How to Choose the Best Epoxy Floor Coating

Choosing the best epoxy floor coating for your space requires careful consideration of several factors. Proper preparation and product selection will ensure your epoxy floor is attractive, durable, and easy to maintain for years to come. This comprehensive guide provides expert insight on how to choose the ideal epoxy floor system.

Evaluate the Space and Usage

The first step is understanding the space where the coating will be installed and how it will be used. Consider the following:

Room Size and Layout

Measure the total square footage and wall-to-wall dimensions. Are there multiple rooms or large open areas? Irregular floor plans like L-shapes can impact installation. Know the size and layout ahead of time.

Traffic Volume and Load

Will the space have light, moderate or heavy foot traffic? Is it industrial with forklifts or other heavy equipment? More durable systems are needed for heavy usage. Lighter duty options will suffice for low traffic.

Typical Activities

How will the space be utilized? Warehouse duties like material handling and storage differ from retail, healthcare or hospitality. Specify coatings that withstand expected use. For example, enhanced chemical resistance for industrial applications.

Existing Conditions

Evaluate the current floor type, age, condition and level of cleanliness. Repairs may be needed prior to installation. Older or highly porous substrates require specialized treatment to prevent bleed-through or delamination of the new epoxy coating.

Climate Control

Temperature and humidity levels will influence curing and performance. Epoxy chemistry varies by manufacturer, with each product formulated for a specific climate range. Select coatings suitable for indoor or outdoor conditions.

Choose the Right System Components

Epoxy coatings involve multiple layers, each serving a distinct purpose. Understanding the options allows customization for specific demands.


Primers provide maximum adhesion to the substrate below the epoxy topcoats. Concrete surfaces are typically porous. Primers prevent air bubbles from forming as the epoxy cures. They also block stains from bleeding into the finish coat. Primers come in low-viscosity formulations for deep penetration.

Base Coats

The base coat is the epoxy layer containing colored pigments. This builds the body and determines the final aesthetic. Base coats are available in solid colors and clear. Colored base coats hide imperfections for a pristine appearance. Clear bases reveal natural substrates like brick or stone.

Top Coats

Top coats protect the base epoxy from wear, chemicals, UV rays and other damage. They provide a smooth, consistent finish. Top coats include clear options for a glossy or matte look. Textured top coats like shark grip add slip resistance. Antimicrobial versions inhibit bacteria growth.

Multiple Coats

Some systems require separate primer, base and top coats. “Self-leveling” options combine primer and base in a single product. Two-part formulas have a catalyst that initiates curing when combined. Read specifications to ensure compatible products are selected.

Select the Right Formulation

Epoxy resins have varying chemical structures optimized for specific needs:

100% Solids

Contain no diluting solvents, minimizing VOCs and odor. Cure thicker for heavy duty protection. Ideal for commercial and industrial settings.

High Solids

Around 80% epoxy resins and 20% solvents. Still low VOC/odor but easier application than 100% solids. Good for moderate use.

Water Based

Utilize water instead of solvents to thin viscosity. Very low odor and VOCs. Best for residential or indoor low traffic areas. Limitations include longer cure times and thin build.

Low Viscosity

Added diluting agents make the epoxy very thin and self-leveling as it cures. Allows deep substrate penetration for priming bare concrete.

High Viscosity

Thick versions build to a heavy protective film, prevent drips on vertical surfaces like cove bases. Useful for top coats over rough finishes.

Determine Finish Type

Various additives produce different epoxy floor finish characteristics:

Glossy Finish

Glossy clear top coats reflect light for maximum shine. Creates a bright, polished look. Requires frequent cleaning to maintain appearance. Adds a slick surface.

Satin Finish

Slightly duller sheen than glossy. Provides good shine but hides fine scratches or swirl marks from cleaning or use. Easier maintenance than high gloss.

Matte Finish

Heavily flattened for a low luster appearance. Withstands wear well since scratches are less visible. Needs less frequent buffing or burnishing.

Textured Finish

Silica sand, shark grip beads or other aggregates produce traction for slip resistance. Especially beneficial when wet. Adds visual interest with random patterns or uniform broadcast.

Antimicrobial Finish

Silver ion or copper additives inhibit bacteria, mold and fungi. Ideal for healthcare, corporate cafeterias and food/beverage plants. Reduces odors.

Plan for Low Maintenance

There are several ways to keep epoxy floors looking like new with minimal effort:

  • Use commercial cleaners – Avoid homemade remedies. Quality epoxy floor cleaners safely remove soils without damage.
  • Burnish regularly – Restores glossy shine using high speed buffing with a pad or brush attachment.
  • Apply floor sealer – Recoating with thin epoxy floor sealers prevents surface wear and restores luster.
  • Address spills quickly – Prompt cleanup prevents stains. Harsh chemicals can damage some coatings if left too long.

Hire Professional Installers

Proper installation is crucial for a successful application. Unless highly experienced, consider using professional epoxy flooring contractors who:

  • Evaluate conditions to recommend appropriate products
  • Have equipment for surface preparation and application
  • Are trained on installation procedures and troubleshooting
  • Provide any warranty labor if issues arise

Though epoxy coating kits are sold for DIY use, results often fail prematurely without the right skills. The extra cost for professional installers pays off in extended service life.

Request Samples Before Deciding

Do not rely on website images alone. Manufacturers provide actual samples to represent each product. Order samples to view colors, flecks, gloss levels and overall look. Samples also indicate the thickness and feel of different formulations. Seeing and touching samples is the best way to make an informed decision.

Ask About Experience and Certifications

Find out how long installers have applied epoxy floors, how many projects they have completed, and their record for callbacks and complaints. Contractors who are certified by manufacturers have been vetted for their expertise. Installers who consistently use the same brand of coatings know the products inside and out for best results.

Verify Attention to Detail

Quality contractors will demonstrate professionalism throughout the process:

  • Thorough site evaluation – They assess conditions and needs methodically.
  • Detailed quote – The estimate comprehensively lists products and services required.
  • Quality materials – They use commercial grade coatings from reputable brands.
  • Proper preparation – Steps are taken to ensure proper bonding and cure.
  • Careful application – Products are mixed precisely and applied per specifications.
  • Responsible cleanup – The jobsite is left clean everyday and at completion.
  • Follow-up service – They contact you about maintenance and stand behind their work.

Read the Fine Print

Review proposed contracts thoroughly before signing and paying deposits. Key terms to analyze:

  • Exact materials being used – Product numbers, descriptions, sizes purchased.
  • Specified number of coats
  • Coverage rate – Square footage per gallon or kit. Helps calculate if enough product was purchased.
  • Payment schedule – Typical schedule is deposit, midpoint, completion. Understand holdback terms.
  • Change order process – Outline conditions where additional charges may apply.
  • Warranty periods and details – Separate material from labor warranties. Understand exclusions like improper maintenance.
  • Timeline – Number of days estimated for job completion. Who is responsible for delays?

Plan the Installation Schedule

Proper scheduling ensures the project goes smoothly:

  • Allow adequate time – For surface preparation, installation, and full curing before use. This may take a week or longer.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures – Ambient air and slab temperatures outside product limits will hinder application and cure.
  • Prevent disruption – Keep other workers or operations out of the area during installation to avoid tracking dirt/debris into fresh epoxy.
  • Enable access – Epoxy can only be applied where installers can physically work with tools and materials needed.

Prepare Existing Floors Properly

Concrete slabs must be correctly prepared for epoxy coatings to succeed:

Clean Thoroughly

Grease, oil, loose paint and all contaminants must be removed using degreasers, chemical strippers or abrasive methods. This provides “tooth” for epoxy to adhere.

Profile the Surface

Etching with acids or grinding opens pores for primer penetration. Shot blasting is best for heavy industrial projects. Proper profiling removes the weak surface layer.

Repair Cracks and Holes

Patch all depressions, divots, cracks wider than a hairline, and holes with appropriate filler per manufacturer. Prevent seepage into gaps.

Cove Base Installation

Cove base epoxy extends up walls 4-6 inches, sealing junctures and allowing washability. Coves require expert prep and installation.

With wise product selection, professional installation, and responsible maintenance, epoxy floors will serve reliably for many years. Paying attention to these best practices for how to choose the ideal system allows enjoying all the benefits epoxy coatings offer. Consult coatings experts for recommendations and rely on experienced installers for flawless execution.

Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing Epoxy Floors

Epoxy flooring offers many advantages but also involves some common questions. Here are informative answers to the most frequently asked questions about choosing and installing epoxy floor coatings:

Is epoxy flooring a good choice for my facility?

Epoxy works well in nearly any setting – commercial, industrial, retail, healthcare, institutional and residential. Benefits like durability, cleanliness and aesthetics apply across applications. The right product formulations and finishes can be specified for conditions in any facility.

How smooth can epoxy floors be made?

High solids or 100% solids epoxy can be formulated with hardeners and flatteners to achieve a glass-like finish, some with a “mirror” effect nearing automotive gloss levels. Minimal texture comes from light trowel marks, not aggregate. Smoothness depends on the substrate porosity and skill of application.

Do you apply epoxy flooring over existing concrete or new concrete?

Epoxy can be installed over cured new or existing bare concrete. The substrate must be properly cleaned and profiled to enable adhesion. For existing slabs, previous coatings and contamination must be removed for success. The concrete surface itself does not need to be replaced to apply epoxy.

Should I use water-based or solvent-based epoxy?

For professional use on concrete floors, 100% or high solids solvent-based epoxy is ideal for durability and build. Water-based is less resistant for heavy duty uses. However, water-based epoxy is suitable for residential/retail areas since it has very low VOC odor and can be applied by do-it-yourselfers.

How long does epoxy flooring last compared to other options?

Correctly installed epoxy lasts significantly longer than lower cost coatings like paint. Epoxy will last for decades rather than needing repainting every few years. It also outperforms bare concrete, tile or sheet goods on durability, stain and chemical resistance. Annual maintenance prolongs the service life even longer.

Can epoxy flooring have designs, patterns or multiple colors?

Beyond basic solid colors, epoxy allows creative customization. Popular options are two-toned contrasts, artistic imprints in the coating like wood grain or swirls, and decorative flakes or quartz broadcast into the final finish. Complex logos can be precision-applied with stencils.

Is epoxy flooring slippery when wet?

Standard smooth coat epoxy becomes slick when wet. Anti-slip additives like textured grit create grip for safety in damp settings. New micro-traction technology provides slip-resistance in a smooth visual with less cleaning labor. For optimal safety, specify flooring treatments to meet applicable coefficient of friction requirements.

Does epoxy flooring require experience to install properly?

Proper epoxy floor installation requires in-depth product knowledge plus learned skills for application and finishing. A general contractor typically does not have the expertise needed compared to specialized epoxy contractors. Hiring experienced professionals is strongly advised to ensure satisfactory results.

How much does epoxy flooring cost compared to other options?

Upfront cost is higher than lower-quality paints or thin mil coatings but it lasts much longer. Over the life span of years or decades, epoxy is more cost effective than alternatives that require frequent replacement. Compared to tile, sheet vinyl or carpet, epoxy is very competitive for the performance.


When choosing the best epoxy floor coating for your particular needs, there are important factors to consider, from formulation to finish. Thinking through how the space will be used, taking a hands-on approach to sampling products, verifying contractor qualifications, planning appropriately and preparing existing floors thoroughly will help ensure a successful outcome. With the variety available today, an epoxy floor system can provide many benefits over bare concrete or other traditional flooring options if selected and installed properly. Consult an experienced coatings advisor and contractor to make the ideal choice for your facility.