As with all types of painting, epoxy floors can be done in many different ways. In this article, we will discuss a few of the most popular applications and some price ranges you can expect to pay.
To understand how pricing for epoxies work, we first must understand what epoxy is and why it’s used to paint concrete floors. Without getting too scientific, most epoxies comprise of two separate parts (usually A and B) that when mixed together, chemical reactions happen that create a mechanical bond.
This mixture then flows into small pockets (usually purposefully created by contractor) and hardens within to create a mechanical bond. To help explain a mechanical bond, we can picture a candle. When the wax is hot and liquid, a wick can be placed in the wax, and as long as the wax is still liquid, the wick can easily be removed. But once that wax cools and dries (similar to when parts A and B are thoroughly mixed and cured with epoxies) the wick cannot be removed without breaking the wax apart (or melting it again). The difference with epoxy is that the two parts can never be unmixed.
So it’s very hard to break the mechanical bond that has been created. This makes epoxies great for high traffic areas that get walked on, driven on, cleaned often, or heavy working areas. Many common uses for epoxies are garage floors, showroom floors, mechanic bays, airplane hangers, lab walls and other similar types of scenarios as well countertops. Many times, flecks of paint chips and/or colored sand can be broadcast on top of the final coat. This can be done for two reasons. One is the add grip since the smooth and shiny nature of epoxy can make it dangerous to walk on when wet, but another reason people use these products is to add a custom touch to their floor. Many different and unique options become available when using this type of application.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what epoxy is and why it works so well in certain applications, let’s talk about the different ways it can be applied. The most important thing we always have to achieve is a clean surface, free of grease, oil, or other contaminates.
Equally as important is having a porous substrate that the epoxy can impregnate or bite into. Without these two critical components, the epoxy can’t effectively create the mechanical bond needed for long lasting, hard coatings. There are different ways to achieve this clean, porous surface, and these processes depend on the situation and condition of the current floor.
If the concrete is relatively new and clean, a muriatic acid etch can achieve the proper surface preparation. The muriatic acid reacts with the lime in the concrete and as it “eats” away the lime, small pockets are created that allow the epoxy to “bite”. This is the easiest way to prep the concrete, but it’s imperative that the chalky basic solution that’s leftover after the chemical reaction is finished be 100% removed. This usually requires multiple rinses with water. If any of this chalky residue is left on the surface, it can create a barrier between the floor and the epoxy paint, which won’t allow proper adhesion. In these cases, the epoxy tends to lift and peel very quickly after application. When the floor has a lot of grease, oil, or other contaminates that can’t be cleaned, sometimes grinding is necessary.
Grinding removes the top layer of concrete while simultaneously creating small scratches that the epoxy can bite into. Again it’s very important to remove any and all excess dust prior to applying the epoxy.
This process tends to be a little more costly due to the equipment costs and the time it takes to properly prep the floor. When muriatic acid or grinding isn’t enough to properly prepare the floor, another option of shot blasting may be the solution. Shot blasting means ‘to clean or strip (a metal or other surface) by directing a high-speed stream of steel particles at it.’ This is sometimes called for when the concrete already has a coating of some kind on it that needs to be removed. Unless this previous coating is already an epoxy and has a good bond to the substrate, the coating must be fully removed. (When epoxy is applied over an existing epoxy, the two epoxies can create the mechanical bond desired by reintroducing the chemical reaction in the original coating to the new coat).
Shot blasting removes existing coating while simultaneously creating the voids needed for the new epoxy coating to “bite”. Again, the surface must be thoroughly cleaned and free of all dust prior to applying epoxy coating. This is typically the most expensive and time consuming preparation method. These are three of the most used methods to create the porous surface needed to create the mechanical bond needed, but there are other ways.
After this surface preparation has been completed, it’s important to choose the correct epoxy for the area to be painted. Epoxies vary greatly, from home garage use, to commercial (high traffic) use, to hospital or lab walls, and even countertops. There are water based epoxies that have much lower VOC’s and are kitchen safe, to a variety of chemical based products made for heavy duty uses. These products also vary greatly in price. Desired finishes are available from a solid color or colors, to sanded or paint chips broadcasted over a top coat for a granite or stone looking finish. These custom looks require a clear coat to protect the floor from gradually getting scratched, rubbed, or scrubbed off. Solid color finishes do not require this clear coat since there isn’t anything broadcast over the top that needs protecting, although mixing a clear silica sand into the finish coat is often required to add anti-slip properties to the floor. Some finishes even have different color epoxies that don’t quite mix together, but instead create a marble look by intertwining the different colors in a flowing pattern while still keeping the colors contrasting each other with a beautiful look.
As you can imagine, due to all these factors and different options with each project, giving a price without a thorough inspection of the surfaces and a clear understanding of the desired look, it’s very hard to give prices for epoxy coatings. But prices usually tend to start around $2/sq ft to upwards of $10/sq ft. A typical garage floor usually falls between $2-$4/sq ft, but as you add custom finishes or if the surface needs heavy prep, these prices can quickly rise. When re applying epoxy over a current epoxy finish that doesn’t require stripping, prices can be as low as $1/ft.
If you’re in need of new flooring that requires epoxy, let us handle any epoxy flooring needs you have. Contact us today for a free epoxy flooring quote!
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