Blistering, Bubbling, and Bad Bonding in Epoxy Floors
Installing epoxy floors can seem like a simple project. Prepare the surface, prime your substrate (base), create your epoxy mixture, pour. However, when you’re dealing with expansive spaces and varying environments, a number of costly mistakes can occur because of improper assessment and preparation.
The truth is: epoxy floors are a science.
Like any science project, you have to look at all of the variables – the temperature, humidity, ingredients, time, materials, tools, and more. If one piece is off balance, the final product can suffer. Thankfully, experience in the field has helped us prepare for almost any scenario.
When customers ask us to assess their current epoxy floors, here are some of the errors we’re on the lookout for:
Bubbling occurs when air is trapped beneath the surface of the epoxy layer. Two things happen here scientifically and both have to do with temperature: 1) If the coating is exposed to direct sunlight and warms, the air underneath will expand and try to escape, pushing the layer upward and causing a bubble; 2) If the coating is applied in a cool or cold room and the temperature changes later on, trapped air will rise and cause a bubble.
Blistering happens when liquids pass through the “membrane” created by the epoxy coating, like osmosis. Liquid builds up on the underside of the coating and tries to evaporate, or push up. The moisture-resistant epoxy prevents it from escaping and causes a blister.
The successful building of your epoxy floors is dependent on the bond it makes with the substrate below it. Odds are, improper floor preparation is the culprit if you see cracking, peeling, separation, discoloration, or overall lackluster results.
How do we prevent problems?
The skills needed to apply epoxy can set one contractor apart from another. However, the success of your long-term investment truly relies on the process – what happens before installation to guarantee it will work?
Assess the Environment
Moisture and Temperature
Solvent-based epoxy products do not bond with humidity and applying epoxy over floors that “sweat” are an all around bad combination. We assess the entire project to make sure it will be possible to make a completely dry environment for application. The temperature in the room can also affect moisture and cause it’s own category of problems.
Your house is only as good as your foundation, right? Your epoxy system works the same way. That’s why we strive to understand what’s happening underneath. Wood floors can bend and flex, cracking epoxy. Low-quality cement can trap air or erode over time and cause a bad bond, blisters, or bubbles. A thorough assessment of your substrate layer will determine if epoxy is the right solution for your needs.
Preparing for Installation
If there’s one major lesson to learn, it’s here: cleaning. The chemical reaction needed to make epoxy successful is dependent on an environment free of contamination. We recommend a proper cleansing, shotblasting, grinding, and preparation sequence to remove dust, oil, grease, salt and more that can interact with your final product. It is important to create a rough profile, or opening the concrete pores, to ensure proper penetration and adhesion of the floor system.
If you’re choosing epoxy for your flooring system, we can guess that you need something that can withstand heavy wear and tear. The more you protect the substrate, the better your results will be. Proper understanding of industrial primers and how they interact with your specific epoxy is critical.
Industrial primers should also be selected based on the particular environment. Vapor pressure, moisture, temperature, hydrostatic pressure and more can all lead to different decisions and priming solutions.
Epoxy coatings are created when resin and hardener chemically react to form a rigid plastic material. We pay special attention to time spent mixing, the size of the batch, the environmental conditions, and the ratios and equipment used to make sure all of your careful preparation doesn’t go to waste because of a bad mixture.