Common mistakes made when installing resin flooring systems

When it comes to resin-based flooring systems, care must be taken to ensure that the result is as hard, smooth, and durable as intended. Resin based flooring systems are usually multi-components that require careful mixing together. It can be easy to make a mess of it if there are more than two components involved and requires the level of skill and practice to get it right the first time everytime. 

Resin based flooring systems are expensive so it’s important to avoid the wrong practices at all costs. Depending on the resin system, if an improper curing process occurs between the hardener/activator components and the resin base this will lead to premature failure and the need to redo the floor. Thankfully, it can be avoided simply by following the manufacturer’s instructions and ensuring that your work site is well organised.

Here are some common mistakes that resin flooring applicators might come across when it comes to curing issues, with advice on how to ensure it does not happen to you.

Failure to use an appropriate mechanical mixer

Over the many years of operating in the flooring industry, we have seen many inexperienced applicators using the wrong mixing devices to mix the resin and activator. Some applicators think that shaking the bucket or mixing with a stick is good enough. 

While this might be possible when dealing with very small quantities, it’s likely to lead to an uneven mix in bigger batches. Epoxy and polyurethane resins require vigorous mixing to ensure that the resin and activator components have made very good contact with one another and for a specified mixing time.  

If you are mixing a full-sized kit of polyurethane or epoxy flooring solutions, using a proper mechanical mixing device is critical. If you need the appropriate equipment, it is best to call a professional or rent the appropriate equipment to ensure that the mixing is done properly. Shortcuts will always lead to a costly mess.

Using a household drill and paint paddle attachment is not sufficient, as the torque is too low and the speed too high. Rather, a low-speed, high-torque device with a helical mixing blade is recommended, such as a mortar or power mixer.

Not following manufacturer mixing specifications

Running out of mixed material before finishing the entire floor is a common issue for resinous floor installers. Instead of mixing an entirely new kit, they often mix partial quantities to scale down the quantity and minimise wastage. Often this practice leads to a different result versus the rest of the floor. 

However, the issue appears when it is not fully understood how the mixtures components are meant to be distributed following the manufacturer’s instructions. Commonly, applicators misconstrue weight for volume and then mix their ratios accordingly. The result is messy since weight and volume are different, so the ratios are wrong.

Generally, if partial quantity mixing is carried out on an ad-hoc basis on-site, the likelihood is that you will get a mix that is measured by volume and not by weight which can lead to the correct component ratios being incorrect.

The proportions given by the resin manufacturer of the base resin versus the hardener/activator are exact, and there is little room for error if deviated from the correct quantities. Products such as polyurethane and epoxy flooring solutions do not operate the same way as cement or plaster might, with room for error in the quantities of water added.  

Therefore, before beginning the job, applicators are strongly advised to pay close attention to and adhere to the information on the technical data sheet. Any deviation could lead to an improperly cured flooring solution. 

Confusing weight with volume

As mentioned, one of the most common errors made by applicators on-site is failing to measure the contents by the appropriate metric. 

This happens when applicators make the careless mistake of assuming that volume is equal to weight. If they measure their proportions this way, they will find that the flooring solution doesn’t cure or perform correctly. 

It is a false assumption to believe that volume ratios are the same as weight ratios. For example, imagine two metal balls of the same size, one of lead and one of aluminium. Their volume is identical, but their weight is different, as lead is far denser and thus heavier than aluminium. If you were to reverse this by having each ball weigh the same, their sizes (or volumes) would be completely different. The lead ball would be much smaller than the aluminium ball, but their weight would be equal.

Much like the above example, activators/hardeners have different densities to the resin components, so mixing the components using a weight-based ratio will significantly differ from mixing them using a volume-based ratio. 

If applicators make this mistake and too much hardener/activator is put into the mix, the result will be a flooring solution riddled by amine blushing and an oily residue. Alternatively, having too little hardener/activator in the resin will result in a sticky or tacky surface that doesn’t cure any more no matter how much time is waited.

Using expired products

The expiration date listed on the epoxy or polyurethane systems is there for a reason. If they are past their shelf life, the pigments and fillers tend to sink to the bottom and coagulate, leading to what is known in the industry as hardcake, which forms at the bottom of the tub.

To fix this, one must thoroughly heat and remix the system before adding the additional components. If this isn’t done, you will end up with a product that is not properly mixed or an unsightly result with bits of solids suspended in the floor.

This issue can be resolved by ensuring that the product is returned to the manufacturer to be remixed using the right kind of high-speed mixing device. When mixed at high speed, the product will inherently heat up, so it should be allowed to cool to room temperature before use.

Mixing different product components

Mixing components from various products is a common error applicators make when installing resinous flooring. For example, they might apply the hardener/activator meant for epoxy to the resin base of a primer.

The solution to this problem is to pay careful attention to the clearly marked labels on the packaging. It is essential that the manufacturer’s specifications be followed, and the correct components are used with their respective counterparts. If the incorrect components are mixed together there may be a number of things that occur, either it still cures but under performs or it doesn’t cure at all leaving a wet, sticky mess. 

The best way to avoid these mistakes is to ensure the application team as well as the project site is well-organised. All supplies should be properly stored and packed with components paired together for easy reference.

Moreover, proper planning for how the flooring will be coated, primed and top coated should also play a key part in ensuring that the correct components are mixed. We have found that lining the right components up in a straight line along the wall, in the order in which they are meant to be used, is the simplest way of ensuring that mistakes are avoided. 

A person in charge of mixing the product should be appointed to manage the product packing on-site so that they know where everything is and can efficiently and quickly identify the right materials. This will ensure that workers can be supplied promptly and efficiently with correctly mixed and high quality. As we say often, the mixing person is the most important man on site.

If you want high-quality flooring systems formulated to suit your unique operational needs, contact us at Technical Finishes today. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, we can help ensure that your new floors meet your expectations!

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