Normally, Epoxy flooring takes around Seven days to fully dry and obtain full strength. To speed up the curing process, heat can be used at no more than 10C. However, it is hard to walk on after 12 hours of installation. After like a day or two, it can be used for light traffic.
The time taken to dry will be different in different areas depending on several factors:
- Sunlight and Temperature
- Not using the correct Mix ratio
- Humidity and Moisture
- The thickness of the floor
Sunlight and Temperature:
If you apply epoxy while it’s so warm, it will take longer to dry. However, you can manipulate its curing time by adjusting the temperature rather than the heat around the room. Adding more heat will take a shorter time to dry or slow the curing time by making the room cooler.
The best temperature to ensure proper curing of epoxy is not below 70F and not more than 90F. (21C to 32C). For every 15F drop below 70F, the curing time doubles. If the temperature drops to about 50F, The Epoxy becomes too thick to dry.
Not using the correct Mix Ratio:
The correct ratio for epoxy and hardener should be (1:1); however, in many cases, mix ratios of 2:1, 3:1, and 4:1 are also very common. Do not be tempted to add more hardener than needed to speed up the curing process.
Adding more hardener than required may cause the epoxy to be so sticky even to install also, reacting that quickly would also make the cured coating crack.
In addition to that, the mix should be done properly and not by hand. A slow speed and paddle mixer should be used.
Humidity and Moisture:
High humidity makes epoxy sticky, which slows down its curing process. This sticky substance is often confused with lack of a cure, but in a real sense, the moisture slows down evaporation in solvents, making it sticky.
Sometimes, Epoxy might appear totally dry on the surface but may be dry on the inside. It is therefore important to give it the recommended time of 7 days, no less. This inconsistency in drying could either be working in a high humid area or too much moisture tempering with the mixture during preparation.
The thickness of the Floor:
The epoxy floor dries from a reaction between the resin and the hardener. The thicker the floor, the faster the reaction will take to cover the entire floor. If the film is too thin, it won’t build enough heat to dry the floor.
Also, applying Epoxy in a very thick state is dangerous because it will produce more heat than is needed to dry.
This reaction is called exotherm. It should be controlled, especially when mixing epoxy in big commercial batches. The reaction could be very dangerous.
So how is exotherm controlled?
- The epoxy should be poured timed (not too long from batch to batch), in multiple batches. Time should just enough to begin falling the exotherm because you apply the next.
- Working at cooler temperatures, but not too cold such that there’s moisture on the subfloor.
- Where possible, you can make use of a heat sink. Heat sinks are objects that absorb a lot of heat.
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