If you work with resinous-based floor coatings, you’ve probably heard it before; Polyaspartics outperform epoxies and are the “gold standard” for protection and performance. The idea that polyaspartics are better than epoxies is quite common in the garage floor industry and for end-users. This is likely due to consistent and long-term marketing campaigns throughout our industry that have declared them superior. These repeated campaigns have been so effective that customers often request the installation of polyaspartics vs. epoxy for their projects. New contractors may also be swayed to choose polyaspartics for these same reasons.
In this article, we are going to break down the facts to determine if this common industry belief really holds any weight by comparing performance properties and illustrating appropriate uses for each.
The fact is that polyaspartics do have some very desirable properties for specific applications. For example, if you’re requiring a superior top coat, polyaspartics are your best option. This material boasts better abrasion resistance than its epoxy competitor and because the finished floors scratch less with this protection, they are easier to clean and maintain. Additionally, if your customer needs a fast return to service, polyaspartics are a good choice due to their comparably shorter cure time. In the colder months or climates, you may take a closer look at this chemistry because they do well in low-temperature applications. If your project is outside and exposed to sunlight, Polyaspartics are a great choice. They are UV-stable and aliphatic so they resist color change over time.
There are many references in the industry that state polyaspartics are to “10x stronger than epoxies”, and while this may be true, it is only in reference to a singular performance property; tabor abrasion resistance. Polyaspartics range from 30-40 mg lost compared to epoxy 80-160 mg. The cherry-picking of this one property of polyaspartics is likely the reason for a skewed perspective that polyaspartics are generally superior to epoxy. The potential down-sides to polyaspartics are that they are more difficult to work with and install so they require additional planning and expertise. They are also about two times as expensive than epoxy which make them less desirable for budget-conscious projects. Additionally, if your concrete slab has any defects or damage, you may not get the necessary coverage from polyaspartics because most formulations have a typical application thickness of 10-16 mils and cannot be applied any thicker.
When we examine the properties of epoxy, it does offer good abrasion resistance, although it can’t match the performance of polyaspartics in this category. It does, however, provide better adhesion and compressive strength when used as a primer, build coat or base coat. Epoxy offers better value when talking about cost per mill as well, coming in at approximately 60% of the cost of polyaspartics. Additionally, epoxies can be installed up to 60 mils which is essential if you’re trying to cover any texture or slab defects.
Epoxy is an all-around solid choice for protective coatings projects, however, there are specific projects that this chemistry may not be the best fit for. They are aromatic and will yellow with sun exposure and therefore are best for indoor use only. If extreme abrasion resistance or fast return to service is a requirement for your project, then you might opt for polyaspartic instead.
In summary, polyaspartic are not any better than epoxies, they simply have different performance properties that may or may not be necessary for a given project. It’s important to evaluate the primary requirements of a job to choose the most appropriate chemistry option. If epoxy has those requirements covered, there is no need to use polyaspartic which will unnecessarily increase costs and add difficulty to installation. It’s important also, to educate end-users to the differences between the two so they understand why you might push back on their requests if they don’t fit the need of the job. Below you will find a helpful chart that illustrates the differences in these materials and can be shared as a guide.