The Science and History Behind Epoxy Flooring

The Science and History Behind Epoxy Flooring

a warehouse with epoxy flooring

Famous for their exceptional durability and resistance to elements, epoxy floors are being introduced all across the UK, proving themselves to be one of, if not the best, commercial and industrial flooring solutions available. 

But have you ever wondered where those miraculous advantages of epoxy floors come from? Well, given you’re here, it means that, yes, you have. 

We won’t keep you in suspense longer then. Here’s a deep dive into the fascinating science and history behind epoxy flooring.

A Quick Introduction to Epoxy Floors

First things first, for those uninitiated with the concept of epoxy floors, what are epoxy floors?

In a nutshell, epoxy flooring is a type of floor surface consisting of multiple layers of epoxy resin applied over a floor base. This resin is made from a combination of polymer resin and hardening material, which, when mixed together, create a durable and resilient coating. 

Epoxy itself has various applications and is primarily used in producing adhesives, plastics, paints, primers, sealers, coatings, and, of course, flooring. 

This type of flooring is famous for its incredible durability and longevity, proving itself especially useful in commercial and industrial spaces that need to withstand heavy foot traffic and harsh conditions, such as warehouses or factories. 

However, while they are now an integral part of any industrial space in the UK, epoxy floors haven’t been around for that long…

The Origins of Epoxy Flooring

Although epoxy floors are a relatively new invention, their origins actually date back to the early 20th century, when the epoxy material was invented. 

Then, in 1936, Pierre Castam, a Swiss chemist, synthesised the first commercial epoxy polymer, developing, with a bit of help from Sylvan Greenlee, epoxy resin.

The resin was immediately recognised for its fantastic adhesive properties, durability, and sleek appearance. All these factors allowed epoxy flooring to quickly become the go-to choice for industrial flooring solutions. 

Epoxy resin’s durability was also recognised by the military. For instance, during World War II, epoxy floors were used in military installations to protect concrete surfaces from heavy machinery and traffic. 

This isn’t the only exciting application of epoxy floors. NASA, for example, installed epoxy flooring on their space capsules to provide a non-slippery surface for astronauts exploring space. 

So yes, it’s fair to say that epoxy floors have come a long way from the Swiss lab in the 30s through space to favourite industrial and commercial flooring options.

What Are Epoxy Floors Made Of?

Epoxy floors offer numerous advantages, combining excellent durability and longevity with a sleek appearance and cost-efficiency. Such floors are also very easy to clean and maintain. But what do they owe these benefits to?

Well, everything comes down to what epoxy floors are made of, which is, as you already know, epoxy resin mixed with a hardener:

 

    • Epoxy resin is the base component. It’s a type of polymer that is known for its ability to form durable, strong surfaces once cured. The resin is typically clear and can be combined with various colourants or additives to achieve different finishes and looks.
    • Hareneder (aka curing agent) is a component that reacts with the epoxy resin to form a chemical bond that results in a rigid plastic material. The hardener determines the final strength and durability of the flooring.

Mixing these two together, however, is only one of the many steps involved in making and installing an epoxy floor. This leads us to the next question…

How Is Epoxy Flooring Made?

The process of making epoxy flooring involves several key steps:

  1. Surface Preparation: Before the epoxy floor is applied, the existing surface must be prepared to ensure it’s clean, dry, and free of debris, grease, or previous coatings. This might involve sweeping, repairing cracks, and grinding or shot-blasting to create a rough surface for better adhesion.
  2. Priming and Sealing: A primer is often used to help the epoxy better adhere to the surface and seal any pores in the concrete. 
  3. Mixing: The epoxy resin and hardener are mixed together in precise ratios. Once mixed, the epoxy must be used within a specific time frame (known as the ‘pot life’) before it begins to harden.
  4. Application: The mixed epoxy is then applied to the floor surface. The application might involve several layers, including a base coat, one or more intermediate coats, and a topcoat. Each layer typically needs to cure before the next one is applied.
  5. Decorating: If a decorative look is desired, colour flakes, chips, or other additives can be sprinkled onto the epoxy before it cures to add texture and visual interest.
  6. Curing: After the final layer is applied, the epoxy needs to cure. The curing process can take several days, during which the floor should not be used.
  7. Finishing: Once cured, additional topcoats or sealants can be applied to enhance the floor’s durability and aesthetic qualities, such as glossiness or slip resistance.

Key Takeaways

Epoxy flooring is probably the most popular flooring option for commercial and industrial applications. And, as you now see, for good reason. 

If you’re considering installing epoxy floors in your commercial or industrial space, be sure to contact Anglia Decor today. With years of experience and expertise, we’ve been England’s go-to choice for premium epoxy flooring installations

Get in touch with us today to discuss your project and receive a free quote!

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