Rubber Flooring Vs Epoxy: A Comparison
It’s time to pick a flooring material. You’re considering an epoxy floor — it’s shiny, and can be designed to your liking. On the other hand you’re looking at rubber floors— cost-effective and incredibly versatile. To help you determine which of the two is right for you, let’s take a detailed look at the intricacies of epoxy and rubber, including their pros and cons, as well as their ideal use cases.
What is Rubber Flooring?
Rubber flooring is flooring that is made of, as the name suggests, rubber. The source of the rubber used to make it varies — it can be natural rubber made from latex, synthetic rubber made from by-products of petroleum, or rubber from recycled products such as car tires.
Due to its hardiness and ease of maintenance, rubber flooring finds its use in many areas such as school playgrounds, gyms, and even commercial industries.
Rubber flooring is available in the market in three main forms: Rubber mats, rubber tiles, and rubber rolls.
Rubber mats – Rubber mats are great for adding extra grip, padding and floor protection in small areas.
Rubber tiles – Rubber tiles have interlocking edges that make them easy to install and remove. Best for areas that don’t require permanent flooring such as home gyms.
Rubber rolls – These are long rolls of rubber that are cut to fit the space being floored. Ideal for large spaces such as big gyms.
Rubber flooring also comes in the form of crumbs, to which glue is added to produce ‘wetpour rubber’. This mixture is then poured onto the target surface, and pressure applied to make it set. Wetpour rubber flooring is ideal when you want to make irregular shapes since it is easily molded.
Where Does Rubber Flooring Fit Best?
Commercial and Home Gyms – The durability and load bearing capacity of rubber flooring allow it to withstand high foot traffic and constant impact that are typical of gyms.
Playgrounds and Sport Venues – These are areas that need flooring that is safe, attractive, easy to clean, and long-lasting. Thick rubber flooring offers these qualities and more, making it an obvious choice among institutions.
Residential areas – Rubber flooring is increasingly being adopted into people’s living spaces. There are good-looking designs on the market that won’t leave your living room looking like the inside of your local gym. Rubber flooring is especially useful in bathrooms — some have raised spots and grooves that provide a strong grip that is essential in preventing slips.
Pet areas – Whether it’s at home or a pet shelter, rubber flooring satisfies two important criteria for a pet base — it’s easy to keep clean and it’s comfortable.
What is Epoxy Flooring?
Epoxy is a thermoset plastic that is formed when two chemical compounds – resin and hardener are combined. The two substances chemically react to form a new hard plastic that bonds strongly to the target substrate.
Epoxy has a wide range of uses when it comes to flooring. An important distinction to note is the difference between epoxy coating and epoxy flooring. Epoxy coating is generally a finish coat that is 2mm thick or less, applied over a base floor. Epoxy flooring is a thicker application of epoxy that is over 2mm thick.
While epoxy is gaining popularity as a residential flooring option, it is widely used in manufacturing units due to its chemically inert nature, durability and ease of maintenance.
A reason for the increased use of epoxy as a lifestyle product is that it allows you to create intricate eye-catching designs without needing to break the bank. Videos of craftsmen and novices alike creating beautiful designs with epoxy are everywhere on the internet, boasting millions of views.
Types of Epoxy Flooring
Self-Leveling Epoxy Floors
This is an epoxy coating that is applied over concrete base floors to create a durable, even, and seamless surface. As the name suggests, this epoxy does not need rollers or levels to spread it evenly across the surface, it does that by itself. This makes it an ideal choice for coating cracked concrete since it won’t produce an uneven layer.
Epoxy Mortar Floors
This is the most hardy variation of epoxy flooring. It is a blend of epoxy and sand or epoxy and sand plus coarse aggregate. Epoxy Mortar systems are highly abrasion-resistant and impact-resistant making the ideal for industrial spaces that carry heavy machinery. This material is also touted as being excellent for repairing damaged concrete slabs. However, novices must be careful with this material, because it sets quite quickly.
Quartz-Filled Epoxy Floors
Quartz epoxy flooring is made of the regular epoxy base, only that a Quartz aggregate is added to it. The benefits of the quartz epoxy flooring are three-fold – it is more durable, it is easy on the eye, and is inherently slip-resistant. This kind of flooring is perfect for consumers looking for flooring that is both elegant and hardy.
Anti-Static Epoxy Floors
Static electricity, in regular environments, is pretty harmless. However, when it is present in places that handle flammable chemicals or electronic components, it becomes a safety hazard. In such areas, special flooring known as anti-static epoxy flooring is recommended. There are two types of anti-static epoxy flooring:
- Electrostatic Dissipative (ESD) Epoxy Floors – With this type, copper strips are laid on the substrate, after which a conductive coating such as carbon black may be applied. Afterwards, the conductive epoxy is poured, creating an anti-static floor. This kind of anti-static epoxy floor has a high resistance of 1 million – 1billion Ohms, meaning it doesn’t dissipate static electricity as fast as the Conductive flooring below.
- Electrostatic Conductive (ESC) Epoxy Floors – This type of anti-static epoxy is similar to the ESD floor, only that in ESC floors, multiple coats of the conductive epoxy are used. Although this makes ESC flooring more expensive, it allows the floor’s resistance to be lowered to about 25,000 – 1 million Ohms, thereby making static electricity dissipate faster.
Epoxy Flake Floors
This kind of epoxy floor employs the use of flakes of different materials such as vinyl inside the epoxy. The multiple color options, ease of installation, and softness make epoxy flake floors a popular choice for garages and offices. Certain kinds of flakes can even produce imitations of other kinds of floors like terrazzo. Also, you have the option of a completely smooth or slightly textured surface for extra anti-slip protection.
Pros and Cons of Epoxy Flooring
|It is economical. |
While other options like polished concrete are cheaper to install, epoxy floors are more cost-effective in the long term.
|Hazardous fumes. |
Epoxy resin produces fumes that are not only irritating to the nose, but can also be toxic. For this reason professionals use protective masks. Individuals with respiratory issues should seeks medical advice before installing epoxy flooring. This is not a permanent problem though, after curing the smell is no longer present.
|Highly customizable. |
Epoxy can be mixed in endless ways to create unique, attractive floor designs.
|Slippery when wet. |
Epoxy floors that are not textured are likely to be slippery when liquids spill on them.
|Long lasting. |
Epoxy flooring lasts many years with proper care.
|Requires specialized installation. |
Installing epoxy requires special equipment such as a stone grinder, spoked rollers and squeegees. Rubber flooring on the other hand calls for just a ruler, a cutter, and sometimes, glue. Also, mistakes are hard to fix once epoxy flooring is installed.
|Damage resistant. |
Due to its chemical resistance and impermeability, epoxy lends itself to use in demanding spaces such as manufacturing units, labs, auto shops, etc.
|Difficult to remove. Due to the immense bonding power of epoxy, it may pose a challenge when you decide it’s time for a change.|
Pros and Cons of Rubber Flooring
|Friendlier to the environment. While epoxy is a purely synthetic product, rubber flooring can be either natural virgin rubber, synthetic, or recycled.||Is not seamless. Rubber flooring, unlike epoxy is not a single seamless flooring unit.|
|Extremely durable. Rubber flooring is extremely tough, which is why it is preferred to other flooring in high-impact areas.||Rubber flooring can be expensive, especially when the area to be covered is large or requires heavy duty flooring.|
|Easy to install. Unlike epoxy, most rubber flooring installations are quick and easy, with no need for industrial tools.|
Is epoxy good for the living room?
Yes, epoxy possesses several properties that make it suitable for a living room. It is water-resistant, microbe-resistant, easy to maintain…the list goes on. However, whether you will enjoy it in your living room depends on your personal preferences. Some people, for example, do not like the shiny nature of epoxy, making it an unsuitable flooring option for them.
Do epoxy floors crack?
Yes. Epoxy once set, becomes a very rigid material. Therefore any stresses or pressure on it causes it to crack. This pressure most often comes from the expansion and contraction of the concrete foundation or from an uneven underfloor.
How long do epoxy floors last?
Epoxy floors in residential areas, when well maintained, can last 10-20 years. Even longer with extra care. For commercial and industrial areas, epoxy floors have a shorter life — about 5-10 years. This is because industrial floors are exposed to high foot traffic, chemical spills, heavy loads, and other extreme conditions.