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’s going to protect, has durability, and will last.

Like all home improvement projects, concrete coatings are not something you can pay 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’re going to run into problems sooner than expected that are going to cost you extra time and money. 

Video: "Epoxy v. Polyurea" down below

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 fairly easy material for a quick coating if that is all you are looking for.

In this article, we are going to compare the Penntek polyurea concrete coating to one of its most popular competitors, epoxy. We will look at qualities like 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 getting into comparisons, we first must 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 over and over again. 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 used 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 range in hardness. They can be customized to increase strength and flexibility also making it a popular substance for concrete coating. 

Now that you have a basic understanding of what epoxy and polyurea are, we can get into comparing 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 a lot of 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. 

Durability

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. 

However, if you are constantly pulling into your garage after a long drive, the heat from your tires is going to 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 amount of time according to Corrosionpedia

Polyurea is UV resistant and will not yellow in the sun. This makes polyurea a great option for outdoor patios, pool decks, driveways, and sidewalks. 

To wrap it all up, polyurea is more durable than epoxy because of its heat and UV resistance as well as its strength against spills, scratches, and impact.

Longevity

The longevity of epoxy and polyurea naturally comes into the conversation when talking about durability. 

Epoxy coatings typically last three to five years before you start to see that wear and deterioration. This means that you are going to find yourself needed 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 altogether, polyurea is going to last you at least a decade more than epoxy.

Cost

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 make their way towards the $12 range.

Because polyurea coatings are more durable and will last longer, they are going to 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 are paying for the longevity and durability that will give you your money’s worth.

Prep work

Both epoxy and polyurea concrete coatings require special prep done to the concrete. 

Preparing a concrete surface for epoxy can consist of sanding the surface smooth, but a more popular method is acid etching.

Acid etching is when you take a mixture of acid, typically hydrochloric acid or phosphoric acid, diluted with water and scrub it into the surface. This method is really the only option with a home DIY job and is still popularly used in the professional industry.

Working with any 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 any cracks, pits, or hollow spots and adding a densifier if the concrete is too moist or too 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. 

Cure time

The cure time refers to the amount of 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 inversely the more humid it is, the longer it will take to cure.

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are emitting during coatings and leave a smell lingering in the air. While VOCs in epoxy and polyurea are both considered low, the smell hangs around while it is curing.

So, if an epoxy takes up to five days to cure, the smell of the coating chemicals will be around for that amount of time as well. 

A polyurea coating is going to save you days on that cure time compared to epoxy.

Customizability

Everyone loves to have options, and if you’re someone who wants everything in your home to be unique, you’re going to want to customize whatever you are investing 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, there are professional installers that 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. 

Which is better: epoxy or polyurea?

When comparing two different products, it is hard to choose a winner. If you want your concrete coating to be durable and last with minimal upkeep, polyurea is a better solution.

If you are moving out of your home soon and just want to spruce up the garage, a less expensive epoxy option would be better for you. Choosing which product you want really just comes down to what your needs and goals are. 

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 service are what are important to us.

Interested in a concrete coating with Southwest Exteriors? Check out this article about how much a concrete coating costs and what all goes into it.