What is Antimicrobial Epoxy, and Does it Work?
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
You might have heard about antimicrobial epoxy flooring systems. Antimicrobial commercial epoxy flooring systems are not too common, but it is installed like any other epoxy system. But, you might be wondering if it actually does anything or if it's just a scam?
The short answer is - yes, antimicrobial epoxies work as described. However, unraveling this question will help you to better understand whether it is worth including antimicrobial additives to your flooring system, and what the benefits may be.
What Is Antimicrobial Epoxy?
Antimicrobial is an additive that can be included in epoxy to kill microorganisms or stop their growth. The most common antimicrobial agents include bleach, citric acid, and pharmacy grade medicines such as antibiotics. These antimicrobial agents work at a cellular level, inhibiting or stopping the growth of microorganisms and killing the pathogen.
How Does An Antimicrobial Additive Work Within An Epoxy Floor?
The antimicrobial additive is most typically mixed at the manufacturers' production plant to ensure dispersion and appropriate dosing through the entire epoxy resin. Once factory formulated, it is then mixed in the specified ratio and applied as initially intended.
From an application standpoint, there is no noticeable difference. More so, there is no discernible difference from any aspect regarding the aesthetic or durability of the cured or uncured concrete epoxy flooring system.
Antimicrobial Epoxy Safety Benefits
A food processing plant's primary concern is to maintain a food-safe environment and to ensure that the food product does not harbor any bacteria or other contaminants. For this reason, epoxy flooring is the preferred and FDA-recommended flooring system for food processing facilities.
Similarly, an epoxy resin floor can used in pharmaceutical facilities, hospitals, and other environments where cleanliness is of concern.
Epoxies and other seamless flooring systems are typically non-porous and they do not allow liquid or air to pass through them. Being a non-porous material, once cured, epoxy provides a surface that will not harbor bacteria.
To better illustrate the above characteristic of epoxy, if you pour a glass of water on an untreated slab of concrete, the water will absorb through or into the concrete. However, if you do the same experiment on a piece of plastic, you will see that the water stays suspended on the surface.
If epoxies are non-porous and do not harbor bacteria, why is there a need for an antimicrobial additive?
The most straightforward answer to this question is that the antimicrobial additive assists in maintaining a bacteria-free environment.
Dirt and debris left on a floor that has been coated with epoxy can still harbor bacteria and act as a contaminant. Food debris and other foreign matter must be cleaned off and a maintenance or cleaning routine must be established to ensure a clean and safe environment for your urethane cement flooring.
To go further, and with the advent of COVID-19, cleaning routines have become more robust in many facilities where epoxy floors are typically installed. The routine use of isopropyl alcohol and other disinfectants will usually degrade acrylic paints but should not affect industrial epoxies.
With this said, your facility’s disinfectants and their respective SDS should be available for your epoxy flooring professional.
At High Performance Systems, we will request these items during a site visit before specifying a floor system for your space.
This process ensures that once the epoxy flooring system is installed, it will tolerate the chemical exposure that is outlined in your cleaning routines. Typically speaking, epoxy floors have excellent chemical resistant properties and tolerate extreme abuse. However, it is recommended to review with an epoxy flooring contractor.