The same qualities that make epoxy flooring popular for mechanic shops and retail stores also make it practical for busy homes. Affordable and stain-resistant, it performs reliably in the garage, basement, kitchen, and bathroom. Installing it presents a few challenges, though, so make sure you’re prepared before you settle on this material.
Epoxy flooring isn’t a floor by itself, but a covering for a concrete floor. The concrete floor is prepped, then the epoxy material is mixed, poured onto the concrete floor, and left to harden into a plastic for at least one night.
After this, a second and possibly more layers are added and left to fully harden (cure) for several days to several weeks. Getting the application just right is tricky, but when done well, the result is a smooth, durable, low-maintenance surface.
Pros: Economical and Long Lasting
The low cost of epoxy flooring is one of the main reasons it’s so popular. All you need to install it is a concrete floor. There’s no underlayment or adhesive to worry about. In fact, the only cheaper option is concrete polishing. Epoxy might not last as long as solid wood or tile, but it’s still less expensive, even considering replacement costs.
The exact price depends in part on the type of epoxy used. Water-based epoxy is cheaper, but generally less durable than solids-based and solvent-based epoxy. Each type has its pros and cons beyond price, though. Adding more layers also increases the price.
Epoxy floors can stand up to a lot of abuse. Heat and most chemical spills are unlikely to harm them. When applied correctly, they rarely crack or peel. Standing water can damage these floors, but they can be waterproofed to reduce the risk. Scratching is a possibility, but a protective urethane coat helps prevent this.
Their durability makes them popular in demanding environments such as auto shops, medical facilities, and shopping centers. Because home installations are under less stress, they have even longer lifespans than commercial ones. The type of epoxy used also affects the floor’s lifespan, with solvent-based epoxy lasting longer than solids-based and water-based epoxy. Overall, an epoxy floor in a basement or kitchen can last 20 years or longer.
There’s only so much you can do with tiles and parquet, but with epoxy flooring, your options are nearly limitless. If you prefer traditional styles, choose from almost any solid color or go for a flake or metallic epoxy flooring that mimics stone. For something more expressive, try a geometric pattern or abstract design. If you want a floor that’s truly striking, a 3D image of ocean waves, a lake bottom, or a cliff edge will make an impression on anyone who walks in.
Increasingly popular in homes, 3D floors are created by applying a mural over the epoxy floor, then adding several more layers of clear epoxy to create the perception of depth. By increasing the visual sense of space, they can make a small room feel bigger.
Easy to Maintain
Weekly dust mopping or vacuuming is all an epoxy floor needs to stay clean and in good condition. Wet mopping gets rid of stuck-on debris, but first, dust mop or vacuum to remove any grit that could scratch the floor. Then use a hard foam (sponge) or microfiber mop and a solution of 4 to 6 Tbs of ammonia in 1 gallon hot water.
Avoid acidic cleaners, including vinegar, citrus-based products, and many detergents, because these can etch the floor. Steer clear of soap and other oil-based cleaners, which leave a slippery residue.
Cons: Tricky to Install and Potentially Slippery
A Challenge to Install
The process of installing an epoxy floor is theoretically simple, but requires careful planning. While you can install a solid-color epoxy floor yourself, installing a floor with a decorative pattern is best left up to a professional. Unfortunately, professionals skilled in installing these floors, especially 3D versions, aren’t easy to find.
To start the job, you or your contractor will need to patch any cracks in the concrete floor, then once the repair work is dry, thoroughly clean the floor to remove any trace of oils or solvents. The epoxy can be applied only when humidity levels are low enough to allow it to adhere properly.
Too much moisture in the floor can cause the epoxy to peel later. Achieving that low humidity can be difficult in basements and during wetter parts of the year. Epoxy also requires warm conditions to cure properly. Cold can slow or even stop the process, although it will continue normally when the temperature rises.
Depending on the product you choose, the wet epoxy mixture can produce a strong odor of ammonia. This is less of an issue with low-VOC and no-odor epoxy products, but even these still release some chemical fumes. To protect your health when working with wet epoxy, wear an N95 or equivalent mask with an organic vapor cartridge.
Any odor disappears once the epoxy is fully cured, which usually takes around three days, but can take up to four weeks. Ideally, the floor should be cured slowly for optimal durability.
Can Become Slippery
When dry and clean, epoxy isn’t any more slippery than a polished wood floor. It is, however, more likely to become dangerously slippery if you happen to spill water or any oily substance or clean it with a soap-based product.
If you plan to use epoxy in the kitchen or garage, where spills are likely, consider using a non-slip additive such as ground polymer grit, aluminum oxide grit, or silica sand. These improve traction and make the floor safer when wet, yet still feel soft on your feet. Naturally, these additives increase the cost of the floor. Putting down non-slip mats in high-traffic areas is another option.
Prone to Discoloration
Epoxy is at greater risk for color problems than most common flooring materials. Incorrectly mixing the resin and hardening chemical before application can leave you with not quite the right color, and it’s especially likely if you do the job yourself. Using two epoxy kits from different production batches can cause unattractive variations in the floor.
Over time, with exposure to sunlight and humidity, the hardeners in a finished floor can take on a yellowish cast. The color change doesn’t affect the floor’s usability, but adding a UV-stable topcoat keeps it looking good for longer in sunny or humid parts of the house.
Epoxy flooring is often overlooked for homes, but it’s a smart choice if you’re in the market for something affordable, durable, and modern and don’t mind hiring a professional installer. Beyond its practical benefits, it also gives you free rein to add some creative flair to your bedroom, home office, game room, or anywhere else you want a personal touch.