June 30, 2016
Epoxy floor coatings have long been the go-to coating for concrete surfaces in both the professional and DIY residential markets. That’s because they are relatively inexpensive, easy to apply and deliver good results – at least at first.
The issue with epoxy-based concrete coatings doesn’t become apparent until months or years later. Epoxies will fade in direct sunlight, can yellow with age and are prone to hot tire pick-up when it is applied to a parking deck or garage floor.
The comparative shortcomings of epoxy floor coatings have led to the development of new a concrete coating technology called polyaspartics.
Characteristics of polyaspartic coatings
A subgroup of polyurea, polyaspartics coatings are composed of a resin-catalyst mix that activates a curing process, which results in a hard, durable coating that can then be applied to many different types of substrates.
An optimal application for polyaspartic coatings is concrete protective coatings. Because polyaspartic coatings are still relatively new, they account for a small percentage of the concrete coatings market. But interest is growing in both the commercial and residential applications due the coatings’ long-term benefits, which include:
• Rapid curing. This is the biggest difference, and in many cases the primary appeal, of polyaspartic coatings. While epoxies require as much as a week to completely dry and cure, most polyaspartic coatings will cure the same day. Some coatings cure fast enough that you could walk on them in as few as six hours after application, whereas epoxy floors must cure for three to five days.
• Application temperature. Polyaspartic coatings usually can be applied any time of year, regardless of climate. If you are applying the coating in an outdoor area or one that is not climate controlled, it will cure and adhere in temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That means you don’t have to wait for the right weather conditions to apply your coating. You can do in the heat of summer or the dead of winter.
• Light resistance. Polyaspartic coatings provide better UV resistance than epoxy floor coatings, making them less prone to fading or yellowing in the sunlight. Faded coatings diminish the aesthetic appeal of a space, particularly in a public plaza, parking deck, or garage. While parking decks and garages are generally dark, areas near doors or windows are subjected to direct sunlight, resulting in an uneven fading effect on the epoxy coated surface.
• High heat tolerance. Car tires pick up a lot of heat from driving on the road, especially during the summer, and hot tires can damage epoxies surfaces by creating what is known as “hot tire pickup.” The surface of an epoxy coating picks up the hot rubber from the tire and can leave permanent tire tracks on a garage floor or parking deck. The higher heat tolerance of polyaspartic coatings reduces this risk.
• Strong adhesion. Applying a coating to a smooth concrete surface is a challenge, because there is virtually no texture to help create a bond between the surface and the coating. However, the unique chemistry of polyaspartic coatings helps the bonding process so it forms a stronger adhesive bond when applied to well-prepared concrete. This high-strength bond reduces the risk of peeling as the coating ages.
• High resistance to chemical and oil stains. Many of the same properties that make polyaspartic coatings resistant to heat and peeling also make them resistant to chemical stains. An oil or gasoline spill in the garage won’t damage a polyaspartic coating if you promptly clean it up.
Weighing the benefits
Because polyaspartic coatings may be more difficult to apply for the weekend warrior, it is best to use a professional installer. Polyaspartic coatings typically cost between $3 and $5 more per square foot versus epoxy when professionally installed. DYI kits are sold through many home improvement stores, but, these kits may not be as durable as a coating that is professionally applied. When you consider the benefits, the investment is well worth it to keep concrete floors strong, durable and attractive.
Besides coatings for concrete, polyaspartic coatings are well-suited for other industrial maintenance applications where a shorter downtime is a benefit, such as highway bridge coatings. And as demand for polyaspartic coatings grows, coatings companies have the opportunity to be at the forefront of this emerging technology.
Chromaflo Technologies is a leading provider of colorant technologies for industrial coatings. Contact a representative to learn more about polyaspartic coatings or to discuss your colorant requirements.