Epoxy flooring has long been a popular choice for industrial and commercial settings for its durability, long lifespan, hygiene, and attractiveness. It is now growing in popularity for residential premises as well as a high-performance floor coating that is fully customisable. Whether you are choosing an epoxy coating for your home or business, one of the first questions you might have is how long it will take to dry. The following article includes tips from the UK renowned Epoxy Gang who specialise in epoxy flooring for homes and commercial properties.

What is epoxy flooring?

An epoxy floor coating uses synthetic resin mixed with hardeners. The self levelling mixture is poured onto a concrete substrate and left to cure. Once the curing process is complete, the result is a resilient surface with a very smooth and durable coating. This is due to the chemical reaction between the resin and the hardeners which creates a cross-link polymer that adheres strongly to the substrate below while also creating a strong yet flexible surface material.

How long does epoxy flooring take to cure?

The epoxy curing process is an important step in ensuring that the floor coating performs as well as it should. And this does take time. The exact length of time it will take will depend on a variety of factors but for it to fully cure, you should expect to wait at least a week.

Difference between drying and curing

The drying process is somewhat separate from the curing process when it comes to epoxy coatings. This is partially due to the required thickness of the resin and partially to do with the chemical reaction that is taking place.

The surface of epoxy floors will be touch dry far sooner than the layers underneath have fully cured.

How long does epoxy take to dry?

The surface of an epoxy floor will usually be dry to the touch after 12-24 hours. It isn’t fully cured at this point because the resin underneath will still be wet and going through the curing process.

How long does epoxy take to cure?

The window for full curing is fairly wide. It can be affected by environmental factors as well as differences in the epoxy flooring used.

As a rule of thumb, it usually takes around a week for epoxy flooring to fully cure. In some cases, the curing will be complete in 3-4 days but in other cases, it could be up to 10 days. On average, however, it takes about 7 days.

When can I walk on my epoxy flooring?

Perhaps more important than the drying or curing time itself is the question of when epoxy floors can be used.

24 hours

After 24 hours, you can walk on your epoxy flooring to, for example, retrieve something from the room. You shouldn’t open up the room for full use at this point, however.

3-4 days

After 3-4 days, you can open up the room to light foot traffic on your new epoxy floor. You should not, however, start arranging furniture or using vehicles (if you have applied garage floor epoxy).

7-10 days

After 7-10 days, you can assume that the epoxy curing time is complete and your new floor can be put to full use. This includes heavy foot traffic, vehicle traffic, furniture arranging, heavy machinery and equipment arranging.

What factors affect the epoxy cure time?

You will notice that the times for curing epoxy are all estimates and this is because the curing process is greatly affected by a variety of factors. Not all epoxy coatings will cure at the same rate so it is often better to err on the side of caution and wait just a little longer to be sure that it has cured.

Ambient temperature and substrate temperature

The higher the ambient temperature and substrate temperature, the quicker the curing time. This can be a balancing act, however. You don’t want the epoxy curing time to be too fast. If the epoxy coating cures too quickly, it won’t adhere to the concrete substrate fully and can start to lift.

If the temperature is too low, then the epoxy resin may take too long to cure and can end up brittle. A temperature of between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius is ideal to apply epoxy resin in terms of curing time.

The thickness of the epoxy resin

The thickness of an epoxy floor is a decision based on the type of use it will typically have.

  • Light foot traffic/occasional use of equipment such as forklifts – a thickness of less than 1mm is often sufficient
  • Medium foot traffic/regular use of forklifts – a thickness of 2-4 mm is required
  • Heavy foot traffic/vehicle use – a thickness of at least 4-6mm will be needed

Thicker epoxy floors are usually created using several thin layers, each of which needs to dry before applying the next coat (around 2 hours before each coating). Once all of the layers have been applied, then they all need to be cured.

The thicker the epoxy floor coating, the longer the cure time. If you have a thick epoxy floor, you will be looking at the upper end of the estimate. A thinner one might be closer to the lower end.

The humidity

The higher the humidity levels, the longer epoxy will take to cure. This is because the moisture in the air reduces the speed at which the solvents in the epoxy are evaporated.

The use of additives

In certain situations, the epoxy cure time needs to be quicker than average. This could be when the epoxy floor is being laid in a cold environment where the temperature can’t be raised (e.g. a fridge) or it could be in a situation where the business has to stay open.

In these cases, additives can be used that lower the epoxy cure time. A lot of skill is needed when installing this type of floor because the epoxy application process will need to be both fast and perfect.

The bottom line

The curing time of epoxy floors can vary depending on the thickness of the flooring, the temperature, humidity, and the additions to the resin. As a rule of thumb, an epoxy floor is usually ready for full use after 7 days. If the floor is being installed in a cold environment in the middle of winter, waiting 10 days just to be sure can be sensible.

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