Epoxy v. Polyurethane: Which Coating is better?

Epoxy and Polyurethane coatings exemplify superior long term qualities such as chemical and acid resistance, ease of maintenance, and aesthetic appeal. We will take a look at some of the differentiating factors between the two so you can decide what product suits your floor best.

Epoxy Benefits

Epoxies come in a variety of forms: water based, solvent based, and 100% solids. The different types of products will give you varying benefits. At its core epoxy is

"a class of reactive prepolymers and polymers which contain epoxide groups. Epoxy resins may be reacted (cross-linked) either with themselves through catalytic homopolymerisation, or with a wide range of co-reactants including polyfunctional amines, acids (and acid anhydrides), phenols, alcohols and thiols. These co-reactants are often referred to as hardeners or curatives, and the cross-linking reaction is commonly referred to as curing. Reaction of polyepoxides with themselves or with polyfunctional hardeners forms a thermosetting polymer, often with favorable mechanical properties and high thermal and chemical resistance."

Wikipedia

Epoxies are extremely easy to apply, allow for varying degrees of thickness (usually between 3-15mils), and give you an extremely durable floor that can withstand the abuse it receives. One of the benefits to epoxies are they are made with different amounts of VOC levels (volatile organic compounds)…this is the really smelly odor that the paint gives off. You can request the low VOC formulations in most epoxies. When applying you will typically mix one part A and one part B together (mix ratios will differ from product to product) to tart the the hardening process. Once mix properly you can apply to your floor and wait for the epoxy to bond to the concrete and cure. Epoxies do not have a long working time because once mixed the epoxy reacts with the hardener so it is important to remember that time is of the essence.

The strongest and least odor producing epoxies are 100% solids. This means there little to no VOCs in the epoxy as this will give you the strongest coating when applied. It will dry thick provide an abrasion resistant surface. Not only will the epoxy fill in hairline cracks and dings in the floor but thickness will be level when rolled or squeegeed out due to its self-leveling properties. Epoxies can be used in a variety of applications from home garages and basements to airplane hangers and commercial grade food processing plants.

Polyurethane Benefits

Polyurethanes are also thermosetting polymers that are usually used as topcoating products on floors.

The most common type is aliphatic polyurethanes as they are anywhere from 55-75% solids and dry 1-4 mils thick depending on application process. Aliphatic polyurethane’s are extremely flexible and allow for good impact resistant. They are also UV stable meaning when sunlight is exposed on it they will not yellow over time like some epoxies.

when it comes to hardness epoxies are much stronger but polyurethane are more scratch resistance. Polyurethanes do not bond well to concrete and do not exemplify the self leveling properties that epoxies do when applied to on these surfaces. Most polyurethanes also have high VOC level and will have quite an odor when applied.

So What Should I Use on My Floor?

This all depends on the floor application and what the desired end result. Epoxy Central sells both epoxies and polyurethanes as well as epoxy and polyurethane coating kit. Epoxy should be used as the base coating (to bond to concrete) and the polyurethane can be used as a topcoat (flexible, scratch resistant, UV stable).

If you are questioning what product you think suits your flooring needs please reach out to us and we can help guide you to making the best choice for your floor.

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