Epoxy? Really? Which One?
What to know when someone tells you they have
an Epoxy Coating for your floor.
Epoxy is not a paint. Let me say that again - Epoxy is not
Epoxy is a synthetic resin characterized by having a very
reactive molecule. The molecule has a triangular
configuration consisting of an oxygen atom bonded to
adjoining and bonded carbon atoms. This is known as a
cross-linked polymer and they are sometimes referred to as
the Oxirane Group. Simply, this means they are reactive to
a large number of curing agents.
The standard Epoxy is based on Bisphenol-A and
Epichiorohydrin as raw materials with anhydride catalysts.
All this polymer chemistry stuff can be complicated
especially when it comes to thermosetting resins. I'm
going to skip most of the really technical jargon with
regards to reactions and catalysts that form Epoxy resins.
Epoxy resins are generally fairly costly. They have
endless combinations of mechanical and electrical
properties and are extremely important to many industries.
The main uses of epoxy's are laminating adhesives,
coatings, and electrical part encapsulation.
Our focus here is Floor Coatings. A practice that some
companies have chosen is to add a very small amount of an
expensive, better known, and better performing resin to a
less expensive and poorer performing resin. They then use
the name of the first resin in the coating name or product
You confused yet? I get that way sometimes with all this
and I have had classes in material science. Polymer
science is complicated, extensive, and a good thing for
companies trying to cover their tracks about product
There is a simple saying, " if you can clean it up with
water, it's not Epoxy". This is true for the most part.
But here is how companies can get around the truth just a
bit. By using a polyamide curing agent an epoxy can be
made water-emulsifiable for use in water based paints. But
we still can call it "Epoxy". We can modify the Epoxy even
further by adding Bromine to the molecule to make it
flame-resistant. So, now you have a product that is
introduced as a "flame resistant epoxy coating". Not a
true Epoxy coating but you can call it an "Epoxy Paint"
without being an all-out lie. There are so many
combinations that it is impossible to keep up with the
naming and true physical states of all coating resins.
There are probably 1200-1600 coating manufacturers in the
United States. Maybe a few less with the down turn in the
economy. The number of combinations of coatings could
number in the hundreds, maybe thousands. You can not base
your selection on properties of the base generic resin.
You can be mislead if you do so. Instead you must match
your requirements to the testing and performance datafor
the specific coating. The performance data should be
available for each coating from the manufacturer based on
standard industry tests and evaluations. If it's not,
don't buy the product until the proper information is
A list of standard ASTM, ASME, Federal and Military tests
will follow in the coming days so you can be armed with
the knowledge to ask your coating supplier what kind of
coating product you are actually buying.