In the past, gypsum underlayments left building owners with few design options. They can be covered with carpet, tile, or other flooring as long as it’s not too heavy, but because of its compressive strength, gypsum concrete is not always an appropriate underlayment for heavier floors such as engineered or solid hardwood. Another option was to polish it to get a better sheen, but staining was not a possibility with gypsum concrete because it has no lime in it to maintain a bond with the pigment. If you wanted a polished gypsum concrete floor, your only color option was the drab gray of the subfloor.
Fortunately, advancements in metallic epoxy flooring have made it possible to cover a gypsum-based underlayment to get the elegant look of stained, polished concrete.
Advantages of a Gypsum Concrete Floor
Gypsum underlayments are often applied over wood and concrete subfloors instead of traditional concrete, which is much heavier and more expensive. Made from a mixture of gypsum, Portland cement, and sand, gypsum concrete is lightweight and easier to handle, making it a popular choice among contractors.
If gypsum-based underlayments are so drab, why do people install them? Aside from the color limitations, gypsum underlayments do offer several benefits to building owners. They are:
- Easy to install
- Easy to pour over
- Relatively inexpensive
- Strong and durable
Gypsum is especially common in apartments, condos, and high-rises because it helps absorb sound between floors. If you’re renovating an existing building, you might be stuck with a gypsum underlayment unless you decide to spend more money to have it removed and replaced with a different type of material.
Advantages of Metallic Epoxy Flooring
Gypsum can’t be used as a finished floor, but it can serve as an underlayment for a variety of other floor coverings. For instance, building owners can lay down a Skraffino microtopping and then add a metallic epoxy flooring to create stunning designs. Metallic epoxy flooring is composed of fine particles of malleable metals that present an eye-catching, pristine look.
Metallic epoxy flooring is strong, durable, and low-maintenance. Metallic pigments also have a luster that other types of coloring agents do not have, providing a natural sheen that reduces the amount of polishing required to achieve a reflective surface. If a shiny surface is not desired, a matte finish can be applied as a top coat, allowing the rich color to come through without the glossy effect of a satin finish.
Unlike tile, metallic epoxy flooring creates a seamless effect so the entire floor surface is smooth and flawless. You can also create color patterns to display logos or other graphics. Building owners also get the benefits of durability, minimal maintenance, and resistance to moisture, stains, and wear.
It can be used in residential and industrial applications, but because of the rich luster it provides, metallic epoxy flooring is particularly well-suited for public-facing spaces such as:
- Office lobbies
- Retail stores
- Museums and galleries
Installation Tips for Metallic Epoxy Flooring on a Gypsum Underlayment
Metallic epoxy flooring can be installed on a gypsum concrete underlayment by a professional or as a DIY project using the following steps:
Prepare the substrate
Gypsum underlayments tend to be on the gritty side, so they often must be sanded. First, fill in any cracks or holes to create an even surface—in many cases, light sanding is sufficient to remove any imperfections and prepare the underlayment for priming.
Add a Concrete Microtopping
Because epoxy coatings can’t be added directly over gypsum, it’s important to add a professional-grade concrete microtopping, such as Skraffino. In order to install a concrete microtopping, you’ll need to complete a few basic steps:
- Remove residue and clean the floor
- Apply a primer
- Once the primer dries, apply a second coat
- Apply the Skraffino concrete microtopping
- Once Skraffino concrete microtopping is installed, metallic epoxy flooring can be added
Apply the primer
Primer is necessary for getting the metallic epoxy to fully adhere to the surface. It also seals the substrate so that no gas or moisture is allowed to escape into the epoxy flooring above. Failing to properly prime the substrate could lead to imperfections on the surface, so it’s important to cover the entire area.
Pour or spray the primer onto the floor and spread it with a nap roller, working with a brush to get it into every corner and edge. If you notice that the primer is being quickly absorbed into the concrete, apply a second coat to ensure that a good seal is created.
Apply the metallic epoxy flooring
Mix the metallic epoxy at the recommended proportions for three minutes at a low speed and make sure no material is left unmixed on the sides of the bucket. Because it will harden over time, mix only an amount that can be used within 30 minutes and then make additional batches as needed.
Apply the first coat by pouring the material in a line and smoothing it out into an even layer with a notched squeegee. Back-roll the entire surface with a nap roller to achieve a uniform look and allow this layer to cure for 14-16 hours.
Apply the second layer in the same way, but be mindful that the nap roller could leave marks behind because of the nature of the epoxy. To avoid this, lightly mist the surface with a dispersing agent such as acetone.
Apply the top coat
Mix and apply a polyurethane top coat to seal the surface and make it more resistant to chemicals, moisture, and impacts.
Add Surface Effects for a Unique Look
One of the greatest benefits of metallic epoxy flooring is its design versatility. Not only can you mix and match colors to create customized patterns, but you can also create surface effects for a truly unique look.
Use an eyedropper to apply individual drops of solvent that disperse the material to create a hammered effect over some or all of the floor surface.
Using a trowel instead of a nap roller allows you to create a textured effect on a smooth surface, especially when the material is applied in a thicker layer. Use a fresco technique to create a marbled effect, or shorter strokes for a more mottled surface.
After the second application of metallic epoxy, sprinkle solid pigment onto the surface to create swirls or other patterns.
When applied in sections, metallic epoxy can be used to create graphic patterns on the floor. These might include logos, brand colors, or other decorative designs.
Use Duraamen Metallic Epoxy Flooring on Gypsum Underlayments
If you uncover a gypsum floor underlayment and want to achieve the look of polished concrete, a concrete microtopping and metallic epoxy flooring is an excellent solution. With deep, rich colors and finishes ranging from matte to highly reflective, you can customize your floor to match any decor.
Whether you’re taking on a DIY project to refinish a basement at home or upgrading your commercial space, metallic epoxy flooring adds a level of refinement to your gypsum floor. It’s durable enough to withstand heavy traffic and impacts without compromising the quality of the surface. If you’d like to learn more about Lumiere metallic epoxy flooring or any other Duraamen product, contact our team today.