Epoxy School Blog


Resin flooring specification - avoiding headaches with marketing awareness

Today’s post continues the series I wrote for my decorative resin flooring brand, Floorchef, which was aimed at helping architects, interior designers and other specifiers avoid common flooring specification headaches.

If you know what type of resin flooring technology you need (as discussed in this previous post), there are a few points I’d like to tag on about on marketing that can save you some big headaches.

“Oils aint oils” when it comes to resin flooring

Firstly, we might be talking about resin flooring here, but the famous “oils aint oils” line could never be more appropriate. Many are lured by the charms of a cheaper price, but in the world of resin flooring there’s generally good reason why some products cost a fraction of others in the market. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing something that costs 50% more, but lasts four times longer, as “too expensive”.

Test results can be seductive

Secondly, you can be swamped with confusing numbers based on all sorts of test results. While these help paint the picture of what certain products are capable of, don’t let them blind you to what you really need. For example, a resin floor with 95MPa compression strength may sound mighty impressive, but is it really necessary for a department store? In reality it’s a big overkill considering most concrete compression strengths are less than 45MPa anyway. Don’t fall into the trap of making decisions based only on a set of theoretical numbers and always try to balance out the selection process by seeking examples of the product in service.

An example of a resin floor that would require supreme test results to be selected with confidence.

Bold claims need to be qualified

Finally, spread your research across a number of suppliers for a balanced view. Unfortunately you can run into some big promises and empty marketing ploys every so often. Once again, keeping your needs in mind as a fixed reference point will help avoid being swept away by such tactics. To illustrate my point, I saw one company promoting their resin flooring technology as “10 times stronger” than any other. While this sort of thing sounds fantastic on the surface, I’d recommend asking the suppliers to qualify these claims and having a think about what they actually mean for the success of your project.

Take care and talk to you later,

Jack

Comments 
Read More »

Epoxy flooring examples - decorative resin flooring in retail outlets

Today’s post continues the series on completed epoxy flooring examples, which I started to give readers a better visual idea of the work I write about in my blog.

Below you’ll find another short video from my decorative resin flooring brand, Floorchef – this time featuring a selection of eye-catching designs we’ve installed in shops, stores and other retail outlets.

As always, I’d love to know what you think about the floors and I’d be only too happy to answer any questions you might have. Thank you again for your feedback!


Take care and talk to you later,

Jack

Comments 
Read More »

Resin flooring specification - avoiding headaches with the right technology

I’ve always believed a thriving resin flooring industry is possible only if we can educate the general flooring market, and I’ve written a lot of material in the past aimed at doing just that.

In the upcoming posts I’ll re-visit a series of short articles I put together for my decorative resin flooring brand, Floorchef, which was aimed at helping architects, interior designers and other specifiers avoid common headaches associated with flooring specification.

What is the right resin flooring technology?

Here’s a great tip for avoiding resin flooring headaches: do some homework on what type of resin flooring technology suits your needs best before you even think about getting a quote. Despite some marketing claims, there’s no single product that’s right for every flooring project!

Installing the ideal resin floor isn’t just about putting down something that looks great, although that’s obviously a big part. You also need to understand what’s required in a number of not-so-obvious areas before you can find the right solution.

Some starting-point resin flooring questions

  • Will I need a thick or a thin floor coating? For instance, does my floor need to be re-built to a certain height, have drainage built in or cope with hot/cold liquids (thick); or, is it simply a matter of applying a thin film on top of a perfectly flat concrete slab to make it look better?
  • What condition is my concrete in? Is it weak and powdery? Will moisture in the concrete be an issue?
  • Am I after a decorative resin floor with a bit of “wow factor” or will plain colour do?
  • What time of year will work begin? Are conditions expected to be hot, cold, wet or dry?
  • How long can I afford to be off the floor? Can I handle an average turnaround of a few days or do things need to happen quicker, e.g. overnight?
  • Is the surrounding environment sensitive? Will solvents or any other hazards pose an unacceptable risk?
  • What traffic will the floor receive? Will slip resistance be required?

A moisture meter recording levels of moisture not suitable for all types of resin flooring.

The right resin floor should now be getting clearer!

Only after you’ve sifted through questions like these will you start to form a clearer picture of which resin flooring road you should be taking. Will the technology be an epoxy, polyurethane, polyurea, polyaspartic or MMA? Once again, perhaps the key message when it comes to resin flooring technology is that every type has advantages and disadvantages, and thinking one can do it all will only set you up for some major headaches.

Take care and talk to you later,

Jack

Comments 
Read More »

Epoxy flooring examples - decorative resin floors in bedrooms and bathrooms

My posts are all about sharing epoxy know how and what I believe are the keys to success, however it was brought to my attention recently that I don’t show enough completed work!

Where does the combination of good products, proper training/education and all the other stuff I talk about lead to? What results are possible? Well, I suppose it’s time I painted you a better picture!

With a big percentage of my content aimed at epoxy flooring, I’ve put together a collection of short videos showcasing some of the jobs completed by Floorchef – a decorative resin flooring brand I started in 2011.

We’ll start with some residential floors in bedrooms and bathrooms, but I’ll post a different one every second week or so just to break things up and give you more examples of the epoxy flooring projects I’ve been involved with.

I’d love to know what you think of the floors you see and, of course, I’d be only too happy to answer any questions you might have. Thank you again for your feedback!


Take care and talk to you later,

Jack

Comments 
Read More »

Epoxy opinion - test results, warranties and other damaging grey areas

The limited training opportunities raised in my last post makes it hard enough for fresh talent to enter our industry, but unfortunately that’s only half the battle.

Contractors just starting out also need to navigate through the tricky “smoke and mirror” landscape of the coatings world and, not surprisingly, only very few of them make it through. I’ve seen the same story unfold time and time again – new contractors emerge with hope and enthusiasm, only to quickly fizzle out because they are hit with half truths and empty promises at every turn. Failed jobs follow failed jobs and confidence levels plummet. In the end they have no choice but to pack up and exit, another victim of a ruthless industry that appears too willing to make a sale rather than help find a solution.

While all that sounds rather dark and gloomy, I honestly believe the prognosis for anyone starting a career in coatings is pretty bleak. With no recognised best practices, training or practical assessment, there are so many traps to fall into and so many people prepared to lead them into the fire. Just for a moment, consider the following three examples – all massive personal gripes of mine – and the impact they have on a contractor trying to find their feet.

Misleading test results

The nature of the work we do sees very few applications performed in ideal conditions with ideal preparation and ideal application. With this is mind, what do test results actually mean when it comes to performance in the field? More importantly, do the differences between these perfect test results and actual results ever get explained to a contractor who mightn’t know any better?

All of this dawned on me one day while conducting tensile adhesion tests and thinking about the relevance of the results I was getting. As usual the test conditions were very close to ideal – I was able to solvent wipe and abrasive blast every square inch of the metal substrate to class 2.5, apply the small patch of product carefully and allow it to cure without extreme temperatures, rain etc. Yes, the results I got were impressive, but would it be like that in the field? Could a contractor reasonably expect the same results? What would happen if the mix ratio was out or some solvent was added to help application in cool conditions? Would it still be good enough to do this job or that job?

The problem I feel is that these types of questions aren’t being addressed well enough by the industry as a whole and, in many cases I’ve heard, inflated test results are actually being used as selling tools to “prove” certain products are better than others; as if nothing else entered the equation. Very few manufacturers seem willing to explore what these test results mean on a project by project basis and it’s a big trap for naive contractors who have no choice but to take everything on face value.

A marine coating with excellent test results failing to perform in a field application.

Ignored product limitations

It’s a similar scenario when it comes to product limitations. The truth is every product out there has certain strengths and weaknesses, however I’m not sure every manufacture is willing to admit it. I call it the “she’ll be right” or “that’s just the way it is” mentality and can give you a couple of examples to demonstrate how this catches contractors out.

The first involves a polyaspartic coating and I’ve heard similar stories a few times now. For those unfamiliar with the technology, polyaspartics have emerged as a very popular choice for applications requiring a quick turnaround due to their combination of speed, tolerance of low temperatures, high solids content and high build capabilities, among other things. They can, however, be unforgiving when it comes to additional coats and contractors have to work within strict re-coat windows to avoid intercoat adhesion problems. Unfortunately this wasn’t communicated to the contractor at the time and the “she’ll be right” answer given to the question of whether another coat could be applied several weeks later resulted in sections peeling off the floor.

In the second example, a contractor had only been in his business for less than a year when he was sold pigment pots to use in a clear product for a run of solid-colour floors. When he reported back to his supplier with colour separation problems he was told “that’s just the way it is” and that’s where the matter ended. He was never educated on why the problem can occur in the first place and never told that he’d be better off using a tintable floor coating rather than pigmenting a clear. As it turned out, the supplier didn’t have a tintable rollcoat to offer and that probably explains why he wasn’t too keen on suggesting one at the time!

Empty warranties

The third area where new contractors can be extremely vulnerable is perhaps the biggest grey area in our industry – warranties.

It’s no secret that consumers like assurances and some manufacturers pounce on this by offering extended warranties that sound great on the surface, however contain so much fine print that you can almost guarantee whatever goes wrong won’t be their problem. A few humdingers stick out in my memory here, such as a fire fighting water tank atop a city high-rise that needed to be completely drained every year when such a task was virtually impossible, and, the extended warranty happily offered on the driven pylons of a bridge that could never be inspected anyway.

The specific danger for inexperienced contractors with complicated and confusing warranties is not fully understanding what they could be liable for in the event of a failure. With the water-tight nature of these documents, it’s often the companies that get to walk away unscathed while the unsuspecting contractor is pulled into the firing line.

As a final comment I just want to say the purpose of this post wasn’t to call out anyone in particular with regards to these practices, but rather to acknowledge they exist and highlight the damage they can cause to the most vulnerable members of our industry. If we are to grow and improve as an industry, we need to be able to attract and nurture new talent rather than slam the door in their face, so to speak. It’s a tough enough business as it is and not being open and honest in the three areas I’ve mentioned only makes it tougher!

Take care and talk to you later,

Jack

Comments 
Read More »

Epoxy opinion - should resin flooring become a trade?

There’s always been a gaping hole in the resin flooring industry and I think the time has come to fix it - the time has come to make resin flooring a proper trade!

As radical as it may sound, this isn’t a completely new concept. In fact, I’ve already been a part of several interesting discussions on LinkedIn in recent times where formal training and the idea of a resin flooring body have been raised – and with good reason from where I sit.

Right now in Australia, the federal government has identified flooring finishers as a major area of skill shortage based on industry growth forecasts. I’ve also read similar articles from other countries about the emerging popularity of resin flooring and the opportunities arising as a result. While this is exciting news, I can’t help but wonder what happens if we don’t prepare ourselves and get on top of the inevitable growing pains.

For instance, will the increased demand entice unskilled, unlicensed workers to simply walk off the streets and start doing resin floors? I certainly hope not because in some ways it feels like our industry is already in a damaging race to the bottom. For resin flooring to reach its potential and become a genuine mainstream flooring alternative to tiles, carpet, timber and vinyl, this type of scenario must be avoided. It needs to get serious about the way it attracts and develops talent, among other things. In short, I believe it needs to become a trade; a profession we can all be proud of.

A resin flooring profession

So, what does a “profession” actually look like in our language? Well, I feel we should be aiming to create an industry with the following -

  1. An internationally recognised and accepted best practices standard for resin flooring.
  2. An international body that promotes the adoption of the standards and drives the professional conduct of all stakeholders – manufacturers, specifiers and contractors.
  3. A recognised training program and practical assessment based on the extension of the standards.
  4. Where applicable, a government-recognised qualification or trade license connected to the training program and practical assessment.

At the moment it obviously looks nothing like this. If contractors get any practical training at all it’s through splintered courses in other trades or from their employers that are often self-taught and keen to hold onto their IP. It feels all very murky and unstructured on every level. We desperately need to tighten things up and establish a recognised trade so that we’re no longer hiding in the shadows of the wider flooring industry.

Driven by the people

When I first started thinking about how a resin flooring trade could get off the ground, I must admit the enormity of it all made my head spin. It just seemed like an impossible task! With some preliminary research now under my belt, I think the most encouraging thing I’ve come to realise is that we’re not the first to have this dilemma. Other industries have got to the same point in the same haphazard way, but then evolved into proud professions with standalone qualifications and a real presence.

I strongly believe we can do the same and tentative meetings with our national licensing authority, national training body, a registered national training provider, and even the president of a rival flooring organisation, have only confirmed that view. In fact, the take-home message I got from all those discussions was that reforms like these were very doable if the industry as a whole felt the need. From what I sense, we’re very close to that point. We have a global landscape crying out for a better way and a great opportunity to do something about it under one, united banner.

Proper floor training, like this timber program, is an important part of a flooring trade.

Your thoughts on a resin flooring trade

At the end of the day these are only my thoughts on where the resin flooring industry is placed right now and, as I just mentioned, it takes many more thinking the same way to get real change happening. So, I want to pass it over to you. What are your thoughts on resin flooring becoming a proper trade? Do you think there’s a need? If you have concerns, let’s hear them. If you like the concept and would support it then put your hand up.

There is only one condition of your comment: please leave egos and agendas at the door. It is hoped this post prompts an open, productive discussion about ways we can improve our industry and it won’t work if people are made to feel uncomfortable voicing their opinion or it gets hijacked for personal gain.

Take care and talk to you later,

Jack

Comments 
Read More »

Decorative epoxies - the problem with white glossy floors

For as long as I’ve been doing decorative epoxies there’s been strong demand for pure white floors, particularly from homeowners. But, are they really a good flooring choice?

Now, I can certainly understand why the pristine white floor you see in glossy magazine spreads would capture the imagination of a lot of people. Those photos can certainly look amazing! However, after many years of doing them and seeing them done, I also realise that similar results are by no means guaranteed and these types of floors have a considerable downside.

The main problems with glossy white floors

The following are four major issues that make me think twice about proceeding with a white floor -

  1. Defects - glossy white floors, more than any other, will show up defects in the final film. Of course measures can be taken to ensure the surface is meticulously prepared, high-quality application tools are used, and the floor is sealed off to prevent bugs and dust landing on the floor, however in reality perfection is very hard to achieve. All you need is a small dip, a few bubbles or a stuck insect and the dream of a glossy white floor can turn into a nightmare because most floor owners will have visions of a white mirror across the whole floor.
  2. Cost - installing a glossy white floor will generally require more coats or a very thick single coat, which means more product and a higher cost. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, white needs greater thickness to fully block out the surface underneath, and secondly, extra build is required to level out any unevenness and deliver a flawlessly flat finish.
  3. Finish - speaking of flawlessly flat finish, perhaps the biggest hurdle for anyone chasing a glossy white floor is the fact that even with everything else falling into place during application, not all resins can actually deliver it. Just any old epoxy binder isn’t going to form a beautifully smooth, glossy finish regardless of how thick it’s applied and specialist decorative epoxies are the only hope.
  4. Maintenance - no dirt is white and glossy white floors have a great knack of showing up even the slightest hint of everyday dust. Scuffing and yellowing also tend to take on an extra dimension when they have a white canvas to work with. All in all, those with a white floor can find cleaning becomes a full time job.

With all those points in mind, you can start to see why I’m a little cautious when people ask for the perfect white floor.

A more forgiving white floor

So, if white floors aren’t necessarily the way to go, what do I recommend instead? I think the best thing contractors can do in these situations is to try to offer their client the same type of look/feel, but with a few small changes to make the floor more forgiving and drag the odds back in their favour.

A good option here is the use of metallic effect pigments in combination with off-white colours – something like a shimmering pearl finish will add an extra dimension to the floor, help draw attention away from the surface itself, and, at the end of the day, appear very close to white when side by side with most décor. If the client isn’t sold on that sort of tweaking and insists on plain white as the colour, then I’ll turn my attention to the gloss levels and see if something less than a mirror is acceptable. The use of sacrificial polishes (or even clear non-slip topcoats) to create a semi-gloss look will be a massive help in concealing imperfections and dirt while at the same time providing improved scratch and scuff resistance.

A good alternative to glossy white floors that uses a light grey colour and subtle metallic effects.

Education is the key

Although it may sound like it, I am by no means suggesting that beautiful glossy white floors are impossible. They certainly can be done. What I do want to stress, however, is that they aren’t easy and it takes high-quality preparation, application and decorative epoxies to do it, as well as a hint of plain good luck in some cases.

For contractors thinking about taking on such work, I highly recommend you educate your clients about the possible issues that can arise before you start and don’t sell yourself short when it comes time to quote because they can’t be done cheaply. The biggest problem with white floors is that expectations rarely match reality and to avoid disappointment you need to make sure you’re both completely on the same page.

Take care and talk to you later,

Jack

Comments 
Read More »

Coating application - the benefits of surface tolerance and moisture tolerance

You've probably heard the old saying about practicing tolerance and how it can lead to a more peaceful life. Well I think the same goes for your coatings!

What on earth am I talking about? Put simply, products that are tolerant of both surfaces and moisture can bring great benefit to any coating application business by saving time and money, winning more work, and, as I just mentioned, helping to create a less stressful work environment.

What do surface tolerance and moisture tolerance mean?

Before I get into how surface and moisture-tolerant products can achieve all of the above, I’ll clarify what is meant by the terms.

The idea of surface tolerance relates to the ability of a product to fully coat a surface that could otherwise be viewed as troublesome. To paint a quick picture, some coatings will work well over perfectly clean concrete, metal or other films, however crawl at the slightest hint of contamination, dust or even gloss. A surface-tolerant product, on the other hand, will be capable of providing full coverage in these situations because it’s has a more forgiving formulation that delivers better levelling properties. This type of tolerance also extends into areas such as adhesion and a product’s ability to stick when ideal surface preparation is just not possible (marine and underwater coatings are prime examples).

Moisture tolerance is perhaps a little more self-explanatory and is a topic I have raised regularly throughout this blog. To recap, some don't like moisture of any kind and can experience adverse reactions ranging from blushing to softness to bubbling (in some polyurethanes). Moisture-tolerant coatings aren't so sensitive and can be used if it's humid, damp or, at the far end of the scale, completely underwater.

A diver applying a moisture-tolerant coating underwater in a tank repair application.

How tolerance helps

Ok, now to the good stuff. Why do I think surface tolerance and moisture tolerance can help your application business and make a big difference to the stress levels? Well, there are a few ways -

  1. Help avoid failures - you can't make money on jobs that fail or require call backs. Using tolerant products helps overcome many potential sources of failure, from poor surface preparation to unexpected weather conditions or even human-related catastrophes. I often tell the story of my experience onboard a Royal Australian Navy vessel involving an open water valve flooding a freshly laid epoxy floor and remarkably ending well because of the product’s amazing moisture tolerance. Having that sort of reliability built into your application business does wonders for your confidence and peace of mind.
  2. Save in costs - not only do tolerant products help avoid failures, in some instances they can also reduce the amount of product, number of coats and overall time required in the first place. Surface-tolerant products can be particularly effective in this regard if their use means you can skip the extra cost and time of applying a primer, for example.
  3. No delays and more control - as a small business, being able to plan and carry out work regardless of the conditions can’t be underestimated in my opinion. With surface and moisture tolerance on your side, the "what ifs" are drastically reduced and jobs tend to run more smoothly. This feature is critical on projects with tight shutdown demands as they can't afford delays of any kind and often need around-the-clock work to be completed on time (which means lower temperatures and dew points can come into play). The ability to perform all-weather work can also have a big impact on cash flow because there’s no risk of sitting on your hands for a week when wet weather sets in.
  4. Win you more work - the net effect of offering all of the above is an application business that has fewer failures, runs smoothly with no delays, can work at any time and in any place, and can often be cheaper when the total costs are added up (even if the material cost is higher). Being able to offer such a service is extremely powerful and likely to open up all sorts of work opportunities that simply wouldn’t be there otherwise.

How to spot surface and moisture tolerance

I know what you're probably thinking now: “How do you find such products? How can you tell what is or isn’t tolerant?” Fortunately there are usually some pretty big clues given away in technical data sheets to steer you in the right direction.

For starters, any mention of the compulsory use of a primer is an obvious indication a product might not offer much in the way of surface tolerance. The same goes for most products with a really quick turnaround because they don’t have as much time to bond with the surface. I think epoxy floor coatings definitely fall into this category and the curing agents they use can also be hard to control from a levelling point of view. Sections listing product limitations can also provide some valuable insights into the type of coating you're dealing with. You should be able to easily determine if the coating has moisture issues because there'll be warnings around humidity, dew points, hazing or, if you’re talking epoxies, amine blush.

If that kind of detective work leaves you uncertain, you can always try the direct route and simply ask the manufacturer to see what they have to say.

Now, I’m definitely not suggesting every contractor needs to dump their bread and butter coatings or risk business failure. The aim of this post was more about highlighting how some products are more forgiving and reliable than others, and the sizeable advantages that can come with that. If you’re frustrated by inconsistent results, struggling to plan your work schedule or wasting time waiting for the right conditions, you might find things become a whole lot easier and a whole lot less stressful if you can find products with greater tolerance.

Take care and talk to you later,

Jack

Comments 
Read More »

Health and safety - an epoxy flooring contractor’s view

Cleaner, safer coating technology has been around for a long time now and I personally find it surprising that many contractors are still happy to use products full of solvents and other nasty stuff.

A few years ago I decided to test my own theories on why this is the case and get the word from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. I approached Peter, then owner of Floor Maestro in Sydney, to give us his view on health and safety matters and the role they play in a small application business.

The answers he provided to a few simple questions formed not only an honest evaluation of this issue and its status in the coating industry, but also a great insight into some of the associated challenges facing contractors.

How did you enter the coating industry?

In 1994 I saw my first epoxy floor. I must have seen them before but had never taken any notice. This one was different. My parents retired to the Gold Coast and had a flake floor in their garage. For me it was love at first sight and I wanted the same product on my garage floor in Sydney. At the time I couldn't find an applicator so it didn't get done. But the desire to have this product ate at me to the point I gave up 30 years of corporate life to learn the process and offer the floor to the Sydney domestic market.

What were the biggest hurdles?

As a “late starter” in terms of becoming a tradesman, I was initially totally reliant on suppliers' product information and opinions gleaned from those with much more experience than me in the industry. I learnt pretty quickly many suppliers have a tendency to overstate their particular product's capabilities and to be very non-committal and vague when technical and OH&S issues were raised. As far as solvents were concerned, I was told: “You need them to carry the ingredients of your epoxy when it's liquid. They'll evaporate off quickly enough and the smell is just something you have to put up with. Anyway, no one has ever died from it, have they?”

Do health and safety or environmental issues matter to you?

Among applicators, there was, and I believe still is, a culture of loyalty to their own proven system and a reluctance to change. All applicators have seen a MSDS. In my opinion most haven't actually read one! With over 600 floors under my belt I include myself in that category.

Contractor caricature reading an MSDS with a confused look on their face.

I've never really warmed to the importance of environmental issues. As a city dweller brought up in a middle class suburban household I've never really thought about where resources come from. To me they've always just been there when you turned the tap or flicked the switch. Generally I've seen the Green movement as attention seeking by unwashed left wing radicals.

I hope that somewhat longwinded introduction will help give some perspective to where I now find myself. Notwithstanding the history above, I think there are three factors which are causing me to at least open my mind to potentially changing my work practices. Firstly, I've just turned 50. Secondly, we are in the middle of a severe drought, and our electricity grid is struggling. Thirdly, I happened to be at a function where a leading conservationist pointed out the limits to some of our common resources and it made me really think about the world we are leaving the next generation. I have two kids, resources won't be exhausted in my lifetime...but theirs will see some dramatic changes if we keep going the way we are.

So I've started to actually THINK about my work practices. Firstly the solvent issue. If I don't want to inhale foreign materials by not smoking, for example, so why would I not take the same precautions with my job materials? Simple logic really. Then there is the environmental issue. Not really my problem, but whose problem is it? It's a question that on reflection only has one answer - it's everyone's problem.

As a contractor, why do you resist change?

In my case there is a considerable fear factor. I am a small business which depends almost entirely on recommendation of existing clients. I know my current product works, and despite assurances from manufacturers, still find it difficult to commit. Then there is the issue of familiarity with the product I've used many thousand of litres of. I know the coverage rates. I know the open time, the cure time, the parameters I can push if I need to.

We humans don't like change. We're our own worst enemies. We need legislation to make us wear seat belts, install smoke detectors in our homes and use earth leakage breakers. All of these are passive lifesavers, yet few people voluntarily used them. I bet the same will go for eco-friendly products. Sure, some will embrace them...but the majority will not change their traditional habits.

So here's where I'm at. I'm going to continue to try to be brave and convert to eco-friendly products where their specification is appropriate for my application. I also see another, easier way of converting my business. That is to have my clients MAKE ME change! How? Think about it. When you call a doctor it's because he's a specialist in his field and you therefore listen to his advice. Same for a plumber, electrician, or gardener. You EXPECT them to give good advice. So when a client calls ME he EXPECTS me to know what I'm talking about. He expects me to present to him all the available alternatives which will fulfil his needs. So I'm going to present him with the appropriate information and I expect he will force me to change. In these days of litigation would you expose your staff to a known carcinogen?

Are you a flooring “doctor”?

I know most people have well-set, often passionate opinions on this wider topic, however before I go I want to highlight one message in Peter’s interview that I think opens up a fresh angle on this discussion: when it comes to the products you use, who should be making the choice?

Yes, you may know your old products back to front and get good results; but, what happens if and when your clients start to demand “cleaner” technology? Do you simply move on to the next job, hoping they accept your products, or do you set the bar higher and aim to become that flooring “doctor” Peter spoke about - a specialist in their field that can give customers excellent results across a broad range of products?

I'm very interested to hear what other contractors think about the importance of health and safety when it comes to the products they use and if they feel any pressure to make a change or offer safer alternatives.

Take care and talk to you later,

Jack

Comments 
Read More »

Epoxy product selection - choosing value over price

The coatings industry has come a long way in many respects, but it remains a price-driven market and the lure of a bargain, it seems, is still too good to refuse. It’s an attitude I believe has to change!

The truth is, when it comes to epoxy product selection most of us place far too much emphasis on the price we can get it for. Fair enough if the coatings in question are genuine equivalents and all more than capable of doing the job at hand - there are certainly no problems there. Problems do arise, however, when price becomes such a focus that inferior, unsuitable products are used in the hope of “saving a few bucks”.

Why do we love a low coating price?

Why is there such a pull towards the lowest price in the first place? Maybe it's a legacy of solvent-borne products with only 30% solids, or perhaps it’s just a quirk of human nature to get as much as possible for as little as possible? Whatever it is, it’s a strong force and one that needs to be addressed if the industry is to reach its full potential.

So, what’s the answer? I think a big part of it lies in this favourite quote of mine: “By only looking at the ‘price’ of a product, you can miss the true ‘value’”. In other words, what looks like a bargain on paper often ends up costing you far more down the track anyway when the reasons for a low price rear their ugly head. In an epoxy coating context, that’s usually stuff like blushing, bubbles, premature failure, repairs etc.

Sales banners and bargains, which don't work in the coatings industry.
Coating value v coating price

If all that makes sense and you’re convinced that coating value, not coating price, is what we should be searching for, how do you actually find it? How do you know what products represent good value and aren’t simply dressed up with a good price? This task becomes a little easier when you consider the following –

  • Price per litre v price per kilogram - some manufacturers will advertise price per kilogram (or unit weight) instead of the price per litre (or unit volume). By using a heap of cheap fillers, a product can be made extremely heavy and very cheap per kilogram. Coating applications work in volume and thickness of film, however, so you need to work back to the price per unit volume anyway. When you do, you’ll find a low cost per kilogram might not be as cheap as you thought!
  • Percent solids - another way to drop the price of coatings is through the addition of solvent, which is often used in combination with the high filler levels mentioned above to make these products easier to apply and lower the cost even further. The value consideration here relates to the thickness and quality of film that remains after the solvent evaporates. In other words, a coating with 50% solvent will normally be a lot cheaper than a solventless product, however if they’re both applied at 200 microns/8 mils, the solvent-borne product will ultimately leave behind only 100 microns/4 mils. You’d need twice as much volume and probably another day of labour to get the same thickness, plus the actual film itself can be weakened in a number of ways by such heavy dilution.
  • How many coats - some cheaper coatings, for various reasons, will require more coats than higher quality options. More coats equal more volume and generally more time to apply, all of which clearly offset any apparent cost savings.
  • Priming - over-filled products with a very low cost per kilogram often require a primer to help them stick. This cost is not always taken into account during the selection process.
  • Pigment pot - some prices even omit the cost of pigmenting the system. The nice price will be for the tintable base, however when the colour is added savings are reduced.
  • How long it lasts - a cheaper coating may very well cost less, but how long will it last? How often will it need to be replaced? A premium coating that lasts over 10 years is better value than a cheap coating that has to be replaced every 2 years. That doesn’t even take in account defects and the number of goes you might need with a cheaper coating to make it work!

    Ask yourself one question

    A more expensive product might be a turn off to begin with, but if it doesn’t play up all the time, requires no primers, needs fewer coats, lasts longer and protects better, the actual cost over the full lifespan of the product will be far less.

    To finish, I’ll leave you with something to keep in mind when seeking coating value. Just ask yourself one question before you buy: "Will it cost me more to do it properly now with a better product, or do it cheaply and come back again shortly?"

    Take care and talk to you later,

    Jack

Comments 
Read More »

 


 

Latest news