PU vs Epoxy: What’s the Difference and Which Is Best for You?
For thousands of years, people have been improving their living situations by finding effective ways to cover the ground. Ancient floors went from hard-packed dirt to natural stone. But over time, new developments allowed for better, safer flooring for many different applications.
Today, floors in commercial spaces often need to stand up to heavy use over years. However, they also need to be safe and non-slip. A floor that’s not properly finished can result in a dangerous situation that leads to injury.
Resin coatings, such as epoxy or polyurethane, help make flooring materials meet the needs of various industries. But which material should you choose for your floors? In this guide, we’ll compare epoxy resin and polyurethane resin: keep reading to learn more.
What is Epoxy?
Epoxy is an organic compound. Epoxy resin is made through curing, or using heat, air, or chemicals to harden the substance.
This resin has many different uses, besides just as a floor coating. It works as a cement binder, an adhesive, and much more.
What is Polyurethane?
Polyurethane, or PU, offers an alternative floor coating that also has many other uses. This synthetic resin often gets applied to woodwork, such as wood cabinets. Some PU resins use a water base, while others use a solvent or oil base.
Why Floor Coatings Matter
Does it really matter whether or not you use a floor coating, or which one you choose? Floor coatings matter more than you might think — let’s take a look at the reasons why.
Resin flooring isn’t essential in every context. However, if your floors need to be durable and resistant to chemicals, it’s important that you use the right coating for the job.
Resin’s very tough, but it’s also flexible enough to handle the stress of industrial applications without cracking or breaking. This means it can take heavy loads and lots of repeated use. Resin also helps spread the load’s weight throughout the floor, so the base material of the floor can actually take more weight.
When you apply epoxy or PU resin to a base floor material, you’re creating a chemical reaction between the resin and the floor. This can actually make the floor’s surface even stronger than it would be on its own.
Adding resin to a floor makes it easier to maintain, as well as stronger. The floor becomes easier to clean and less damage-prone. It will resist abrasion, as well as chemical damage.
These floors are also more hygienic. You can clean the resin’s surface more completely than a porous material underneath, like concrete. These means contaminants and other dangerous materials won’t get trapped in the floor.
Hygienic floors translate to greater safety. Resin coatings can also add an anti-slip surface to the floor, adding another layer of safety. You can choose the best coating so the floor doesn’t get slippery even when it’s wet or has grease or oil spilt on it.
Which Floor Resin Should You Choose?
With these benefits in mind, which type of resin will best meet your flooring needs?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each material.
Epoxy floors tend to offer more durability than PU floors. This type of resin is harder and also has a great compression strength. If you’ll have heavy equipment using your floors regularly, such as forklifts, epoxy resin might be the way to go.
Epoxy also resists some materials better than PU does. If you spill sulfuric acid on the floor, an epoxy resin can handle it better.
Epoxy adheres to many surfaces well, and this type of resin holds up to humidity and moisture better than PU does.
In some situations, epoxy might not be the best choice. It generally doesn’t last as long as PU. Though it’s harder, it’s more brittle and prone to breaking.
Epoxy doesn’t hold up well to the chemicals typically found in some industries. For example, lactic acid is much more damaging to epoxy resin than to PU resin. That’s why many food-related industries will choose PU instead.
Epoxy floors tend to take a long time to cure. If you need to add new coats to the floor, you’ll need to halt operations for much longer than with PU.
Now, let’s take a look at the benefits of choosing polyurethane resin instead.
Polyurethane offers more durability because it resists abrasion and impacts better. Even though epoxy is harder, the flexibility afforded by PU is valuable in many industries.
PU also resists damage from many different threats well, including solvents, alkalis, and sources of corrosion. It’s ideal for dairy processing facilities where lactic acids will come into contact with the floor often.
Since PU also cures fast, it’s easy to add new coats to extend the life of the floor. PU holds up to temperature extremes of cold or heat better than epoxy. And since the surface is softer, it doesn’t scratch or crack so easily.
Even though PU has a long lifespan, some will find its high upfront cost difficult to face. Epoxy is cheaper, but often doesn’t last as long.
The humidity sensitivity of PU floors can also be a drawback in some industries. If the floor isn’t completely cured and it comes into contact with water or humidity, serious damage can result.
Which Type of Resin Should You Choose?
What’s the definitive answer — epoxy resin or PU resin? That’s a trick question. There is no one right answer: it all depends on your unique needs
While weighing these pros and cons, keep in mind the type of applications your floors will be used for. Once you know the situations and substances the surface will get exposed to most often, you can choose the right kind of resin for the task.
No matter which one you choose, professional flooring services can help you get the resin applied properly. Learn more about our services here!