Polyurea and Polyaspartic concrete floor coatings are among the more popular alternatives to epoxy coating systems. In the right circumstances they can cure faster, last longer, and are more resistant to environmental damage than epoxy.

Black Bear Coatings & Concrete is here to help you find the perfect concrete coating for your building. Are polyurea or polyaspartic coatings right for you?


Polyurea Floor Coating vs Polyaspartic Floor Coating – What’s The Difference?

At a basic level, the two types of resinous coatings are quite similar. Polyurea is a floor coating which is derived from polyurethane, a type of synthetic plastic, combined with resins for hardening. Polyaspartic coatings are a type of polyurea, but with advanced formulations intended to correct for some of the issues that regular polyurea coatings can have.


Both have several advantages over epoxy in many situations:

  • In fluid form, they are thinner than epoxy, allowing them to more easily seep into the cracks and holes in concrete, which creates a stronger surface bond.
  • They both are fast to install and have an extremely short cure time, compared to the 2-3 days it takes epoxy to harden.
  • They can both harden in much colder temperatures than epoxy.
  • They are far more resistant to UV damage, such as from sunlight, which can discolor or weaken epoxy.
  • They are less brittle than epoxy, and therefore more difficult to damage.

    In general, polyaspartic coatings are superior to polyurea, with a few unique benefits:

  • Polyurea cures so quickly that it can be difficult to work with. Polyaspartics take a bit longer to harden but give installation workers more time to correct for errors and ensure the surface is properly applied.
  • Polyaspartic floors have even more UV resistance than polyurea.
  • Polyaspartic coatings are less reactive to moisture in the concrete, which can weaken polyurea coatings.
  • Polyaspartic coatings can be entirely free of Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC), potentially dangerous outgassing from plastic products.

    However, being the newest type of resinous concrete coating, polyaspartic solutions are typically more expensive than regular polyurea coating. In many cases, polyurea is fine and the higher cost of polyaspartic coating isn’t justified.

    In some cases, it’s even possible to blend both polyurea and polyaspartic coatings for a best-of-both-worlds solution. This does also add to the costs, though.


    Vulnerabilities Of Polyurea and Polyaspartic Floor Coatings

    No floor coating system is perfect or works in every situation. Polyurethane-derived coatings do have some drawbacks.

  • These coatings, especially polyurea, will react badly to any moisture in the concrete surface. It must either be totally dry, or a moisture barrier must be used, or else they won’t cure properly.
  • They are extremely vulnerable to acids and are not appropriate for environments where acids are likely to be spilled.
  • They have limited options in colors and textures, compared to the wide variety of looks that epoxy can achieve. For this reason, epoxy is typically more popular for public-facing areas.
  • Polyurea, in particular, is so volatile that it can evaporate while sitting in the pot or evaporate away during the application process before properly drying.
  • Polyaspartic coatings must use 100% aliphatic diamine materials, or else they can be vulnerable to yellowing over time. Many cheaper blends only use ~51% aliphatic materials.

    It’s also worth mentioning that all resinous coatings can be slippery when wet, including polyurea and polyaspartic solutions. If spills are likely, they should be formulated to include grit like silica grains for extra traction.


    Polyurea and Polyaspartic Floor Coatings Durability

    Polyurea and polyaspartic floor coatings are both high-performance, durable coatings often used for their resistance to chemicals, abrasion, and UV exposure. However, these two types of coatings have slightly different characteristics when it comes to yellowing.


    Polyurea coatings are generally more resistant to yellowing than polyaspartic coatings. They are formulated with aliphatic (UV stable) chemistry, which prevents them from discoloring or turning yellow when exposed to sunlight or UV radiation. However, aromatic polyurea coatings, which are less expensive, can yellow over time when exposed to UV light.


    Polyaspartic coatings, on the other hand, are also formulated with UV-stable chemistry, but their resistance to yellowing may not be as strong as that of aliphatic polyurea coatings. This is because polyaspartic coatings are more prone to chalking, a process where the surface of the coating degrades and turns powdery over time when exposed to UV radiation. Chalking can cause the coating to appear yellowish, particularly in lighter colors.


    To determine when yellowing might occur, it’s crucial to consider the specific product, its formulation, and the environment where it is applied. Yellowing could happen within a few months to several years, depending on these factors.


    Who Uses Polyurea and Polyaspartic Coatings?

    Both types of floor coating see widespread use in many places. In particular:

  • Home garages, as an alternative to epoxy kits
  • Industrial settings, such as factory floors, or ‘cold rooms’
  • Restaurants and cafeterias, particularly for walk-in freezers
  • Supermarkets and ‘big box’ stores
  • Commercial spaces such as warehouses
  • Hospitals and other biomedical facilities
  • Food and drink production
  • Cannabis grow rooms

    Polyurea and Polyaspartic Floor Coatings Installation

    The installation and curing times for polyurea and polyaspartic floor coatings can vary depending on the specific product, environmental conditions, and the application method. However, both types of coatings are known for their fast curing properties, which make them attractive choices for projects requiring minimal downtime. Here’s a general overview of the installation and curing times for each type of coating:


    Polyurea floor coatings:

    1. Installation: The application process for polyurea coatings typically involves surface preparation, such as grinding or shot blasting, followed by the application of a primer, the polyurea coating itself, and any additional topcoats or sealers. The actual time needed to apply the polyurea coating can be as short as a few hours, but the overall installation process, including surface preparation and any additional coatings, may take 1-3 days.
    2. Curing: Polyurea coatings cure rapidly, often reaching a tack-free state within minutes and full cure within 24 hours. The quick curing time allows for faster return to service, usually within 24-48 hours after application.


    Polyaspartic floor coatings:

    1. Installation: Like polyurea, the installation of polyaspartic coatings typically involves surface preparation, application of a primer, the polyaspartic coating, and any topcoats or sealers. The application process can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on factors such as the size of the area, the number of coats, and the required thickness of the coating.
    2. Curing: Polyaspartic coatings also cure quickly, with tack-free times ranging from 1-4 hours and full cure achieved within 24 hours. This rapid curing allows for a fast return to service, often within 24-48 hours after application.


    How Are Polyurea And Polyaspartic Coatings Maintained?

    Maintaining polyurethane-based floor coatings is extremely easy due to their durability.


    The surface they create is entirely solid and non-porous, so there is no risk of most spills – except acids – making their way into the material. In general, spills can simply be wiped or mopped up. Likewise, general cleaning can be done with the most basic of techniques like mopping or vacuuming, or even simply hosed down from time to time.


    They should be regularly cleaned. Otherwise, over time, accumulated grit could eventually start to dig into the surface and cause scratching.


    Abrasives should not be used in cleaning, as they could also scratch the surface. Fortunately, they are not necessary. In fact, it’s best to clean using soft materials like microfiber, for the best results.


    Seal-coatings are also available for polyurethane coatings, for added protection. These are typically not necessarily except in situations where the user expects a large amount of grit or spills landing on the floor.


    Should your polyurea or polyaspartic floor become lightly damaged, resurfacing the floor can be an option. This process boils down to using a grinder to remove the top layer of the coating, then pouring on a thin new topcoat for the resurfacing. This should not be necessary very often except in high-use situations.


    Costs Of Polyurea and Polyaspartic Coatings

    Pricing for these floor types can vary quite a lot, depending on the formulation being used, and how many coatings are put in place. Broadly speaking, the more coats are used, the stronger the final product will be – but at higher prices.


    It’s best to contact an experienced flooring specialist for an estimate, as they will be able to take your situation into account and include any specialized solutions which may be called for.


    New England Trusts Black Bear for Pro-Grade Commercial & Industrial Flooring

    For over 25 years, Black Bear Coatings & Concrete have been local experts in commercial and industrial flooring across the American northeast. We carry a wide variety of concrete coating materials and customize every job to the needs of our client. Our 98% customer satisfaction rate demonstrates our commitment to doing the job right every time!

    Contact us to discuss whether polyurea or polyaspartic floor coatings are right for you.