When to replace epoxy flooring
Epoxy floors are renowned for being exceptionally resilient, abrasion resistant, and impact resistant. If installed properly, it rarely peels or cracks and can last over a decade. Some flooring professionals refer to them as a “a floor coating for a lifetime”. While commercial epoxy floors can sometimes exceed 1,000 microns thick they also undergo tremendous abuse from equipment, production, and cleaning operations. Over time consistent traffic from workers and equipment, aggressive cleaning methods and solvents, and the occasional accident degrades the floors to the point of replacement.
While a residential floor can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance and little use an industrial floor can have a lifetime as short as 5 years in less than optimal conditions which is why it is important to discuss a warranty with your resinous flooring expert. While time is not the best indicator of when a floor needs replacement, a floor in a typical industrial plant will last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. The best way to tell if you need to replace your epoxy floor is to do routine checks on the floor to see if the top coat is wearing away, cracks are developing in high traffic areas, or chipping occurs. Though chips can start out as small annoyances, eventually they can lead to a large area of the floor coating peeling off. Heavy vehicle and equipment wheels often catch these chipped or peeling areas creating a significant safety hazard and further damaging the floor. If you catch the damage in the very early stages a cost effective solution is to apply a topcoat. On the other hand, if the damage is widespread the floor should be replaced to ensure future worker safety. To learn more about maintenance of epoxy floors check out my blog "Epoxy cleaning and maintenance tips."
So how do you enhance the lifetime of your epoxy floor? The best way is to get an experienced resinous flooring expert, who knows your plant’s needs, to complete a proper installation. Before installation make sure the installer ensures the strength of the concrete floor has a strength of at least 3,000 PSI, although densifiers can be added if it is a little below strength. Surface preparation is easily the most important step and is very easily overlooked by less than professional installers. It is imperative that the installer follows the manufacturer’s data sheets to confirm the appropriate SSPC preparation method. The surface needs to be meticulously prepared so that the surface is dust, oil, and debris free. The worst surface preparation mistake is allowing moisture to be caught beneath the epoxy which causes adherence problems. The epoxy creates a moisture barrier that protects your floor from water damage, but it will not allow water trapped beneath to escape. This can cause puckering in the surface and shorten the floor’s lifespan to a fraction of what it should be. To learn more about surface preparation check out my blogs “Surface Preparation Selection” and “Overview of Surface Preparation Methods.”
You should also discuss with your flooring expert the thickness of the floor coating. The thickness of the floor coating ranges from 400 to 1,000 microns and the thicker your floor is the more durable it is. When deciding the thickness of the coating consider the extent of foot and heavy vehicular traffic. You should also consider a final clear topcoat of polyurethane which greatly increases the durability and is common for facilities with high traffic. These high traffic areas also wear down quicker and a textured surface is highly recommended to counter the problem. Finally, your facility may not even want to replace their epoxy floor with another one and may want to consider other resinous floor. For instance, if your floor has exposure to UV light the epoxy will quickly become powdery or “chalk” which is why epoxy floors are not recommended for exterior applications. With all of this in mind the best way to have a long lasting epoxy floor is to get a industrial flooring expert with substantial experience to evaluate the condition of your epoxy floor.