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What is the Difference Between Epoxy, Polyaspartic, and Polyurethane Floor Coatings?


Protective surface materials such as epoxy, polyaspartic, and polyurethane coatings are great options for offering your concrete surfaces constant defense against the harmful damage that may be caused by chemical spills, stains, and daily wear and tear. Floor coatings (and countertop) provide clients with long-lasting, easy-to-clean surfaces that display fascinating beauty for years to come. Each individual surface coating is specifically formulated with different attributes that separate it from the next coating, so what are the differences between epoxy, polyaspartic, and polyurethane coatings?

What are Epoxy Coatings?

Epoxy is a thermosetting, industrial-grade resinous coating that works as a durable adhesive, binding the material to the surface (complies best with concrete surfaces). Epoxy coatings act as a sealant that’s specifically designed to protect surfaces, whether it be flooring, countertops, walls, objects, bar, and tabletops. Epoxy coatings have low VOCs and are self-leveling materials that produce a seamless surface and prevent corrosion over time. Epoxy coatings are available as water-based, solvent-based, or 100% solids coatings.

Epoxy coatings are easy to apply and have gained major popularity from businesses for their special bonding characteristics in harsh commercial floor settings and have also appealed to homeowners for aesthetically pleasing purposes. Epoxy bonds extremely well to properly prepared concrete surfaces and can be used as a resurfacing agent for old or worn concrete. Though some epoxy formulas come with U.V. inhibitors, they will still eventually yellow or amber when exposed to sunlight for any length of time.
What are Polyaspartic Coatings?
Polyaspartic is a coating and sealing product in the same category as epoxy and polyurethane however, the majority of polyaspartic coatings are not 100% solids but are solvent-based. 100% solids polyaspartic coatings, sealers, and topcoats are low or zero VOC. Solvent-based polyaspartics can be dangerous to inhale, requiring the applicators to wear the appropriate respirator. Polyaspartic coatings possess nearly identical properties as polyurethane coatings. They are long-wearing and abrasion, scratch, chemical, UV, and impact resistant.

The biggest differences are that polyaspartic coatings can be used as a complete flooring system as well as a top coat; they provide faster drying time and the high film builds allowing for a much faster return to service. Polyaspartic coatings also resist stains and slightly higher temperatures than other types of coatings. Polyaspartic coatings can be applied around freezing temperatures, making them good for walk-in freezers however, it takes the material a lot longer to cure in colder temperatures. Polyaspartic coatings can be used as a top coating over epoxy coatings (to save costs) or they can be used as a complete flooring system.

What is Polyurethane Coatings?

Similar to epoxy, polyurethane is a thermosetting polymer and high-performance coating. Polyurethane coatings are mostly used as topcoats over epoxy coatings because unlike epoxy, polyurethane coatings are formulated with UV-resistant properties. This means that it won’t yellow like epoxy does when exposed to small amounts of sunlight over a period of time. The surface of polyurethane is not as hard as epoxy but it is much more scratch-resistant, can tolerate larger temperature swings, and handles humidity much better. It is also available in different finishes from satin to very glossy. Though polyurethane coatings have many advantages over epoxy, it does not bond well to concrete and its thin dry film thickness will not work well as a self-leveling coating. For that reason, polyurethane coatings cannot be used as a complete system in itself. Another thing to consider is that most polyurethanes are solvent-based, so they can have high VOCs and may require a respirator to apply.

Of the different formulations available, aliphatic polyurethane is the desired choice. Though it’s approximately 60% to 70% solids depending on the manufacturer, a polyurethane coating is only about 2 to 3 mils in thickness and can’t be adjusted as with epoxy. Polyurethane coatings have more flexibility than epoxy which aids in absorbing impacts better. It is also much more abrasion-resistant. The resistance to chemicals is better than epoxy as well and this includes resistance to solvents such as methylene chloride which is the primary ingredient in paint stripper. Typical applications for polyurethane coatings include high-traffic areas to provide excellent abrasion, scuff, and stain resistance.

Resources, Guidance, and Support

Concrete all around the world has long dominated industries, particularly flooring and countertops, because of the exceptional durability, low maintenance, and simply pleasant appearance it’s able to deliver. Xtreme Polishing Systems supplies the industry with professional and innovative concrete polishing, epoxy coatings, and decorative concrete products, equipment, supplies, and much more. Our industry professionals have trained accordingly with our products and are able to deliver the fundamental guidance and customer service needed when accurately preparing and executing a concrete project.

The experts at Xtreme Polishing Systems understand that every concrete surface can variate in properties, therefore each slab must be treated differently. We’re here to guide you in the proper direction, so call us at (877) 958-5732 with any questions regarding ‘What is the Difference Between Epoxy, Polyaspartic and Polyurethane Floor Coatings?‘ or visit our website and browse our extensive selection of concrete products today. Whether you’re a general contractor (flooring, concrete, masonry, home improvement, renovator, etc.), small business, DIY’er, craftsmen, new or existing business, artisan, or homeowner, our exquisite product selection and extensive industry experience will assist you every step of the way, from start to finish.