How do I Choose the Best Epoxy Floor Paint?

Terrie Brockmann

When choosing the best epoxy floor paint, you should consider factors such as the type of traffic on the floor, the amount of traffic, and the surface to be painted. There are several types of epoxy paint, and the most common are water-based paint, solvent-based paint, and 100-percent solids-based paint. Some other considerations include whether the paint needs to be able to breathe or the amount of time needed for it to set and cure. Most home improvement experts suggest getting paint with at least a 20-year guarantee, although a lifetime guarantee is better. For some people, the paint's toxicity is a deciding factor.

The type of traffic a floor will receive should be considered when choosing paint.
The type of traffic a floor will receive should be considered when choosing paint.

Usually, manufacturers offer three different styles of epoxy floor paint, and the water-based paint is the least expensive, the least durable, and the easiest to apply. It is very user-friendly and is good for most residential applications. Water-based paint is the least toxic. It is not a good choice for industrial applications or for floors that have a moisture problem. Homeowners need to be aware that water-based paint often needs yearly touch-ups.

Some epoxy floor paints require little preparation before application.
Some epoxy floor paints require little preparation before application.

Solvent-based epoxy floor paint is stronger and more toxic than the water-based paint. You need to mix the two parts of the paint together before applying it and to exercise more caution and attention to detail while applying it. For these reasons, most painters do not consider it a user-friendly product. Solvent-based floor paint lasts longer and generally has a better warranty than the water-based paints.

When a person refers to the percentage of solids, such as 40 percent or 100 percent, he or she is referring to the amount of dried material left when the paint dries. One-hundred percent solids-based paint yields 100 percent of dried material and is usually five times thicker than water-based paint. A 50-percent solids-based paint has 50 percent evaporation and leaves only 50 percent of the material on the floor. Most paint is 30 to 40 percent, and in most cases one gallon of 100-percent solids-based paint equals two and a half gallons of 30-percent solids-based paint.

Typically, 100-percent solids-based paints are the strongest epoxy floor paint, and some experts maintain that a 100-percent solids-based paint is stronger than the concrete floor under it. It is the most chemical- and abrasive-resistant and the highest quality. Two of the major drawbacks are its toxicity and the fact that a professional, not a do-it-yourself painter, needs to apply it. Professionals use this type of paint only in industrial settings because other epoxy floor paints are not durable enough.

Most paints are impermeable and trap moisture between the paint and the floor. This may cause the paint to peel and reduces the paint's life span. Breathable epoxies allow most of the trapped moisture to escape and usually can bond with damp surfaces. A painter should consult the manufacturer's instructions and warnings before applying the paint. Painters generally apply breathable epoxies on concrete in damp areas.

Fast-setting epoxy floor paint dries and cures in about 12 hours, whereas normal paint usually requires 72 hours or more. It is typically called a polyaspartic polyurea coating. In most applications, it is ready for foot and vehicle traffic in less than 24 hours. It is not as durable as the 100-percent solids-based or breathable paint.

When choosing the best epoxy floor paint, a homeowner usually wants a surface that will protect the floor under the paint. The epoxy paint should resist tire marks and traffic scuffs, as well as resist oil salt and chemical damage. Generally, a person wants an attractive sealant, and epoxy paint often comes in a variety of colors. Some manufacturers add fine quartz aggregate for an attractive finish. Some experts warn against using epoxy paint in sunny areas because the finish may lose its luster and ultimately turn yellow.

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Urethane mortar flooring is now “taking up the slack”, in areas where and industries where epoxy typically fails.

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