You better choose the right type of resinous floor if you want to get the most bang for your buck.
Resinous flooring types span a variety of uses cases. Your choice of floor system type and the resin layer types within will define the quality of your protection. Certain characteristics are only available with some system types and resin types. So, you’ll have to match your uses to the appropriate floor types.
We know browsing all the different resin floor types can be a confusing task.
The resins in your floor system should be planned based on the needs of each layer. In an effective system, each level needs a resin type optimized for long-term use.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the essentials of popular resin flooring types.
Here are some of the questions this article will answer:
- What is a resin flooring system made of?
- Is there a difference between decorative and industrial resin floors?
- What are the pros and cons of each resin floor type?
- What will a resin flooring system cost me?
- How do I choose the right resin floor type for me?
As always, it’s best we start you off with some of the basics.
Resin Flooring Systems Overview
Before picking a resin floor type, you should know how these floors are built.
Resin flooring is a system of one or more fluid layers that solidify for an attractive and damage-resistant surface. You can get the best performance by choosing a compatible resin suited for each floor level. You would choose to use a resin floor for simple maintenance, specialized hazard protection, or custom designs.
Resin floors are the ideal solution for extended life during decades of heavy wear. These are built to withstand all types of damages while requiring minimal upkeep.
In each layer, your flooring system may contain different resins and sand additives. Your substrate, base coats, and topcoats take priority. Other layers may be equally necessary based on your situation and future use cases.
To customize a resin floor, you’ll select compatible resin types to prevent premature damage and visual defects. You can also add designs if you include sand additives.
These are just the core basics of how resin floors function.
Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Resinous Floors
From here, we’ll assume you have a firm grasp on the basics.
Types of resin flooring
Your resin type will be the most important decision when installing your resin floors.
Resin flooring can include different materials for custom decorative and practical attributes. The core attributes depend on your choice of resin and sand additives applied during the initial mixing. The best approach is to identify the biggest hazards or visual needs your facilities have and find a resin floor to match.
As you browse various resins and floor systems, keep in mind the daily activity that will occur in your spaces. Your floors will endure years of wear, so plan accordingly. Get it right and your floor could last for decades.
Durability is generally the number one factor that should influence your decision.
You’ll want to consider equipment heat or heavy vehicle and foot traffic over multiple years. Some industries also produce chemical byproducts and animal fats or grease. These can all affect how long your specific resin will last.
The question is:
“What type of resistance is most important for me?”
Let’s begin with an overview of resin floor types before diving into the specifics.
Types of industrial resin flooring explained
Industrial resin flooring is grouped into system types and resin types. Resin systems are all industrial and can be modified for decorative appeal. Resin types within your system each have unique properties. For the best performance, you’ll pair compatible resins based on where they’ll be used in your floor system.
Resin flooring types are best understood if viewed as system types and types of resins. Due to the overlapping language, we’ll unpack a few definitions first.
As explained earlier, resin flooring systems are a collective of multiple resin layers.
Industrial resin flooring systems are named for their heavy-duty durability. All resin floors are industrial, and optimized for specific advantages based on the resin layers used. You can expect any resin system to be easy on maintenance and potentially customized for your heaviest use cases.
Decorative resin flooring systems are visually altered industrial resin floor systems. These systems include colored quartz sand or other additives into the system for aesthetic designs. This additional material can embed logos, text, or abstract appeal to liven up your floors. Some practical perks may also apply, like non-slip resistances due to better traction.
Within any given resin flooring system, each layer serves a different purpose.
Resin types are the substances that compose each layer of the flooring system. As such, resin types must be chosen to build the best solution for your intended uses.
Let’s dive deeper to help you decide which resins are ideal for your flooring system.
PMMA (Polymethyl methacrylate)
Polymethyl methacrylate is a synthetic resin also known as PMMA, acrylic, or acrylic glass. This resin acts as a glass-like shatterproof surface with fast install times. For industries in need of long durability with minimal repair downtime, PMMA is an ideal choice. It can be further enhanced via other chemical protections.
PMMA may be recognized as common product brand names like Plexiglas or Lucite. Useful in many different cases, PMMA has industrial strength perfect for flooring.
Resistances offered by PMMA floors include anti-slip, electrical, impact and hygiene. For stronger chemical resistances, additives can be used to improve this property.
- Rapid cure time means you’ll need minimal downtime to install PMMA. This is ideal for factory or production settings that can’t disrupt operations during days of curing.
- Chemical and UV resistance of PMMA gives an advantage over other resins. Protections include lactic acids and sulfuric acids, which damage epoxy and PU, respectively.
- Sub-zero curing is also possible with PMMA resins. As a result, you’ll experience less hassle working in freezer areas or spaces with little heating compared to other resins.
- Flexible upgrades and repairs are easy with PMMA resin flooring. As a thermoplastic resin, it can be melted back into a liquid state to be reworked or recoated as needed.
- Outdoor durability is great with PMMA due to its weather-resistant properties. These floors don’t become weakened easily and remain stable in a variety of climates.
- Extreme heat can ruin your floor due to PMMA’s thermoplasticity. Bakeries and other facilities with industrial ovens are particularly at risk of issues with this resin type.
- High contaminant emissions from PMMA are a flammability and odor hazard during installation. As a result, you’ll require air filtration that can increase labor costs.
- Initial costs of PMMA floors can be higher than comparable resin flooring systems. While you save on long-term repair costs, upfront pricing should still be considered.
- Adhesive qualities of PMMA are not as strong as other solutions like Epoxy and PU. Your resin floor may experience a shorter lifespan if the substrate bond is weaker.
Facilities with high activity and a lack of downtime flexibility are great candidates for PMMA flooring. These can include medical labs, food production, and car parks.
Your PMMA floors will likely be in the higher-range of resin floor installation pricing. Basic PMMA costs are on average higher than PU and epoxy per square foot.
We’ve detailed a few of the standard costs for PMMA floors below.
Simple DIY applications like sealant for a small garage cost much less than a multi-layer thick coat system. Resin base coats cost more, but other layers may be at lower rates.
Installation for your floor may have other hidden or unexpected costs. As you plan your resin flooring, research and discuss with pros to uncover any problems before you begin.
We’ll cover the other expenses of resin flooring installations shortly.
PMMA repair is a thermoplastic, so the floor may be able to simply be reheated and reworked. This is a unique advantage over PU and epoxy, both of which can only be removed and replaced.
We like to look at the repair costs as baked into the upfront installation charges. Although you pay higher initially, you’re actually paying for a more flexible floor life.
PMMA maintenance is easy by design, with little work to keep it clean and scuff-free.
You will need to clean it periodically just like any surface. Just be sure to plan ahead by budgeting for the tools you’ll need to clean properly.
Once a day,it is advised to clean with some dust mopping and vacuuming, along with damp mopping. Weekly spot cleaning can be done to hit problem areas. These are basic cleaning tools you can easily obtain for cheap.
Monthly machine scrubbing will give you a deeper cleaning for the entire floor. Scrubbing machines can be pricey, especially if you’re spending over $2000 to clean a large commercial space.
Quarterly dry buffing or polishing will get any mild scrapes and scuffs off of your floor. Again, these machines can be a relatively larger expense.
After a few years you’ll likely want to recoat your entire PMMA floor. These floors don’t require the remove-replace procedure like PU and epoxy floors, which saves you money.
Polyurethane (aka. PU) is resin type that can be used in flooring systems. It functions as a plastic-like surface with the usual defenses for impact, abrasion, and chemicals. PU is especially useful for industry floors with direct high heat contact. Thin film, concrete mortar, and polyaspartic are common variants of PU.
PU flooring may be referred to as urethane. It’s worth noting that this is not accurate as urethane is something else entirely. Urethane flooring is technically polyurethane flooring.
PU resin flooring systems have safety and durability perks similar to other resin floors. These included but are not limited to impact, non-slip, waterproofing, and chemical protection.
- High-temperature contact has little effect on PU floors. These are thermoset resins, meaning liquid sets into permanent plastic that won’t melt. As a bonus, the temperature tolerance keeps the floor more stable than epoxy.
- Elastic surfaces of PU resist scratching and low temperatures better than Epoxy. Consider PU if your space endures seasonal freezing or sub-zero indoor cooling.
- Lactic acid resistance gives PU floors a similar advantage to PMMA floors. These floors are naturally optimized for dairy production, while epoxy floors would degrade.
- Sensitivity to humidity can put PU floors at risk for a ruined finish. Well-trained installers are essential to avoid flaws. These include dimpling or “explosions” in the coating during curing.
- Polyurethane tends to be the most difficult resin to work with. With a limited pot life and risk of humidity issues, your staff needs to work quick and smart for good results.
- Cure time for PU is much longer than PMMA. 5 days for base and 8-12 hours for overcoats undercuts epoxy cure times but disrupts the use of your space significantly.
- Adherence of PU is not ideal when used as a standalone coating. It’s recommended to use another resin type for primer or to use this as a topcoat on resin such as epoxy.
- Sulfuric acids will damage PU flooring where other resins have resistances against them. This degrading can cause the need for premature floor repairs and replacement.
- Difficult repairs and upgrades may be a concern with PU. These floors can only be fixed after damage by remove-and-replace only, which may interrupt your activities.
Spaces with extreme temperatures and heavy foot traffic may get use from polyurethane. Bakeries, freezers, and car parks are a few candidates.
Topcoats of PU can provide all the perks without the adhesive drawbacks. These tend to be used with base coats of epoxy.
Installing PU floors will likely fall in mid-tier pricing among the other resin choices. Basic costs on PU floors are usually higher than epoxy but lower than PMMA per square foot.
Let’s begin to unpack the basic expenses of polyurethane floors.
DIY polyurethane floor installation is going to be cheaper, but at the risk of costly errors. Meanwhile, certified professionals always have labor costs that inflate your budget. These charges are a premium you pay to offset the risks of amateur mistakes.
If you’re applying polyurethane primers or sealants, these come at much cheaper costs. Base coats of PU will be at a higher rate than other layers in your floor system.
Installation can require a larger budget if any additional work or prep is necessary. These can be anything from reinforcing your substrate to treating your floor for moisture emissions.
We have explained some of these potential costs a bit later in this article.
Polyurethane floor repairs are only possible via complete removal and reinstallation.
DIY removal and replacement may be less than ideal for some cases. Sanding away and adding a new floor due to bubbles is fine. But peeling floors mean the resin didn’t penetrate the concrete properly. Poor adhesion must be handled properly or you’ll experience the same issue with the new floor.
Professional removal rates can be nearly equal to standard installation rates. This can effectively double the cost as you put a new floor in.
Polyurethane flooring is easy to keep clean and undamaged with basic care.
Maintaining PU demands very little work, so the costs should be relatively negligible. Your largest cost may be upfront investments in good scrubbing and buffing machines.
Daily cleanings are done via dust mopping, alongside vacuuming and a bit of damp mopping. Weekly spot cleanings can remove any remaining dirt buildup.
Monthly machine scrubbing will give a deeper cleaning. You’ll want to include one of these machines into your budget. Commercial and industrial scrubbers can be over $2000, while home scrubbers can be as low as $200.
Quarterly, you should dry buff or polish your floor. Wear on your floor won’t be heavy with most resin solutions, but this will smooth away any light damages.
After about 10 years, removal-and-replacement will be needed for your entire polyurethane floor. This helps ensure proper adhesion and integrity.
Popular PU Resin Subtypes
Polyaspartic urethane (PAE) is a UV stable modified PU that makes a great high gloss topcoat. It has a fast cure rate, a high heat tolerance, and strong substrate bonding. PAE is also low-odor, eliminating the need for air filtration during installs.
Urethane concrete mortar is modified with concrete paste, trowel-grade sand, and other fine grit additives. Use this for fast curing and more slip resistance when wet. It also resists moisture emissions, improving adhesion to fresh (aka “green) concrete.
Thin Film Urethane is a low-viscosity resin used as either a primer-supported floor coating or a topcoat. This thin PU is more flexible and abrasion-resistant than epoxy.
Epoxy is the most popular resin type used in flooring systems. It resembles plastic with more durability. Epoxy carries protections for impact, scratches, water, and chemicals. Epoxy is valued for its phenomenal bonding strength and electrical conductivity. There are many subtypes of epoxy for different purposes.
Epoxy is widely used as the go-to resin flooring type for most industrial needs. As it comes in many subtypes, you’ll need to understand each to select your floor properly.
Generally, epoxy and its variants carry similar core properties. These flooring systems are highly durable, hygienic, and can be modified via additives for your needs.
We’ll start by exploring the basic attributes of an epoxy resin floor.
Then, we’ll examine the unique subtypes of epoxy to help you make the best resin flooring choice.
- Substrate adhesion is the top benefit of epoxy flooring. The long cure time causes the resin to fully penetrate the pores of your concrete for superior bonding.
- Sulfuric acid resistance is a deciding perk of epoxy. Exposure to these types of acids during daily use will not degrade or damage your resin floor system.
- Intense, concentrated heat doesn’t melt epoxy since it is a thermoset resin. Like PU, epoxy flooring cures from a liquid to a nearly invulnerable plastic.
- Impact and scrapes will rarely damage the very hard surface of epoxy flooring. This is especially good for protecting underlying concrete from normal wear and accidents.
- Energy-saving lighting benefits can lower your utility bill costs by boosting your reflectivity. This can brighten your space up to three times higher than your standard lighting. As a result, you can reduce your facilities’ light wattages or the number of lights you need.
- Caustic chemicals can damage your epoxy floors, including but not limited to lactic acids. This makes epoxy flooring less than ideal for dairy production without another resin as a topcoat.
- Epoxy has the longest cure time of all the resin floors, at 7-10 days base coat and 12-24 hours for topcoats. Longer cure times leave floors vulnerable to bubbles resulting from substrate gas releases.
- Repairs/upgrades are done by complete remove-and-replace only. Long downtimes for full replacement can be costly to your business, especially if repairs are unplanned.
Epoxy resin is usually best for spaces that have plenty of flooring traffic and impacts. Consider this flooring type for airplane hangars, showrooms, and warehouses.
To best understand the ideal use cases of epoxy resins in flooring systems, we need to explore its popular subtypes. Each is customized for specific situations.
Epoxy flooring installation has lower-end pricing compared to other resin choices. Basic estimates on epoxy floor costs can run from $2 to $12 per square foot.
We’ve detailed a few of the standard costs for epoxy floors below.
DIY epoxy flooring done for homes can be $2 to $5 a square foot for materials only. Commercial applications are unlikely to be installed DIY due to their complexity.
Pro epoxy floor installations vary from $3 to $12 per square foot, including materials and labor. Commercial installations may be priced on the upper end of this range.
Be mindful that sealants, primers, and other resin forms may be priced differently. Resin base coats are priced higher, while other layers can be cheaper.
Installation also includes any number of additional costs. Some of these can take more time and money, from substrate patching to storage unit rental.
We’ll explore the other costs of resin floor installation a bit later in this article.
Epoxy floor repairs are only possible by remove-and-replace only.
This resin type is thermoset, meaning it is permanently solid on a molecular level.
DIY removal and replacement may be less than ideal for some cases. Specifically, peeling floors mean the resin didn’t penetrate the concrete properly. Poor adhesion must be handled properly, or you’ll experience the same issue with the new floor.
Professional removal has its own rates. This can effectively double your costs, as you’ll hire contractors to remove a flawed floor and put a new one in. However, this may help you discover and confront the root issues that ruined your first floor.
Always weigh the pros and cons of both before making a decision on repairs. If you feel unsure at all, hiring a certified contractor may be worth the costs.
Epoxy maintenance and cleaning is usually extremely easy.
Aside from the occasional cleaning, you’ll be using the floor with minimal upkeep. Just be sure to plan ahead by budgeting for the tools you’ll need to clean properly.
Once a day you’ll need to do light cleaning via dust mopping and vacuuming, followed by damp mopping. Weekly, you’ll do some spot cleaning for problem areas.
Monthly deep cleaning should be done by machine scrubbing. These machines can run under $200 to over $2000, with the expensive-end for more industrial needs.
Quarterly dry buffing or polishing will get any mild scrapes and scuffs off of your floor.
After around 5 years, you’ll eventually have to remove and replace your entire epoxy floor. You’ll strip the resin with a solution, then install the new epoxy.
Popular Industrial Epoxy Resin Subtypes
Self-Dispersing Epoxy Floors
Epoxy that self-disperses is great against abrasion and impact from heavy vehicles. Also, adding quartz sand will give your floor non-slip resistances if liquid spills occur.
Self-Leveling Epoxy Floors
Self-leveling epoxy floors cover and levels out over your concrete base floor. This subtype, known as “sag” flooring, spreads to fill cracks or damage in your substrate.
These self-leveled floors are perfectly seamless and smooth. Due to its lack of standard roller application, there is no “orange peel” texture like other floors.
Costs tend to be higher with self-leveling epoxy floors. You’ll use 8 to 10 times more epoxy product than some other types of roller-applied epoxy floor.
Use of self-leveled floors is best for easy application with small or inexperienced teams. Durability is high with these thicker floors, so apply this for great impact and scratch resistance.
Thixotropic Epoxy Floors
Thixotropic epoxy is a “non-sag” resin that does not spread on application. This trait allows the installer to manually spread and level it for a wide scope of uses.
Uses can include patching, standalone floor coats, and topcoats. Basic epoxy traits are included, and installers can use a special roller to add a stippled non-slip finish.
Areas with fast-paced foot traffic are ideal for thixotropic epoxy floors. Fire stations and medical facilities can benefit from the durability and safety of this type of resin system.
Mortar Epoxy Floors
Mortar epoxy flooring is a mix of 100% solid epoxies and graded quartz sand. This provides the strongest reinforcement to your substrate’s crack and existing wear.
Mortar forms of epoxy are valuable for endurance in high traffic spaces. This can include warehouses, commercial kitchens, garages, and manufacturing plants.
Electrostatic Charge Resistant (ESD) Epoxy Floors
ESD epoxy flooring is also known as anti-static due to its ability to gather static electricity. This property is the result of adding conductive compounds to the epoxy.
Spaces with flammable materials and electronics need static reduction. Use this for computer manufacturing, chemical or pharmaceutical facilities, and healthcare.
Elastomeric Epoxy-Urethane Floors
Elastomeric epoxy-urethane is a resin hybrid that is waterproof and absorbs impact. It is optimized to be elastic like PU but with epoxy hardness for heavy-duty durability.
Use cases include waterproof underlayments or coatings for shock absorption. Protection for frequent stress is great in high traffic areas. These may be in warehouses, parking garages, and mechanical equipment spaces.
Popular Decorative Epoxy Resin Subtypes
Quartz-filled epoxy floors
Quartz-filled epoxy flooring includes an additive of colored quartz or ceramic-coated quartz. Broadcast application helps it function as a slip-resistant floor due to extra traction.
Uses for quartz-filled floors include locker rooms, restrooms, cafeterias. You may also consider areas such as lobbies, offices, and showrooms. Industrial use is also acceptable.
Flake epoxy floors
Flake epoxy floors are based on the addition of vinyl color chips or flakes for a vibrant multicolor finish. The flakes also add slight grooves for slip reduction functionality.
Ideal uses include locker rooms, sports venues, showrooms. Additionally, you can apply to clinics and commercial kitchens. Like other decorative types, these can double as industrial floors.
Graveled epoxy floors
Graveled epoxy floors have gravel or quartz additives for a more attractive appearance.
Main uses for this flooring subtype include adding decorative details into your floor. Logos, branding, or arrows are all possible with graveled epoxy.
Terrazzo epoxy floors
Terrazzo epoxy floors are composed of pigmented marble chips, glass, or granite. You may have decorative saw cuts in the floor to enhance the visual appeal.
Common spaces for these floors include halls and entrances of public buildings and schools. You would choose this floor if you need a visually elaborate design.
Additional costs of resin floor installation
Your resin floor budget will likely include more than just the standard install rates.
Regardless of your resin choices, you may be faced with unexpected prep and repairs. These costs can hit early in the process, long before any resin application.
Basic Cost Factors
Resin viscosity can increase the price by 2x-3x for solid, more durable resin compounds. Water-based is the cheapest and weakest, while 100% solid resin is the strongest and most expensive. Water-based and solvent-based are easier to apply but may wear down sooner.
Containment systems may cost you time and money to contain and eliminate odors and air contaminants. High VOC (volatile organic compound) epoxy will release harmful gases during installation. You’ll need proper ventilation and respirators for all within the work area. Solvent-based epoxy falls in this category.
Special application methods will require extra labor. Troweling, sprayers and other specialty equipment will bring your total costs a bit higher than the standard rates. These costs are usually related to decorative floors or unique finishes.
Sand additives can also drive costs higher if you’re doing a decorative application. Broadcast, trowel, or slurry floors all require some form of aggregate. Rocks, pebbles, color flakes, or any grit of sand will each have its own costs to include in your budget.
Painting concrete substrate is an optional decorative feature. You can paint if you’d like to make designs or text beneath a transparent resin floor.
Foundation Cost Factors
Substrate patching may be necessary to create a level, solid surface for the resin to adhere to.
Concrete resurfacing/refinishing helps your resin floor adhere long after application. This cost may be required if your surface isn’t level or smooth.
Substrate structural repair is especially costly. It must be handled if your concrete has compromised integrity. You may need evaluations of structure and soil. Some cases may need underpinning or other repairs to the foundation.
Installation of a new concrete substrate may be needed if your existing floor is in bad shape. As resin flooring is not standalone, your foundation must be strong. Concrete that is too brittle or damaged to be reliable must be replaced, which can make your costs much steeper.
Sealing concrete before applying base coats or after painting the concrete is an extra cost to consider. It may be one of your only costs if you just need light protection for outdoor concrete or a home garage.
Miscellaneous Cost Factors
Downtime may be the biggest cost of all, especially if installation disrupts your business operations. Your space will be virtually unusable until the floor can support the stress of foot traffic and various equipment. This can cut into your business profits.
Storage unit rental may be needed if you have no room for your displaced home belongings or commercial equipment. Since complete installation can take one or more weeks, you may want to consider factoring this into your costs.
Application errors for existing resin floors will require removal before you can do a new installation. If you or your contractor makes mistakes, this will also require repair or reinstallation. Either case takes time, materials, and labor to complete.
This cost list is not comprehensive, so you should be cautious of other hidden costs.
Always budget with room to cover additional installation costs. Be sure to discuss these aspects with your contractor and learn your options for floor types.
How to Choose the RIGHT Type of Resin Floor
Choosing a resin flooring type requires you to consider costs, uses, and ease of installation. Each resin type has unique perks for each use case. If you select the right floor, you can avoid costly repairs and time-consuming maintenance.
You should always try to choose based on performance needs over initial cost. Lower maintenance costs can offset a higher upfront charge for your flooring system.
Daily use of your floor can define how durable your resin choice will be long-term. Proper protection lowers the frequency of high-cost, disruptive repairs. Always guard against chemicals, along with heavy foot and vehicle traffic.
Ease of installation is also something to consider during your resin selection. Complex multi-coat floors need more installers and have more windows for error.
User maintenance may be the most essential part of your flooring system. This includes cleaning and durability, as both may reduce the usefulness of your floor.
Takeaways on resinous flooring types
In summary, resinous flooring is a safe, hygienic, attractive and durable floor solution.
To recap, you’ve learned the following:
- Resin flooring systems are a series of durable plastic-like coatings atop a concrete floor.
- Resin floors have unique parts that use unique properties to form a complete unit.
- Installing resin flooring is time-sensitive and should be done by knowledgeable staff.
- Industrial and decorative resin floors are different only in visuals. This is due to the use of additives.
- Each resin type has its own unique properties to customize the floor for your needs.
- You can mix-and-match resins for various layers to optimize your floor system’s benefits.
Ultimately, you’ll want to choose your floor based on what your floor will endure during use.
If you need more assistance, contact a resin floor system professional for advice on your specific needs.
Know someone who trying to decide between PMMA, PU, and Epoxy? Please share this post with them. Or, if you have questions or comments, you can leave them below. And of course, if you’re in the market for superior resinous solutions, be sure to check out our selection of flooring aggregates.