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Looking for a good alternative to protect your concrete floor? There are many products designed to be used as coats for concrete floors. However, two of the most common are epoxy and polyaspartic. While these materials have properties that may make them fit for one space or another, it may be challenging to distinguish between the two, especially if you have not worked with them. In this blog, we discuss everything you need to know about epoxy and polyaspartic coatings. By understanding the similarities and differences between these two materials, you can make an informed decision as you move forward with your coating application project.
What is Epoxy?
Epoxy are chemical compounds that can also be referred to as polyepoxides. Usually, epoxy floor coatings consist of epoxy resin and a hardener that is meant to protect surfaces and other materials from external damage. However, this material is typically used in indoor industrial flooring and can be ideal for areas such as garages that are susceptible to spills and oil leaks. The application process of epoxy involves multiple steps, with the first step being the application of a primer followed by a color base coat and finally, a top coat for extra protection. If the epoxy is a self-primer, it is advisable to skip the first step.
Unlike polyaspartic coatings, epoxy coatings have been around for many decades and have been the main choice of flooring for many. However, this material seems to be less preferable, especially in environments where there is overexposure to UV rays and the temperature varies. If there are extreme temperature changes, the freeze-thaw cycle causes the expansion and contraction affect the bond between the epoxy and concrete, which eventually causes it to separate and crack. If the space is overly exposed to UV rays, the epoxy tends to yellow over time. Ideally, the application of epoxy should happen in an environment where the internal temperature is at temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperatures go below this, it is likely that the coat will not cure properly or it will not adhere to the concrete floor.
However, epoxy is a good choice for individuals or businesses that do not mind the slight yellow or amber tinge on the floor. However, for businesses that care about visual appeal such as showrooms, you would be better off with the newer sister on the block-polyaspartic floor coating. We explain more below.
What is Polyaspartic Floor Coating?
Polyaspartic floor coatings have been in the market for only the last few decades. It was developed in the 90s to protect the metal and concrete parts of bridges from harsh weather elements that would lead to corrosion and degradation. However, this type of floor coating performs just as well. The coating is anticorrosive, which makes it an ideal coating for places with metal and concrete alike. It can easily be used in both outdoor structures and indoor spaces.
Unlike epoxy flooring which will need days to dry, polyaspartic coatings dry in just a matter of hours or a day even with multiple applications. Therefore, it is a much safer alternative for business owners who would like to get back in business as soon as possible and avoid any downtimes as a result of coat application.
Polyaspartic flooring has a short pot life, which means that it is likely to dry off soon after you open it. Therefore, if you are thinking of having this applied to your concrete floor, it is better to hire a professional who can work as fast as possible to minimize chances of the coating drying in the bucket or if you are still working on your floor.
Another quality of polyaspartic coating is that it can be applied on concrete in a wide range of extreme temperatures. Polyaspartic coatings are more flexible, which means they bond well with concrete. Therefore, you do not have to worry about thaw and freeze patterns as they are unlikely to have a bearing on the durability and quality of your floor. Instead, the polyaspartic coating will expand and contract with the cycle without any effect that could cause separation or cracking.
Additionally, this type of floor coating is also UV stable. Therefore, it can withstand long periods of exposure to the sunlight and it will not become yellow or separate from the floor underneath it.
While polyaspartic floor coatings may solve the problems associated with epoxy flooring, it would be interesting to note that it comes at a significantly higher price tag compared to epoxy floor coatings. Furthermore, to reduce the chances of the coating drying before you finish the application, you may need to hire an expert to apply it at an extra cost. However, they could be a lifesaver in the long term for businesses that are well suited for it.
Methods of Application
It is possible to also compare these two coating materials depending on the methods of application. See some of the pros and cons below:
- The process of applying epoxy on concrete flooring starts with wearing protective gear including a mask with a filter. This gear will protect you from inhaling the harmful fumes produced by epoxy.
- Next, you will paint around the edges of the room with a bristle brush and fill in the rest of the area with a paint roller.
- Since epoxy takes long to dry up, you may need to wait for up to 16 hours before applying the next coat. It is best to look at the manufacturer’s instructions to know the expected wait times. You need to adhere to these wait times to ensure that the concrete bonds well with the epoxy. You will need to apply even and smooth layers for proper adherence.
- After the first layer dries, you will apply the second layer of epoxy coating. At this point, you may apply non-skid granules to create a slip-resistant surface. You will then allow the surface to cure for another 16 or so hours.
- You can add the last layer, a topcoat for extra protection.
The protective coating will need up to a month to fully cure on concrete floors. However, the surface is ready for vehicles and feet in just a week.
The Ultimate Choice
The choice of whether to use polyaspartic floor coating or epoxy depends on a number of factors. For starters. You will need to consider the moisture levels and the temperature range. Polyaspartic concrete floor coatings can perform at a wide temperature range of between -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit while epoxy coatings will work best at temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, polyaspartic floor coating has a higher UV stability and cures faster compared to epoxy. Therefore, this is a good option for you if you want to reduce downtime, your space is in a harsh environment with extreme temperature ranges and high UV-ray exposure.
Another factor you will have to consider is that epoxy floor coatings can be slippery when wet, especially if there are no non-slip additives. This means that it would not work well in an industrial environment and this may lead to a liability lawsuit if someone slips and falls. If you choose a non-slip epoxy, you may find yourself incurring a higher cost, which beats the intention of using it in the first place as polyaspartic coatings are considered expensive. Therefore, at the end of the day, the coating you will choose will depend on the factors we have discussed above. However, the finishes are not mutually exclusive as you can apply a polyaspartic finish over an epoxy primer.
Epoxy and polyaspartic floor coatings have been around for decades now. While they are both used to achieve a beautiful, glossy finish on floors, they have some differences that may determine how they are used. The choice of whether to use polyaspartic or epoxy floor finishing depends on your needs and the individual properties of these coatings.
Overall, we find that polyaspartic floor coating is a better investment, especially in the long-term considering:
- It’s 20x Stronger Than Epoxy
- Quicker Dry Time
- UV Resistant
- No Yellowing
- Longer Life
- Scratch Resistant
- Excellent Adhesive
- Brilliant Shine