Epoxy is an excellent choice for your basement floor and a significant upgrade from concrete floor paint or stain. It provides a tough, seamless finish, resists water penetration from below, and is impervious to spills. It can take the weight of vehicles, so exercise equipment and furniture are not a problem.
Epoxy is an easy-to-use product for most DIY types. It’s non-flammable and adheres well to concrete. But, unfortunately, it is not perfect. Here are the pros and cons of epoxy basement floor coatings.
The Pros of Epoxy Floor Coatings
Epoxy floor coatings are one of the easiest types of finishes to install. Plus, they last a long time–some products for over 20 years.
Epoxy is also very cost-effective. Material cost for a DIY project averages between $3.00 and $5.00 per square foot. The national average of material and labor costs to have professional installers do the job is between $3.00 and $7.00 per square foot.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the pros of using epoxy on a basement floor.
Keeps Moisture Out
Basements are often damp and humid. In part because moisture can seep up through the floor. Epoxy creates a hard, impenetrable coating over the floor to block moisture.
Note: Epoxy does not solve all of your moisture problems. Water can still come in through the walls and window frames.
Epoxy will not chip or crack. It resists scratching–making moving furniture easier. Epoxy coating in residential basements can last over 20 years.
Note: If the floor begins to show wear, you can bring it back by adding another coat of epoxy.
Who knew that mold spores had roots? Epoxy coatings are 100% non-porous, making them mold-free. Mold can grow under rugs and on furniture if it gets damp. It will not adhere to the epoxy.
Easy to Clean
Epoxy resists liquid spills–including chemicals and rarely stains. Scuffs and skid marks come off with mild detergent and water. Occasional sweeping and/or vacuuming keeps this low-maintenance floor covering clean.
Although liquid epoxy produces vile fumes, once it dries and hardens, the California Department of Health Services declares it “almost non-toxic.” You will never have to dispose of epoxy coating. So, unlike other flooring products, no epoxy will ever get to a landfill–except for the containers.
Only solid epoxy requires professional application. Applying either of the other two products is a simple DIY project. Fill the holes and cracks with hydraulic cement or caulking, acid-etch or machine-etch the concrete for greater adherence, clean the floor, and apply epoxy.
Other Pros of Epoxy Floors
- Ideal for concrete floors with in-floor heating.
- Great looking finish. Multiple color options.
- Withstands extreme temperatures–up to 200 degrees F.
The Cons of Epoxy Floor Coatings
Even products as good as epoxy floor coatings have a few problems. You should consider everything when making a significant decision, like flooring.
Lots of Preparation
Preparing your concrete floor for epoxy application can be time-consuming. You must start by removing all lumps and bumps, filling large holes and cracks with hydraulic cement and smaller cracks with caulking. (Not silicone caulking.) You must remove all furniture and rugs and etch the concrete for better adherence.
And since epoxy does not stick to moist surfaces, you must dry out the basement. You should not apply it in extremely cold or humid weather conditions. The epoxy might not adhere or dry properly if applied in adverse conditions. The following YouTube video provides a concise explanation of the preparation and application process.
72-Hour Curing Time
Plan not to use your basement for at least 72 hours after applying the epoxy. That is the average length of time for the product to cure. It may appear dry to the touch before that, but putting down rugs and moving in furniture could cause imperfections.
Epoxy Emits Toxic Fumes
Epoxy emits toxic fumes while wet and curing. Wear a respirator during the application process, get everyone out of the house, open all the windows, and turn off the HVAC system to keep from spreading the fumes throughout the house.
The fumes are not only vile but could be toxic. Anyone with asthma should stay away while the product cures.
Slick When Wet
You want epoxy’s waterproof qualities to keep moisture out of the basement. But because it is non-absorbent, any little bit of liquid spilled on it makes epoxy very slippery and dangerous for everyone and a high risk for the elderly, kids, and pets.
Types of Basement Floor Epoxy
All three types of basement floor epoxies provide excellent sealing and protection to your concrete.
Water-based epoxy–like latex paint– is the most straightforward product. It also makes for the easiest water cleanup. It contains 40% – 60% solids but has no or little hazardous solvent fumes. It provides excellent adhesion to concrete and metal with high resistance to water and chemicals.
Water-based epoxy dries to a gloss finish and has a large range of pre-tinted color options and metallic coatings, including colored flakes that create a speckled pattern. Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.
Note: Water-based epoxy does not require mixing. Just pour it out of the container and spread.
Solvent-based epoxy also contains 40% – 60% solids and has been the “go-to” floor epoxy product for years. It adheres very well to concrete and is available in many colors. Besides providing better durability and performance than Water-Based epoxy, it is more tolerant of petroleum-contaminated concrete.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) contained in this product mean you need to get everyone out of the house–including pets, open the windows, and wear a respirator when applying it. The VOC problem and regulations are reducing the use of solvent-based epoxy.
Solid epoxy does not contain solvents or water to off-gas or evaporate during curing. It is the most expensive option and should be applied by professional installers. The product begins hardening in the pail within 30 minutes, so it is mixed in small batches and applied with a trowel.
Properly installed, solid epoxy lasts over 20 years. Although drying times vary by product, solid epoxy takes hours to dry compared to days for solvent-based and water-based epoxies. It is available in multiple colors and finishes.