As Melbourne’s premier concrete specialists, epoxy is one of our favourite materials to work with. Stylish and versatile as it is durable and long lasting, it makes for an excellent finish in practically any setting, from a cozy living room to a stylish showroom.
But, can you epoxy a wooden floor? Absolutely. A clear epoxy coating is a great way to protect hardwood floors, or to cover up old wood floors to make them more practical (for example, think of a new epoxy flooring for your shed.)
There’s a catch. A moisture and air-filled wood surface makes the epoxy coating application extremely tricky. It can be done, but it requires meticulous attention to detail, so it’s best handled by a professional.
In this guide, we’ll explain the benefits and risks of an epoxy wood floor coating, and we’ll also run you through the exacting process of installing one. You’ll see that unless you’re an experienced DIYer, protecting your hardwood floors is probably a job best left to the experts.
Installing epoxy flooring happens to be one of Policrete’s specialties. While concrete is our material of choice, our specialists will happily help you discover solutions for protecting wood floors.
The 5 benefits of sealing wood floors with epoxy
As we mentioned, the benefits of epoxy floors boil down to style, durability and versatility. But let’s get a little more specific — how can wooden floors benefit from being covered by epoxy? Here are five ways.
1. Epoxy protects wood floors
If you’ve got beautiful hardwood floors in your office or your home’s patio, epoxy can protect them from getting chipped, cracked or split by heavy foot traffic or the scraping feet of patio chairs and tables.
2. Epoxy protects wood from chemicals and staining
Wood floors are a great way to add a little class to a commercial establishment, like a showroom or restaurant. However, commercial spaces require commercial cleaning, and hardcore solvents and bleaches can ruin the wood. Epoxy, however, is chemically impervious, so you can keep your floors spotlessly clean without worrying about bleaching.
3. Epoxy sealing makes wood floors food safe
You may have wooden kitchen floors if your home’s got an open floor plan, and if you run a restaurant, you’ve seen your fair share of dropped plates and spilled drinks. Residential epoxy coatings are stainproof and waterproof, and can protect expensive wood floors from food and drink spillage.
4. Epoxy can preserve your stylish wood — or improve it
If you want to maintain your space’s beautiful wood floors, then let us install a discreet, clear epoxy coating. However, if you want a new look entirely, then we could offer a flaked, coloured or metallic epoxy floor coating; we have an awesome range of decorative epoxy finishes for you to choose from.
5. Epoxy is easy to maintain
With its chemically impervious, waterproof and perfectly smooth surface, epoxy is a dream to clean. With a quick sweep and mop, you’ll be free of all dust and dirt without ever having to worry about stains, mould or mildew.
The risks of sealing wood floors with epoxy
The risks of coating your wooden floors in epoxy don’t arise from the material itself, but from poor installation. Laying epoxy is a delicate and precise process, and the installer must adapt the process to account for the details of the space, including its temperature, moisture levels and airflow.
Failure to account for these any other factors will result in a weakened epoxy coating and potentially in long-term damage to the wooden floors beneath.
One of the risks of pouring epoxy over wood is the air and moisture trapped beneath, between and within the wooden planks. If the wood isn’t properly prepared, the escaping air will cause streaks, bubbles and blisters on the surface of the epoxy. The moisture can do the same and may even affect the composition of the epoxy resin.
Read more: if you’d like to learn more, feel free to read about how to install epoxy flooring.
The basics of installing an epoxy floor coating over wood
When we say ‘the basics’, we mean it — this is not a how-to guide. Laying epoxy is an adaptive process because every site is unique. That’s why it takes a professional. To give you an idea of what the process entails, let’s look at some of the basic steps involved.
Preparing the wood
We must ensure that your wooden floors are perfectly flat and level, meaning there are no high points, low points or gradients. Preparation could involve a number of steps, such as sanding back areas of the floor or drilling down or removing extruding nails and screws.
Once all of that’s done, the floor needs to be thoroughly cleaned to remove any dust and debris. The cleaning must be done carefully so as not to introduce excess moisture or air to the wood.
Sealing the wooden floor
Now, the wood must be perfectly sealed with epoxy crack filler. We’ll have to fill every nail and screw hole and every crack, scrape and chip, as well as the gaps between the floorboards. This process is extremely time intensive as it is, but it can be further complicated if you want a clear epoxy coat, as we’ll have to ensure the wood is sealed yet attractive.
Priming the wood
Concrete can be primed for an epoxy floor by grinding it, but wood needs a different process — it needs to be painted with primer. We’ll use our experience to decide what kind of primer is best.
If your floors are made of flexible plywood, we’ll have to apply flexible epoxy primer, which can gently warp with the wood without cracking it.
We’ll then apply a second coat of primer, the chemical makeup of which will depend on your site. In tightly enclosed spaces or sites with high hygiene standards, we’ll apply waterborne epoxy primer. Water-based primers are low in volatile organic compounds, so don’t introduce hazardous chemicals into the air during installation. The downside of water-based primers is that they’re also a little weaker than their solvent-based counterparts. For stronger protection, we could use a solvent-based primer that’s far harder but requires more time for curing.
Finally, applying the epoxy wood coating
Mixing epoxy resin requires extreme precision. While you can buy off-the-shelf epoxy that comes with detailed mixing instructions, the industrial-grade epoxy we use requires a more deft hand, especially if it needs additives and dyes mixed in to get the unique finish you’re after.
Once the resin is mixed, we can get to the actual installation. Looking at a picture of the process, you might think laying epoxy looks no more difficult than painting a wall. The similarities are purely superficial — epoxy is far more dangerous. Not only can wet epoxy let off noxious fumes, but the chemical reaction taking place can burn you if you’re not careful.
Now that the epoxy’s cured, you could decide to add an additional finish, such as an anti-slip protective urethane top coat. That’s a whole process in itself.
Policrete’s experts know how to mix epoxy correctly, install it safely, and get the exact finish you’re looking for — and all on the first go.