As a homeowner, there’s nothing more exciting than remodeling your home! You can choose new cabinets for the kitchen, remove walls to open spaces, and add new flooring. Though you might want beautiful flooring, you also need one that is safe. Not just safe for walking and going about your daily routine, but also safe for breathing around on a regular basis and safe for your family and guests.
Epoxy flooring is the perfect option for beauty, style, and safety. Epoxy isn’t just a durable flooring option that works well for water spills, harsh weather conditions, and traction. It’s an amazing flooring material that is safe for you and your home; we’ll explain why here!
What is Epoxy Flooring Made Of?
Epoxy flooring solutions, including coatings, are made up of part epoxy resins and part hardeners. These are miscible substances used to create the epoxy flooring and coating systems. When epoxy resins are broken down, they are made up of prepolymers and polymers. Epoxy resins can also be called polyepoxides, which are epoxide groups that are uncured.
The hardener is the curing agent that chemically reacts with the epoxy resins to solidify, forming the epoxy flooring. These hardeners can be made from amidoamine, anhydride, polyamide-based chemicals used to solidify the epoxy flooring.
Because the epoxy curing process solidifies based on the thermosetting, the room intended for the epoxy flooring should be kept between 72° Fahrenheit and 85° Fahrenheit for the curing process. It takes a warmer environment for the epoxy flooring to cure based on the chemical compounds and the reaction between the resins and hardener of choice. After the epoxy has been cured, it can withstand temperatures of below 0° Fahrenheit and over 140° Fahrenheit.
Even by themselves, these chemicals are known as being non-toxic with the exception of high quantities.
Epoxy solutions can pose risks through the following points of contact:
- Orally (via the mouth)
- Inhalation (breathing in the epoxy vapors and dust)
- Through the skin (dermal contact with the uncured epoxy resins and/or hardener)
As a safety precaution, it’s best to equip yourself with the proper gear when working with or around uncured epoxy solutions. Your hands, wrists, arms, legs, and mouth should be covered at all times when working with epoxy. When the solution is in the curing stage, it’s best to cover your mouth or wear a face mask so as to protect yourself from the vapors and dust. If your skin gets in contact with uncured epoxy, use soap and water to wash it off immediately.
Are Epoxy Floors Toxic?
Your health and safety should always come first, which is why epoxy flooring systems are such an amazing option for your home!
Before the curing process, pure epoxy resins are considered non-toxic at low-levels. However, just like other chemicals, you wouldn’t want to be bathing in or consuming epoxy resins. Do yourself a favor and wear protection and wash off the epoxy resins if they come in contact with your skin. There is a possibility of an allergic reaction with uncured epoxy resins, so it’s best to not take any chances.
Breathing epoxy fumes can affect the respiratory system. Typical symptoms of respiratory harm include inflammation of the nose, throat, and lungs, causing irritation. High amounts of exposure to epoxy fumes before and during the curing process can lead to sensitization and asthma. Breathing epoxy dust that accumulates during the curing process should be avoided as these particles can become trapped in the body’s mucus and can lead to serious health problems. We recommend never inhaling epoxy dust.
It takes an epoxy flooring system an average of 24-72 hours to cure and officially solidify. Once the epoxy flooring system has solidified, clean it thoroughly to remove the dust and other particles that you may not visually notice. The first cleaning is the most important, so make sure to take your time with it.
After the curing process, epoxy flooring systems are no longer considered toxic. Completely air out the space with the epoxy flooring before taking a deep breath and looking at your new flooring with satisfaction.
Is Epoxy Coating Safe?
There is a slight difference between epoxy flooring and epoxy coating systems. An epoxy coating is a thinner layer of epoxy while an epoxy flooring system is a thicker layer or layers of an epoxy solution.
The same process for the epoxy solution is used for epoxy coatings as well as epoxy flooring systems. The coating is very safe when properly applied to the floor or other surfaces. The same risks apply for the coating as the flooring system, so ventilate the room well and wait for the curing process to finish.
Is Epoxy Flooring Cancerous?
Some solvents and diluents found in epoxy resins have been known to be cancerous. These contaminants have either been removed or are used in tiny, unharmful amounts from newer epoxy solutions since their discovery of being carcinogenic. Contaminants that used to be used in epoxy flooring solutions that have been known to be carcinogenic include epichlorohydrin and diamino diphenyl sulfone (DDS). Again, these are no longer used in large quantity with the epoxy systems of today.
We at Epoxy Colorado ensure that our epoxy flooring solutions never contain harmful amounts of these curing agents. Safety is our main concern and we only deliver the best epoxy flooring systems with the safest materials.
What are the Risks of Handling Epoxy Resins and Hardeners?
We already touched base on this in a previous section, but you should be fully aware of any and all risks that come with handling epoxy resins and hardeners if you’re planning on doing DIY epoxy flooring or coating.
As stated, do not breath, ingest, or directly touch epoxy resins with your skin before the epoxy system has been cured. Doing so can lead to an allergic reaction or can seriously injure your body and health. Risks of handling pure and uncured epoxy resins and hardeners include (but aren’t limited to):
- Contact dermatitis (skin inflammation)
- Allergic dermatitis (sensitization, asthma)
- Chemical burns (skin burns)
- Severe irritation (skin irritation, respiratory system irritation)
Consult a physician if you have eye irritation from the epoxy resins or hardeners. If the epoxy resins or hardeners make contact with your eyes, wash with clean, clear water for 10-15 minutes.
It’s best to hire a professional epoxy flooring contractor rather than installing the flooring yourself. Epoxy flooring contractors are trained with the best safety and installation practices for all epoxy flooring systems. They come equipped with the right tools, clothing, and experience. Consider hiring a contractor before making the decision to make the flooring installation yourself.