Epoxy floor coatings are made up of two components: the base and the curing agent. These components must be mixed at a prescribed proportion determined by the manufacturer of the product. This mixing creates a chemical reaction that generates heat and hardens the mixture. Characteristics of these coatings—such as pot life, viscosity, hardening time, etc.—are closely related to temperatures of the components at the time they are mixed. It is for this reason that when mixing them, it is important for you to be familiar with the relationship between temperatures and these epoxy characteristics. Refer to the information below to properly mix and use these coatings.
Tip 1 – Pot Life and Cure Time
In general, epoxy mixtures will become hard within minutes or hours after their having been mixed, depending on mixing recommendations from their manufactures. But you can regulate, or adjust, this hardening (cure) time or pot life by changing their temperatures while you are mixing them. For example: to extend by 100 percent the cure time of the epoxy coating you're using, lower its temperature by 18 degrees F. To decrease cure time by 100 percent, increase its temperature by 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tip 2 – Viscosity
You can make epoxies more user friendly and easier to work with if you keep their temperatures in the range of 60 degrees to 70 degrees F while you are working with them in their liquid state. At a higher temperature they will become thinner and will harden faster, giving you a shorter working time. At a lower temperature they will thicken and give you a longer working time.
Tip 3 – Special Temperature Epoxies
If you prefer working with these coatings under special temperature situations, you may need a product that will perform better in colder or warmer environments. If so, keep in mind that some epoxy coatings are designed to cure at temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tip 4 – Chemical Resistance
In projects where you expect to need an epoxy that is especially resistant to corrosion in use with steel and concrete, there are coatings made for this use. Where you need epoxies that work well with chemicals in temperatures as high as 300 degrees or in water at temperatures at 212 degrees, you can find these special coatings.
Tip 5 – Softening
In applying epoxy coatings, take into consideration the likely characteristics of epoxy coatings after they have cured (hardened). These coatings retain their hardness and durability at temperatures below zero degrees F, but are not as durable in higher temperatures. Some epoxies begin to soften at temperatures as low as 140 degrees. These same coatings will harden again as temperatures are reduced, but for applications where extreme temperatures are likely, you should look for epoxy coatings that are manufactured especially for use in extreme low or high temperatures.
Tip 6 – Shipping and Freight
Epoxy coatings that will need to be shipped must be classified. Generally, a higher quality coating does not require a haz-mat (hazardous material) shipping classification. But those classified as high-temperature or UV resistant coatings, will sometimes require haz-mat shipping which will often increase their purchase price.