What aggregates are the most commonly added to epoxy resin flooring systems?
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Clear or Pigmented Epoxy Resin
Most epoxy resinous flooring systems use some type of silica sand as an additive. If it’s a solid colored floor they’ll use a pigmented epoxy resin with natural (clear) quartz silica sand, and if it’s a decorative quartz floor, they’ll use clear epoxy resin flooring with colored quartz silica sand.
The natural quartz silica sand and the colored quartz silica sand, commonly referred to as aggregates, are different materials due to their color, but utilizing two different epoxy resins – either pigmented or clear, you end up with a similar epoxy resin installation and overall look to your floor.
Aluminum Oxide for Higher Impact Protection
You can use aluminum oxide aggregates in epoxy paint flooring situations where there’s a need for higher impact protection to the epoxy floor coating in applications such as industrial plants, machine shops, loading docks shipping & receiving areas and commercial kitchens because of the possibility of dropping tools, or just routine wear to the epoxy flooring in general.
Residential resin flooring usually doesn’t need such an aggressive additive so the silica sand is ideal in those applications.
Mohs Scale of Hardness
Epoxy resin floors with silica sand registers about a 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness compared to a 7.5 for brown aluminum oxide aggregate. The higher the number, the less likely it will shatter due to impact.
Brown aluminum oxide should only be used in a solid-colored floor with pigmented epoxy resin floor coatings. White aluminum oxide, which is white on its own, actually becomes clear when you add it into epoxy resin floors or it can take on the solid color of the pigmented liquid resin.
White aluminum oxide is just as hard as the brown aluminum oxide. It’s just used as a sprinkle into the top coat of the epoxy flooring system for reaching a desired amount of texture and toughness and the aggregate comes in variety of sizes.
The other type of aggregate which really isn’t an aggregate at all is vinyl flakes. The flakes are actually cracked sheets of vinyl. Those are for decorative epoxy floors and don’t have as much structural integrity as the silica sand does.
They don’t build the floor up as thickly either because they have a finer texture than the silica sand. But they do give you a wide range of aesthetics to choose from in epoxy floor coatings as far as the decorative pattern of epoxy flooring goes.
Vinyl flakes work very well in epoxy systems for retail applications, schools, and concrete floor areas where you want to keep the floors very clean and don’t need any kind of texture.
Other than those, there are some specialty aggregates also being used now. Some people use recyclable rubber granules. Combining those with certain types of urethanes can give you a slightly softer floor.
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