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Monday, February 22nd by Katelyn Williams
If you’re looking to renew your garage, there’s nothing better than starting with that nasty, dirty, oil-stained garage floor. No amount of paint, lighting or shelving units can make the same impact on a garage as a shiny new floor. As you’d expect, there are all sorts of options for your garage floor:
Let’s focus on polymer coatings because they offer the best option in terms of looks and longevity. This leaves us with three basic options: epoxies, polyurethanes and polyaspartics.
Epoxy coatings tend to be less expensive and easier to apply than other options, but even when professionally installed, they can peel and crack over time. Plus, epoxy coatings will yellow over time from exposure to UV rays.
Newer polyurethane products do tend to perform better than epoxies, but they take twice as long to install as other options — up to four days to fully cure — and they run the risk of peeling and cracking because they must be applied relatively thinly due to their lengthy cure times. Plus, the solvents used in their make-up emit Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs, both during application and once cured.
Epoxy floor coatings flake, yellow, chip and fade over time.
When professionally installed, polyaspartic coatings typically don’t suffer the same problems as epoxies and polyurethanes. They are safe, durable, long-lasting and offer a granite-like look and feel. Current polyaspartic options available to consumers are the culmination of decades of research and development.
Today’s polyaspartic floor coatings are engineered to look better, wear harder and last longer than epoxy or polyurethane options. Though the technology has been perfected over the past few decades, polyaspartic coatings were mainly used in commercial applications such as hospitals and airplane hangars until recently.
Let’s take a quick look at how these coatings work. A polyaspartic floor system consists of a colored base coat, vinyl flake layer and a clear top coat for shine and durability. It is not something you buy at a big-box DIY store. Polyaspartic coating sets very quickly, so it requires at least two installers. Polyaspartic floor coating is:
A polyaspartic is a kind of polyurea that was first developed in the 1990s. The full name is “polyaspartic aliphatic polyurea.” A polyurea is an organic polymer that is the result of the reaction of two components.
The first component is resin. In the case of polyurea, the resin is an amine-terminated polyether resin. Amine-terminated polyether resins replace the polyol commonly used to make traditional polyurethane.
The second component is an isocyanate. Isocyanates are a family of highly reactive, low molecular weight chemicals widely used in the manufacture of coatings and elastomers and are increasingly used in the automobile industry. Isocyanates can be classified as either aromatic or aliphatic. When a Polyurea is made using aliphatic isocyanate (as opposed to an aromatic isocyanate), the result is polyaspartic aliphatic polyurea or, for short, polyaspartic.
Because of the use of aliphatic isocyanate, polyaspartics overcome many of the difficulties associated with aromatic polyureas and traditional polyurethanes. The result is a rubber-like compound that may be used in many of the same ways as older technologies such as epoxy or polyurethane — but with better performance.
Another big advantage of aliphatic isocyanates is their color stability. Aliphatic polyurea coating systems are UV-stable and UV-stable compounds experience very little loss of gloss or color fade over time, even when exposed to direct sunlight. Non-UV-stable polyurea products created with aromatic isocyanates will lose gloss, fade and yellow when exposed to sunlight. Eventually, these coatings experience polymer breakdown and coating failure.
The bottom line is, thanks to their chemistry, polyaspartic floor coating is very tough. They combine high elasticity with high surface hardness, resulting in very good abrasion resistance. This is basically the holy grail of garage-floor coatings.
So, all you have to do to ensure a beautiful, long-wearing floor is to go with a polyaspartic system, right? Well… yes, but you need to read the fine print. That’s because there are many aliphatic products out there that are, in fact, blends of aliphatic and aromatic isocyanates. Some unscrupulous producers will make a blend that is only 51 percent aliphatic and 49 percent aromatic and still claim it is an aliphatic product. These won’t offer the same durability and long-lasting beauty as a 100 percent aliphatic product.
If you skipped to this bit, here’s the deal: Polyaspartic floor coating systems are better than epoxy and polyurethane systems because they look better longer. This is due to the chemistry involved. Not all polyaspartic products are the same. Read the fine print and look for one with a 100 percent aliphatic isocyanate component.
Clear as polyaspartic aliphatic polyurea? Schedule your free garage floor coating estimate today!