Polyurea vs Epoxy Garage Floors: Which One is Best Value For Money?

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Polyurea vs Epoxy Garage Floors: Which one is Better?

Epoxy garage floors have been around for a while. Epoxy coating is glossy, smooth and hard wearing. However, in recent years, polyurea garage floors are gaining in popularity. So when it comes to polyurea vs epoxy garage floors, which one is better?

When it comes to the polyurea vs epoxy garage floors, Polyurea is the best value for money. Polyurea garage floors cost $21.33 per year of useful life for every 100 square feet. 100% solids Epoxy garage floors, on the other hand, cost $27.87 per year of useful life for every 100 square feet.

When comparing two garage floor coating systems, you should consider performance and ease of application as important comparison parameters. Other factors such as ease of maintenance and aesthetic appeal are also important but less so.

Polyurea vs Epoxy Garage Floors

The main difference between polyurea vs epoxy garage floors is the chemistry of the resin used as the binder in the formulation. Polyurea resin is in fact a subset of polyurethane resin. Polyaspartic, another type of garage floor coating, uses a specific type of polyurea resin. In that sense, Polyaspartic is just a type of polyurea.

Polyurea vs Epoxy Garage Floors: Performance Comparison

When comparing polyurea vs epoxy garage floors you must give maximum importance to the performance characteristics of each coating. Some of the important parameters of performance worth evaluating are:

Bonding Strength with Concrete

The bonding strength with concrete is a measure of the degree of adhesion of the coating to the concrete floor. In case the bonding strength is weak then the coating is likely to peel within a short time.

One part polyurea garage floor coating penetrates and bonds with the concrete floor better than two-part epoxy coating. This means that polyurea garage floors are less likely to have a problem of peeling as compared to epoxy garage floors.

Flexibility & Hardness

The flexibility of a material is its ability to deform under stress but retain its original shape once the stress is removed. Polyurea is more flexible than epoxy. However, polyurea is not as hard as an epoxy coating.

Polyurea has a lower scratch resistance but higher impact resistance, when compared to epoxy coatings.

An example that will make this concept more clear is to think of polyurea as a rubber mat and epoxy as a glass sheet on a workbench. 

You can drop a hammer on the rubber pad without causing any damage. Drop the same hammer on the glass sheet and it will shatter. On the other hand, you can scratch the rubber mat with a screwdriver but you cannot do that to the glass sheet.

I think you get the idea!

Dry Film Thickness (DFT)

Dry Film Thickness (DFT) is measured once the coating has fully cured. Dry Film Thickness (DFT) can be calculated by multiplying volume solids by Wet Film Thickness (WFT).

For example:

Armorclad, a 3-layer epoxy system, with primer + 100% solids epoxy + 2-part Topcoat has an approximate total DFT of 20 mils.

SPGX. a 1-part Polyurea, applies at approximately 4 mils/coat. So, even a 2-layer system will add up to a DFT of just 8 mils.

 (A mil is 1/1000 of an inch while a micron is 1/1000 of a millimeter)

For the same coating type, a higher dry film thickness (DFT) will result in higher strength and longer life against abrasion. The DFT comparison is meaningful within the same coating type. A comparison based on DFT, across different types of coatings is quite meaningless.

Durability

The durability of a garage floor coating depends on the type of stresses that the garage floor is exposed to, as well as the environmental conditions.

The garage floor is subjected to abrasive stress, all the time, from vehicular & foot traffic. It can also experience some stress due to impacts from dropping of heavy objects, such as hammers or power tools.

Polyurea performs better against impacts as compared to epoxy. Epoxy on the other hand is very hard wearing and canl handle abrasion better than polyurea.

In case your garage gets a significant amount of sunlight from open garage doors or windows, then polyurea will perform better than epoxy. Polyurea has high UV resistance whereas the UV resistance of epoxy is quite low.

Both polyurea and epoxy are fairly chemical resistant and impervious to oil spills & grease stains. 

Overall, when it comes to polyurea vs epoxy garage floors, polyurea is more durable than epoxy.

Longevity

In standard conditions an epoxy garage floor will last 3 to 5 years. After this you will have to consider recoating the epoxy floor. The cracks, discoloration and delamination of the epoxy coating will not be acceptable to you anymore.

On the other hand, polyurea garage floors are known to last for 10 to 15 years. The long life is one of the major advantages of polyurea coating, when it comes to polyurea vs epoxy garage floor.

Abrasion Resistance

When it comes to polyurea vs epoxy garage floor coatings, both can handle micro scratches, such as those from sand on tires or footwear, equally well. Epoxy, however, will handle deeper abrasive scratches, such as those from furniture or ladders, better than polyurea.

Chemical Resistance

Both polyurea and epoxy have a high degree of resistance to household cleaning chemicals and the usual food & beverages. Both resist the absorption of oil spills & grease stains equally well. Both types of coatings are therefore easy to clean and maintain.

UV Resistance

Polyurea, being from the polyurethane family, has a high UV resistance. On the other hand, epoxy has quite poor UV resistance. Under strong sunlight, epoxy can yellow and the film can lose its gloss.

It is therefore not unusual to use a polyurethane (PU) clear topcoat over an epoxy garage floor coating.

Polyurea vs Epoxy Garage Floors - Performance Comparison

Polyurea vs Epoxy Garage Floors: Ease of Application

The application procedure for both Polyurea and Epoxy coatings is broadly similar. But there are some differences between the two when it comes to the details.

The ease of application, or lack thereof, depends on following factors:

Surface Preparation

For any paint application and certainly for a high-performance floor coating application, surface preparation is extremely crucial. In general the surface preparation for Polyurea vs Epoxy garage floors is the same.

After the required surface preparation, I recommend using a suitable primer. Though the primer adds to the initial cost, it results in a better, thicker and more uniform finish coat.

Should you choose not to apply the primer coat, Polyurea will adhere more strongly to the bare concrete surface than an Epoxy coating.

Mixing and Pot Life

Polyurea coating is a 1-part product and mixing between a base & a hardener is not a requirement. 

100% solids Epoxy coating is a 2-part product. Part A (base) needs to be mixed with part B (hardener) in the ratio prescribed by the manufacturer. 

Once mixed, the curing process starts. The mixture has a pot life, usually between 30-50 minutes. You must complete the application in this timeframe else the liquid coating will solidify in the can itself.

You will also run into a problem if the ratios are not correct. In case you add a lower quantity than prescribed, of part B (hardener), then the curing will be incomplete. The garage floor will remain tacky and will never become hard, as required.

1-part Polyurea coating is a lot easier to apply than 2-part Epoxy coating.

Curing Time

Curing time is the time taken for the coating to become completely hard after application.

Most Polyurea coatings cure fast. SPGX from Armorpoxy is good to walk on in 3-4 hours. You can park your cars after 24 hours of application.

Epoxy coatings take much longer to cure. ArmorClad 100% 2-part Epoxy is ready for foot traffic in 12-14 hours. You can start moving your car and other belongings in the garage only 5-7 days after application.

Using Polyurea garage floor coating can save you a lot of time. This is particularly useful if you do not have temporary storage space for the stuff in your garage.

Curing Temperatures

Epoxy coatings should be applied only when the ambient temperature is above 55° F. However a Polyurea coating can be applied at temperatures as low as 45° F. 

This is great news for locations with colder temperatures. You do not need to wait for midsummer to renew your garage floor.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Both 1-part Polyurea and 2-part Epoxy used for coating garage floors are 100% solids. This means that the volatile organic compound (VOC) component in the formulation is practically zero.

So both 100% Polyurea and 100% Epoxy are eco-friendly.

Polyurea vs Epoxy Garage Floors: Cost Comparison

Armorpoxy is a leading manufacturer of a large range of floor coatings. I will use their products as a reference to compare costs.

The price of Armorpoxy Flake Polyaspartic Flooring Kit (1 Car Garage Kit) which covers 300 sq ft can be checked by clicking the link below:

The price of Polyurea garage kit is $639.99 for the kit or $213.33 per 100 sq ft for gray color. Assuming the Polyurea garage floor lasts for 10 years, the cost per year for 100 sq ft works out to $21.33.

The price of a Armorclad Epoxy Kit w/ Topcoat (1 Car Garage Kit) which covers 300 sq ft can be checked by clicking the link below:

The price of 100% solids Epoxy garage kit is $417.99 for the kit or $139.33 per 100 sq ft for gray color. Assuming an Epoxy garage floor lasts for 5 years, the cost per year for 100 sq ft works out to $27.87.

Conclusion

Polyurea garage floor coatings are the best value for money when compared with Epoxy garage floor coatings as seen from the table below:

Coating Type1 Car Kit Cost(covers 300 sq ft)Cost per 100 sq ftCost per year per 100 sq ft
Polyurea Armorpoxy Flake Polyaspartic Flooring Kit (Service Life assumed at 10 years)$639.99$213.33$21.33
Epoxy Armorclad Epoxy Flooring Kit with Topcoat (Service Life assumed at 5 years)$417.99$139.33$27.87

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Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and useful.

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