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Battle of the Surfaces: Epoxy vs. Polyurethane Coatings

Welcome one and all to what we like to think of as the Top Trumps of the flooring world. In this week’s installment of the Ecoflor blog, we are going to compare the merits of polyurethane and epoxy surfaces to help you determine the best choice for your commercial or industrial setting.
Epoxy and polyurethane coatings are terms often used interchangeably by the uninitiated, but the truth is they are both very different surfaces with a unique range of properties. For that reason, it is essential you understand the benefits of each and weigh those against the demands of your facility to find the best match.

What are epoxy floor coatings?

Epoxy floor coatings are created through a chemical reaction between and an epoxy resin and a polymer hardener. The result is an extremely strong, durable and hardwearing coating that can be applied to old or new concrete floors in manufacturing plants, commercial facilities, warehouses, laboratories and more.

The benefits of an epoxy coating

The best epoxy coatings create a hard, thick and impact resistance surface which can withstand just about anything even duty heavy duty industries can throw at it. They have excellent impact resistance to protect against scratching, denting and wear from abrasion, and have a much higher compression strength than polyurethane coatings. This makes them well suited to warehouses, logistics centres and anywhere else with heavy forklift traffic.
However, as well as providing this excellent level of durability and wear, epoxy coatings also create an extremely attractive, high-gloss finish that’s available in a range of colours and styles. Some of the decorative options available include terrazzo, coloured aggregate flooring and more. It’s also easy to clean, hygienic and seamless, making it perfectly suited to public facing areas.

What are polyurethane coatings?

Like epoxy, polyurethane floor coatings are made up of a thermosetting polymer that cures to form a high performing, smooth, durable surface with an exceptional range of properties. However, there are some distinct differences between the two.

The benefits of polyurethane coatings

The smooth, seamless surface created by a polyurethane coating is ideal for settings where high levels of hygiene are required. It also has exceptional resistance to a wide range of chemicals and substances commonly used in the pharmaceutical and food preparation industries. That includes fuels, hydraulic oils, mineral oils, solvent, spirit vinegar, concentrated citric acid and common alcohols.
Polyurethane coatings have excellent static, temperature and UV lighting resistance, and are also more slip-resistant than epoxy coatings. However, while polyurethane coatings are hard wearing, the softer surface makes them more prone to gauging in heavy duty settings than epoxy coatings.

Which is it to be?

Clearly, both coatings have an exceptional range of properties, but there are some key differences between the two. Both are light, reflective, easy to clean, and long lasting, and can protect your floor against stains, damage, chemicals, oils and wear. However, in general, epoxy floor coatings offer better moisture and chemical resistance than polyurethane coatings, making them a better choice where the presence of humidity could be an issue. Polyurethane coatings offer a higher resistance to UV lighting, can be applied in a shorter space of time and are non-tainting, making them a great choice for live environments.

Still not sure? Please contact our team at contact@ecoflor.co.uk or call 0800 6126 500 for the help you need. As a supplier and installer of both coatings, any advice you receive from Ecoflor is completely impartial.

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