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Chips, Quartz, Metallic — How to Choose an Epoxy Floor

March 25, 2022

Epoxy floors are a top-rated choice for durable and attractive resinous floors. They offer many long-lasting benefits for almost every facility. With many options for epoxy floors available on the market, choosing a system may seem confusing. This blog is about to break it down and make it easier.

Epoxy flooring systems are resinous, seamless, and impermeable floors which are applied in layers. Each layer brings its own unique characteristics to create strength and the desirable look and feel. Every system is finished with a performance topcoat to protect against chemical attack, cleaning, and normal wear and tear. Most systems are available with a matte or semi-gloss finish and can be a variety of textures, from smooth to slip resistant.  

Seamless floors have an excellent life cycle cost and a lower maintenance cost than many other flooring choices. With proper care, they can last an average of twenty years. Since there aren’t seams to harbor bacteria and dirt, these floors are extremely hygienic and depending on the topcoat, can withstand various stringent chemical cleaners and sanitizers. 

Epoxy floors in general offer:

  • High strength
  • Wear resistance
  • Chemical resistance
  • Slip resistance
  • Easy maintenance
  • Pleasing aesthetics
Epoxy Flooring General Info

Varied Substrates

For any resinous floor installation, it is imperative that the substrate is sound, dry, and clean. In most situations, epoxy floors are installed on prepared concrete, however it is also possible to install a system on wood substrates and over quarry tile. In both of these cases, the floors will require additional preparation to make sure the epoxy will properly adhere. Any existing seams may require patching to prevent them from telegraphing through the system.  

Variety of Finishes

  • Solid colors
  • Decorative Chip & Quartz
  • Metallic Pigments

Solid Colors

Solid Color Epoxy Floors

Solid colors epoxy floors at a minimum consist of a primer, a body coat and a topcoat. Additional layers can be added to increase durability and slip resistance. They are also available as self-leveling floors which are slightly thicker and should be considered for surfaces with more undulations. Epoxy floors can also accommodate specialty environments with water tight or electrostatic dissipative flooring options.

Standard solid color epoxy floors, such as Dur-A-Gard®, are designed for foot traffic and light vehicle use. They are stain resistant, abrasion resistant, and chemical resistant. These are commonly installed in:

  • Laboratories
  • Manufacturing
  • Hospitals
  • Warehouses
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Cleanrooms

Self-leveling epoxy floors such as Dur-A-Gard® SL offer the same properties as the standard solid color epoxy floors but with increased strength. These are typically installed in:

  • Pharmaceutical Facilities
  • Cleanrooms
  • Assembly Areas
  • Laboratories
  • Light Manufacturing
  • Hangars
Shop Floor Epoxy Floors

Solid color epoxy floors can have additional strength and durability by broadcasting layers of natural quartz aggregate into the system. These systems are designed for constant foot and vehicle traffic and offer increased abrasion resistance, slip resistance, wear and chemical resistant. Systems such as Shop Floor™ are also UV resistant. Common use sites for quartz epoxy floors include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive Service Bays
  • Server Rooms
  • Loading Docks
  • Data Centers
  • Tool Cribs
  • Mechanical Rooms

The last option for solid color epoxy floors is a variation that is troweled applied versus fluid applied and uses sand as an aggregate. This type of an epoxy floor, like Dur-A-Crete, is called an epoxy mortar. Epoxy mortars are designed to resurface deteriorated floors as well as protect new floors from the abuse of heavy industrial applications. It can also be used can also be used to form containment berms, ramps, or to slope floors to drains. These floors are abrasion resistant, chemical resistant and slip resistant. Common applications include:

  • Machine Shops
  • Loading Docks
  • Traffic Aisles
  • Ramps
  • Manufacturing Areas
  • Spalled Joint Repair

Decorative Options

Epoxy Chip Floors

Epoxy floors also come in decorative options including decorative chip and decorative quartz. The standard chip or decorative quartz floor at a minimum consists of a primer, two broadcast layers of chips or decorative quartz, a grout coat, and a topcoat.

Decorative chip (or flake) floors are epoxy floors with colorful vinyl chips or mica broadcast into them. The chips are available in several sizes, with micro and macro being the most common, and are available as standard or custom color blends. Dur-A-Chip floors are exceptionally popular.

Decorative quartz floors are similar to the chip floors except they utilize blends of pigmented quartz. The quartz is also available in various sizes, similar to the micro and macro options of chips. For Dur-A-Quartz floors the sizes are categorized as Q11 or Q28. Color blends are available as standard or custom.

Epoxy Quartz Floors

Both decorative chip and decorative quartz epoxy are built to withstand the high traffic of a busy facility and offer wear, chemical and slip resistance. Quartz floors are innately more durable than flake floors and have increased slip resistance. They are more often used in wet areas such as locker rooms and bathrooms. That said, textured additives such as aluminum oxide can be used to increase slip resistance in any epoxy floors. Common use sites for decorative chip or decorative quartz floors include:

  • Hospitals
  • Locker Rooms
  • Cleanrooms
  • Retail
  • Laboratories
  • Schools
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Supermarkets
  • Lobbies
  • Cafeterias
  • Restrooms
  • Dining Areas
Metallic Epoxy Floors

Another decorative option for epoxy floors is the addition of metallic pigments. The metallic pigments create a unique marbling effect and can be created using an unlimited number of color combinations.  The ReFLEXions line offers easy maintenance with abrasion and chemical resistance. This type of system is commonly found in:

  • Showrooms
  • Dining Areas
  • Retail areas
  • Lobbies
  • Offices
  • Residential
  • Bars & Lounges
  • Halls / Corridors
  • Concourses

Decorative vs. Solid Determining Factors

When trying to decide which type of an epoxy system to install, the following questions can help narrow the choices.

Do you need special considerations for chemical resistance?

What is the use of the room? What chemicals will be used? What is the cleaning regimen? All of these things will determine which topcoats should be considered and from there which systems are candidates.

How much and what types of traffic will your facility see?

Is it foot traffic, is it forklift traffic, or other motorized vehicles? If motorized, will the floor have cars or semi-trucks driving on them? This will determine if a decorative floor will have enough impact resistance and if the solid color systems are a better option. 

What type of a texture do you need?

Determine which type of texture is best suited for the area. Use this information to decide which systems you should consider. Price point may play a role in this decision as additional topcoats, and/or textured additives can be used to achieve various textures.  

Are design and aesthetics important?

Think of form and function before choosing. Which options would best serve the purpose of the room? Would a decorative floor detract from or add to the functionality of the room? 

What is your budget?

There are usually good, better, best type pricing scenarios for every floor. Decide on your budget and work with a Dur-A-Flex territory sales manager to determine the best options.

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Environmental Considerations

Although epoxy resinous floors are built tough, most epoxy systems have limitations to moisture and humidity, and extreme temperature shifts. Epoxy systems are best installed in temperatures between 60° – 85°F. The concrete should have a minimum compressive strength of 3500 psi and it should be tested for moisture using an in-situ relative humidity (RH) test. Most epoxy systems can withstand up to 75% RH and up to 99% RH with an appropriate moisture mitigating primer. CaCL testing is also valuable as most epoxy systems have a CaCL moisture tolerance of up to 3 lbs per 1,000 sf per 24 hours.  If a substrate tests higher than these limits, it is recommended to consider other resinous flooring options such as cementitious urethane or a hybrid system. 

Commitment to Transparency

Dur-A-Flex recognizes the need to be at the forefront in developing products that contribute to sustainability. Our epoxy systems were designed with that in mind.

Our Epoxy systems:

  • Zero to Low VOCs
  • CA 01350 compliant
  • Almost all systems are eligible for LEED® credits
  • Included in mindful Materials database

Recap:

In closing, all epoxy floors are designed with strength in mind. The specific needs of a space should be taken into consideration before choosing a system. For higher durability and impact resistance, think solid color systems like Dur-A-Gard or Shop Floor. For decorative options with similar benefits think Dur-A-Quartz or Dur-A-Chip, remembering quartz naturally offers a little more strength, slip and impact resistance than a vinyl chip floor does.

For more information on choosing epoxy floors talk to your local Dur-A-Flex territory sales managers. They will assist in determining which flooring system will best address the needs for any facility.

Author: Jes Grant
Jes Grant is the content development manager for Dur-A-Flex. She has over 15 years of experience creating content for various technical industries, and has been featured in several publications for her writing and design work
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