Epoxy flooring takes approximately 7 days to completely dry, however after about 24 -72 hrs the floor is safe for light foot traffic. If the temperature is 77° F or warmer, 24 hours is fine, If the temperature is lower, you will have to wait 36-48 hours.
After about 48hrs, heavy foot traffic is permissible. In cooler areas, wait for three to four days. At this time, light vehicle traffic is allowed.
Before installation of epoxy coatings, you should have factors like temperature, humidity, ventilation, etc. For example, the best time to install epoxy is during the summer because it’s hot and humid. This enables a shorter period taken to dry.
How to Speed up Epoxy Curing Time
If you cannot create very well-ventilated, high humidity and temperature conditions, you can use fast-drying epoxy. However, it is expensive and requires highly skilled manpower just to get it right.
Failure in following the right procedures may lead to floor failures and vulnerability when exposed to heavy traffic.
Another key point to note is the thickness required during application. If it is too thick, epoxy produces a very high heat reaction which does not cure properly and has cracks underneath.
Also, if the epoxy is too thin, it will not produce enough heat to allow the floor to cure. The recommended thickness is about ½ inch and not more than 1 inch. Preferably, do not go way over 1/8 inches.
When the epoxy is curing, the chemical reaction produces enough heat to burn your fingers, thicker layers will even be hot enough to melt a plastic cup. Therefore, do not use plastic mixing containers in concealed spaces because the fumes produced might harm your health.
Stages of Epoxy Cure
This is the state that Epoxy is in at the time of installation. This is the mixing stage when the resin and the hardener are properly combined and in a workable state. It is also known as Epoxy’s Open time or working time.
This is the initial phase of curing just right after application, and the chemical reaction has just started. At this stage it is tacky (Almost rubber-like state) and is no longer in a workable state, however, it can be dented by a sharp object.
This stage is also known as the green state.
At this stage, the Chemical reaction has completely occurred, and the mixture is cured to a hard solid state that can be sanded. This is somewhere between 3 days to 7 days. At this stage, even denting with a sharp object will be impossible.
The floor is 90% of its ultimate strength, and the day-to-day activities can resume at this point. It can take heavy foot traffic to light vehicle traffic.
The safest time you can walk over epoxy after installation is after 24 hours; however, for heavy traffic, it is after 72 hours. This time frame will, however, be determined by factors like the thickness of the Epoxy, ventilation, temperature, and humidity.
The more ventilated, the higher the temperatures and humidity, and the quicker Epoxy Cures