Self-leveling epoxy floors (or self-smoothing) are one of the most common type of epoxy floors. They are characterized by their impressive aesthetic appearance. These floor coatings are applied at a larger thickness than roller applied epoxies.
They can be a bit more challenging to apply especially for inexperienced applicators. I have compiled a list of frequently asked questions for self leveling epoxy floors.
Why do we call them self leveling epoxy floors?
Upon application the epoxy resin coating forms a smooth and level texture on the surface of the floor. The coating tends to automatically fill any uneven parts of the floor. If, on the other hand you applied the epoxy with a roller or flat squeegee, you may get a slightly rougher orange-peel texture.
What makes this type of epoxy so popular?
These floors have major operational advantages for industrial facilities. The smooth and seamless surface makes the epoxy floors ideal for factories and warehouses. This is especially the case when forklift trucks and other vehicles are shifting heavy loads on the floor. Also the seamless appearance makes the floors easier for cleaning. Dirt and bacteria do not get stuck in joints and seams.
Self-leveling epoxy floors also provide a very aesthetic appeal since the glossy seamless look makes the space look bigger and far more attractive. This why architects love them and often specify them for commercial and retail spaces.
Many people also like putting them in their homes, although personally I am bit wary of putting epoxy in homes.
How do we apply such a floor?
The video below goes through all the steps in applying a self leveling epoxy floor. The surface preparation and priming phase is similar to applying other types of coated floors. The key difference with self leveling epoxy, is that product is poured on the floor. With the help of spreading rake, the epoxy is then spread out evenly on the floor. You will then need a spiked roller to smoothen out the coating and release any air bubbles.
What is the minimum thickness for a self leveling epoxy floor?
My rule is that you should go for a medium thickness of at least 2mm (1/16 inches). If you try applying at a smaller thickness, and you will run into leveling problems. Common problems are trowel marks, roller marks, dents and other funny looking shapes on the floor. Keep in mind that the 2mm thickness is a median value. Depending on the substrate you may have thicknesses varying from 1mm in some places and 4mm (especially in the corners) in other areas of the floor.
I have a somewhat rough and uneven cement substrate. Can’t I just pour some self-leveling epoxy to even it out?
No you shouldn’t, as this is not the purpose of self-leveling epoxy. The surface unevenness of the substrate will be likely much larger than the 2-3 mm thickness of your floor coating. You run the risk of adding large amounts of epoxy (at a significant cost! And the worst part will be that you will not get any substantial results. The unevenness of the surface will remain. Therefore you should only apply the product on flat and level surfaces.
If you need to even out the surface before you apply the epoxy, you could look into using self leveling cementitious compound. Other solutions could be grinding the substrate or using epoxy grout to fill the substrate unevenness.
Why are self leveling floors so much more expensive than roller applied epoxy systems?
The amount of epoxy consumed in self leveling systems is several times higher than in a roller (or squeegee) applied systems. A two-coat roller applied epoxy system may consume 500-600 gr/m2 whereas a 3mm self leveling system can easily reach 3 kg/m2 of epoxy. Furthermore self-leveling epoxy is usually more expensive than standard epoxy paint since the product needs to be formulated differently. Another very important factor is that for such systems you need to use qualified and trained workers who have experience in self-leveling epoxy systems. So you should expect a much higher cost of labour.
If you want to learn more about self leveling epoxy floors, I strongly recommend that you watch this video below!
Further Resources on Epoxy Flooring
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Do you have any questions on self leveling floors? Please leave a comment below and lets see if we can all help answer them. And if you enjoyed this article please take a moment to share or like the article.