Self-leveling floors not so long ago appeared on the construction market and managed to capture several areas of application. They are widely used as a decorative topcoat as well as a base and durable industrial coating. Naturally, the composition of mixtures and their properties, depending on the intended purpose of use, will vary greatly. How can a beginner understand such a rather large assortment and choose self-leveling floors with an optimal set of characteristics?
# 1. What to focus on when choosing?
Despite the variety of self-leveling floors, all types have the following advantages:
- perfect flat surface and seamlessness;
- a high level of moisture resistance is typical for most types of self-leveling floors;
- durability and strength;
- fire safety;
- no harm to human health.
The main disadvantage of the coating is the high price for some types of self-leveling floors, but if it does not bother you, then you need to be prepared for thorough surface preparation and strict adherence to the instructions for applying the coating.
When choosing a certain type of self-leveling floors, you need to be guided by a number of factors:
the specifics of the premises where the floors will be poured: technical or residential premises, inside or outside the house;
- primary goal. Self-leveling floors can be used to level the floor or as a topcoat;
- material and quality of the original surface;
operating conditions of the floor covering, the likelihood of mechanical stress, direct contact with liquids, aggressive agents;
- the need for additional properties, such as anti-skid, etc.
Self-leveling floors are represented by the following main types:
- polymer. They are used as a topcoat and are divided into polyurethane, epoxy and methyl methacrylate.
# 2. Cement self-leveling floors
Self-leveling floors of this type are most often used simply to level the surface for its further finishing. In fact, it is an alternative to conventional cement screed. The appearance is as simple as possible, which makes it impossible to use such self-leveling floors as a finish. Nevertheless, in some cases they are used independently, when there are no special requirements for the quality and decorativeness of the coating.
The mixture for self-leveling floors is sold in bags and is diluted with the required amount of water before pouring. The basis of the mixture is cement and sand. High quality cement is the key to the strength and hardness of the coating after drying. To give the solution plasticity and fluidity, plasticizers, acidity modulators, anti-freeze additives, components that retain moisture, and other substances are used. Due to such additives, the finished mixture spreads evenly and forms an even surface.
Among the advantages are versatility, affordable price, strength, durability, resistance to low temperatures. Even beginners will be able to perform work on the installation of cement self-leveling floors. In addition to a not very decorative appearance, the disadvantages include a slight resistance to aggressive substances.
# 2. Gypsum self-leveling floors
Such floors will cost even less, and in composition they are very similar to cement self-leveling floors, only gypsum is the main component here, which follows from the name. Such mixtures are used only for leveling and as a basis for further finishing.
The properties of gypsum self-leveling floors are due to the characteristics of the main component of the mixture. Gypsum hardens quickly, allows you to make a thicker screed, dries quickly, but is afraid of moisture, so you can use such floors only in dry rooms, and even with small loads on the floor. To take advantage of such advantages as low cost and quick drying, experts recommend using gypsum floors only under tiles, which absolutely do not allow moisture to pass through, but even then it is not recommended to use it in the bathroom.
No. 3. Polyurethane self-leveling floors
Such a coating has become widespread and is used literally everywhere: in shopping centers, swimming pools, medical institutions, warehouses, as well as in residential premises where the best performance is required from the flooring (kitchen, bath, but can also be used in rooms).
Mixes based on a polyurethane compound have an impressive set of positive qualities:
- elasticity and resistance to mechanical stress. Sharp heels and most falling heavy objects are not at all terrible for the coating;
- moisture resistance;
- resistance to aggressive substances, therefore, such a coating can be used even in chemical laboratories and enterprises;
- strength and durability;
- good indicators of heat and sound insulation;
- ease of cleaning and hygiene;
- ability to withstand temperature extremes;
- ease of repair. Even if you manage to damage the coating, then the place of the scratch or crack can be sanded and varnished;
- original appearance, the ability to create a bright individual design. The coating can be matte or glossy
Among the disadvantages are the high price, cold surface, the complexity of installation and dismantling if necessary.
No. 4. Epoxy self-leveling floors
The basis of such floors is epoxy resins, as the name implies. In addition, it contains hardeners and some other additives. Epoxy self-leveling floors have a lot of advantages, among which it is especially worth highlighting:
- hardness, stiffness and strength;
- resistance to moisture, household chemicals, most aggressive substances;
- abrasion resistance;
- resistance to temperature extremes.
The coating has an obvious disadvantage – fragility and inelasticity. If a more or less heavy object falls, the floor may be damaged.
The combination of characteristics of epoxy floors allows them to be used in rooms where there are no shock loads, but humidity can be increased. These are swimming pools, pharmaceuticals, laboratories, hospitals, car washes, children’s institutions and residential buildings.
A type of coating can be called epoxy-urethane floors, which combine the hardness of epoxy self-leveling floors and the elasticity of polyurethane. This coating has phenomenal durability and is used in train stations, airports and subways, where the flow of people is very large.
No. 5. Methyl methacrylate self-leveling floors
Such floors are mainly used for industrial premises, as they have a lot of amazing qualities:
- high wear resistance, even higher than that of polyurethane floors;
- fast solidification. The coating hardens in an hour, and after another hour it fully gains strength characteristics, and you can walk, ride on it, or even lay a finishing layer of finishing, if necessary;
- moisture resistance;
- chemical resistance;
- high speed of installation work.
The main disadvantage of the coating is a pungent odor during drying, but this problem can be solved with proper ventilation. After drying, there will be no unpleasant odors.
No. 6. Coating composition type
Self-leveling floors can be:
- highly filled.
Thin-layer floors are the most widespread, as they can be used both in residential buildings and in public buildings, and the price is the most reasonable. Such compositions are applied in a layer of several millimeters on the prepared substrate, while maintaining maximum durability.
Self-leveling floors have a thickness of 4-5 mm, due to which they can withstand solid mechanical loads. They are characterized by high durability, strength and ease of installation, because they easily spread over the surface without forming bumps.
Highly filled floors have increased strength, resistance to wear, and shock resistance, therefore they are used in industrial premises. Such properties are achieved due to the increased amount of quartz sand.
No. 7. Self-leveling floor design
Cement and methyl methacrylate floors cannot boast of shiny decorative qualities, which cannot be said about polyurethane and epoxy self-leveling floors. They can be dyed in any of thousands of colors or have interesting colors. To obtain the most interesting and original solutions, the following methods are used:
No. 8. Which manufacturers can you trust?
Self-leveling floors are represented today by a huge number of domestic and foreign manufacturers.
The world’s best manufacturers of self-leveling floors
The world-renowned German company initially produced building materials from plaster, later expanded its activities, and today production and representative offices are located in dozens of countries. The company’s products are well represented in Russia, where they have already appreciated their high quality. The manufacturer offers gypsum self-leveling floors, for which gypsum of the highest quality is used, therefore, the coating is superior in strength to cement self-leveling floors. There are also polymer self-leveling floors in the assortment, but they are not so extensively presented in our market.
This Swiss company offers mainly formulations for industrial and public buildings. The range includes self-leveling floors of all types, and our own research centers allow the production of coatings with specific properties by adding the necessary components.
Ceresit is a trademark used for a wide range of building mixtures of the German company Henkel. The production facilities of this giant are located in several countries, there are representations in 120 countries, and the products have been in constant demand for many years in a row. The assortment includes self-leveling floors designed to level the surface for further laying of the cladding.
An international company that is a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain. Manufactures are located around the world, products are widely represented on all continents. Self-leveling floors are produced under the Vetonit trademark; the range includes mixtures for leveling and finishing, for residential and industrial premises.
The best domestic manufacturers of self-leveling floors
The company manufactures self-leveling floors under the Elakor trademark and today is confidently leading in this area. Offers self-leveling floors for residential and industrial premises. The product lines include polyurethane and epoxy floors. The range includes transparent floors to create a 3D effect, antistatic compounds and floors that are maximally resistant to combustion.
A large company that once produced only cement-sand mixtures, and now is the leader in the domestic market for the production of innovative multicomponent compositions. Self-leveling floors are presented by compositions for leveling and finishing works.
The company has been on the market since 1994 and today is one of the leaders in the number of sales of dry building mixes. The products are in demand not only in Russia, but also in the CIS countries. The production facilities are located in five cities of the country; gypsum from our own quarry is used for the manufacture of products, which allows us to control the quality already from the stage of raw material extraction. The company includes a powerful research laboratory. The assortment includes self-leveling floors designed for leveling the surface.
This domestic company boasts a modern factory, research and control laboratories, and the latest equipment. The quality of products is not much inferior to European counterparts, and the emphasis is on dry building mixtures. The range includes cement and plaster based self-leveling floors.
The company has been operating since 1995 in the field of flooring and dry mixes. Self-leveling floors are presented under the PRASPAN trademark, these are polymer coatings.