For all of its advantages, there are a number of disadvantages of epoxy flooring that should be considered before taking the leap and installing it in your home. Epoxy is often considered a luxury floor product, and can last for decades with the proper care, still it does have drawbacks.
If you're concerned about the effects of epoxy flooring, yet also intrigued by the advantages, this article will help you make an informed decision. We'll take a close look at the disadvantages of epoxy flooring, as well it's advantages to help you make the right choice for your home.
In its finished state, epoxy flooring resembles a hard, smooth plastic which is installed over a finished concrete floor.
Before the hardening takes place, the mixed components are in a liquid state which can be poured onto the floor and spread with a roller brush or small trowel. from there, it can be smoothed with a squeegee to create an even layer.
Epoxy floors are typically an 1/8-inch thick, but industrial floors are often thicker and more durable.
Reasons to Apply Epoxy Flooring
Although there may be many reasons, here are the 4 main reasons why applying epoxy to your cement floor makes sense.
Protect Concrete - By applying epoxy over concrete, the concrete is sealed and will be protected from spills, scratches, and other surface damage.
Easy to Clean - Since epoxy isn't absorbent, it is easy to clean. Oil, water, and chemical spills sit on top of the floor's surface and can be easily wiped up. In addition, these spills won't leave a stain. This is one of the main reasons epoxy flooring is a popular choice for garages, workshops, and other industrial areas.
Industrial Settings - Food and pharmaceutical manufacturing are two popular industrial settings that have extremely strict requirements on the type of flooring that can be used. Since epoxy doesn't allow the build-up of bacteria, its easily cleaned, and it doesn't produce dust when moved across (with forklifts, etc.) it's often the preferred floor type. But you'll find epoxy flooring in hospitals, warehouses, and many other industrial areas.
Decorative - The opportunities are endless when it comes to design and color. Whether in a commercial or home setting you can create whatever look you want.
Uses of Epoxy Flooring
As mentioned above, epoxy flooring is frequently found in industrial settings, hospitals, and garages. As its gained in popularity many homeowners are choosing to install it in kitchens, bathrooms, and living areas.
Because epoxy flooring is so durable and easy to clean, and it can withstand pressure and wear, once installed, it'll last for years.
There's no shortages of advantages to epoxy flooring, and we'll discuss those below. However, if you're considering installing this flooring type in your home, you should to be aware of the disadvantages of epoxy flooring.
The demanding installation process is definitely a disadvantage of epoxy flooring. The surface needs to be properly prepped prior to putting on the epoxy coating. This can be a particular challenge if you are resurfacing a garage floor as all oils and grease must be removed.
Everything matters when it comes to installing epoxy flooring, and you must follow all the rules carefully. You'll need to pay attention to things like the humidity level, because excessive moisture can damage the floor and cause it to prematurely age.
In addition, you'll need to take health precautions during installation, especially if you use a non-water based product. The fumes can irritate your eyes as well as your breathing. Although, it should be noted that epoxy flooring is safe and not a health risk once it has fully cured, unless of course you need to sand the surface.
Pro Tip - Choose low VOC water based epoxy materials to avoid the health risks during installation. These products are "green" and safe to use, unlike solvent based epoxy.
Since epoxy flooring is a seamless surface and is frequently non-porous, it can become slippery, especially if it's wet or oily.
Although, it is possible to add aluminum oxide to the epoxy itself to reduce or even eliminate the slippery issue. Another option is to add silica sand to the finish.
The area you plan to install the epoxy flooring will likely play a big part in your decision on how to address the potential slippery issue. In areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, where there's always water, you may want to take a more aggressive approach. Consulting with a flooring professional is always a good idea, especially if you're in doubt.
Simply put, after you install your epoxy flooring it's going to need a few days to fully cure, and it's generally believed that the longer the curing process, the more durable the floor. Keep in mind that some epoxy's require a week to fully dry and cure.
In some situations this may not be a factor, but in others it'll be a huge headache. The cure time is definitely something you should be aware of so you can plan accordingly.
Epoxy Flooring Doesn't Breathe
Because epoxy flooring doesn't breathe there's the potential for any moisture vapor coming up from the slab of concrete to be trapped.
It's a best practice to test your concrete for its moisture vapor emission rate prior to installing epoxy flooring. If the moisture vapor emission rate is too high, it could cause the flooring to delaminate.
Although extremely durable, one of the disadvantages to epoxy flooring is it isn't a permanent solution, and a new coat will need to be applied periodically.
Even though epoxy is extremely durable, the surface will still experience wear and tear, and can even chip and crack. If left unattended, a chip or crack could lead to the epoxy surface peeling away and exposing larger sections of the floor.
Once in place, epoxy flooring can be a bit of a challenge to remove. In fact, it's typically best to hire a contractor to do the work for you since they'll have the tools and expertise to safely remove the surface while protecting the concrete base.
Keep in mind that removing the epoxy surface isn't always necessary, as you may be able to install another flooring type directly on top.
Even though epoxy flooring has its drawbacks, there are plenty of advantages. Here are a few to consider:
Epoxy flooring is extremely resistant to wear and tear, highly water-resistant, and resists cracks and peeling. In fact, epoxy's durability is one of the main reasons it's a popular flooring choice.
There are two factors that play a major role in the durability of epoxy: Location and installation.
Location - When installed in a high foot traffic public area, epoxy will definitely show signs of wear, however for home use in areas such as basements, it should last for several decades.
Installation - There are no short cuts when it comes to installing epoxy flooring. It needs to be properly applied and allowed to cure otherwise you could have problems down the road.
Compared to other flooring, epoxy is an affordable flooring option. The materials and installation costs are quite reasonable, but this shouldn't be your main focus.
Let's face it, some areas in your house are better suited with tile or wood floors, which is why you want to have a clear understanding of your intent for the floor. If it fits into one of the four reasons listed above, then epoxy will probably be your best option. Focusing on the need of the floor, instead of the cost will help you make a good decision.
Plenty of Options
If you're looking for a custom look, epoxy flooring is a great option. You'll be able to choose any color, create patterns or shapes, or even build intricate designs. Basically, if you can dream it, you can design it into your floor.
Where ever epoxy flooring is installed it has a sleek and clean look. Garages take on a professional look and feel, and because the surface is so easy to clean, a quick sweep and an occasional mop will pick up any dirt and debris.
Because epoxy is sealed and won't absorb fluids, nearly everything will simply sit on the surface. This mean no ugly stains where gas, oil, or chemicals may have spilled.
Epoxy flooring requires very little maintenance once it's been applied to the concrete. The material dries to create a smooth and seamless finish which resists the penetration of dirt, oil, and other spills that can damage a floor's surface. This makes it easy to keep epoxy floors clean with regular sweeping and mopping.
If you're considering installing an epoxy floor, then you'll want as much information as you can find. Here are some FAQs to help you learn more about epoxy.
Is Epoxy Flooring Cost Effective?
One of the first questions people ask is how much does epoxy flooring cost? You'll need to consider two expenses with epoxy flooring: The materials and the installation.
Materials - Since epoxy flooring starts out as a liquid, its purchased by the gallon, and ranges in price between $30 to $150. There's a wide range of product lines available, but you can expect to pay more for mixtures that contain larger amounts of epoxy.
Installation - If you're looking for a DIY project, you can purchase a kit for around $600. But we recommend at least getting a bid on the project with a professional.
Can I Install Epoxy Flooring Myself?
Yes, absolutely you can install an epoxy floor as a DIY project, but we don't recommend it. Unless you've worked with epoxy before, you're better off hiring a flooring professional as the process isn't as easy as you might think.
If things aren't done just right, your floor may chip, have bubbles, or be uneven. As a general rule, most flooring professionals charge by the square foot to install epoxy.
Can You Put Epoxy Flooring Over Plywood?
Theoretically yes. Since epoxy is simply a coating, in theory it will cover any surface.
However, it's not really a good idea, since epoxy floor coatings are designed to be used on concrete. You may want to consider using either a latex or acrylic latex paint on plywood.
How Long Does it Take to Install Epoxy?
If you're installing epoxy in your garage, you should expect the process to take at least 2 days, but it really depends on the type of epoxy system you select.
Keep in mind, the surface will need to be prepped prior to the epoxy being installed. This may include repairs and even using a diamond grinder on the concrete.
Once the epoxy has been installed, you'll need to completely stay off of it for 48-hours, that includes walking on the surface. After about 5-days your new garage floor should be ready for your car.