Which is the Best Garage Floor Coating: Epoxy vs. Polyurethane?

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It can be tough trying to decide between epoxy coating and polyurethane for garage floor project. If you have attempted to research the benefits of each material, you know it can get a bit confusing.

Epoxy vs. polyurethane

Both flooring materials will protect against damage, stains, chemicals and wear. Each coating is very durable and long-lasting, easy to clean and light reflective. Depending on the application they also have their own separate advantages. So instead of choosing one or the other, for most applications use both.

What is epoxy floor coating?

A thermosetting polymer, epoxy is available in three formulations, water-based, solvent-based, and 100 percent solids. These materials are used for garage floor coatings and sealers. They allow for a wide range of thickness variations, ease of application, VOC considerations and unique bonding characteristics.  Epoxy bonds very well to concrete and may be used to resurface worn out concrete.

The most durable epoxy coatings are 100 percent solids. These formulations create an extremely thick, hard and impact-resistant garage surface. The coating is self-leveling and fills in any hairline floor cracks or other imperfections while providing strong protection.  Some options include UV inhibitors, but keep in mind they may still appear yellowish after prolonged sun exposure.

What are the advantages of polyurethane?

Similar to epoxy, polyurethane is also a high-performance thermosetting polymer coating. It is also referred to as simply urethane, even though polyurethane and urethane are not exactly the same material. If you come across an advertisement for urethane, is most likely polyurethane.

For garage flooring, aliphatic polyurethane is the best choice. Depending on the manufacturer, it is comprised of about 65% solids and is only about 3 mils thick. Unlike epoxy, polyurethane can’t be adjusted. Yet, aliphatic polyurethane offers more flexibility, better impact absorption, and abrasion resistance. Polyurethane coating also offers better protection against chemicals.

In addition, polyurethane floor coating is more UV stable than epoxy, meaning it won’t turn yellowish in color with long-term exposed to sunlight. Epoxy is much harder, but polyurethane is a lot more scratch resistant, it responds better to humidity and temperature changes.

Even with all of these advantages, epoxy bonds better to concrete and the thin thickness of polyurethane doesn’t work well at filling in imperfections.

Which flooring material is the best option?

For maximum performance, the general belief is to use both epoxy and polyurethane coating for your garage floor. Regardless of whether you hire a professional or do the job yourself, the epoxy should be used to build thickness followed by a clear polyurethane topcoat for optimal protection. This process will prevent the epoxy material from yellowing and provide a long-wearing, scratch resistant surface.