How to Choose the Best Epoxy Floor Coating

There are many reasons why you may want to coat your concrete floors. It may be because you want to make the floor easier to clean or to protect it from moisture, impact, and dirt. Perhaps, you want to improve its appearance, or you work with corrosive materials and need to shield the floors against chemical damage. It could also be that you operate a restaurant and want a simple way to keep your floors decontaminated.

These are all valid reasons for coating a concrete floor. But what kind of coating should you use for your floors? At present, there are many popular methods for coating concrete floors, but the most versatile method, which guarantees the best overall appearance and long-lasting results, is an epoxy concrete coating.

What is epoxy concrete floor coating?

Epoxy coatings are a range of products for covering the surface of bare concrete floors. They are made of a combination of polymer resins and hardeners which bond through a chemical reaction. They create a tough, bright, and self-leveling surface. Income Realty shares some of the advantages of epoxy concrete floors over other types of floor coating:

  • They are highly versatile and may be used in any type of building
  • They can withstand impact, abrasions, corrosion, and bacteria
  • They can be installed quickly and are very easy to clean
  • They are highly customizable

Given that there are many types of epoxy flooring in the market, which one should you choose? Below, we examine the different types of epoxy coatings and the qualities of each to help you identify the best epoxy coating for your concrete floors.

Two-part epoxy floor coating with 100% solids

These are 100% solid epoxy floor coatings, which do not contain any solvents. This type of coating offers a thick, hard finish that offers maximum protection for your concrete floors. They are often sprinkled with decorative chips to give them texture and a unique appearance. 

Due to their complete lack of solvents, they harden quickly, within 24 hours of application. However, when applying this coating, rooms have to be thoroughly ventilated because of the intense fumes emitted during the process.

Two-part epoxy floor coating:

  • Is considered a 100% pure epoxy floor coating and usually labeled “100% solids”
  • Is the most expensive epoxy floor coating option
  • Has a more severe installation process than the other options
  • Is quick drying; there is minimum disruption or downtime during installation
  • Will result in a very hard, thick, highly durable, long-lasting, and attractive even surface
  • Is often used in combination with vinyl paint chips
  • Costs $200-$300 per kit and is easily available from online retailers

Two-part water-based epoxy floor coating

These are hybrid products with combinations of genuine epoxy: resin, hardener, water, and solvent. They are often advertised as “low VOC” or “low odor” epoxy coatings because they do not emit the strong fumes characteristic of 100% epoxy floorings.

Two-part water-based epoxy floor coatings are water-based like latex paints and typically take 2-3 days to completely dry. This is because along with the curing process, this type of epoxy flooring also relies on evaporation to reach maximum hardness. They are easier to work with than 100% epoxy coatings but result in a thinner coating.

Two-part water-based epoxy floor coatings:

  • Incorporate water as a solvent
  • Do not emit strong fumes; installation does not require a lot of ventilation
  • Takes longer to dry and cure
  • Are easier to work with than 100% epoxy floor coating
  • Creates a thinner coat which does not last as long as 100% epoxy
  • May be used with vinyl color/texture chips, depending on the type of coating
  • Usually costs around $100 per gallon

One-part floor coating

Although often marketed as an epoxy floor coating, this is actually a form of paint. All true epoxy coatings are always a two-part product consisting of a polymer resin and a hardener or activator. These components have to be mixed together, just before application.

Any product which comes premixed cannot be considered an epoxy coating because epoxy coatings start to harden soon after they are mixed. Although often referred to as “one-part epoxy,” these products are only similar to epoxy. In terms of performance, they offer far better protection for concrete floors than standard paint.

One-part floor coating:

  • Is not epoxy but is often sold as “one-part epoxy” or “epoxy/acrylic”
  • Is sold in a single container and does not require mixing before application
  • Is typically quick-drying and takes about one hour
  • Can be easily cleaned with soap and water
  • Has to be reapplied every few years
  • Cost per gallon is in the range of $40

Which epoxy floor coating is best for your concrete floors? The highest performing epoxy floor coating is a 100% epoxy coating. These coatings are excellent for rooms or areas where there is heavy foot traffic, risk of impact, and abrasion or exposure to corrosive substances. However, if the concrete floor is not subject to these conditions, a water-based epoxy coating may be an option.