Testing the Easy squeegee

I had a great opportunity to test the gauged thin-film squeegee from Midwest Rake called the "Easy Squeegee".

Like any product, there is good and bad with this squeegee. This video shows it in use, and includes a discussion at the end on what I came to understand about this resin flooring tool.

Video Transcription: 

Today, I'm doing a solvent-less Epoxy roll coat, and rather than work out of a tray, it's only a 50 square meter area. It's pretty tight so it's long and narrow. Not ideal for using a Squeegee and wet back roll, but I really wanted to try out the Easy Squeegee tool.

There's a lot of Squeegee-ing going on at thicker films, but this is a gauged thin film Squeegee. And I wanted to have a go at it. I've only got the narrower... I think 18 inches is what they talk about, 450 millimeters. And it enables me to just pull it rather than push it in this little tight area.

And for those of you that haven't seen this tool, this will be a chance to see it in action and hopefully it performs as it's meant to. And I'm actually pretty excited to have a go at it. So I'll shoot some video on it being used and let's see what the feedback is.

So I've literally just finished on the floor doing about 50 square meters of this mezzanine, and it's a single coat of solvent Epoxy. I wanted to get down at that 200 micron mark, and I'd worked out my calculations based on that across the 55 square meters, I think it is. And the way I was going to gauge it, I mean the old fashioned way was to mark out sections in pour a certain litreage, knowing the volume over the air, and you work it out exactly.

And today I wanted to test out this Easy Squeegee. So it's designed with the scallops in it to go down at 8 to 10 mils, that's about 200 to 250 microns. And then the theory is you can just squeegee it out and then wet back roll to get it nice and even.

Well, the verdict, it was a pretty small tight area, so I couldn't really get any big open areas where I could just do big long runs, which is the fastest way to use a squeegee. The other thing was, it's a hot day. You might be able to tell them sweating like a pig here. But it's over 30 degrees in here and humid, so I really didn't want to mix up too much product and have too much out on the floor. My preference was to work with a smaller mix, like a 3 litre mix, get it out, get it wet back rolled, and then make more mixes. I'm here by myself on this job and that was the way I thought best to tackle it.

So the verdict was, when I first started Squeegee-ing it out, I actually didn't like it. I felt it wasn't pulling it down far enough and I was getting nervous about my coverage. And what I realized is the reason why I wasn't getting the coverage that I had worked out was that it was an undulating profile. This mezzanine was a sanded sprinkle broadcast non-slip, so this Squeegee was never going to touch down everywhere. It was always going to go down thicker than the 200 or 250 microns. So I actually didn't feel that comfortable about it. I was making adjustments myself. It was making it slow to put out and I wasn't too happy with it. I actually wanted to go and change to a different Squeegee size but didn't have the time to do it, and the Squeegee was already covered in resin.

But then as I kept going, I got a little bit better at using the Squeegee, gauging how it was used, how to get it out evenly. And the last section of floor, which was about 25 square meters, had less non-slip in it, so it was a more even floor. And at that point I saw the true benefit of this type of Squeegee that's gauging it out at approximately the right thickness. You'll be able to see in the video that I've shot that it became very quick, very easy, no guessing, no recalculating, no rolling larger areas. And one of my challenges for today was I didn't want to get on the spike shoes. I had them there just in case something was going pear shaped and I could always jump on my spikes. But really if I could work without my spikes, with just Squeegee and wet back roll, then that was a much better scenario.

So the upshot of it all was where it was an undulating floor, it was hard to get the thickness I wanted. I felt a bit nervous. It still went down really evenly. Looks even, was easy to roll. I could hear when I'm rolling, it's going out at the right or the same thickness everywhere just by the sound and the feel of the roller.

It was quick once I got onto that area that was flat. It was quick to Squeegee out and less of an art of getting the coverage. So the only other thing that I'd look at with regard to the Squeegee is what's the next size up, because once you start doing larger areas, you'll want something bigger than 450 mil. But going up to 150 square meters or 1,500 square feet areas, I'd probably still be all right with this type of squeegee.

Last but not least, I've cleaned up everything without solvents, because that's how I go about things. Except for the Squeegee. So the selling point, what they promote with the Squeegee is you don't have to clean it up. You let the Epoxy cure on it and then tomorrow I can crack it off. So let's see how that goes. I might just be in trouble and have to throw away a Squeegee.

So here we are back again and I've got myself the Midwest Easy Squeegee rake here that I used on this floor. And I just wanted to do the final step. The final selling point or feature of this rake was that you can actually crack all the resins back off it, and so that's what I want to test now. I've pulled the tape off. Out of habit I always tape up the nuts so that there's less chance of things blocking in there.

So let's pull off this and see what happens. The first step is good that the actual, the threads aren't full of resin. So there's obviously a good enough seal and my tape helped there. Let's crack that top off. And yes, I wouldn't expect too much problem with this type of plastic. That could be a polypropylene or something or rather, so I wouldn't expect the Epoxy's to stick to that. The problem is normally the thermoplastic rubber.

So let's pull out the rubber and see what happens there. Again, the other side of the plastic is coming off cleanly across all of it, actually so that's good. See if I can get that edge there. Can't quite get an edge. Anyway, you can see that it's actually coming off cleanly, which is good. There's nothing stuck in any places on this part of the rake. The rubber itself, this is the key whether you end up with clean valleys again, so you got accurate measurements next time, or whether your valleys end up filled up with resin and then therefore distort your calibrated film thickness next time.

So let's have a look. There's a bit of a proximity bond there. It sticks, but it does come off. I can grab it on that edge. I can get it quite clean. I think overall, I think it's done what it needs to do. I can keep picking at that a little bit there, but it comes off easily. I'm not having to use any tools. The actual profile itself looks pretty good. So all in all, I think this Easy Squeegee has served its purpose. It got me confidence when I was gauging it out. I didn't have to spend time trying to clean the resins back out of it. I let it cured and then I could just crack it and peel it, and get it off and be ready to go again. So there you go. That's the Easy Squeegee and I'm pretty impressed. I'll use that again. In fact, you'll see it in future videos. As always, take care and keep smiling.

Update: Some further thoughts...

Since using the tool for the first time in that video, I have actually used the Easy Squeegee a few times. I get the benefit of the gauged rake, so that you can better estimate the coverage of the product across the floor, however, like most things, the solution is not always that simple.

This is perhaps an ideal tool for an entry-level installer as it will ensure that you will have a minimum film thickness across the whole floor. However, experienced installers might get frustrated with the gauging as they may notice it can leave more product on the floor if the substrate is undulating. 

I did not see much wear as the gauged tool slid across a sealed surface when pulled, however I did start to feel more friction when pushing the squeegee. I know a lot of installers like to push rather than pull, so this is an important point to make.

The result of the gauge wearing is that the intended wet film thickness (wft) now becomes inaccurate and should be less relied upon as the rubber strip wears. In defence of the manufacturer, they have managed to reduce the wear as much as possible with the type of rubber chosen and the scalloped shape of the teeth.

With all that in mind, my preference with this tool is to use the solid rubber squeegee and place a known quantity of resin across a known area, then rely on my wet back rolling to even the film out.

When it comes to cleaning the tool, I learned that the epoxies did tend to get harder and harder to remove from the rubber squeegee itself. When I asked the manufacturer about it, they made the point that they only intended the frame to be "easy clean" and the fact that the epoxy was easy to crack off the rubber initially was a bonus. So if you plan to re-use the rubber strips, then it's best to wipe them clean immediately after use. 

Overall, I think the Easy Squeegee is still a good tool and I'll be testing the flexible rubber in-fill soon for a higher build decorative resin floor. During the next visit to the World of Concrete, I am also hoping to trial the cheaper disposable version (coming out shortly) that does not have the screws or ability to change rubber strips. The decision to go for the replaceable strips or the disposable tool will probably come down to how easy the disposable tool is to clean and of course the price difference.

Stay tuned for another update!