Garage Floor Epoxy Vs Polyurea
We recently conducted in-house training for two employees. When we got to the part of epoxy and polyurea, we noticed some heads spinning. We figured if their heads were spinning, our customer’s heads must be spinning too. We have some other articles out there to provide education on garage floor coatings. But how in the world do you decide between the two?
Not All Polyurea and Garage Floor Epoxy Products are Equal
For this article, when we discuss garage floor epoxy and polyurea coatings, we are talking about the garage floor coatings that we offer here. We can’t speak for products provided by others as there are a lot of variables and a lot of variations. One thing to keep in mind: There are a lot of great products (and services) offered by specialty companies like ours. Be careful when buying ‘home center’ or ‘big box store’ materials. Utilize the TDS to find real coverages. Pay attention to Mil thickness and make sure you consider all the products you need — primer, coating, top coat, etc. You CAN find a bargain from time to time, but you have to be diligent about what you get.
What is similar
With our 93% solids kits, our 100% solids kits and our Polyurea kits, we offer high-end, UV stable best in class materials. We have meticulously assembled complete systems that will cover what we state and beyond. To be crystal clear, you will be pleased with any of these products if you take the time to do it properly. Also, in all cases, you want to have our online instructions as well as product datasheets BEFORE starting your installation. You also want to make sure all product has arrived and is in excellent condition before beginning any work
All three systems require a clean, oil-free floor that has been adequately prepped. In the case of 93% solids and Polyurea, an acid etch or grinding will suffice in most cases. In the case of 100% solids, it is essential to grind. If a floor has been previously painted, coated or sealed, you will need to remove the previous product for best results. We can walk you through applying a product over an earlier coating, but we cannot predict how that coating will react or how long it will last.
Regardless of the system you chose, the information we provide is intended to be a guideline. You, the installer, have to take the time to address your floor conditions, environmental conditions, etc. For example, all of these products will fail if there are unaddressed moisture or vapor issues.
Cracks need to be repaired after floor prep and before coating. Unrepaired cracks will haunt you later. Small cracks get wider and ruin beautiful floors. Grind them out wide enough to be filled and fill them.
Joint’s don’t need to be filled. If you are going to fill them use a joint filler — never the coating itself or a crack filler. We sell products you would use before you coat. There are products you can purchase locally that you would use AFTER you coat. Many, if not most of our customers do not fill the expansion joints at all. They coat the concrete with a brush into the joint, but they do not fill it. If you are going to fill your expansion joint, it is a good idea to talk to us about what you are going to use, and how to use it.
For example. On a 500 Sq. Ft. random broadcast system, with top coat, there is considerable variation in price. Price is always an issue, so let’s have a look. The pricing shown below is as of the date of this article and is subject to change on the product page itself. The prices are provided to illustrate the difference in costs.
- 93% High Solids — Our DIY Kit $555.58 (Make sure you get the one ending in TC or purchase a top coat separately.)
- 100% Solids Kit (again look for the TC at the end) $819.00
- Polyurea 2 Coat Kit $780.00
As previously stated, prep is required for more floors. Polyurea systems are more forgiving than epoxy systems and considerably more forgiving than 100% solids epoxy systems.
In general, epoxy products have a Part A and a Part B that need to be mixed at the correct ratio for the product to harden correctly. Each part needs to be pre-mixed, and then the two parts need to be mixed. Our Polyurea eliminates this step. The only thing you incorporate into Polyurea is the pigment which we sometimes call tint. The mixing step accounts for a large portion of failures in epoxy floors.
Working time / Pot Life
Our polyurea has a virtually unlimited pot life in the bucket. Once you spread it, it dries quickly. Epoxy will overheat and become ROCK SOLID in the can. It will be a useless $500 doorstop. Epoxy MUST be mixed and promptly dumped onto the floor in ribbons. You will then have 15-40 minutes (or less) to work with it. It will vary considerably based on temperature and other factors.
100% solids epoxy systems are thicker. Then our DIY kits. Polyurea is a little thinner. Does it matter….. In the case of polyurea, usually not. It’s an old technology vs. new technology thing. But there is an exception. If your floor looks like road salts have feasted on it for the past several years, or if you did some crack repair and its not as level as you thought….. 100% solids epoxy will hide that better. There are also specific industrial applications where our industrial, no-frills epoxy is going to be a better choice. But for the average garage, even the average working garage all of our systems are plenty thick.
Our epoxy, with urethane topcoat, is designed to be UV resistant. There are occasions, especially in lighter colors where epoxy can yellow under the urethane. Polyurea systems use urethane-based technology throughout the entire system and provide outstanding UV resistance.
For most applications, all of the products are going to be extremely durable. I made some notes in the thickness section above. The testing gets confusing because epoxy can appear more durable in certain types of tests because it is technically harder. Polyurea is more flexible and tends to be more forgiving. In all cases, we highly suggest our anti-wear anti-skid in the final coat.
Polyurea tends to have the edge to a top-coated epoxy. The thing to look at is the type of chemical you expect your floor to be exposed to. If you have a particular concern that is something to discuss.
Hot Tire Lifting
NONE of these products should lift from hot tires when properly installed. Polyurea will tend to penetrate better (and thus perform better) on imperfectly prepped floors. The key to stopping hot tire lift is proper prep.
At optimal temperatures, you should wait three days before driving on Polyurea and seven days before driving on epoxy.
Polyurea stinks during the install and for a couple of days after. The amount of time can vary substantially based on ventilation, exposed surfaces and installation.
DIY Kits stink less.
100% solids epoxy has no solvent odor. The urethane may, depending on the system.
What would I Use in My Own Garage?
In my garage, I would go with Polyurea. The installation is MUCH more straightforward, and the performance is outstanding. As to appearance…. You just can’t beat it.