Epoxy resins are produced industrially from raw materials that are for the most part derived from petroleum. An epoxy resin is a polyepoxide comprised of reactive prepolymers and polymers that contain epoxide groups. Epoxide groups are commonly known as epoxy which is known as a strong adhesive. Epoxy adhesives bind resins together.
Epoxy resins are formed from a long chain molecular arrangement with reactive sites created by epoxy groups at the ends. In the center of the epoxy molecule there are two ring groups. These centre groups can absorb mechanical and thermal stresses. This is why epoxy resin is so durable, so stiff, and so heat resistant.
An epoxy has two components – a base and a curing agent or hardener – that are combined in specific ratios. When they are combined a chemical reaction takes place and the result of the heat generated by the chemical reaction is that the agents are hardened into an inert solid plastic. During the processing, there are many effective co-reactants that can be combined and many additives.
Both the base and the hardener react with each other rather than just one reacting with the other. In this co-reaction, the hardener molecules and the epoxy molecules bond in a fixed ratio. This is why it is so important to have the mix ratio absolutely correct. If it is not correct, the reaction is apt to be incomplete as the excess of either component will remain unreacted. This can change the end product significantly.
Depending upon the recipe, the resulting epoxies can have any number of mechanical properties such as resisting high temperatures, UV and chemicals. Additives such as quartz aggregates, coloured aggregates, PVA flakes, aluminium oxide or even rubber can provide the epoxy resin with high anti slip and anti static properties, impact resistance, and a wide variety of other features to meet any surface needs.
Surface coatings can be a fraction of a mil up to a few mils in thickness. A mil is a thousandth of an inch. Yes, it takes 1,000 mils to make an inch. Imagine how thin a fraction of a mil would be. These coatings protect (and make pretty) some quite expensive items. Household appliances like your washer and dryer, your car, the bridges your car drives over, ships that sail under those bridges, and industrial and chemical plants all need coatings.
When it comes to the protection of expensive items such as these, the choice of coating is paramount. In recent years, the need for protection has become even more urgent due to the ravages of air pollution and the requirements of health and safety standards.
The primary features of epoxy resin coatings are their ability to resist chemicals, their low porosity, their toughness, and their strong bonding capacity. When the epoxy resin is created, the chemical reaction begins immediately and as the mixture heats up, the resin hardens. This means that there is a brief pot life, or working time, that is rarely more than an hour long. Sometimes the pot life is a matter of a few minutes as the mixture becomes very hot and will harden whether it is spread or not.
While the epoxy resin hardens fast, it can take a few days to cure fully. Usually it is cured sufficiently to be walked on in a day but it might be longer before it is ready to be sanded.
The temperature at which the epoxy resin is applied affects the pot life and rate of curing. At a higher temperature, the epoxy will be thinner to apply but it will harden faster reducing the pot life.
Reepol are expert manufacturers with the best technology in the industry. We understand the uses of epoxy resins and the reasons why epoxy floors fail. Our network of contractors are expert in the many applications of epoxy flooring from repair to new structures.
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