The colourful world of coatings

by Darren
Colourful world of Coatings Jnl 2 16

Coatings beautify any floor while at the same time making it functional & performing to specification.

Floors are subjected to heavy wear and tear on a daily basis, and as such need proper protection to ensure that it not only lasts for a significant number of years, but that it also performs according to the needs of the environment. Coatings need to protect the surface from deterioration and contamination; add an aesthetic value; simplify maintenance and enhance performance. Although there are a myriad of technologies used in the industrial coating industry, epoxy, polyurethane and acrylic will be explored in this article.

Polyurethane Resins
Commonly referred to as urethanes, Polyurethane resins are thermosetting or thermoplastic and demonstrate moderate chemical resistance with good resistance to diluted acids and alkalis. Urethanes are a popular high-performance floor coating and have many desirable properties, including fast cure times, high abrasion resistance and toughness, and good chemical resistance.  They are also extremely resistant to water exposure, high humidity, temperature extremities and fungus or mildew.

Polyurethane is available in both water- and oil-based options, and comes in varieties from satin to glossy. Both water-based and oil-based polyurethanes offer good protection; the biggest difference is in appearance. If the natural look of maple is sought, a water-based (waterborne) polyurethane should be applied. It appears milky in the can, but goes on clear and remains clear. It will slightly accent the character of wood without giving it the amber tint of an oil-based polyurethane. However, water-based polyurethanes have their tradeoffs, as they cost twice as much as oil-based polyurethanes and won’t add that rich glow to wood that oil-based polyurethanes impart.

Water-Based Acrylic Floor Coating
This specific coating is a general-purpose, interior or exterior, 100% acrylic, low-odour, waterborne floor coating. It dries rapidly to the touch, producing an alkali-resistant finish that will withstand heavy wear, abrasion, grease, oils and cleaning equipment. Acrylic resin is a type of plastic often added to adhesives as a binding agent and to lacquer to harden it and add gloss. It is water-soluble and a common ingredient in latex paints.

Several manufacturers produce clear acrylic floor sealers intended for use as sealers for concrete and asphalt surfaces. They work well over painted surfaces due to the strong adhesive properties of acrylic, and dry to a semi-gloss finish. Acrylic sealers are typically tack-free and dry in about two hours, and are ready for light traffic or for recoating in 24 hours.

As it is ideal for use as a sealant over concrete and/or painted surfaces, it plays a key role in adding to the final aesthetic of a floor. Painted floors add a visually appealing colour that contributes to the creation of light, a feeling of space, warmth and elegance. Acrylic sealers offer several unique advantages: they are single-component, dry quickly, offer abrasion- and slip-resistant properties, simplify water clean-up and are acceptable for use in inspected meat and poultry plants. They are ideal for use over prepared concrete and wood floors, steps, stairwells, aisles, or previously painted floor surfaces in sound condition.

Epoxy Resins
Epoxy resins are thermosetting products known for excellent surface and sub-surface adhesion, mechanical properties and chemical resistance. They are comprised of an epoxy resin and a curing agent. Many epoxy agents also contain additives such as organic solvents, fillers such as fibreglass or sand, and pigments. There are two primary epoxy resins: Bisphenol A epoxy resin is a cost-effective, general-purpose resin which is excellent in resisting alkalis and acids and is fair to good at resisting solvents. In turn, Bisphenol F epoxy resin is a low-viscosity material that provides excellent resistance to alkalis and offers improved acid and solvent resistance compared to Bisphenol A.

Epoxy floor coatings are hardwearing and durable solutions for both commercial and industrial flooring. Using an epoxy floor coating over concrete floors will create a high-gloss, hardwearing and durable surface. They also provide an attractive floor surface, with several offerings resulting in a high-gloss shine and are available in a variety of different colours and styles. Either a solid colour or decorative pattern can be selected to create an attractive and durable solution. Epoxy coatings are also abrasion-, impact- and pressure-resistant, offer excellent chemical resistance, are light- and water-resistant, and provide good crack bridging as they are jointless and durable.

Each floor coating has its own unique range of benefits, and when specified according to the needs of the flooring surface, the end result will undoubtedly be a visually appealing, functional floor for years to come.

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