January 2015 Job of the Month:
This room had been set aside for one member of the household. As he put it, he wanted to use it as a "man cave." His wife would have full reign of the rest of the house, but this room was for him. The wife in question rolled her eyes but didn't object. We were happy to oblige.
For this project, instead of decorative concrete, we used epoxy to create metallic epoxy flooring, where metallic pigments are mixed into a semi-translucent layer. This creates a three-dimensional effect, since the layer appears to be “suspended” over the floor. The surface is smooth, reflective and imitates the appearance of glass, while the metallic pigments within the layer create floating craters, rippling rivers and swirling plasma. These sorts of variegated effects aren’t possible with flooring materials like stone and marble.
With around twenty metallic pigments available, which can be mixed with hundreds of opaque colors, each metallic epoxy floor is unique. The result can be elegant, stylish or bizarre, depending on the desired effect. Metallic epoxy flooring can also create a seamless floor molded to fit the dimensions of any room.
For step one of this project, we removed the tile visible in the first photograph. In step two, we used various tools, including the equipment visible in the second photograph, to clean and grind the exposed concrete floor. This process removed stains, adhesive and blemishes from the concrete.
For step three, we laid down a vapor barrier over the concrete. The final metallic epoxy flooring layer would be impermeable. Moisture can rise up through the concrete layer. This is normal, but the moisture can then become trapped between the concrete layer and the metallic epoxy flooring layers, and the trapped moisture can pop off the metallic epoxy. To avoid this sort of damage, we applied the vapor barrier, which is made of a type of epoxy. While the barrier doesn’t stop water, it does seal vapor and moisture below the surface. The third photograph shows the original concrete layer with the transparent vapor barrier on top of it. The barrier is insurance and is not always necessary; however, the material is inexpensive, and it can be a good idea to include it.
In step four, we laid down an opaque color epoxy layer. The color epoxy layer acts like paint primer; it hides the concrete layer and vapor barrier and creates a flat surface and uniform color. It is available in colors including beige, yellow, blue and gray. The homeowners asked us to tint the color epoxy a gray color, and the result is visible in the fourth photograph.
The final epoxy layer in this metallic epoxy flooring project is the semi-translucent epoxy that contains the metallic pigment. We spread this mixture on top of the color epoxy layer. Tools like a squeegee help to spread the coat evenly over the surface, while a roller can swirl the metallic pigments into pleasing abstract patterns. The pigments create a lot of high-gloss areas and iridescent colorations, but over time, these areas level out. The metallic epoxy layer can be laid down at any time after the color epoxy layer is applied. However, if we wait a long time, we must use a sander to create an abrasive surface in the color epoxy layer. This helps the final metallic epoxy layer adhere to the color epoxy layer. If the metallic epoxy layer is applied within a certain window of time after the color epoxy dries, a sander isn’t necessary.
We had one more step to complete in this project. The homeowners were involved with a bulldog rescue, so bulldogs were a constant presence in the house. Metallic epoxy flooring can be pretty durable, but to strengthen it, we laid down a wax sealer. Even if bulldogs aren’t an issue, a sealer can protect any metallic epoxy flooring from damage from scratches and stains.
The final two photographs show the finished floor, where silver-black swirls and variegated effects seem to float above a solid-gray surface. By using different colors in the color epoxy layer and the final metallic epoxy layer, we created a “two-tone effect.” Another option would have been a "same color effect," achieved by using the same color in both layers. The upper metallic epoxy flooring layer would still have swirls and eddies. The two-tone effect we used at this particular home looked great, and the homeowners were happy with the results.