Advancements in technology have seen an increase in the installation of resin flooring which has several unique benefits.
The incorporation of complex, bespoke designs into resin flooring is now possible thanks to improvements in the manufacturing process.
Resin floors are widely specified in industrial settings, primarily due to their durable and hardwearing properties. More recently, however, the numerous design options made possible by resin have led to the increased use of this floor type in commercial and residential settings.
The resin floors most commonly used in the UK, for example, are epoxy and polyurethane resins. According to Daniel Leeson, Marketing Manager at resin flooring specialist Arturo, the two types of resins essentially do the same job, but there are subtle differences between them.
“Polyurethane is slightly more UV-tolerant whereas epoxy resins will start to yellow slightly if left in direct sunlight,” he explains. “However, epoxy resins are heavier-wearing and offer good resistance to chemicals and abrasion.”
Resin flooring is designed for longevity and to be hardwearing, hence its suitability for industrial settings, such as food preparation areas and garages. It is also water- and chemical-resistant, self-smoothing and provides a seamless finish.
The seamless nature of the flooring means that dirt and dust cannot accumulate on it, making it easy to maintain and suitable for environments that need to be cleaned regularly.
Laying the groundwork
The standard installation of a resin floor involves preparation of the subfloor, onto which the resin is then poured or rolled, almost like paint. There are different substrates available to prepare the floor: “You can either put a water-mix compound down to provide a smooth, flat surface to the substrate or you can use a resin-based levelling compound, which is a similar method but incorporates a resin into the smoothing compound,” advises Daniel.
However, the installation also depends on the design of the floor, whether it is standard or enhanced with design elements, and where it is being installed. Resin flooring manufacturers and installers have begun to capitalise on the versatility made possible by resin to incorporate eye-catching designs into the floor itself, making inroads into the commercial and residential markets.
One of the most striking advancements is the encapsulation of printed graphics into the flooring system to create a 3D optical illusion. This is achieved by printing the graphics in small parts and then assembling the image on the floor. The processed design is then transferred to a sheet that is fully bonded to the seamless resin primer. Lastly, the floor is covered with a transparent resin coating and dried.
According to Daniela Gorceac, Operations Manager at 3D Royal Floors, this process results in a floor with a ‘wow’ factor for people seeing it for the first time, complete with all the benefits of a normal resin floor. “It is waterproof and highly hygienic, which is why many people are choosing to install it in the home,” she says.
A growing number of companies are also incorporating various other designs into the flooring at the installation stage. For example, company logos have become a popular design feature of resin floors, especially in commercial settings.
Adding to the mix
During installation, glitter and coloured flakes can be flicked or poured into the resin or scattered on the top and then sealed in with coats of clear resin.
Resin floors can be specified in a multitude of RAL colours in a simple gloss, matt or silk finish and different colours can be mixed together to create swirls or pearlescent designs, forming a marbled effect which is different every time. Polished concrete, UV or ‘glow in the dark’ designs are also possible.
As well as design elements, more practical additions can also be incorporated into the resin. Aggregate, decorative pebble and quartz can be included to provide added slip resistance. Bound in a clear epoxy resin and sealed with another coat of clear resin, this type of flooring can be specified in areas likely to get wet, such as bathrooms, showers, kitchens and indoor pool surrounds.
Resin floors can also be installed over underfloor heating. However, one drawback of this would be the difficulty of removing a resin floor compared to other flooring systems. Resin floors can last for up to 20 years and to be fully removed require the use of mechanical equipment. They can, however, be ‘refreshed’ by pouring on another layer of resin.
Such is the shift in specification for resin floors that Arturo said its focus has now switched from the industrial to the commercial sector. “It’s still predominantly used in industrial environments but now architects and interior designers are seeing the benefits and the design possibilities of resin,” Daniel concludes.
Acknowledgement and thanks go to www.buildingproducts.co.uk for the information contained in this article.