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Commercial Industrial Contractor Grade

Sewer, Manhole, and Waste Water Epoxy Resin Systems

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Repair, coating rehab of manhole and sewer systems with Commercial Epoxy Products


Sewer and waste water professionals have increasingly turned to our epoxies for the repair and coating of new and existing manholes, lift stations, concrete holding and mixing tanks, etc. We are now in the engineering specifications for manhole and lift station repair for a major Texas city. While almost every project is unique, the general specifications call for a two-coat system of epoxy in contrasting colors with one coat being a Kevlar®(tm) reinforced epoxy product.



Sewer, Manhole Rehab - Epoxy Resin Paint Coating Systems
Repair, coating rehab of manhole and sewer systems with Commercial Epoxy Products

potable water epoxy paint crack repair


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Paul Oman, MS, MBA - Progressive Epoxy Polymers, Inc. (floor epoxies, marine epoxies, underwater epoxies, repair epoxies)

Member: NACE (National Assoc. of Corrosion Engineers), SSPC (Soc. of Protective Coatings)

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We've been selling epoxy - marine epoxy (boat building - wood / fiberglass repair) industrial coatings - garage paint -

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Sewer and waste water professionals have increasingly turned to our epoxies for the repair and coating of new and existing manholes, lift stations, concrete holding and mixing tanks, etc. We are now in the engineering specifications for manhole and lift station repair for a major Texas city. While almost every project is unique, the general specifications call for a two-coat system of epoxy in contrasting colors with one coat being a Kevlar®(tm) reinforced epoxy product.

The two coats of epoxy in contrasting colors helps insure no thin areas or pinhole voids are present and that a 30 plus mil (.8 +mm) thick total coating is present. Other engineers or city officials may opt for a single 16- 40 mil (.4-1 mm) epoxy coating. The Kevlar® reinforce epoxy coating provided as extra durable, wear resistant layer of protection. The Kelvar also reinforced the coating, protecting it from impact damage and retarding the propagation of any cracking that might develop within the coating over time. These Kevlar® reinforced coatings come in several viscosities with application method (and/or thickness) requirements generally determining which Kevlar® epoxy to use.

Our coatings have been selected for use in the waste water industry for the following reasons:

- solvent-free and essentially odorless formulation provides for worker safety and the ability to seal leaks and cracks (because wet coating thickness equals dry coating thickness).

- proven ability to adhere to damp or wet surfaces (can actually be applied underwater) and to be submerged immediately.

- application is easy and can be applied by any contractor or maintenance person.

- good chemical resistance.

- field friendly mix ratios. Mixing ratio can be off slightly with no problem.

- convenient 2-gal kits.

- proven track record in both waste water and nuclear industries.

- a complete line of epoxies for repair and coating of all concrete (and steel) surfaces.

Surface Preparation

Waterjet blast the concrete surfaces. Ensure all loose material is removed then neutralize to exposed surface if possible. Rinse the surface and allow to dry or blow off excess water using clean compressed air. However, these coatings can be applied underwater if necessary.

Epoxy Issues In Manhole Rehabilitation Projects


Manhole rehabilitation and waste water coatings is a fascinating niche in the coatings and linings industry. Perhaps because municipal decision makers in that industry must wear so many hats; engineer, administrator, coatings expert, contract negotiator, they tend to be more influenced by the coating manufacturers than other coating decision makers. In one respect this is good. Quality products are brought to their attention. However, the down side is that these manufacturers shield their municipal contacts from competitors and downplay the weaknesses of their products.

As a worldwide distributor of epoxy coatings across, I deal with both city employees, resin/epoxy manufacturers, and contractors. More so than in any other niche, when it comes to manholes and waste water facilities, each of these three groups has their own story to tell and their own unique set of problems and concerns. A successful, on-time and on-budget rehabilitation project takes the cooperation of all three, yet rarely, if ever, do they share their concerns to the point of modifying existing rehabilitation specifications. This article has two objectives, to provide a waste water epoxy primer and to include within it issues and topics that are of concern to those three groups. There are, of course, alternatives to epoxy linings but I possess little or no expertise in those technologies.

Coating Thickness

Perhaps the biggest dis-service the resin manufacturers have done is to place a major emphasis on coating thickness. Not surprisingly, their recommendations of mil thickness (1000 mils = 1 inch) tend to follow their product line specifications and thus exclude their competitors from consideration. The general perception is that thicker is better. It certainly is for the resin manufacturers. A solvent-free epoxy with both a wet and dry thickness of 16 mils will yield 100 feet of coverage, while the same coating applied at 160 mils will cover only 10 square feet. That is the difference between a 1000 gallon order and a 100 gallon order. Of course no municipality would be willing to pay 10 times as much for the 160 mil coating. They expect similar cost per square foot pricing. That means in order to make the 10 square foot per gallon epoxy price competitive with the 100 square foot per gallon epoxy, it has to be 10 times cheaper per gallon. They only way to cut the price of epoxy is to use inferior resins and/or lots of fillers and extenders. The bottom line is that the epoxies with the thinner coverage may well be the better product.

Often two coats of contrasting colors is better than one single coat, especially when working with thin coat epoxies. The two coats help reduce the possibility of pinholes and the two colors provides a crude visual feedback mechanism of thick and thin spots in the coatings.


We really appreciate you visiting PROGRESSIVE EPOXY POLYMERS, INC. and our web site: EPOXYPRODUCTS.COM.  Take advantage of the CONTACT links on this page to ask questions about our products and/or your projects. You can stay in touch with us via our NEWSLETTER (link on our contact page) which is emailed  every 6-8 weeks.

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Sewer, Manhole Rehab - Epoxy Resin Paint Coating Systems
Repair, coating rehab of manhole and sewer systems with Commercial Epoxy Products

Coat Application Issues

It only makes sense that all parties want an experienced and knowledgeable applicator applying the coatings. Yet the requirements to become a ‘certified' applicator is a real issue with contractors and one that many manufacturers would rather keep hidden from the municipal decision makers. There is more money to be made in application than in the sale of the epoxy and too many resin manufacturers see no problem with double dipping, profiting from both the sale of the product and the ‘certification' of the contractor or bidding contractors. Municipal decision makers need to find out if the manufacturers require contractors to be certified to even bid a job with their product. More importantly, they need to learn what cost, if any, is charged to contractors for training and certification. A $10,000 fee is not unheard of in the industry and that alone could eliminate many local and minority contractors from bidding or accepting jobs that legally they should have equal access to.

Another coating application issue is the application method. Specialized equipment and crews sounds good initially but if problems develop during application, or in the future, costs can go through the ceiling. Coatings than can be applied or repaired with brush, roller, or common spray equipment by almost any contractor can prevent a budget and planning disaster.

Along the same lines is the issue of the transportation of the epoxies to the job site. Many or most epoxies must be shipped as regulated haz-mat cargos. Some epoxies, often the better quality ones, are not haz-mat regulated and can be shipped via normal U.S. Mail or UPS. Shipping haz-mat epoxies in quantity is not much of a problem, but try to ship a few gallons for a repair, or because the contractor was short a few gallons, and the problems and costs quickly escalate. Smart contractors make note of whether the epoxies to be used are haz-mat regulated. City officials should too.

Decision makers should also look closely at the manufacturer's mixing directions when selecting manhole coatings. Things like difficult mixing, humidity restrictions, mixing ratios with very little room for error, induction times (a period of time the mixed epoxies must ‘sit' after mixing and prior to application if they are to harden/cure. Generally, better epoxies have no induction time requirements), and inconvenient packaging all increase the probability of Murphy's Law kicking in.

Substrate Condition

Too often manufacturers promote a single solution to manhole rehabilitation without regard for the condition of the substrate. Thinner coatings are more likely to penetrate into the substrate than thicker (and thus drier) coatings. Not only will dry, thick coatings have more trouble sticking to dry, porous substrates, their shear mass (especially if it contains quartz or sand) will tend to stress the surface bond as well. Epoxy technology offers two solutions: 1) use a thinner penetrating epoxy to fortify a weakened substrate and provide a slick, non-porous surface for the thicker and drier topcoat to bond with, and; 2) use a thin penetrating epoxy that remains tacky for a long period of time and serves as both a mechanical and chemical bonding surface for the epoxy topcoat.

Odors and Moisture

Many manhole epoxies are now solvent-free (0% VOC) and have almost no odor or fumes to endanger or annoy workers. While odor may not be much of a problem, moisture certainly remains a curse to most epoxy manufacturers. Let's face it, most manholes are either wet, damp, moisture saturated, highly humid, or wet from dew, rain, or waterjet surface preparation. Nothing ruins the coating properties and test results faster than moisture. Add a trace of moisture in the long buried manhole and adhesion numbers can go from awesome to deplorable in one brush stroke.

There are several epoxies that claim moisture tolerance or even the ability to be applied and to bond underwater to various substrates. From my perspective, it seems complete stupidity to use a ‘dry surface/low moisture only' coating in a manhole environment. Unfortunately, the performance of the so called ‘underwater epoxies' varies greatly and city officials should literally put each such epoxy to a real and practical, on-site test. An epoxy that will solidly bond to a wet or submerged surface (at least the better performing epoxies) will have the bond strength to prevent the influx of water from the outside.

Some of the underwater epoxies can be applied to fresh concrete without the traditional 28-30 day waiting period as the concrete sets. Reducing this wait down to perhaps 15 days help keep new waste water construction projects on-time and on-budget.

Grouts, Patching, and Liners

I am surprised how often cement-based grouts and patches are recommended when light weight, moisture tolerant epoxy patching and filler products are alternative solutions. Cement-based grouts tend to bond poorly to existing cements, are heavy, and tend to suffer the same problems experienced by the original damaged substrate. In this area, price or tradition, rather than technology, tends to guide the thinking of the decision makers.

Generally the same epoxy used as a manhole lining can be used in conjunction with fiberglass cloth to provide a stronger, more structural lining. The result is something like a boat hull built inside the manhole. The technology to do this does not have to be cutting edge. The same laborer rolling on the epoxy coating can lay down a yard or two of fiberglass cloth over his paint job and then re-roll an additional layer of epoxy on top of the fiberglass.

There is a growing list of companies that mechanically insert sleeves of fiberglass into manholes and sewer lines. These companies almost universally use polyester resins instead of epoxy resins to do their work. Polyester resins are much, much cheaper than even average quality epoxy resins and thus economics, and not necessarily performance or quality, determine the end result.

Reinforced Epoxies

Some epoxies contain fibers of Kevlar (tm), fiberglass strands, or other materials as an internal reinforcement. These fibers tend to act like rebar in concrete or ‘rip-stop' nylon. They help resist cracking, crack growth, and chipping. These reinforced epoxies should not be confused with ‘flake' or ‘mica' additives which are sometimes added to low quality epoxies that have a permeability problem. These plates or flakes are intended to reduce permeability within the epoxy. A better epoxy is a wiser choice.

Epoxy brittleness is a related topic. Epoxies are naturally brittle. Most traditional epoxies (often ‘phenolic' epoxies, have an elongation factor of only 2-3%. Modern ‘ring-structured' epoxies have increased this number to perhaps 7-9%, still brittle, but usually more elastic than the surfaces they are applied to. Some epoxy vendors offer epoxies with flexibilizers blended into them. This could increase elongation to 20% or better, but generally at the cost of chemical resistance and perhaps permeability. While the idea of a flexibilized epoxy sounds good, the real benefit of their use in rehabilitation projects has yet to be determined.

New Non-Epoxy Concrete Primers

What is new in the concrete coating industry is a group of products best described as water-based, zero thickness concrete sealers and fortifiers. Rather inexpensive, these single component products are rolled or sprayed upon exposed concrete where, like water, they quickly soak into the concrete. There they form tiny crystals inside the pore spaces along the surface of the concrete. This reduces both porosity and permeability, essentially fortifying the concrete and making it waterproof. Pinholing may also be reduced as there is likely to be less air filled voids in the surface after treatment. Because they soak into the concrete these products leave nothing on the surface to aid or detract from subsequent epoxy coatings. Their primary purpose is to aid in the waterproofing of the concrete and to aid in protecting it from hydrogen sulfide and other contaminants that literally invade the concrete surface and destroy it from within should the epoxy protective coating become breached or damaged. At a material cost of only a few cents per square foot, cities and pre-cast concrete manufactures are moving toward these kinds of ‘internal sealers' as a pre-coat and insurance against the worst of nature.


There are many different products and approaches to manhole rehabilitation and much or most of the information available is biased toward one or another product or system. Issues like minimum coating thickness necessary, shipping restrictions, applicator certification costs, and the epoxy's moisture tolerance are often overlooked in the evaluation of different solutions.

It is in a community's best interest to have waste water officials establish an on-site, low cost (to all parties) testing program of new and different coatings/products rather than to measure them against a set of criteria originally developed by a specific manufacturer for the purpose of promoting their products while at the same time locking out their competitors.

Waste water epoxies:

Corro Coat FC 2100 (Kevlar (tm) reinforced underwater epoxy This product is a Progressive Epoxy Polymers, Inc. best selling, favorite product. Visit our FAVORITES - 7 EPOXIES THAT WILL FIX ANYTHING  web page at: View other popular one-of-a-kind products.

 cycloaliphatic, non-hazmat, epoxies available from Progressive Epoxy Polymers

Why ESP 155 epoxy sealer and primer is the BEST in its class:

1) Uses superior CYCLOALIPHATIC curing agents and epoxy ADDUCT formulation

2) solvent based for better penetration

3) moisture tolerant, very low viscosity

4) strong user support / feedback

5) 24/7 support



air shippable     cycloaliphatic system xx
no nonyl phenol     epoxy adduct system xx
multi curing agents     bulk pricing  
solvent free     no Calif. sales xx
2 part epoxy xx   2 part poly  
apply underwater     bubble breakers  
favorite(s) product list xx   data sheets xx
PACKING - jugs/bottles     PACKING - cans xx
find in non marine cat xx   find in marine catalog xx
PRICES/ind/commercial xx   PRICES/marine section xx
BUY online

simple store

    BUY online

primary store

home page xx   contact page xx


Case Studies of NSP 120 (now called Water Gard 300) epoxyThis product is a Progressive Epoxy Polymers, Inc. best selling, favorite product. Visit our FAVORITES - 7 EPOXIES THAT WILL FIX ANYTHING  web page at: View other popular one-of-a-kind products.

Case 1: sheet pile repair CLICK HERE

Case 2: power plant (Nuclear DBA testing) CLICK HERE

Case 3: interior plant wall coating  CLICK HERE

Case 4: Tyson Foods eviscerating wall coating CLICK HERE

Case 5: 200,000 gallon water tank CLICK HERE

Case 6: 40,000 gallon elevated potable water tank CLICK HERE

Case 7: 60,000 gallon potable water clear well CLICK HERE

Case 8: manhole coating project CLICK HERE

Case 9: lift station wet well CLICK HERE

Case 10: wastewater tank interior CLICK HERE

Case 11: concrete sewage main CLICK HERE

Case 12: waste treatment facility CLICK HERE





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Sewer, Manhole Rehab - Epoxy Resin Paint Coating Systems
Repair, coating rehab of manhole and sewer systems with Commercial Epoxy Products