In our industry, another topic that comes up, more often in the residential sector, is one day floor coating versus two day or three day floors, however you choose to install it. The one day floor coating installations are not a “magic bullet” as a lot of companies try to sell them. It’s not a 1 size fits all solution. While the floor can be installed in one day, you’re able to return the customer back to their floor quicker and there’s less downtime, it’s not always the best solution.
As a professional installer of epoxy floor coatings for over a decade we’ve experienced many different situations that required different types of coatings. When we initially speak with our customers, we ask numerous questions and consider a number of factors that will determine what coatings we need to use. Factors such as the condition of the concrete, moisture presence, chemical exposure, types of traffic, and environmental temperatures help us to consider the correct coating system.
For many one day floor coating installs, companies are using a polyurea basecoat. Many of these companies advertise saying these coating are 5 times, 6 times, or even 10 times stronger than epoxy. These advertisements are misleading and fail to discuss what makes their polyurea coatings so much stronger
The strength that is being referred to in regards to polyurea comes from the coating’s flexibility. The elongation for many polyurea coatings is around 300%, while many epoxies only have an elongation around 4-5%. We do use an epoxy coating for some of our applications with an elongation at around 150%, which is extremely flexible for an epoxy. Outside of flexibility epoxies and polyurea have a lot of similarities. They have good abrasion resistance, chemical resistance, and can withstand impact from heavy objects.
The drawbacks that come with polyurea are the inability to introduce water to the coating during the curing process and in many cases the inadequate adhesion due to the coatings quick cure rate. In Ohio, many times when installing garages, we get a lot of surprise rain that comes in on us and this is one of a few reasons we choose to use epoxy for most of our garage installs. With polyurea any dampness or excess moisture in the concrete can cause that coating to foam up and ultimately fail. We’ve heard of companies testing with a moisture meter to check the moisture in the concrete, which is great for that day and that moment, but won’t help if a heavy rain pops up when the time comes apply the coating. As an example, recently we were installing a garage floor and it started to rain on us and we got a little bit of water on the front part of the garage. Thankfully we were installing a moisture insensitive epoxy, which allows up to apply the epoxy over a damp surface without and issues.
A lot of the epoxies we use are moisture insensitive, and while we still can’t coat over standing water, does enable us to coat over a damp surface without any concerns of the coatings bonding to the surface. Moisture alone is a large deciding factor for why we choose to use epoxy over a lot of polyurea or polyaspartic when we’re putting them directly over the concrete. Polyaspartics are a fantastic top coat, but we don’t believe that they’re always the best coating for a base coat being applied directly over concrete.
On the commercial side of our installations, we always look at it through the customer-specific needs. We might add additional coats for their facility, whereas for residential, we generally only install 2-3 coats. Commercial and industrial facilities will be subject to much heavier traffic such as forklifts, heavy cart traffic, harsh chemicals, and other daily abuse. We want to make sure the coating is going to be thicker and designed for the heavier daily traffic and in doing so we may be required spec flooring system with numerous additional coatings which can take take 3 or 4 days to install. It’s important to do your research to make sure that these floors are going to be acceptable for your specific installation prior to the project.
By no means are polyurea coatings bad. We simply believe that are not the best coating for all uses and shouldn’t be used universally. Like any coating, polyurea has its strengths in some areas while weak in others. Knowledge of the different types of coatings, where to apply them and how they can be combined for certain systems will ultimately provide the right floor for any client!
If you have any further questions, we have some additional information on our site. You can also reach out to our team. We’ll be more than happy to get back with you and address any questions you may have.
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