For a long time, industrial-sized floors have used epoxy, or similar resin based coatings. This provided a flat, tough floor which would stand up to mechanical traffic. More recently, polished concrete floors have risen in popularity. We have often found that customers can confuse these different types of flooring. There are also misconceptions about the pros and cons of each system.
Both an epoxy floor and a polished concrete floor use the existing concrete slab as a starting point. To lay any kind of resin, you must add a further layer to the floor, which can be poured or trowelled onto the concrete slab. The floor will bond to the top of the concrete. Polishing concrete involves using a mechanical process to grind and polish the floor. Chemicals are added to improve the concrete hardness, and to seal it against dirt and liquids. These chemicals are absorbed into the floor, unlike an epoxy which lays on top of it.
The biggest difference is that an epoxy floor will fail over a far shorter time. It is prone to develop scratches, which will hold dirt and grease. It will also flake, chip and peel as it fails. A polished concrete floor does not have these problems. There is no topical coating to peel or chip away. It is much harder to scratch, and the sealer will help to repel any dirt or grease. A thin epoxy floor can fail after two to three years, with tougher floors lasting around five. A polished concrete floor, however, can last for the lifetime of the building.
There are some industries where a resin floor is the better choice. Storing or processing heavy chemicals or acids, for example. This is because even when polished, concrete is porous. Hazardous chemical spills can transfer to the soil outside. Epoxy floors provide a better solution for dealing with hazardous or toxic chemicals. For almost every other industry, concrete polishing will provide a better flooring solution.
Polished concrete can be maintained using water and a low pH cleaner. Epoxy will require additional detergents and additives to prevent dust and debris building up. Once an epoxy floor has started to degrade, cleaning becomes even more difficult. Dirt becomes trapped inside scratches, chips and peeling sections.
Both polished concrete and epoxy floors will start out looking clean and bright. To maintain a polished concrete floor, periodic burnishing and re-sealing are recommended. Once an epoxy floor sustains damage it is difficult or impossible to return it to its original appearance. Often the only option is to replace it.
The success of a polished concrete floor can be limited by the existing concrete slab. Damaged areas, cracks or spalling expansion joints can affect the quality of the finish. As experienced concrete polishers we know how to deal with these issues and can repair floors prior to polishing.
Over the lifespan of the building you can make huge savings by choosing polished concrete over an epoxy or other resin based floor. You will be investing in a superior product which will provide a wide range of features you will benefit from.