Decorative Chip Epoxy Coatings: Size Really Does Matter

Posted by Mike Mincemoyer on May 16, 2014 9:30:00 AM

Decrotive Chip Epoxy CoatingsDecorative chip (or flake) floor coatings are the most popular type of coatings for residential garages and commercial floors.   If you live in our service area, you may have seen them in model homes, Parades of Homes entries, Home-A-Rama or Street of Dreams.    In fact, in 10 years, we have installed our chip floors in over 5,000 projects.    No other type of coating we install begins to compare to those project numbers.   So, what makes up a decorative chip floor coating?   Does the size of the chips matter?

What makes up a Decorative Chip Floor Coating?

These floor coatings are normally constructed of a first layer of pigmented coatings (usually epoxy) with a full broadcast of decorative chips in the wet first layer.   Once dry, there may be another layer of coating with chips or it may go directly to a clear, protective coating (which may be epoxy, polyurethane, polyaspartic or polyurea). 

dechipsThe chips themselves are often referred to as Polymer Flakes or Vinyl Color Chips.  They are constructed of a specially formulated paint which works in epoxy, polyaspartic, MMA, urethane, polyurea or even some thicker paints.

The chips themselves are available in 6 standard sizes and blended to enhance the aesthetic qualities of the flooring systems.   While the different colors of chips are blended into hundreds of combinations, it’s often the chip size that most impacts the final look.  Let’s look at why chips size matters.

Does the Size of the Decorative Chips matter?

When it comes to decorative coatings, size really does matter.   The size of the chips used will change many characteristics of the coatings, such as the profile (feel of the floor), contrast, style (retro, modern), ease of cleaning and ability to hide dirt & debris.  

So, let’s take a look at the different sizes, their characteristics and our experience/views.    We will start with the smallest size and work out way up. 

1/32”  Chips

1/32 chip coatingCharacteristics

  • This size creates a faux quartz look (emulates the look of colored quartz commonly used in decorative coatings).
  • Unless looking down, the appearance is often described as “sand like” when viewed out over the floor.
  • Small size of the chips creates very little contrast.
  • With a thin topcoat, 1/32” chips create a rougher profile than other chip sizes

SF Experience/Views

  •        Useful only in very small spaces or vertical work
  •        Often looks “streaky” once the clear layer is applied
  •        This size of chip blend does not hide dirt and debris and requires the most cleaning effort.
  •        NEVER recommended for a garage or high traffic area.  

1/16”  Chips

1/16 chip coatingCharacteristics

  •        This size creates a homogeneous subtlety.
  •        Unless looking down, the appearance is often described as “sand like” when viewed out over the floor.
  •        While better than the 1/32” chips, this size creates little contrast.
  •        With a thin topcoat, 1/32” chips create a rougher profile than other chip sizes

SF Experience/Views

  •        Useful only in small rooms (we recommend it in rooms less than 200 square feet) or where it is beneficial to see items on the floor (examples:  food processing environments, commercial kitchens, bakeries)
  •        May look “streaky” or “wavy” once the clear layer is applied
  •        Highlights all inconsistencies in the profile of the floor (shows the dips and high points)
  •        This size of chip blend does not hide dirt and debris well; requires more cleaning effort than larger sizes.
  •        We do NOT recommend this for residential garages or high traffic areas.

1/8”  Chips

1/8 chip coatingCharacteristics

  •        This size creates a balance between contrast and subtlety.
  •        Works well when utilizing polymer cove base.
  •        With a single topcoat, it normally creates a golf ball profile.

SF Experience/Views

  •        Useful in smaller rooms and garages.
  •        Works very well on porches, patios and sunrooms.
  •        We do NOT recommend this for large (3+ bays) residential garages.

1/4”  Chips

1/4 chip coatingCharacteristics

  •        Provides the look of epoxy terrazzo.
  •        Most popular size worldwide.
  •        Creates good contrast of the colors in the blend.
  •        Creates a smoother final profile than all smaller sizes.

SF Experience/Views

  •        This is the chip size we use most often, especially in residential garages.
  •        Helps to hide the changes in profile with garages and other rooms that are not poured level and flat.
  •        Hides dirt and debris better than all smaller chips sizes.
  •        Help hide scuffs and film build-up.    

 

1/2”  Chips

1/2 chip coatingCharacteristics

  •        High amount of contrast that creates a sophisticated, aged look.
  •        Creates a smooth final profile with only one topcoat.

SF Experience/Views

  • This is the chip size gives a more “retro” look and often comes closest to older, stone terrazzo (the predecessor of modern epoxy terrazzo).
  • Works well in large rooms (800+ square feet).
  • Hides larger debris such as mulch or stones.

 

1”  Chips

1 inch chip coatingCharacteristics

  •        Very high amount of contrast that creates an old school, retro look.
  •        Creates a very smooth final profile with only one topcoat.

SF Experience/Views

  •        At this time, Stronghold Floors has no experience using these very large chips.   

 

Other Chip Options

Besides the standard blends created with different colors of the same size chip, Stronghold Floors has created some unique “hybrid blends” where we mix 3 or more sizes to create floors that are:

  • Unique and non-uniform
  • Very adaptable to odd size rooms, cove base and patios/porches with overhangs
  • Better at hiding dirt and debris due to their random, chaotic look

In 2008, we began using our small hybrid blends (largest chip in the blend being a ¼”). In 2010, we introduced our large hybrids, which contain chips as large as ½” size.   Our large hybrids have been a huge success and used in many homes entered in the Parade of Homes and Home-A-Rama events.

If you wish to learn more, please see our web page on Decorative Chip Floor Coatings or contact us.

 

Mike Mincemoyer is the President of Stronghold Floors and one member of the ownership team.   Mike has been actively involved since the beginning in 2004.   His formal floor coatings background includes training from Rock-Tred, PremierGarage, Crown Polymers, HTC America, SIKA, AmeriPolish, SASE, Metzger McGuire, L&M Chemical Company and FGS/Permashine.    While part of the PremierGarage franchise network, Mike led the coatings side of the Franchise Advisory Council.

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