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Floor Coatings and Floor Paints - Durability

Jack Josephsen

Floor coatings, floor paints...they’re all the same aren’t they? They might sound like similar stuff, but there are some big differences you need to be aware of when choosing the right resin-based floor. In this blog series I’ll run through all the major distinctions, however I wanted to begin right here with the most damaging – durability.     

I say damaging because treating floor paints and floor coatings as identical in this department not only leads to premature failures, it can also hurt the entire industry through the build up of negative sentiment. Both types have a role to play, however if they’re seen as interchangeable then results will be poor, customer satisfaction low and they could both eventually be dismissed as legitimate flooring options altogether.  

The durability divide

Why is the durability so different? In brief, floor paints consist of long, thermoplastic polymer chains (mostly acrylics) dispersed in organic solvent or water. Once applied, the solvent evaporates and the chains become entangled to form a continuous film. Think of spaghetti strings smoothed out on a floor somehow. Floor coatings, on the other hand, have short, thermoset polymer chains (epoxies, urethanes) and form a more structured film through chemical reactions. Think of a 3-D lattice.

Keep it light for floor paint

There are some pretty abstract concepts in that description, so what does it all mean practically? Well, the weaker bonds in floor paints make them more vulnerable to both physical and chemical attack. These types of products are therefore “light duty” at best; able to withstand light foot traffic and splashes or spills of harmless liquids like water or oil. If they’re applied in more aggressive environments, it’s understood complete re-application will almost certainly be required down the track. Some clients are completely happy with that prospect given it will typically come with a lower price tag, but more on that in the next post.

Floor paint flaking off in a car garage.

Floor coatings if you want it to last

In contrast, the stronger, higher density floor coating films are capable of withstanding some nasty treatment; ugly industrial environments with vehicle traffic and/or harsh chemical exposure are usually within their repertoire.  As far as residential, retail or commercial applications go, owners often re-decorate before the floor coating packs it in. If your floor cops a fair degree of punishment, you have to be looking at floor coatings and not floor paints.

Floor coating in a heavy vehicle workshop with a huge front-end loader on top of it.

If you have any questions about the durability of floor coatings and floor paints, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Keep Smiling,

Jack Josephsen
Head FLOORChef   

FLOORChef's Chef Hat.