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You can be forgiven for not knowing the difference between epoxy and polyurethane flooring – they share many characteristics. Both epoxy floor coatings and polyurethane floor coatings are hard wearing, seamless, easy to clean, chemical resistant and generally a good fit as a high quality floor surface. At Respol, we work with both regularly and have many satisfied customers of both epoxy and PU flooring. So what ARE the differences between the two? It’s epoxy vs polyurethane as we answer this age-old industry question.
At the point of use, the difference between epoxy and polyurethane is quite striking. Epoxy floor coating solutions are harder and thicker than PU floor alternatives. They provide higher durability and have a much higher compression strength than polyurethane, making epoxy resin ideal for industrial floor coatings where heavy forklift or machinery traffic is likely. Conversely a polyurethane floor coating (or urethane coating as it is sometime erroneously called) is far more flexible – making it far better at resisting impact, wild temperature changes and scratches. Because of this, the floors in a multi-story car park will often be treated with polyurethane, as the flexibility helps absorb impact, prevent water damage and help bridge cracks in the existing concrete floor.
Another surprising way in which polyurethane and epoxy coatings are different comes from the clear coat. The clear coat of epoxy flooring will yellow over time if exposed to direct sunlight – whereas polyurethane coating will not. Epoxy can be treated to boost its UV resistance however.
The chemical resistance of both epoxy resins and polyurethane resins is excellent, both will protect your floor from a wide array of chemical spills – but each is more resistant to certain liquids. Polyurethane coatings offer a far greater resistance to solvents such as methylene chloride – the active ingredient in paint stripper – for example.
When it comes to installation, the differences between epoxy and polyurethane resin flooring become very apparent. While the cure times between different epoxies and polyurethanes differ, it is possible to install a polyurethane floor in just two days, where as epoxy floors need at least seven days in order to fully set. However, since all urethane floors are solvent based it makes installation more dangerous and makes a respirator an essential tool during application.
The site of installation has a large influence on which resin products will work best. Polyurethane floors are highly susceptible to humidity during the curing process – high levels of humidity is likely to ruin a PU floor early on. Epoxy coating is far more resistant to humidity and so is more suitable for areas affected by moisture.
Epoxy flooring is also far more suited to concrete repair. As the thinner of the floor resins, epoxy is able to fill cracks in the concrete and improve waterproofing and structural integrity. It is also self-levelling, which polyurethane is not, making it far easier to cover over imperfections in existing flooring and create a varnish smooth surface.
At Respol, we work together with our clients to find solutions and we are confident we can assist you in planning the ideal design for your commercial or industrial environment. For further information, a consultation or a quote, call us directly on 01952 740400.