The Epic Showdown – Epoxy Coatings vs. Polyaspartic Coatings

Epoxy Coatings vs. Polyaspartic Coatings

Ever since the construction of the first concrete floor, humanity has searched for a way to protect and beautify the surface. Epoxy coatings have been around for some time and have been popular protectors of concrete floors. Fairly new to the party, polyurea polyaspartic coatings have quickly become the darlings of those who want a fast dry time. Let’s examine each of these contenders and see how they stack up against each other.

Epoxy Coatings

Epoxies are resin polymers composed of epoxide units, which are cyclic three-atom ether rings containing an oxygen atom and two carbon side-groups. The triangular units are electronically strained and are therefore quite reactive. Normally, epoxy resin is formed by reacting bisphenol A and epichlorohydrin, but variants popular for concrete floor applications include novolac and aliphatic epoxy resins. A typical application consists of an epoxy primer, a color base coat and two layers of polyurethane.

Advantages of Epoxy Coatings:

  • Not expensive
  • Creates a hard, beautiful finish
  • You have many finish options, including color and mix-ins
  • Highly durable
  • Resistant to chemicals
  • Good adhesion — won’t lift
  • Long pot life, allowing application with a manual gun

Disadvantages of Epoxy Coatings:

  • Less flexible and less resistant to abrasion
  • Can be somewhat difficult to apply in hot or cold conditions
  • Has a long drying time
  • Has potentially hazardous vapors, although new formulations address this
  • May not be colorfast — subject to fading or yellowing from UV exposure, though many formulations include UV protection
  • Cannot be applied when temperature below freezing

Polyaspartic Coatings

First introduced in the 1990’s, polyaspartic coatings derive from aliphatic polyisocyanate reacting with polyaspartic ester, a diamine. The compound is known as an aliphatic polyurea, which is quite different from conventional polyureas and in many ways superior. By tailoring the relative amount of the ester, scientists can craft a variety of polyaspartic coatings with different characteristics. For garage floor applications, the ester is the main component, resulting in low emissions and quick drying. When applied to grey concrete floors, polyaspartic floor coatings produce a glossy, almost watery tone that customers can color. In some applications, decorative chips are broadcast on the still-wet topcoat.

Advantages of Polyaspartic Coatings:

  • Easier application in a wide variety of weather and temperature conditions
  • Hard, smooth finish that is stain- and scratch-resistant, good for high-traffic areas
  • Clear and non-sticky when dry
  • Fast drying times, cures to full strength in 1/2 to 1 hour
  • Colors and decorative chips available
  • Colorfast, even when applied to slightly damp concrete
  • Low VOCs and odor
  • Low viscosity gives it good wetting ability on concrete, but requires reduced percentage of solids
  • High, controllable film build-up
  • Less likely to bubble from outgassing

Disadvantages of Polyaspartic Coatings:

  • Relatively new product, professional application recommended
  • Short pot life requires use of automatic application guns
  • Two to three times more expensive to purchase and apply
  • Must avoid high moisture vapor emission rate conditions when applying
  • Might have to thin the first coat for better adhesion
  • Doesn’t stand up as well to battery acids
  • Very slippery when wet, so a top aggregate such as chips recommended

PennCoat Inc. has decades of experience perfecting epoxy flooring. Our epoxy flooring contractors are here to transform the look of your business.  Contact us today to learn how we can help. (888) 600-5220