Chips and Cracking: How to Repair Your Epoxy Floors
Your epoxy floor is one of your favorite surfaces in your home. It is strong, is easy to clean and maintain, and everyone always comments on how great it looks. This is why it’s essential for you to know how to handle any chipping or cracking that may occur. Take these steps for epoxy floor repair to ensure that your floor keeps looking as good as the day you first had it installed.
If the chipping or cracking is minor, you can get away with simply applying a compound to the floor to fill in the gaps. Using a fresh mortar, trowel in the material until it fills the crack or chip and overflows out of the top. Then use the trowel to smooth the surface and remove any excess mortar. This will patch your floor and keep any damage from getting worse over time. Let these repairs cure for no less than 60 days before applying a new coat of epoxy.
In many cases, your cracked epoxy floors may be better off being resurfaced instead of just patched. This is ideal if the damage is extensive and seen across much of the entire surface. To prepare the area for epoxy floor repair, thoroughly sweep the area and use a grease-cutting detergent to remove any oil that may be on the surface. After this, you can use patch any chips and holes in the floor with a faster acting epoxy patching compound. This cures in a few days, so you can apply a new coat of epoxy sooner.
Once your Epoxy patch has cured properly according to instructions, clean the floor again to remove any dirt and oil, then buff the floor with an 80-grit sanding screen. Vacuum and wipe the floor to remove any dust and apply the epoxy paint. This must cure for 12 to 24 hours, then you can apply a clear epoxy finish.
What is Epoxy Floor Coating?
Epoxy is a two-part, thermosetting product composed of epoxide resin and a polyamine hardener. The resin gives an epoxy finish its depth and color character. The hardener component acts as a catalyst, giving it strength. When carefully mixed at precisely the right ratio, a chemical reaction occurs.
Epoxy doesn’t dry like paint. It cures. The curing process creates polymer structures that closely cross-link during an exothermic process to give an epoxy floor finish superior durability and strength. The final product is unique. Epoxy is like no other as long as it’s properly prepared and applied.
Epoxy chemical knowledge and excellent commercial products have been around for years. Since the internet and the explosion of renovation shows, however, epoxy finish problems have become more common. True epoxy finishes are two-part procedures, except in certain cases in which a third aggregate component provides additional grit for improved traction.
“Epoxy paint” is a marketing term that manufacturers and suppliers invented to satisfy a high demand for DIY and home epoxy floor treatments. These one-part paints do contain some epoxy resin but don’t have anywhere near the amount of solid content that commercial two-part epoxy products have. Solids give epoxy finishes their thickness.
Here are the most common epoxy floor problems and the diagnosis of their causes:
Bubble in Epoxy Floor Coating
Bubble formations are by far the most common problem with epoxy floors. Usually, bubbles in epoxy flooring are only pinhead-sized and appear in clusters called honeycombs. Mistakes mixing the correct ratio of resin to hardener can lead to air entrapment or entrainment, which causes epoxy floor bubbles.
Excessive mixing such as using a power drill and a spiral paddle at high speeds also produces bubbles. You can easily avoid this by using a wide mixing blade set at a low 300-500 rpm rate and slowly circling the mix in a large container. Once air-entrained bubbles are set in an epoxy mix, they’re next to impossible to remove. You’ll have to discard the mix because if you use it on the floor, bubbles will appear.
Another source of epoxy bubbles is temperature differences. The substrate, like a concrete surface, needs to be at a temperature that’s compatible with the epoxy mix. The same goes for resin and hardener temperatures. Excessive temperature variation leads to trapped air that tries to equalize. This results in very visible bubbling and rejected work.
Blisters and Craters in Epoxy Floors
Blisters and craters are the second most common epoxy trouble. Blisters are large bubbles that contain trapped air. Craters are the opposite. They occur when bubbles pop and leave an indentation in the epoxy surface. Improperly prepared concrete that’s porous and contains air can lead to outgassing from the subsurface, which, in turn, causes large blisters and craters.
Air trapped in concrete voids reacts when the freshly covered epoxy begins its curing or exothermal action. The chemical reaction creates heat. This releases moisture in an air pocket making it expand. This forces air to the surface where it forms either a blister or a popped crater.
Film and Dullness in Epoxy Floors
Film and flow appearance Film and flow appearance stand right out in a bad epoxy floor job. The finish appearance is dull and uneven. This happens when the epoxy coat is applied too cold or too hot. It also occurs when excessive airflow blows over a curing surface.
Preventing film problems is easy. Epoxy is highly temperature sensitive, so you can apply it when both the mix and the subsurface are between 60°F and 85°F. Temperatures above and below those are sure to cause a dull film to appear on the outer surface.
Flow is another easy problem to prevent. Flow problems appear as wavy irregularities on the epoxy surface and are very noticeable under certain light conditions. The usual culprit is a ventilation fan set in place to control hardener fumes or a large opening allowing wind to blow across the curing surface.
Peeling in Epoxy Floors
Poor adhesion and peeling can have many causes. This fatal flaw is always due to an inexperienced or careless applicator. Peeling and poor adhesion come from:
- Poor subsurface preparation
- Contaminated materials like grease, oil and solvent not being removed
- Incorrect mixing ratio of resin and hardener
- Improper mixing techniques
- Wide temperature variations
- Moisture trapped in the subsurface