Flake Floors get their name by broadcasting vinyl flake into a wet coating. In most cases, you would have a 100% coverage like in the photo above. This is done by applying more flake than can be adhered, removing the excess after it dries, scraping it down flat with a scraper and removing everything that is loose prior to top coating with a clear coat. Flake Floors are often used in garage floors because they provide excellent coverage and durability by adding a solid inner layer. The flake will hide repaired previous damage as well. And lastly, it should provide some level of texture for traction. A smooth or slick floor, regardless of material, can be slippery, especially when wet. We have 2 solutions to help create a non-slippery surface which we'll address below.
There are several methods to create a flake floor and there are pros and cons of each. There are 3 main coating materials to coat concrete -- epoxy, polyurea and polyaspartic. Many believe epoxy is the preferred base because it takes 8+ hours to cure and has longer time to seep into the pores of the concrete before drying. Polyurea and Polyaspartic are similar in chemical structure and both will start to set up in as early as 2 hours. Polyurea is 100% solids, meaning it's a little thicker viscosity and has no solvents. Polyurea must also be pigmented by the manufacturer. Polyaspartic is a type of polyurea, but does have solvents, typically 85% solids and 15% solvents, which allows it to be more viscous and penetrate the slab better. Some manufacturers would even allow for solvents to be added into the base coat to get the mixture to 67% solids and 33% solvents. The purpose of this is to extend the set up time, allowing more time to penetrate the slab and get better adhesion. Companies that use Polyurea for the base coat are typically 1 day install companies that need it to set up fast so they can finish the job.
One of the potential issues in applying base coats is outgassing of the slab. Most every coating will develop a pinhole or bubble in the first coat. This is caused by air trapped in the concrete slab that tries to escape through that first coat. If Epoxy or Polyurea is used for the base coat, many manufacturers will recommend an optional Moisture Vapor Barrier (MVB) coating to seal the concrete before the primary coating is installed. It also helps with fighting possible hydraulic water pressure in the slab. Polyaspartic can act as its own primer coat, or MVB, if it is reduced.
We do not recommend flaking into that base coat although many companies do. Basically, if there is outgassing and pinholes develop, and it will and they do, the installer can fill in the holes before flaking into the 2nd coat. If flakes are added to the 1st coat, the pinholes are never identified or filled.
After the flake has been scrapped and all of the loose flake removed, it should be top coated with a clear coat. We do NOT recommend epoxy for the top coat as it has several negative characteristics -- (1) it will fade or amber due to sunlight because it is not UV stable, (2) it will peel up off the floor from tires being parked on it in the summertime. This phenomena is call "hot tire pickup". Generally when epoxy floors fail, it starts where the cars are parked due to this phenomenon, and (3) epoxy is more likely to scratch compared to polyaspartic or urethane. Epoxy is fine for a base coat although it will add to the return-to-service time before you can park on it.
Most companies that promote an "Epoxy Flake Floor" is using epoxy for the base coat, putting the flake into that first coat, and then using polyaspartic on the top coat. Most companies skip the primer coat, or the MVB coat, mostly due to dry times and cost.
There are many 1 day garage floor companies that use polyurea base coat, again no MVB or primer coat, flaking directly into the first coat and then top coating with polyaspartic.
We apply 2 methods -- (a) epoxy base coat or MVB coat and let it dry. Apply polyaspartic for a 2nd coat and flake into that after inspecting the first coat for pinholes or other possible less than perfect areas. Scrape and vacuum and then apply a top coat (total of 3 coats) of polyaspartic. Epoxy does require it to be above 55 degrees. Alternatively, we could do (b) a base coat of polyaspartic and then finish the same as (a) for a total of 3 coats. The benefit here is that it will dry faster and you can walk on it the next morning and drive on it in 48 hours. It can also be applied in lower temperatures. We could apply polyurea, but only with a MVB primer coat first, which most don't want to do and we opt to use the diluted polyaspartic coat for the MVB coat.
With all of these materials and coatings, probably the most important thing is prepping the concrete. We'll address this on a separate page, but we grind the surface to open up the concrete pores. In most cases, we would follow the grinding operation with a shot blaster. The primary function of the shot blaster is to remove the dust in the concrete pores (much better than vacuuming) and to profile the concrete for better adhesion.