When folks think of garage floor coating, the first thing that comes to mind for many is epoxy. And it’s no wonder; it’s been around for decades. But is there something better? Of course there is! It’s polyurea!
Roughly 40 years ago, polyurea as we know it today arrived and became known for its strength and durability, making it an ideal coating solution in the industrial community. The original spray-on application with its drastically reduced cure time quickly became a preferred coasting for such projects as manhole and tunnel coatings, tank liners, and truck bed liners. In the early 1980s polyurea was used in the manufacturing of automobile parts, such as bumpers for the Camaro and Trans Am. It has only been within the last decade that polyurea has emerged as a preferred choice within the home environment.
When it comes to your garage, chances are you have concrete flooring. Nine times out of ten, this material is the choice of builders for several reasons: concrete is durable, cost effective, and easy to install. However, protecting your investment is another matter. Whether you opt for epoxy garage floors or polyurea, coating your garage concrete is a must for all.
Epoxy, as we mentioned above, is the more common option simply because it’s more well known. That being said, our team at Innovative Concrete Coating is here to shed light on an alternative (and better) option: polyurea.
What is Polyurea?
Polyurea is typically defined as an inert elastomeric substance created by combining an isocyanate compound with a synthetic resinous compound.
Unless you’re a chemist that sounds complicated. So in layman’s terms: it’s a flexible, highly adaptable substance. It returns to its original shape even when subjected to enormous stress. Polyurea combines two relatively noxious chemical compounds into a single, completely inert, environmentally friendly, end product. And once it’s cured, polyurea’s physical properties make it one of the best protective coatings available.
What is Epoxy?
While you have likely heard of epoxy, or epoxy resins, you may not know exactly what this common adhesive is. Epoxy is a type of polymer, a group of chemical compounds that consist of large molecules with repeating subunits. The molecular structure of polymers give them their toughness and elasticity, making polymers (both natural and manmade ones) ubiquitous in daily life. Wool, rubber, Styrofoam, and epoxy are just a few of the polymers that you likely know.
Which is best?
One day you may notice the signs of wear and tear on your concrete floor, including chipping, staining or cracking, and it will seem the right time to implement a new, solid coating. The next step is to decide which type of floor coating is best for your floor: epoxy or polyurea. Of course, within these two classifications are various subgroups and application methods. For this article we will broadly survey epoxy and polyurea floor coverings and tell you why polyurea is better than epoxy.
First, let’s compare the installation process in both cases. It can be a consequential element in your decision making concerning the garage floor coating.
Polyurea coating is fast drying and odorless.
When spread on a concrete garage floor, polyurea dries immediately. It doesn’t dry out when it is in the container or due to air exposure, so it can be applied evenly without clumps. It goes on easily and can be absorbed by every nook and cranny in the concrete. As an outcome, a garage floor can be ably protected against peeling and splitting with Polyurea.
Another benefit of Polyurea coating is the rapid set time. It takes around 4-8 hours to set before you can walk on it. Within just 24 hours after application you can drive your car over it. This can be critical in business where every hold up means lost revenue.
Also, the installation of a polyurea garage floor coating is associated with little or no odor at all. This is thanks to the material being low in volatile organic compounds, VOCs. These are chemical gasses that products contain, characteristic for their unpleasant smell and long-term adverse health impact. The lack of order makes polyurea coatings superb for indoor surfaces.
Epoxy coating is more time-consuming.
If you choose epoxy for your garage floor, it is advised to apply at least two coatings. Every coat needs 12-48 hour before the next one can be applied. You may see that the floor seems ready in just a couple of hours but the truth is it requires a few days. You can facilitate the process with proper ventilation.
When it comes to returning your vehicle back to the garage, you should wait for a week to make sure the top coat is completely dry and solid, so make sure you have that much time.
Another factor that most people overlook is the installation properties of the two materials. When you’re looking for a garage coating in the spring or the middle of winter, polyurea provides a temperature range from 20-140 degrees fahrenheit. However, epoxy garage floor installations are limited to temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees fahrenheit. So, as you can see, the time frame of epoxy installation is much smaller, limiting the opportunities in which home and business owners can protect their garage.
The durability of the epoxy garage coating depends on the type of material it is made of. The product has three main kinds: a solvent-based, a water-based, and a 100% solids one. It is not hard to see that the third one is the sturdiest and the thickest, but also the most pricey. The other two types are less durable, thinner, and less costly. They can do the job if they are installed correctly, but they will not last as long as 100% solid epoxy garage floor coatings.
When it comes to polyurea flooring, it is stronger than even the most solid epoxy material. What’s more, it is amazingly flexible, so it can move along with the concrete garage floor when some shifts in temperature or weight appear. Hardness is one of epoxy’s main attributes but flexible coating systems are more durable in the long run. You just need to be aware that with higher durability comes a higher price, and polyurea floor coatings are usually more costly than those made of epoxy (more on that later).
Also, don’t forget about UV resistance. If your garage floor is often exposed to sun, epoxies may not be the best choice as they are prone to changes when exposed to ultraviolet rays. As a result, they can end up with the problem of hot tire pick-up, meaning that due to epoxy delamination, a car tire bonds to the floor and peels the epoxy from the concrete.
Polyurea is far superior to epoxy in wetting ability, which refers to the degrees water and moisture seeps into the ground beneath it. This is crucial for waterproofing because the penetration allows the coating to form a tight bond with ground below.
If you think about any garage, there’s one consistent element: the exposure to weather’s elements. Whether snow or rain, your garage will face water and moisture exposure at some point. Having a barrier against the damaging effects of water will allow your investment to get the most life possible. So when comparing epoxy to polyurea, there’s only one option and that option is polyurea: the waterproof solution.
Epoxy coatings generally last three to five years before you begin to see wear and degradation. This means that you are going to find yourself needing to supplant that coating earlier than a polyurea coating which entails more money and time.
Because polyurea is more durable than epoxy, it has a life expectancy of about 15 years. (At Innovative Concrete we offer exclusive 15-year warranties.) Just think, one application in 15 years with polyurea and 3 to 4 applications in the same time period with epoxy.
Let’s go a little deeper into the topic of prices. Epoxy garage coating is less expensive than polyurea and so if you are on a tight budget it can be a good option.
For a more durable, UV- and abrasion-resistant polyurea coating for your garage, you will obviously have to pay more. In many cases, people choose epoxy at first, but after it deteriorates rather quickly, they realize that, in the long run, a better choice is polyurea due to its sturdiness over time. While polyurea can cost more, you are paying for its durability and longevity which clearly is a better investment.
One instance where epoxy might make sense is if you are listing your house for sale and you are just looking to spruce it up a little and are not concerned with longevity.
To keep epoxy coating for garage floors in excellent condition, you must remove any grit and dirt that can mar the surface or become lodged inside over time. All chemical spills such as gasoline, antifreeze, or oil must be removed quickly. If not, these substances can change the appearance of your garage floor coating. It is also good practice to wash an epoxy surface regularly with a gallon of hot water, 2-3 ounces of ammonia, and a microfiber mop.
When it comes to polyurea floor coating, it is far more resilient to chemicals, abrasions, and physical impacts.
Accordingly, any spills should not damage your coating. But to keep your floors looking appealing, you should try to remove spills as you see them. You can use a paper towel for small spills and a mop with water and a small amount of cleaner for larger ones. The top coat will stay glossy for years, but you can wax and polish to refurbish the sheen. Regular mopping will keep your polyurea floors in a radiant condition for a long time.
Benefits of Polyurea Garage Floor Coating
Consider these specific features of a resurfaced floor by Innovative Concrete Coatings:
- Traction for Safety: Uncoated concrete or epoxy-coated concrete can turn slippery with rain or a liquid spill. We add texture to ensure you never lose traction on your concrete garage floor.
- Resistance to Damage and Stains: We repair any damage to your floors and smooth out any rough areas before installing your polyurea coating. Once the floor cures, it can hold up under the weight of vehicles and withstand mishaps such as dropped tools and spilled chemicals.
- Easy Cleanup: Garage floors can be stained by spills of brake fluid, antifreeze, oil, paint, fuel, and more. You’ll need a special soap to clean any epoxy coating, but our polyurea coating only needs soap and water.
- Striking Designs: A concrete garage floor can be a big, boring slab. Our garage floor coating comes in a variety of colors and texture blends that resemble quartz, marble, or even a metallic finish. Our polyurea coatings are customizable so you can choose the color coat and design that works best for you. We can match whatever style you’re looking for.
- Low Maintenance: Our floor coating is stronger than epoxy while saving you money on installation and labor over time. Your polyurea floor coating will last for decades, so you won’t have to hire someone every few years to repair your floor.
Don’t Be Fooled by Epoxy Companies
Epoxy coatings are marketed as durable and vibrant, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Epoxy coatings are extremely brittle and don’t bind with concrete. This makes epoxy floors prone to chipping and peeling. Epoxy floor colors also have a track record of fading drastically over time. Lastly, epoxy coatings are susceptible to blisters and bubbles, which makes your floor coating unsightly and weaker over the long haul.
Don’t Settle for Less Than the Best
Polyurea coatings are stunning, impact-resistant, and waterproof. Unlike epoxy, polyurea coatings are flexible, enabling them to withstand both extreme heat and cold temperatures without cracking or peeling. Our polyurea coatings bind directly to the concrete making it so strong that it comes with a 15-year warranty. Also, you don’t have to worry about your polyurea coating’s color fading even if it’s exposed to direct sunlight. Polyurea coatings cure fast, taking only a day for the process, taking only a day for the process to completely cure.
Are you looking for a polyurea garage floor coating? Our floor coating experts can help. We offer fast, efficient service that will give you attractive new concrete floors in no time. Our team has years of experience and won’t be happy unless you love your new floor covering.
Call us or fill out a contact form for more information or to get started.