: low or very high temperature.

Share in the comment section below if you know of any other reason that cause DIY epoxy flooring to fail.

Thank you for your time and have a good one.

History of Epoxy Resin

History of Epoxy Resin

Definition

Nowadays, epoxy is a popular resin used all over the world.

Its strength as an adhesive can easily outmatch other common glues in the market.

For those of you who are not familiar with this resin, I will shortly define some key features of it.

This is how it actually looks like when using SEM microscope.

Epoxy Resin modified by CRT nanofillers - SEM image

source: Nanotechworld.org

 

The chemical formula is skethced below,

epoxy-resin chemistry

 

The word Epoxy can be traced back to two Greek prefixes “epi” and “oxy”.

Epi means “upon” while the prefix oxy means sharp or acidic.

Google define epoxy resin as:

epoxy
ɪˈpɒksi,ɛˈpɒksi/ noun
noun: epoxy resin
an adhesive, plastic, or other material made from a class of synthetic thermosetting polymers containing epoxide groups.

Various chemical reactions of epoxide, the resin, and polyamine, the hardener can produce epoxy resin.

The wide range of usage of this strong adhesive includes carpentry jobs, flooring, electronic boards and so on.

There are some uses in DIY garage coating.

Its adhesive-ability has been tested and witnessed by millions of people throughout its 100+ years of existence.

And yes, well over 100 years now!

So without further ado, let’s dive into the depth of history.

It all started in Russia – 1890s to 1930s

Epoxies have been around during the early 1890s, but it was only popularized during the mid 1950s.

A Russian chemist named Prileschajev was first to observe that olefins would react with a peroxybenzoic acid.

This reaction formed epoxides which are used to form epoxy along with polyamine.

During the mid-1930’s, a German named P. Shalack was granted a patent in which he prepared a polyamine with a high molecular weight.

Shalack did this through using of epoxide compounds which contained an epoxide group greater than one.

First Patented formulations – 1930s to 1950s

The first epoxy as we know it today, though, was synthesized in the year 1936.

Dr. Pierre Castan, from Switzerland, and Dr. S.O. Greenlee, from the USA, both recognized the chemistry of epoxy that people use today.

They applied for different patents during the late 1930s. [DE 943195 C]

Both of them also shared the credit of developing Diglycidyl ether of Bisphenol A.

Dr. Pierre Castan allowed his work to be licensed by company named Ciba in Switzerland.

Thus, Ciba became the first company to commercialize the production of epoxy resin in the year 1946.

Dr. S.O. Greenlee on the other hand had an agreement with an America based firm named Devoe-Reynolds.

This firm was then sold to a company called Shell Chemicals which changed its name to Momentive Specialty Chemicals.

Commercialisation – 1950s to 1970s

Aerospace was the first commercial field that epoxies could penetrate to in early 1950.

However, it was discovered to be extremely useful in other niches as well.

It took well over than two decades for epoxy resin to get the exposure it needed.

Obviously, many had first questioned the product which resulted into most of its commercial failures.

The lack of knowledge also managed to do the same thing as well.

The present epoxy today has its own formulation but was based on the work of Prileschajev.

Thanks to the studies of Dr. Pierre Castan and Dr. S.O. Greenlee, epoxy has further evolved and became what it is now.

The companies also did their part in commercializing epoxy.

Though it may be difficult to explain what epoxy is during those times, they still pushed hard and had successfully introduced a new product that revolutionized the market.

The use of Epoxy is still very eminent today and it will be still used in the coming years.

Each person had its own role in epoxy and its history.

The scientific minds and entrepreneurs have worked together to make Epoxy one of the greatest adhesives around today.

Recent innovations – 1970s to present

Epoxy resin has come a long a way.

However, there are breakthroughs in this field which keeps epoxies compatible with other solutions.

Three major innovations that have led to the evolution of the global epoxy resins market in recent years include the following;

 

– Varnish composition for laminates

Nan Ya Plastics owns the patent for epoxy resin varnish for laminates.

This composition has a high glass transition temperature due to increase in cross-linking density of the resin.

This will inevitably lead to improved mechanical strength and heat resistance.

This innovation is especially groundbreaking, as it offers low water absorption and excellent heat resistance to electrical laminates; even fire retardant requirements are fulfilled at low costs.

 

– Epoxy resin composition using solvated solids

Taking the curing process to the next level, this epoxy resin composition enhances thermal, mechanical and chemical properties.

Therefore, it is highly useful in the manufacturing of composite parts by vendors.

Air Products and Chemicals Inc. owns the patent for this composition.

 

– Preparation of stable aqueous epoxy resin dispersion

Owned by Dow Global Technologies, this process is solvent-free and involves the preparation of stable aqueous epoxy resin dispersions using polyvinyl alcohol as a primary dispersant.

Properties like low VOC content and low viscosity, which are highly desirable in the coatings industry, are also inherent in this epoxy resin composition.

Global Category Spend by Region 2016 (US$7.7 billion)
Region                  Percentage
APAC                    60%
EMEA                   23%
North America      13%
Latin America       4%
Source: Technavio

According to analysts at Technavio, it is the wind energy market that has contributed to the expansion of the global epoxy resins market in 2015.

As epoxies are stable, lightweight and flexible in nature, they are used in manufacturing wind turbine blades.

Likewise, due to these properties, the chemical has applications in shipbuilding and the maintenance industries as well.

One major impediment that suppliers of epoxy resins have to face is adherence to regulations.

Some of the major regulatory frameworks for this industry include OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, REACH, and VOC emissions standards, as well as several transportation regulations.

Summery

The epoxy resin has been developed in the course of past century. But it has proven that still it has the capacity to stays among the top resins for commercial purposes.

Epoxies as they are today innovated by Dr. Castan.

Then they were commercialised within the next 20 years.

I am definitely missing out a lot as I am trying to compress 100 years in 1000 words!

So please mention what you think is missing here in the comment section below.

Thank you so much for your attention, and have a good one.