The preparation of an epoxy floor is the first determining factor of success and life of your new floor. Of course, the type of epoxy used, the amount of wear it is subjected to, and the cleaning methods following the installation can all affect the health and longevity of the floor but the most common factor for epoxy floor failure is the ineffective preparation completed prior to installation.
Why is it important?
By properly preparing the substrate or existing floor, you are providing epoxy with the ideal environment to bond to. Epoxy solids, once cured, create an extremely strong bond when placed on a rough surface that allows the epoxy to adhere. The surface profile of the existing floor or substrate must be deep cleaned and scarified (by grinding) or etched in order for the epoxy to mechanically bond to the surface. If this preparation is not completed properly, the epoxy will peel as it was not able to adhere.
How to Do It Right
The most common and effective way to prepare a substrate for epoxy is to grind or scarify it using a grinder. Professional installers use handheld and/or stand-behind grinders to roughen substrates like tile or concrete. It is important to thoroughly grind and clean the entire floor and allow it to dry before installing epoxy flooring.
The type of existing floor can also have an impact. If your existing floor is a wood substrate, it is common for installers to seal the cracks and seams with epoxy before installing the seamless epoxy coating. With concrete, the floor should be thoroughly scarified and cleaned ridding the floor of any debris before laying an epoxy floor. With quarry tile, make sure you are using a type of epoxy that is able to bond to scarified tile and use a hand grinder to break through the sealed layers and imperfect shapes.
If installing an epoxy floor directly over your existing floor, sometimes the preparation required is more extensive than grinding and cleaning. The new epoxy floor is only as strong and healthy as the existing underlayment. For example, the JetRock flooring system was developed for installation directly over quarry tile and yet is never installed over cracked, broken, floating, or missing tiles. The cracked or failing tiles are first removed and filled with a sand kit (quick curing filler) that will create an even and stable surface for the epoxy floor to bond to.
It is strongly recommended to take the time and care to properly prepare your floor before installation as this is the greatest determining factor of the success, health, and over the life of your new epoxy floor. Grind or scarify, clean thoroughly, and vet the overall health of the substrate before installing a new floor. By considering these factors preemptively, you are taking another step towards a lasting solution.