Polymer floor coatings have been the most reliable and time-tested products for floor protection since they were introduced in the early 20th Century. Polymer flooring works on biotechnology and nanotechnology to chemically bond components to create chemical compounds that provide different levels of chemical, moisture, and bacterial resistance. Since each polymer floor coating and polymer floor finish is so different in composition and protective capabilities, it is wise to know the qualities of each so that you can make a wise choice for your organization.
Polymer Floor Coating Considerations
Regardless of what the chemical composition is of the polymer in question, there are several types of applications that you can consider. From limited-use to deep, protective systems, the style of application you choose will be largely determined by what needs your organization has. Some things to consider are:
- Heat Resistance – What temperatures or temperature cycling will your polymer floor be exposed to?
- Traffic Levels – How much foot or vehicle traffic will there be on this polymer floor finish?
- Aesthetic Qualities – Does this polymer floor need to be attractive for clients or customers?
- Bacterial Resistance – Will there be physical or chemical contaminants that may lead to health or safety concerns?
- Moisture Levels – How much moisture must the polymer floor withstand?
- Impact and Abrasion Levels – What materials are present that might lead to impact or abrasion damage? Is that a key concern for your polymer flooring project?
- Underlying Damage – Is the substrate damaged or in need of repair?
Once you’ve considered these key factors, you will have a much better idea of the kind of polymer coating that you’ll need on your building project.
Polymer Coating Application Styles
Before you even consider the polymer coatings that you’ll need, it’s vital to understand the different kinds of applications that you can choose from. Often, the application process is just as important as the polymer coating itself, as certain styles can mitigate damaged substrate, eliminate corners where bacteria grow, or strengthen the underlying materials.
- Polymer Coatings – These are often polymer floor coatings that are painted on top of an underlying layer of substrate or primer coating. These are good for floors that are in generally good condition, as they may not hide certain imperfections.
- Polymer Slurries – This is a resinous substance that includes some type of filler. It is usually between 1/16th to 3/8ths of an inch thick and is good for surfaces that need a non-slip element. It is not as shock-resistant as some of the other polymer floor finish options.
- Polymer Mortar – In this polymer floor finish option, a resinous material is combined with an aggregate and applied by trowel at between 3/16 and 3/8 inches thick. This is effective at filling in damaged area of the substrate, but can be a higher initial investment than some of the other polymer floor coatings.
- Polymer Cement – In a cement polymer flooring system, a polymer such as Urethane is combined with silica and cement to create a very strong cement bond. This provides peerless thermal, moisture, and chemical resistance, but there are fewer aesthetic options.
- Polymer Wall, Floor, and Ceiling Systems – In a full-fledged polymer flooring, wall, or ceiling system, the professional installer uses either a slurry, mortar, or cement to create a seamless enclosed area. This eliminates cracks where bacteria can congregate, and are excellent for areas like showers, clean rooms, and veterinary offices.
Different Types of Polymer Floor Coatings
Once you have an idea of what kind of application you will want to pursue, you’ll need to evaluate the type of material that will work best for your project. As each polymer floor coating and polymer floor finish has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, it is a good idea to really understand the benefit of each before you make your final decision.
- Polyaspartic – Quick drying and one of the hardest finishes on the market, polyaspartic flooring is a good choice for areas where moisture is an issue. It is also perfect for businesses who can’t afford to be offline for very long.
- Epoxy – Epoxy has one of the widest ranges for a polymer floor finish. It is flexible, glossy, and easy to mix with pigment. These attributes make it one of the most versatile choices for a polymer floor.
- Concrete Epoxy – One of the most popular choices for concrete is concrete epoxy. Concrete epoxy combines the strength and flexibility to create a system for high impact resistance and low maintenance. Concrete epoxy also is able to fill and “heal” concrete cracks for a smoother, stronger floor.
- Urethane – Urethane, or polyurethane floor coating, is highly impact and scratch resistant, in addition to being one of the most traditionally-used floor coating products on the market. It is very flexible, so it is often used by veterinary offices, prisons, and walkways. It is also one of the most economical polymer floor choices available.
- MMA – Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) is known for its ability to perform well under extreme thermal duress. Not only is it very flexible, which allows it to maintain structure in areas where there are extreme thermal cycles, but it can be installed in areas up to -20° C. It also dries very quickly.
- Fiber-Reinforced Coating – Fiber-reinforced coatings are often used to support structures like water tanks and ship parts. In these polymer coatings, a resin is infused with fiber, creating a compound is very strong and flexible. It is also very water-resistant and lightweight.