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What is the difference between epoxy, polyaspartic, and polyurethane floor coatings?

What is the difference between epoxy, polyaspartic, and polyurethane floor coatings?

Protective surface materials such as epoxy, polyaspartic, and polyurethane coatings are all excellent choices for providing continuous protection for your concrete surfaces against harmful damage caused by chemical spills, stains, and daily wear and tear. Floor and countertop coatings provide clients with long-lasting, easy-to-clean surfaces that will last for years. What are the differences between epoxy, polyaspartic, and polyurethane coatings? Each individual surface coating is specifically formulated with different attributes that distinguish it from the next coating.

What are epoxy coatings?

Epoxy is a thermosetting, industrial-grade resinous coating that acts as a durable adhesive, adhering the material to the surface (complies best with concrete surfaces). Epoxy coatings function as a sealant that is specifically designed to protect surfaces such as flooring, countertops, walls, objects, and 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 have grown in popularity among businesses due to their exceptional bonding properties in harsh commercial floor environments, as well as with homeowners for aesthetically pleasing reasons. Epoxy bonds remarkably well to properly prepared concrete surfaces and can be used to resurface old and worn concrete. Regardless of whether certain epoxy formulas contain UV inhibitors, they will eventually yellow or amber if exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time.

What are polyaspartic coatings?

Polyaspartic is a coating and sealing material similar to epoxy and polyurethane; however, the majority of polyaspartic coatings are solvent-based rather than 100% solids. Low to no VOCs are present in 100% solids polyaspartic coatings, sealers, and topcoats. Solvent-based polyaspartic coatings have nearly identical properties to polyurethane coatings. They are abrasion, scratch, chemical, UV, and impact resistant, as well as long-lasting.

The main distinction is that polyaspartic coatings can be used as a complete flooring system as well as a topcoat; they have a faster drying time and high film builds, allowing for a much faster return-to-service. Polyaspartic coatings are also more resistant to stains and slightly higher temperatures than other types of coatings. Polyaspartic coatings can be applied near freezing temperatures, making them suitable for walk-in freezers and similar applications; however, the material takes much longer to cure in colder temperatures. Polyaspartic coatings can be applied as a topcoat over epoxy coatings or as a complete flooring system.

What are polyurethane coatings?

Polyurethane, like epoxy, is a thermosetting polymer and high-performance coating. Polyurethane coatings are commonly used as topcoats over epoxy coatings because, unlike epoxy, polyurethane coatings are UV-resistant. This means that it will not yellow over time, as epoxy does when exposed to small amounts of sunlight. Polyurethane’s surface is not as hard as epoxy’s, but it is much more scratch-resistant, can withstand greater temperature swings, and handles humidity much better. It is also available in a variety of finishes ranging from satin to very glossy. Although polyurethane coatings have many advantages over epoxy coatings, they do not bond well to concrete and do not work well as a self-levelling coating due to their thin dry film thickness. As a result, polyurethane coatings cannot stand alone as a complete system. Another factor to consider is that because most polyurethanes are solvent-based, they can emit high levels of VOCs and may necessitate the use of a respirator.

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