Polyurea vs. Epoxy Floor Coatings: Which Is Best?

The 4.7 billion concrete floor coating market is growing at a rate of 5.3% per year as more people discover the eco-friendly, VOC-free benefits of these materials.

Epoxy and polyurethanes are the most popular floor coating materials, comprising over 50% of total sales. This makes them the obvious choice for those who prefer tried-and-tested products.

Then there’s polyurea floor coating, which has some similarities to polyurethane but offers extra durability.

Which one is better for your needs? Keep reading for a comparison of polyurea vs epoxy for coating your concrete floor.

Polyurea vs Epoxy

First, let’s get to grips with what these two materials are. 

Polyurea is a type of polymer, along with wool, DNA, hair, and fingernails. What do these diverse things have in common?

They all comprise large molecules strung together, over and over. This creates a tough, elastic compound. 

Polyurea is also an elastomer. In short, it is a synthetic polymer with rubber-like qualities.

Although it only emerged as a suitable floor coating in the last decade, polyurea was first invented over forty years ago. It was previously used as a coating for manholes and tunnels, truck bed liners, tank liners, and automobile parts. 

Manufacturers can formulate polymers in a range of hardnesses, with many different properties. They can also customize them to enhance their flexibility and strength. 

This makes polyurea a great choice for concrete coating.

Epoxy is a type of polymer, and the epoxy floor coating has a hardener and resin added to the mix. 

Installers mix these elements and spread them over the surface of the concrete to create a strong bond. It works like paint that stays on the surface of the floor without bonding itself all the way through. 

Comparing the Characteristics of Epoxy and Polyurea

Coating your floors is an expensive decision and a long-term commitment, so it makes sense to compare your options thoroughly before you decide. Epoxy and polyurea floor coatings may create a similar-looking finish, but they differ vastly in other respects.

Price of Polyurea vs Epoxy

You can buy epoxy off the shelf at your local hardware store for around $3 to $12 per square foot and DIY your floor coating job.

Polyurea is a different story altogether. You’ll need professional help installing this type of flooring at a cost of around $7 to $12 per square foot.   

Although it’s more expensive, you’ll enjoy more benefits when you install a polyurea coating, plus you’ll enjoy the perks of a professional installation. 

Durability Compared

Epoxy is well known as a durable coating that can withstand general impacts, stains, scratching, tire marks, and chemicals, making it a popular choice for garage flooring.

It is susceptible to UV heat, which can cause yellowing, and will wear down with heavy use.  

Polyurea offers superior durability and flexibility compared to epoxy, it is four times stronger and 98% more flexible. It also withstands chemicals and only starts to break down in temperatures exceeding 608 ºF.

It is UV resistant and thus suitable for outdoor applications, too. 

How Long Do These Floor Coatings Last?

Longevity goes hand-in-hand with durability. Epoxy coatings can last as long as five years before you’ll notice signs of deterioration and wear.

Polyurea’s supreme durability means it can last up to 15 years, and most installers will give you a warranty to match that. 

Preparing Your Concrete Floor for a Coating

You’ll need to prepare your concrete floor thoroughly before installing either one of these coatings. 

The usual procedure before installing an epoxy coating is to sand the surface until it’s smooth or etch it with acid. The latter involves applying a mixture of hydrochloric or phosphoric acid and water to the surface and scrubbing it in.  

There’s always a risk of harming yourself or your floor with this option. 

When preparing your floor for a polyurea coating, you need to fill in any indentations and cracks before adding a densifier if the concrete is too soft. Finally, you grind the floor with a diamond grinder to create a smooth surface.  

How Long Does it Take for a Floor Coating to Cure?

Cure time refers to how long it takes for the floor coating to harden completely. 

Epoxy can take as long as five days to dry completely, while polyurea is usually good to go in one day. 

Humidity and temperature can affect the cure time. Coatings cure faster in hot temperatures, and excessive humidity will increase the time it takes for them to dry.

Although both of these floor coatings emit very low VOCs, you’ll need to put up with any resulting chemical smell for as long as it takes your floor to cure. 

Design Options

A customizable option is always the best floor coating option for your home. 

You can choose from various color options with both polyurea and epoxy floor coatings. In general, you’ll find fewer choices with epoxy coating, although some suppliers may offer chip systems and more versatile color options.

Polyurea full chip systems come in a huge range of colors to suit your interior design, click here to see some examples. 

In some cases, you may even get the option to customize the color and density of the chips you want to include in the design of your new floors. 

Make Good Choices for Your Home

Have you made your choice regarding polyurea vs epoxy for your floors yet?

If you intend to stay in your home for years to come, it’s worth splurging on a polyurea floor coating. Yet, if you intend to sell your home soon, epoxy will do the trick.

Browse our blog for more tips on how to simplify your life and make your home the best it can be.

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