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Garage flooring - flake flooring options

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What could contractors possibly learn about flake floors? Aren't they all the same?

Some would say that flake flooring is fantastic; some would say it looks a little dated. In my opinion it’s a great type of seamless, resin floor for certain applications and garage flooring is definitely one (hence the title of this post).

So, what do I know about epoxy flake flooring that others might not?

All flakes aren’t the same


To start with, paint flakes can be made of different material and different processes using the same material (if that makes any sense!). For instance, I know I can buy flakes made of acrylic or PVA (vinyl), and there are different manufacturers of these flakes, hence there will be a great variety in the finished product available.

Overall, I have found acrylic flake quite brittle, which means I end up with a lot of “fines” in the bottom of each container. You have to be careful with how you broadcast these on flake floors as they tend to show inconsistencies really easily, especially when clumped. If you’re doing a partial flake job then I probably wouldn’t use any fines at all as they stand out even more and the client may look at it as a defect. 


Vinyl flakes are my preference


My preference is for the more flexible vinyl flake. The flexibility is beneficial not only with respect to fines, but it can also have another significant benefit with flake flooring. As it lands, a rigid flake will tend to create a lot of extra space in between and under the flakes themselves. These voids draw in resins, meaning you need more to adequately seal the surface; quite often another coat will be required to produce an even finish, which means more product and more cost.

Another advantage I like with vinyl flakes is I can get them to lie flat by spraying a mist of water over the surface. There are of course tricks and tips on how to do this (covered in the coaching Eclasses), but the result is flat, even, smooth flake floors that often don’t require sanding before being coated. Another cost and time saver!

Simple flake flooring = best flake flooring


There are obviously countless ways to do epoxy flake flooring and there are advantages and disadvantages with each method. For indoor applications, I like a simple two-coat process: a basecoat with full broadcast of flake and a topcoat. If you choose the right combination of flake and resin you can achieve a superb finish every time!

Question: I’ve always thought that “grey marble” (combination of grey/s, black and white) was the most popular combination for flake floors. A couple of years ago it seemed “coffee” combinations were the new trend  (combination of browns and off-white). What’s your favourite combination?

Take care and talk to you soon,

Jack

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Epoxy troubleshooting - epoxy "hail damage"

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What is epoxy "hail damage" and how is it linked to so-called Benard cells?

The chances are you’ve already seen the effect of Benard cells but didn’t understand what it was or how to overcome it. The effect can take on a few forms, but one of the most common is the hail damage appearance, which can leave epoxy films with lots of little dimples or dents and looking like a car that’s just driven through a nasty storm.

Tiny cells cause epoxy dimples


 In very basic terms, Benard cells are the result of the resins behaving like other liquids when it comes to convection currents - a pattern of flow that sees liquids rising as they warm and sink as they cool. As the film hardens the flow eventually stops and you can end up with an epoxy dimple in the middle of these cells, i.e. hail damage. It’s definitely not good news if you’re expecting a flat, glossy film on a high-end decorative floor!


How can epoxy hail damage be stopped?


So, how can we prevent these epoxy dimples from ruining our projects?
Well, there are a few points to make about Benard cells and epoxy hail damage that will help -

  1. They tend to be more of a problem in clear, low-viscosity resins.
  2. They tend to be worse with higher builds. From my experience, anything over 400 microns significantly increases the risks of these defects. Before you start thinking, "I'll just apply all of my films at less than 400 microns", keep in mind that many systems need well over that thickness.
  3. They tend to be worse when applying on a heating cycle, i.e. during the late morning when the concrete is starting to warm. Ideally, you're working in the afternoon when the temperature is falling and the conditions aren't too hot (25C is perfect).
  4. Some products suffer less than others and you may be lucky to have a local manufacturer that understands how to minimise these defects.

Benard cells are always lurking


In closing, if you didn’t know about Benard cells and when they are most likely to occur, the chances are you’d simply blame the product for misbehaving. As I hinted at before, the Benard cell is actually responsible for several other common film defects, e.g. colour separation in pigmented films, so it’s definitely a subject worth getting on top of.

Have you ever seen epoxy hail damage? What other defects have you seen that you’d like an answer to?

Take care and talk to you soon,

Jack


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