A concrete coating is similar to a chemistry experiment. Different elements and compounds are combined to create what’s meant to be a protective shield for concrete.
Some compounds are stronger and do a better job of withstanding outside elements than others. When you want any concrete surface coated, you want to make sure that it will protect, has durability, and will last.
Like all home improvement projects, concrete coatings are not something you can pay for with the spare change between the cushions of your couch.
It is an investment, and if you choose the wrong type of product for a concrete coating, you’ll run into problems sooner than expected that will cost you extra time and money.
At Southwest Exteriors, we offer a polyurea concrete coating with customizable vinyl chips from Penntek. This product is highly durable, is ready to walk on in one day, and comes with a 15-year warranty with a lifetime guarantee.
Our experts know the difference between a high-quality concrete coating material and those that aren’t going to last you long.
While we only offer polyurea coatings because of their quality, durability, and longevity, it is not to say that an epoxy coating may be right for you. Epoxy is a low-cost and relatively easy material for a quick coating if that is all you want.
This article compares the Penntek polyurea concrete coating to one of its most popular competitors, epoxy. We will examine cost, prep work, cure time, and durability.
After reading, you will have a better understanding of the main differences between polyurea and epoxy so when you are ready for a concrete coating, you can make the right decision on what you want.
Before making comparisons, we must first understand exactly what epoxy and polyurea are.
What is epoxy?
Epoxy is a type of polymer. A polymer is a material made up of large molecules strung together repeatedly. The structure of a polymer makes it elastic and tough which is why it is popularly used in construction.
Other examples of polymers are wool, DNA, fingernails, and hair.
An epoxy mixture for concrete coatings consists of a resin and a hardener. The two are mixed and spread evenly over the surface to bond with the concrete.
You can look at an epoxy coating similar to paint. It sits on the surface of the concrete and doesn’t bond itself down to the roots.
What is polyurea?
Polyurea is also a type of polymer, but it is also an elastomer. This means it is a synthetic polymer that is rubber-like.
Polyurea compounds can be formulated to have many different properties and ranges in hardness. They can be customized to increase strength and flexibility, making it a popular substance for concrete coating.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what epoxy and polyurea are, we can compare the qualities of these popular concrete coating materials.
How do epoxy and polyurea stack up against each other?
Looking from the outside, it is hard to see where these materials compare and how they stand up to each other. Like any other decision you make, there are many options out there.
How do you decide between two things? You look at their pros and cons. How is one better than the other, and what do you like better about the one you choose?
Here, we will take you through the most important qualities to compare in epoxy and polyurea so by the end of this article, you will know what you want for your concrete coating.
Can you coat concrete with epoxy?
Yes, you can coat concrete with epoxy. Epoxy coatings commonly provide a protective and decorative layer to concrete surfaces. Keep in mind that the success of your epoxy coating project largely depends on proper surface preparation, careful application, and following the manufacturer's guidelines. While epoxy coating concrete can be a DIY project, we recommend consulting with professionals.
Epoxy is known and heavily advertised for its durability. For a garage floor coating, it can withstand tire marks, chemicals, stains, scratching, and general impact.
How long does epoxy coating last on concrete?
However, if you constantly pull into your garage after a long drive, the heat from your tires will wear down on the epoxy within a few years.
UV heat will also wear and cause yellowing in the epoxy in outdoor areas.
Polyurea is more durable than epoxy and more flexible because it is an elastomer. It is also chemical resistant and can withstand stable heat up to 266℉ and 430℉ for a shorter time, according to Corrosionpedia.
Can you epoxy over outdoor concrete?
Yes, epoxy coatings can be used on outdoor concrete surfaces, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
UV Resistance: Traditional epoxy coatings are not highly UV-resistant, meaning they can degrade when exposed to sunlight over time. Direct and prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the epoxy to turn yellow or become brittle. To combat this, you can use epoxy coatings specifically formulated for outdoor use with enhanced UV resistance.
Temperature Variations: Outdoor environments often experience wide temperature fluctuations, which can impact the performance of epoxy coatings. Extreme cold or heat can cause the epoxy to expand or contract, potentially leading to cracking or peeling. Look for epoxy products designed to handle temperature variations.
Moisture and Water Resistance: Outdoor surfaces are exposed to rain, snow, and other forms of moisture. Choosing an epoxy coating that offers good water resistance is essential to prevent delamination and other issues caused by moisture infiltration.
Surface Preparation: Proper surface preparation is crucial for outdoor applications. The concrete surface should be thoroughly cleaned, free of contaminants, and in good condition before applying the epoxy. Any existing cracks or damage should be repaired before coating.
Ventilation: Epoxy coatings emit fumes during application and curing. When applying epoxy outdoors, ensure proper ventilation to disperse the fumes and maintain a safe environment.
Maintenance: Outdoor epoxy-coated surfaces may require periodic maintenance to ensure they perform well. This could include cleaning, reapplication a topcoat to maintain the appearance, and addressing areas where the coating might be worn away.
Choosing the Right Product: There are epoxy coatings specifically designed for outdoor use. These coatings often have improved UV resistance, flexibility to handle temperature changes, and enhanced durability to withstand outdoor conditions. When selecting a product, make sure it's labeled for outdoor use.
If you're planning to use epoxy on an outdoor concrete surface, it's a good idea to consult with epoxy coating manufacturers or professionals who have experience with outdoor applications.
Should you use a polyurea coating on outdoor concrete?
Yes, we recommend a Polyurea coating over epoxy for outdoor concrete. Polyurea is UV resistant and will not turn yellow in the sun. This makes polyurea an excellent option for outdoor patios, pool decks, driveways, and sidewalks.
To wrap it up, polyurea is more durable than epoxy because of its heat and UV resistance and its strength against spills, scratches, and impact.
The longevity of epoxy and polyurea naturally comes into the conversation when discussing durability.
Epoxy coatings typically last three to five years before you see that wear and deterioration. This means that you will need to replace that coating sooner than a polyurea coating, which will cost you extra time and money.
Because polyurea is more durable than epoxy, it has a life expectancy of about 15 years.
This product is meant to last you a lifetime.
So looking at it all together, polyurea will last you at least a decade more than epoxy.
Is concrete epoxy expensive?
Epoxy is a popular product you can buy at your local hardware store for a DIY job. It typically costs $3-7 per ft.2, but some epoxy coatings can reach the $12 range.
Because polyurea coatings are more durable and will last longer, they will be more expensive than epoxy.
The average cost for a single-bay garage polyurea concrete coating with Southwest Exteriors is about $2,000. It costs about $7-12 per square foot.
While polyurea is more expensive than epoxy, you pay for the longevity and durability that will give you your money’s worth.
Both epoxy and polyurea concrete coatings require special prep done to the concrete.
Can you put epoxy on old concrete?
Yes, as long as the concrete surface has been prepared according to the manufacturer's specifications. Preparing a concrete surface for epoxy can consist of smooth sanding the surface, but acid etching is a more popular method.
Acid etching is when you mix hydrochloric or phosphoric acid, dilute with water, and scrub it into the surface. This method is the only option for a home DIY job and is still popular in the professional industry.
Working with chemicals poses a danger, and acid etching is no exception. It can also damage the concrete and your body if not done correctly.
For a Penntek polyurea coating, the preparation process starts with filling in cracks, pits, or hollow spots and adding a densifier if the concrete is too moist or soft. Then, the concrete is ground with a diamond grinder to smooth and even the surface.
Depending on the type of preparation chosen for epoxy, the two are fairly similar. However, acid etching can be a dangerous and potentially harmful preparation tactic to get into.
The cure time refers to the time it takes for the product to harden completely.
Epoxy can take up to five days to completely cure, which, depending on the location of your concrete coating, can cause a massive inconvenience for you.
Penntek polyurea coating cures in one day, so you can walk on it six hours later and park your cars on it 24 hours later.
However, it is important to note that temperature and humidity will affect the cure time. The hotter it is, the faster the surface will cure, and the more humid it is, the longer it will take to cure.
VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are emitted during coatings and leave a smell lingering in the air. While VOCs in epoxy and polyurea are both considered low, the scent hangs around while curing.
So, if an epoxy takes up to five days to cure, the smell of the coating chemicals will also be around for that amount of time.
Compared to epoxy, a polyurea coating will save you days on that cure time.
Everyone loves to have options, and if you want everything in your home to be unique, you will want to customize whatever you invest in.
Both epoxy and polyurea have different color options for you to choose from.
Depending on whether you are using epoxy for a DIY concrete coating or hiring a professional, you never know what color options you will have, if any. However, some professional installers offer a similar chip system and custom color options with epoxy.
Specifically, with the Penntek polyurea coating using the chip system, you have endless options in customizing the color of chips you want on your floor and the amount of each color.
When comparing two different products, it is hard to choose a winner. Polyurea is a better solution if your concrete coating is to be durable and last with minimal upkeep.
If you are moving out of your home soon and want to spruce up the garage, a cheaper epoxy option would be better. Choosing which product you want comes down to your needs and goals.
A part of choosing which product is better for you is also considering the installation. No matter if you decide on epoxy or polyurea, a poor installation of the coating is not going to last.
With Southwest Exteriors, we promise your polyurea concrete coating will last with its 15-year product warranty and our lifetime warranty if you run into any issues. Quality craftsmanship and quality products and services are what is important to us.