’Tis the season for snow flurries, lake effect and, of course, the joys of the holidays (with a few blessed days reprieve from the grind). Here at Pro Floor Design, we’re wrapping up an excellent first year – thanks to you – and have been fielding questions on flooring solutions during the winter.
Can you install epoxy floors during cold winter months?
The short answer is yes, if a project absolutely cannot wait, we can successfully install epoxy floor during cold winter months. The long answer is that scheduled construction and outdoor epoxy projects typically slow during the winter. The reasons for these delays are straightforward — snow, cold temperature and low ground temperature affect the chemical reactions of the epoxy mixing and installation processes. So if the project can wait, it should.
Epoxy’s Reaction To Winter
Epoxy resin has a chemically reactive threshold of 55°F; this reaction is called an exothermic reaction. Warmer temperatures accelerate an exothermic reaction, while cold temperatures decelerate exothermic reactions. During a decelerated exothermic reaction, molecule cross-linking and, ultimately, bond strength decreases unless cured for longer times. During this process, epoxy’s optimal properties are compromised ultimately decreasing strength and durability.
Epoxy instantly assumes the temperature of any substance to which it is applied. Therefore, the floor (substrate) temperature is of equal importance to the ambient (air) temperature. The surface and ambient temperature must be higher than 55°F for 100 % solid epoxies to harden with maximized strength, hardness and durability. Any colder and the solution stays soup-like and fails to set risking underperformance, cracking, peeling, and bubbling.
Industry standards for applying epoxy in the winter
We use our extensive experience in flooring to determine the best solution should a project need to go online during Ohio’s frigid winters. One solution is to use an alternative material. For example, polyaspartics, rather than epoxy, allows for installation at temperatures as low as 15°F because they improve chemical and UV resistance and create shorter cure times. The installation of polished concrete flooring systems can also be executed during cold winter months. However, we ensure that ACI standards for cold weather conditions are met when pouring a new slab.
Can I manipulate ambient temperature?
Yes. Here are ways that you can manipulate ambient air temperature to install epoxy floors during cold winter months.
- Propane heaters can heat the ambient air.
- Heat guns or heating blankets can be used to raise the floor temperature.
- Store resins at room temperature 70-78 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours before use.
- Liquids can be placed in a warm water bath to bring their temperature up.
- Pad your project’s timeline to accommodate longer mixing, spreading and curing times.
Humidity and moisture can impact epoxy’s outcome and durability. Humidity and moisture effects epoxy’s strength. Do not apply epoxy in environments with <85 percent humidity; run moisture tests to determine the moisture level. Lay a vapor barrier to seal moisture in the concrete, preventing it from rising to the surface and warping the epoxy.
What epoxy projects can I do over my winter break?
While facilities that can not be easily temperature controlled are not ideal candidates for wintertime epoxy installation, there are a few projects that can be done. For example, your winter break is a great time to spruce up cabinets or countertops or even the living room floor. Homes and small business installations can be successful because they have an increased ability to manipulate ambient air temperature and ensure the substrate is within the ideal temperature ranges. Other projects that are ideal during the winter are redoing a polished concrete floor. If the slab has been previously laid, the polishing process can move forward without much difficulty.
It’s important to understand potential consequences of winterized epoxy projects. These can take longer to complete and cost more. But, if appropriately planned, an expert installation team can mitigate effects of colder temperatures to proceed with winter flooring installations while your facility is empty for the break. Tackling your own project during your holiday break time? We’re happy to offer guidance and education to winterize your installation successfully.