What is epoxy? Here’s the rundown of everything you need to know about epoxy based coatings.
Epoxy Paint Basics
Epoxy paints are hands down some of the toughest coatings on the market. Auto garages, parking decks, factory production floors and other high traffic areas are the typical places you will find an epoxy based coating. When properly applied, epoxy paints can take a beating, and still look good.
In addition to being tough, epoxy paints are also chemically resistant. Greases, acids and solvents find that an epoxy protected surface offers them no way to bite into the finish and attack the material beneath the coating. Epoxy paints are also versatile. The highest performing epoxies are used in marine environments, where they are expected to resist the corrosive action of seawater.
Epoxy may be applied by brush, roller or trowel, and has excellent adhesion characteristics. Typical surfaces for epoxy coatings are concrete and metal. Like all paints, adhesion is strongly influenced by preparation and application techniques.
The Secret to Epoxy Coatings: Proper Curing
Epoxy coatings have two parts, the base and the curing agent. These components are stored separately from each other, and are mixed just before the epoxy paint is going to be applied. The secret to getting a good epoxy coating is found in the curing process.
Once mixed together, your painting and coating contractor has a limited amount of time to apply the paint before it has dried too much for further use. This time is called pot life, and the drying process is called curing. Although the pot life for epoxy paint can range from ten minutes to an hour, epoxy can take several days to fully cure.
The curing process affects the final finish of the epoxy coating. If the process is rushed by various factors, the coating will not be as tough or as durable as the project requires. Similarly, if the curing times are extended for too long, the final quality of the coating will suffer.
Epoxy paints are best applied within a narrow range of temperatures, typically from 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with an ideal applicant temperature of 65 to 70 degrees. Temperatures outside of this range affect the pot life and drying time of epoxy paints.
Moisture also affects the application process. Like most paints, epoxy coatings are best applied in conditions of average humidity. More importantly, the surface material has to be absolutely dry when the epoxy paint is applied. High humidity will slow down the curing process, although some special formulations of epoxy paint contain additives which allow the paints to be applied in high humidity environments.
Epoxy coatings are durable, long-lasting products with great adhesion, and are an excellent choice to finish a wide range of surfaces. Talk to a painting and coating contractor for more information about these versatile coatings.