Epoxy paint vs epoxy coatings

By Bert Lucas | Garage Floor Coating Advice

Garage Floor Epoxy Coating
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Epoxy floor coatings and concrete paint, what's the difference? Without all giving it away just yet, it's a pretty big difference. Epoxy is relatively new, and a lot of home owners don't know that much about it which leads to a lot of frustration. Epoxy started being used on floors in the early 1950s for concrete restoration. Over the last fifty or so years, the industry has expanded considerably and epoxy garage coatings have become extremely popular.  Many homeowners, DIY enthusiasts, and contractors have started applying epoxy paint and epoxy coatings.. But there is a huge difference..

Garage before concrete paint

Differences between Epoxy Paint and Epoxy Coatings

The main differences are in the durability and quality of the materials as well as the knowledge required to successfully apply the products. Concrete paint is easier to apply and a lot less expensive, but it was never meant for industrial use. These products perform well for what you pay for them, if you don't want to go through the whole surface preparation of a garage floor for epoxy coating. It's as simple as that, but you shouldn't expect them to last beyond a few years and they certainly aren't durable or strong enough for high traffic areas.

What is Epoxy Floor Paint

Epoxy floor paint is made up of two or three components, A true epoxy is 100% solids epoxy. If it is less than 100% solids epoxy, you know right away that paint is mixed with the epoxy and there is an acrylic instead of epoxy in the mixture. With epoxies that are less than 100% solid epoxy, whatever percentage is lower than 100% is the amount of paint that has been added to the epoxy and is not as strong and can evaporate, yellow or peel when it doesn't bond as hard to the concrete during the curing process. Water based epoxy paints can dissolve during the curing process.

Here's an example: If the epoxy is 50% solids it means that 50% of the coating could evaporate dry or condense over time. The lower the percentage of epoxy the lower the quality of the material (as a reference). 

So why do people use epoxy floor paint if it isn't as good? Simple. It's easier and cheaper. There is nothing wrong with epoxy paint as long as you know what you are getting. The floor is not as durable as a full 100% solids epoxy and you can do it yourself without hiring a contractor. For a full review of the best epoxy garage floor coatings, you can reference our guide. 

epoxy Concrete paint

That is paint and epoxy resin and a polyamine hardener. The two need to be mixed together immediately before application. When the two are mixed an exothermic chemical reaction happens during the curing process. The coatings cure process will produce polymer structures that are closely cross-linked, and this will give the floor epoxy its superior strength and durability.

The floor epoxy coating reaction will cure instead of drying. This will benefit a concrete floor because the process seals the porous concrete, while the resin gives the floor a shine. Epoxy coating is more resistant to chemicals and abrasion than an ordinary paint-on application. It is also impact resistant and hard and durable. making it perfect for a garage floor coating. This means that it will not fracture, crack, or split if heavy loads are dropped on it. This includes equipment and machinery being driven over the surface.

There are various applications to epoxy paint as listed below.

When the epoxies manufacturers noted that people often used using the term 'epoxy coatings', epoxy paint was born.

Many DIY enthusiasts often used the terms 'coating' and 'paint'. This led to a marketing decision made, and many popular DIY epoxy flooring manufacturers decided to rebrand their products as epoxy paint. This was what many consumers seemed to call it.

This has made things confusing for the consumer. This is because, you might see something advertised as epoxy paint for your garage floors, but it could be either acrylic paint or epoxy floor coatings. This has made many people buy paint for their garage floor when what they really need or wanted was an epoxy coating.

What is an epoxy floor coating?

Epoxy is made up of two-component materials, one part epoxy resin, and one part polyamide hardener. You will need to mix the two parts together before application. When you mix the two parts, you are limited by time and temperature to how long you have to apply. When it comes to colored epoxy, the tinted resin gives the epoxy its color. The resin is clear if it gives a clear coating.

Garage Floor Epoxy Coating

Epoxy coatings

Epoxy coatings will cure, but not dry like the paint does. The performance and amount of resistance of the coating are determined by the quality and solids constituents of the epoxy. The thickness of the epoxy and its ease of application will be dependent on the volume of solids content. This is displayed as a percentage. What this means is that 100% solids epoxy will have a 100% of the product on the floor as it cures. While 50% of solids will have 50% of the product remaining on the floor after it's curing process. The reason behind this is that the carrier agents (solvents and water) which are in use in the lower solids products will evaporate out during the curing process. An example is when 100% solids epoxy is applied with a roller and will have an approximate wet film thickness (WFT)of 10 mils. After its curing process, the dry film thickness will still be 10 mils, while, 50% solids epoxy will have a wet film thickness of about 6 mils but after it cures the coating will reduce to a dry film thickness (DFT) of about 3 mils.

Because of its thicker viscosity and limitation in time to apply, the 100% solids epoxy is a bit harder to work with during its application, while epoxy with a much fewer solids count will have less viscosity and will be much easier to apply.

Many cheap DIY epoxy paint kits available locally and online will have as little as 48% solids. This will make it easy to apply, similar to applying paint, and cheaper to buy because of the low solids content. These features, however, make the quality lower.

What is epoxy paint used for?

If you are looking for a little extra shine to your garage floors, epoxy will be a good choice for covering a basement, patio, or garage floor paint. As discussed above epoxy coating is a chemical mix of two liquid components, that is epoxy resin and hardener. This creates a tough solvent-resistant finish that is applied to floors, decks, and countertops. Many types of epoxy are noticed for their durability. This makes them a good option to seal the surface of concrete floors, steel, and other industrial materials.

What is epoxy floor paint?

Epoxy floor coating and epoxy paints are terms that are usually used interchangeably. When you buy epoxy paint to use on your floor as a coating in a home improvement store, you may realize that the two terms used on the can or kit. (You may also find another term, that is epoxy sealant)

The principal difference between epoxy paint and traditional paint is that when epoxy is present, the paint adheres to the surface better. This makes it more durable. Without epoxy, however, the traditional standard acrylic paint eventually flakes and peels. This is especially predominant in high traffic areas.

Many paint companies do sell their own proprietary epoxy paints. Epoxy coating isn't really traditional paint, this is despite the name being used. Normally epoxy paint is made of latex acrylic paint products that have a small amount of epoxy in their mix. These latex acrylic paint products tend to have better adhesion and durability than standard acrylic paint. Latex paint acrylic products should however not be confused with epoxy floor coatings. Straight epoxy paint contains both epoxy and acrylic paint in the mix. This is sometimes known as 1- part epoxy. This latex acrylic formula allows for customizations in coloring and it dries like regular paint. The epoxy component makes the paint resistant to chemical stains on the floor like oil or gasoline. It is thus a good choice for a workroom or a garage floor

Epoxy paint and epoxy coating uses

Do you want to give your floor a refreshing look? epoxy floor paint made for garage floors comes in an array of colors. This adds a bit of personality to a normal garage, from fresh creams to neutral tones of grey, metallic blues to clean. Application of epoxy paint to your floor will brighten up your space and protect it from oil stains, spills, peels and cracks, scuffs, and tire marks.

A concrete floor lined with an epoxy mix will seal and add extra shine to it. The same can be used for a basement floor to stand up to moisture in the space, this is because it offers moisture resistance. It will also prevent abrasions. The use of epoxy paint on a new kitchen project will protect your countertops from annoying stains such, as coffee, tomato sauce, and other spills.

Scratch resistance vs Epoxy?

The amount of epoxy in an epoxy coating will affect the scratch-resistance of the garage floor. Thicker epoxy coatings use a mix of resin and hardener that will prevent scratches when for example, something heavy is dropped on the garage floor surface. Epoxy paint with the low epoxy mix will definitely show scratches on the garage flooring given the right amount of force of the object.

In comparison to, wood, tile, and other floor coverings, an epoxy flooring system is reviewed as the most scratch resistant. Outdoor spaces, decks, high traffic areas, workspaces, and areas exposed to a lot of moisture like pool floors or saunas are excellent applicants for epoxy floor coatings. This is because epoxy coatings are moisture, scratch, and abrasion-resistant.

Tile vs epoxy flooring? Which is better?

An epoxy floor coating kit or epoxy paint is a cheap garage flooring option that will last for years depending on how big your space is. The cost of epoxy paint can be as little as $30 a gallon. This should be enough to cover a couple of hundred square feet of space. Tiles can range from a few cents to tens of dollars per tile in comparison and this makes epoxy paint one of the much cheaper floor coating systems.

Epoxy  flooring options are relatively cheap

Epoxy floor coatings benefits outweigh tiles as well. Epoxy floor paint is stronger, more durable, and tougher than a standard tile. Tiles do eventually warp or break exposing bare concrete, while epoxy floor coatings are quite hard to damage.

There is only one downside to epoxy floor coatings, it may sometimes change color to yellow over time depending on how clear the resin used was and how much sun exposure the floor experiences. These affects off white and clear epoxy coatings but not epoxy paint.

Other benefits of having an epoxy coating

You will note that having an epoxy floor is aesthetically pleasing and offers other important benefits.

  • Strength- epoxy floor coatings are extremely strong and are resistant to grease, oil, and chemical spills, e.g. on a garage floor.

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  • Durability - your new garage floor will outlast a plain concrete surface. Epoxy floor coatings tend to withstand high traffic areas and will resist wearing down thus being long-lasting.
  • Low maintenance- due to the epoxy floor coatings sealing off feature, cleaning up of spills and grime is easy on your garage floor epoxy.

Maintaince Icon, depicting Low maintainance

  • Safety-epoxy is slip-resistant and handles extreme temperatures well. This makes your coated garage floor, a safe haven for everyone.

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  • Environmentally friendly- epoxy floor coatings provide a sustainable alternative to the garage flooring rather than having to reinstall a completely new garage floor after a couple of years.

Installing epoxy paints

When you want to concentrate on smaller concrete areas like a work shed or your garage flooring, installing epoxy will take you 3 to 4 days To do a good job, it is important to be fully prepared.

  • Devote the first day of cleaning the surface of the garage floor before the application process.

Cleaning products in a bucket

Remove any grease or oil spills, vacuum, mop, rinse the area completely.

  • On the second day, fill any cracks and apply the initial epoxy coating.
  • On the third day, apply the second coat of epoxy.

When dealing with commercial flooring and industrial spaces, the installation of an epoxy floor should be done by professionals. This is due to the size and scope of the project. Note that, it is vital to have expert contractors complete the work as per the needs of your company. This will ensure that your new floor will be ready for work and look amazing in a timely fashion.

The difference between epoxy paint epoxy coatings (application and durability)

It is easier to apply garage floor paint than epoxy floor coatings. With garage floor paint, a contractor will simply power wash the concrete floor surface, let the substrate dry, and will then apply a coat or two of the paint. The flooring will look great and this is a simple task to achieve. This is, from both a labor and financial standpoint, a quick fix with a short lifespan. However, a few months or years later, bare concrete will start to show through the layers of garage floor paint. It will begin to wear off in high traffic areas. The paint may also stain easily, and flake off in large chunks where it was applied over a stain or where there was an imperfection in the substrate. This is a major difference from epoxy floor coating systems as they will not chip to expose bare concrete.

Thoughts From Contractors:

We spoke to a couple of contractors to get their opinion on the differences between concrete paint and epoxy coatings..

Jeremy from paradigm concrete finishes epoxy company stated:

"I wouldn't wish concrete paint on my worst enemey!"

Alex From Southside Concrete Polishing stated:

"concrete paint is fine if you are on a low budget and understand what you are getting. It doesn't have the functionality, and durability of epoxy floors. But hey, if that's the budget, we'll do it."

An important factor to bear in mind as reviewed by Sundek (all rights reserved) is when choosing between the epoxy coating or paint is durability. If you are looking to improve the appearance of your floor and do it yourself, then epoxy paint is an easy option. Just don't get upset if you haveto re-do it in three years. If you are looking to improve an area that is traffic heavy and is at risk of chemical spillage or that you really care about protecting and not having to worry about in the future, then the epoxy coating will be a much better option. Epoxy coatings are more durable, unlike paint. Epoxy paint will not hold up to chemicals, stains, and abrasions as the epoxy coating will.

If you have an idea in mind of putting up a new epoxy floor for your business location, home, or industrial location, you need to understand the benefits of saving money and time with the investment of a true 100% solids epoxy. Unless you are sure about the epoxy coating installation, it would be wise to consider hiring a professional epoxy installer. Please enter your email address to contact us today and get started! All rights reserved.

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