Commercial Epoxy Flooring - Industrial Applications

Epoxy Flooring vs Concrete Polished Flooring What’s the Best Option For You? A Comparison

There are three important factors to consider when deciding whether to polish your concrete floor or apply an epoxy coating: convenience, cost, and application. The fourth factor is far less important, style.  

Only after the other applications have been considered, style should be a little further down the line for importance. As you read this article, you will understand why it is better to tweek your style just a bit to fit your flooring requirements. Both epoxy coating and polished concrete are fairly flexible in styling and offer beautiful options.

Commercial Epoxy Flooring

Epoxy Floor Coating  

Epoxy and polished concrete can equally be given a glossy finish to provide high reflectivity to improve brightness in a room. An epoxy floor can increase reflectivity up to 300% with its topcoat. A polished concrete floor chemical-free finish can be given a low-luster matte or a glossy mirror-like finish or any level of reflectivity in between.  It can increase the light reflectivity up to 100% – not quite as much as an epoxy floor but a vast improvement over anything from carpet to tile.  

The process of laying down an epoxy coating involves the concrete slab being prepped by grinding it to open up the subsurface which creates dust and debris that then needs to be thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned up. This dust contaminates the air with allergen particulates. An example can be found here

Next, a vapor barrier is applied to provide water and chemical proofing before the epoxy resin can be applied. The epoxy resin can take three to five days to cure. Be certain you know from your contractor which kind of epoxy floor is being installed if epoxy is the type of flooring you selected.


Epoxy Flooring vs Concrete Polishing

Concrete Polishing

No dust is raised with polished concrete nor any vapor barrier or chemical epoxy resin.  Therefore, it is hypoallergenic and chemical-free. The polish on a concrete floor is created only from the mechanical polishing process without any sealer or topcoat at all which makes it entirely non-combustible.

Concrete floors are excellent for high-traffic facilities such as businesses and industrial spaces.  They do not scratch, crack, or chip. There are some poorer grades of concrete, however, that can degrade when exposed for long periods to water. The water can penetrate and bubble up over time. Be certain through your contractor that you know the quality of your concrete.  Polishing this concrete will not protect it from standing water. More information about concrete polishing can be found here

The warm finish of polished concrete makes it friendly for homes with different stain colors, scoring, and banding making them aesthetically pleasing and gives the space a unique look and feel. 

While their anti-static properties make them great for workplaces like clean rooms, they tend to be loud and because they are so hard, they are fatiguing to stand on for long periods and require anti-fatigue mats. Also keep in mind before installing them that both flooring options are cold surfaces. 

Epoxy Flooring vs Concrete Polishing

Which Option is Best for You?

Epoxy flooring has a bit of flexibility that makes it resistant to impacts such as a heavy object dropping onto it. They can take heavy foot traffic as well as machinery traffic. Warehouses, hospitals, even airplane hangars are suitable installations as well. 

Epoxy is more resistant to staining than polished concrete. They can take water and chemical spills easier. It is also abrasion and impact resistant for manufacturing operations. Even with these resistant powers, it may require refurbishing as often as every three to five years whereas polished concrete floors may not need to be serviced for as long as ten years or more depending on the installation. Expect in a low-stress situation such as a house to have very long wear – possibly even a lifetime. 

Both options offer seamless flooring. In an atmosphere where an extremely clean environment is needed, seamless surfaces with no cracks where dirt can accumulate or microorganisms can grow are provided. 

Now that you know some of the basics, it should be easier for you to make your decision. Your first decision should be based on whether or not your floor will be exposed to acids, harsh detergents, bodily fluids, greases or oils. A polished concrete floor cannot resist repeated exposure to these substances and can absorb these toxins that then affect the surrounding environment. Anyother question to ask is where will your floor be installed and are any of the above mentioned a concern?

Polished concrete cleans with only water or a very mild detergent. An auto-scrubber on occasion will help restore the surface shine. Epoxy floors require a bit more diligence with stronger detergents to remove dust and debris. Scrubbing will not remove a substance that has penetrated the surface.

After you have evaluated and analyzed the pros and cons of each, then it’s time to go to the next step in the process, and that is budget. Generally, polished concrete flooring costs about half of what epoxy flooring costs to install. However, a good polishing can even out and smooth a somewhat uneven surface, and it is not recommended for a severally cracked floor with significant imperfections. Best results come from a freshly poured or undamaged concrete slab that is relatively uniform and unstained in its overall appearance.

An epoxy coating application can cover a lot of the imperfections on a concrete floor. A floor that might have otherwise needed to be destroyed might be rescued by an epoxy flooring system.  While the epoxy coating makes the concrete beneath it virtually impervious to penetration by chemical spills of dangerous substances, you do not have to sacrifice the ‘organic’ look of concrete polished floors to have that industrial durability and protection because epoxy flooring can virtually mimic any finish available in concrete polish.

Epoxy floors can imitate the rustic look of polished concrete or other artistic creations. They are very versatile and infinitely customizable. They can look industrial or luxurious, modern or classic, and almost everything in between. 

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing between the two are utility then cost. In that order. Then there’s the installation process. If you own a business for example, can you afford to close down a part of your facility, business, or home during the three to five days of epoxy installation? Concrete polishing on the other hand will only inconvenience you for a day. Lastly, consider aesthetics. Epoxy is infinitely designable. Polished concrete is warm and somewhat flexible. When comparing the two, they clearly both have advantages, but it really comes down to your requirement and needs for the surface that you want the work done on.