Epoxy flooring is a solution that has been around for years and is nothing new to homes and businesses alike. You will find most applications of in-home epoxy use in areas like basements, garages and wet areas.
The problem is that epoxy has a bad reputation.
While it can be an affordable solution to many homeowners the disadvantages generally outweigh the advantages.
While this can be the case, in some situations it is worth it.
Best Application Areas for Epoxy Flooring
- 1 Best Application Areas for Epoxy Flooring
- 2 What is Epoxy Flooring?
- 3 Buyer’s Guide: Choosing Epoxy for Your Flooring Project
- 4 Why Epoxy Flooring Has a Bad Reputation
- 5 9 Disadvantages to Using Epoxy on Your Floors
- 6 One Big Advantage to Epoxy Floors
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Conclusion
Epoxy flooring, despite its negative attributes, has a place in many homes and businesses around the world. Here are the most common applications for epoxy.
- Basements. Basements had wide and varied uses, including home gyms. Epoxy flooring is a great way to make the space more inviting and aesthetically pleasing regardless of use.
- Garages. Garages, like basements, are one of the top spots for epoxy flooring. They make the space more inviting and have a more showroom quality than standard concrete.
- Entry Ways. Another common use is entryways and hallways. Adding a bit of shine and weatherproofing to the entryway of your home, epoxy is also easy to keep clean.
- Business Flooring. Many commercial businesses use epoxy flooring for its durability in their high traffic areas and to add more illumination in darker areas.
- Industrial Application. Industrial floors have a lot of need for added protection to the concrete and steel flooring their equipment is built on. Epoxy provides this protection where other options cannot.
What is Epoxy Flooring?
Epoxy is a resin polymer that cures over time to produce a high sheen, durable surface. There are two main types of epoxy for floors, known simply as epoxy coating and epoxy flooring. The coating and flooring are virtually identical, with one major exception.
Epoxy coatings are less than 2mm in total depth and anything thicker than 2mm is considered epoxy flooring. Other than that, there are no major differences.
For epoxy flooring, the installation, preparation and repairs are all difficult.
While it is highly durable and easy to clean, it can also be costly for repairs, installation labor and equipment.
Epoxy flooring is a temporary solution for most, though some homeowners get many years of reliable service before needing to move to a more permanent option.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing Epoxy for Your Flooring Project
Epoxy is good at covering subfloors and adding a layer of protection. However, the larger the space the more difficult the install. Epoxy needs to be level and poured with expert hands, pushed and troweled to near perfection and has a slow curing time.
All of this together makes the coverage area quite important. The larger the space, the more time, effort and money is needed to complete the project. Make sure you know the square foot and coverage area size, as well as how thick you need your epoxy to be so you buy the correct amount of materials.
When applying epoxy to your existing subfloor and garage or basement foundations, the repair and condition of those floors is critical. To be effective, epoxy must be level and it is applied wet and viscous so it will dive into cracks and uneven areas where it can pool.
Before you apply your epoxy you must ensure the subfloor is not only clean and debris-free, but also level, in good repair and patched well. This can take extra time or money, but is a crucial step in the epoxy application process.
Materials and Equipment
Aside from the epoxy, you will need several items. This will include the mixing buckets and stir sticks or mixing paddles, but also the framing. You may need to buy, rent or even build your framing which also costs time and money.
Aside from these elements there are also electric hand drills, patch kits, subfloor repairs and of course trowels, levels, push brooms, squeegees and other tools. Compared to other flooring options epoxy doesn’t require a lot of expensive items, which is great news for the DIYer.
As we have mentioned previously, leveling of the epoxy is arguably the most difficult yet crucial part of the installation process. Because the epoxy needs to fill certain areas and can pool easily in lower leveled areas of the floor, this becomes a difficult task.
Applying smaller or thinner layers over multiple passes is the best option, but it can take a lot longer and cost a lot more to get it perfectly level.
Time Vs. Effort
That time can be a major factor for the DIYer. Not only does it take the time to gather all the materials and to prepare the flooring, but it takes time to apply, level and cure. The effort, on the other hand, is another major factor.
The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but if you don’t have the time, or the effort, installation epoxy flooring can be the most tedious and difficult flooring install type of them all. Make sure you have the time and are willing to make the effort to get the project completed once you begin.
Cost & Warranty
Overall, epoxy flooring is fairly affordable. Depending on your budget, you can cover your entire basement or garage for a fraction of the cost of hardwood floor, carpet or even tile.
However, one of the major drawbacks to the low cost is a limited warranty.
Some epoxy brands don’t offer any warranty at all, others require you have the flooring laid by professionals and only then will a warranty kick in. Some brands, though, fully believe in their product and depending on application can offer a lengthy warranty from the start.
Why Epoxy Flooring Has a Bad Reputation
Epoxy flooring is one of the few flooring solutions that goes back and forth between being the best option and the worst option. This will depend a lot on your needs and desires for the floor, and what you expect to get from it.
Overall, epoxy flooring has a rather negative reputation, but it comes at the cost of the disadvantages we will outline below. There are cases when epoxy is the only solution or the best solution and you can get years of reliable use from the floor.
On the whole, though, you will find more negative reviews, posts and articles about epoxy flooring than you will find positive ones.
Take them all with a grain of salt and understand that your needs will be different from the next person. Perhaps epoxy is ideal for your situation, maybe it is not. Let’s find out.
9 Disadvantages to Using Epoxy on Your Floors
Below we outline and discuss the nine most common disadvantages of epoxy flooring. These are the most common attributes and issues that consumer and professional installers complain about.
Let’s learn why.
1. Toxic Fumes
The number one reason epoxy flooring is bad is because of the odor and fumes. When mixing and applying epoxy flooring and for a long time after application, epoxy resin gives off bad odors and fumes. In many cases these fumes can be toxic.
To combat the issue installers must wear protective clothing, masks and eye protection, as well as gloves and foot coverings to help limit the exposure to the toxic fumes. The room where the epoxy is being installed also needs to be well ventilated to help move the air and remove the fumes from the immediate area.
2. Difficult Preparation
Preparation time for most floors will be an hour or two with rare exception. However, when dealing with epoxy you not only need to prep the epoxy itself, but also the subfloor. Unlike a floating floor (such as LVP or laminate plank flooring), the subfloor under epoxy needs to be clean, free of dirt, dust debris and in good repair.
More time is generally spent making sure the flooring underneath the epoxy is near perfect than it takes to actually install the epoxy. When you go to install epoxy as a coating or a flooring, ensure you have the time and dedication to fully prep the area.
3. Long Cure Time
Epoxy resin is an odd material. It is tough, durable and can even self-level under certain circumstances. However, it has an unnaturally long cure time. Where tile, grout and other flooring that needs to cure will generally take 24 hours or less, epoxy actually never fully cures.
It will get hard enough to drive a car on or even place heavy furniture on after a few days, but the epoxy will become brittle, discolored and start to crack before it fully cures. Because of this there may be slight shifts, uneven wear and even premature cracking, depending on the use of the floor.
4. Extreme Slip Hazards
Epoxy flooring is shiny, glossy and has a high sheen. It is one of the most attractive flooring options when installed correctly. But it also makes the smooth, even surface highly susceptible to slips and falls.
Because epoxy is waterproof, and moisture on the surface will pool or settle and create large slip hazards. The use of mats, rugs and other non-slip accents are all but required, especially when the epoxy is placed in an area that is prone to moisture accumulation.
5. High Cost Maintenance
Epoxy flooring is easy to care for and keep clean, but that has a trade off of being expensive to upkeep and maintain. When epoxy begins to discolor, crack or get damaged, repairs are often difficult, time consuming and costly.
6. Difficult Installation
As we have covered a bit already, the preparation, subfloor repairs, and initial installation are rated high on the difficulty scale. While the actual installation or application of the epoxy is easy enough to be a DIY project, it takes a skilled and steady hand to get the flooring level and perfect.
Because of the difficulty, it is often recommended that you hire a professional for the installation and any repairs that need to be done. This adds to the overall cost of the project and any repairs or maintenance you need to perform. It also raises the difficulty level of the project considerably.
7. Only a Temporary Solution
Epoxy flooring is a thin layer of coating applied to a concrete, wooden or steel subfloor. Because of this it technically isn’t a flooring solution and only a temporary option. High foot traffic, vehicles, and every day wear and tear will wear down the durable flooring relatively quickly (compared to other flooring solutions).
As the epoxy wears down, cracks or chips away it will need to be replaced. This adds to the cost, makes for a more short-term solution and raises the care and maintenance levels of the flooring.
8. Near Impossible Removal
Depending on the application, epoxy resin can be near impossible to remove. When applied to concrete, for example, you will need to grind the epoxy away over the entire surface. It is expensive and generally requires the use of industrial grinders, which are not sold to the general public.
When the subfloor is steel or metal, the removal process is even more intense. However, some DIYers can get a full removal when the epoxy is poured over wood. In most cases, though, this will result in needing subfloor repairs and patches before a new flooring can be applied.
9. Easily Cracked or Chipped
Once the epoxy sets and hardens, the thin surface is strong, reliable and durable. However, it is seemingly fragile. Similar to a large sliding glass door that can take heavy impact head on, but any angled or edge contact will break the entire pane, epoxy is the same.
Heavy foot traffic and daily use will wear the epoxy thin and can even cause discoloration over time. Dropping items on the epoxy can cause cracks, splintering and chipping though, which makes repairs unexpected and required.
One Big Advantage to Epoxy Floors
As promised, we have a singular benefit to epoxy flooring that may offset everything written above. While it is true the epoxy can be hazardous, tedious and even expensive, it does have its purpose and need in many homes and businesses.
With professional installation (see our free tool here to get assistance in finding a contractor) you can have years of trouble-free durability. While it may be a temporary solution to many floors, in the right situation and with expert installation you can have an epoxy floor that outlasts your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section we will answer the most commonly asked questions about epoxy flooring. If you have other questions please use the comment section below.
Q. How long will an epoxy floor last?
- In a residential application the epoxy flooring (2mm thick or more) can easily last a few decades. However, foot traffic, wear and tear, use and amount of daily interaction will directly impact the durability, and in some cases repairs or replacement are needed after a few years.
Q. Are epoxy floors worth it?
- Epoxy floors are easily applied in commercial settings to add shine, luster and lighting to the space and in residential areas where protection is needed over specific subfloor types. In these situations epoxy may be the best option and certainly can be the strongest and most durable solution on the market.
Q. Are epoxy floors cold?
- You can run heating under the floor or in some cases through the subfloor with solutions like radiant floor heating. However, when this isn’t present, epoxy flooring is very cold underfoot and doesn’t retain heat very well.
Q. How much does epoxy flooring cost?
- On average with preparation, the materials, mixing and application you can expect to pay anywhere between $3 and $10 per square foot (or more). The average epoxy application in the US had a price of about $1800 for the entire project, with nominal ranges falling between $1400 and $3100.
Q. How many square feet will a gallon of epoxy cover?
- This will depend on how level your subfloor is, and how thick you need the epoxy to be. For a 2mm thick application on a perfectly clean and even subfloor you can expect one gallon of epoxy to cover about 700 to 1000 square feet.
Epoxy flooring is a temporary solution that comes with a lot of baggage. However, is it a durable and suitable flooring for many homes, spaces and rooms. Garages and home gyms, basements and entrance areas are the most common applications for epoxy.
They add shine and strength to a subfloor and can transform the look of a room with a single application. However, there are a lot of drawbacks to the flooring option, which you now know about.
Is epoxy the right solution for your needs? Only you can answer that. But if the good outweighs the bad as listed here, we say yes, absolutely!