Just like any investment, it’s important that you do your research. So, we at Garage Force are thrilled to have you here with us today! Selecting the right concrete coating goes a long way in ensuring that you’re satisfied with the performance (and therefore the investment) of the concrete protector.
However, there is no shortage of options available to you when it comes to a concrete finish. How do you know which is the best fit for your needs? There isn’t a simple answer that works for everyone because it often depends on the goals you’re hoping to achieve and the budget you are working with.
After all, establishing which is the best concrete protector isn’t a black and white answer, per se. In today’s post, we’ll take a look at a few of the most common choices people make when selecting a concrete coating to help inform your decision because the “best” concrete coating for your project could theoretically be any of the ones we’ll discuss.
But, there is a definitive answer as to the best concrete coating if we’re purely analyzing performance and protection, which are often the two most essential elements of a concrete finish. We’ll get to that in a little bit. So, let’s get started!
What is a Concrete Coating?
Concrete coating is a broad term that encompasses any type of liquid or semi-liquid that is applied to cured concrete for aesthetic or protective purposes. Most concrete coatings help concrete flooring last longer, reduce maintenance needs and enhance its appearance. Common traits that a concrete coating possesses include protecting them from wear, abrasion and harsh environmental conditions. However, not all concrete coatings inherently offer protection and there are many different types intended to provide exceptional protection. Let’s look closer at each of the three primary categories of concrete coatings.
A concrete protector is designed with the primary objective of, you guessed it, protecting the cured concrete surface it’s applied to. The different types of concrete protectors offer various levels of protection, however. For instance, a polyurea coating is 20 times stronger than a traditional epoxy coating. Some concrete protectors shield the flooring from water and light abrasion damage, while others protect it from impacts, UV light, chemicals and beyond.
- Designed with the primary objective of protecting the cured concrete it’s applied to
- However, different types of concrete protectors provide varying levels of protection
- A polyurea coating, for example, is 20 times stronger than traditional epoxy flooring
- Some concrete protectors shield against water and light abrasion, while others protect against UV light, impacts, chemicals and more
A concrete stain is a water-, solvent- or acid-based concrete coating applied to cured concrete surfaces in order to primarily achieve a certain aesthetic. Some concrete stains provide an earthy appearance to the concrete, but there are many others possessing dyes to achieve a wide range of colors. Concrete stains penetrate the porous qualities of concrete and react chemically to become a part of the concrete. Due to this, stains don’t fade or chip off over time and also offer some form of protection. However, concrete stains are really designed to change the appearance, not with intent of providing protection.
- A water-, solvent- or acid-based concrete coating applied to cured concrete surfaces
- The primary objective of a concrete stain is to achieve a certain aesthetic for the concrete, from earthy tones to a wide range of colors
- Concrete stains penetrate the porous nature of concrete, chemically reacting and becoming a part of the concrete, so they don’t fade or chip off over time
- Stains provide some minor protection as a result, but that is not their intended purpose
A concrete paint is a specially designed paint intended for application on concrete surfaces. A concrete paint provides a different aesthetic, but offers essentially no protection. Since concrete is porous, it breathes, transports moisture and sucks up the paint. Therefore, the concrete needs a block primer to fill the pores and even out the surface before the concrete paint is applied. Painting concrete is often a cheaper alternative and is easier to apply on your own without professional help, but you’ll need to reapply paint often and you gain little to no protection for the concrete, meaning little to no protection of your investment.
- Designed specifically for application on a concrete surface
- They provide a different aesthetic for the concrete surface, but offer essentially no protection
- Concrete paints require a block primer before application to fill pores and even the surface because concrete is porous
- This is a cheaper option and can be applied on your own, but will require reapplication and you gain little to no protection for the concrete or your investment in painting it
Polyurea Coating vs. Epoxy Flooring
So, as you can see, selecting a concrete finish essentially boils down to if you seek to simply change the appearance of the concrete flooring or if you also wish to offer the concrete flooring functional protection. For many people, a concrete protector is the best choice, especially for garage flooring because it’s a high-traffic area and likely to be exposed to a number of harsh elements such as chemicals, abrasions, impacts and more.
Within the world of concrete protectors, the debate generally comes down to picking a polyurea coating or traditional epoxy flooring. Epoxy has been around for decades, making it a concrete finish people are familiar with, so they often choose it without knowing there are other, superior options available. You might not realize it at first, but eventually, you’ll learn that epoxy flooring is not the best long-term investment for your concrete flooring. We hope to save you that costly mistake today. So, let’s compare epoxy and polyurea concrete coatings.
Epoxy flooring is resin polymers composed of epoxide units. Without diving into the chemistry of it all, essentially those polymers for a protective barrier, which adheres to the surface of the concrete flooring. Despite what you might think, epoxy is NOT a paint. There are varying degrees of thickness available in epoxy and it bonds very well to concrete. Often times, epoxy is the best choice if you’re looking to resurface older flooring and give it new life.
- Epoxy flooring comes in various degrees of thickness
- Bonds very well to concrete flooring
- Thick epoxy flooring can be impact resistant
- Good for resurfacing older floors to bring back life
However, epoxy flooring fades over time and even yellows when exposed to ultraviolet light (i.e. sunlight). It also takes a long time to dry and is prone to bubbling as it hardens because it takes several days to cure. It also doesn’t bond well in high or low temperatures, meaning you should only apply epoxy flooring at ideal times of the year for the best results. In a garage, epoxy is prone to peeling up when hot tires rest on it because it’s less resistant to high temperatures.
- Color fades over time
- Epoxy yellows over time with sunlight exposure
- Bonding not as effective if done improperly
- Takes a long time to dry, which can take several days
- Prone to bubbling as it hardens due to lengthy cure time
- Does not bond well in high or low temperatures
- Less resistant to high heat and tire sticking/peeling
- Not stain proof and can be damaged by oil, gas and salt
Polyurea coatings are a much newer technology in concrete coating and are by far the most superior concrete protector available on the market, providing exceptional protection against damage from abrasion, impact, chemicals, UV light and more. Polyurea is a subgroup of polyurethane (more complex chemistry), which mixes resin with a catalyst to cure and become hard and protect the surface it’s bonded with. Polyurea is far more flexible than epoxy, and as we mentioned earlier, up to 20 times stronger.
As a result, polyurea coatings are resistant to UV light, so they won’t fade or yellow over time, even if exposed to sunlight. They are also more resistant to chemicals (like gasoline), impacts, abrasions and temperatures. Polyurea coatings also bond much quicker, applying is as little as a single day.
- Polyurea coatings are flexible and more damage/abrasion resistant
- More resistant to chemicals such as oil, gas and salt
- UV stable so it will not yellow or fade under sunlight exposure
- Can be applied in temperatures ranging from -30 to 140 degrees
- Faster curing time so you can be back in your garage in 24 hours or less
- Can be applied at any time of year due to temperature resistance
- Can be installed and finished in a day or less
- High heat resistance protects against hot tires peeling up coating
Because polyurea coatings are more complex, they should ideally be installed by a professional, whereas many epoxy coatings can be applied yourself. Polyurea coatings are the most superior concrete protector available, so they are also generally more expensive than epoxy flooring. You should also consider using chips for texture because a polyurea coating can be slippery when wet.
- Usually slightly more expensive than epoxies
- Requires professional installation for maximum effectiveness
- Can be slippery when wet, so chips are recommended for texture
Garage Force offers several different polyurea coating systems, all of which provide unrivaled protection and an amazing aesthetic appeal. Check out our various concrete coating solutions to learn more about each!
Picking the Right Concrete Coating
OK, so now we’ve learned a little bit more about the main types of concrete coatings and took a closer comparative look at the two most popular types of concrete protectors. But how do you ultimately decide which choice is the best concrete coating for you and your needs? We’ve broken down some of the primary considerations you should weigh before making the final decision.
Evaluating the surface in question is the best place to start. Your flooring is subject to far more abuse than you might imagine, especially garage flooring. Impacts, abrasion, spills, you name it. Concrete on its own is not designed to stand up to all this abuse. It needs help.
If the flooring is older and you just need to breathe new life into it, a concrete stain or epoxy is likely the most logical choice. Likely, your priority is an aesthetic improvement and any additional protection is just icing on the cake. If you’ve just poured brand new concrete in your garage, then you want to protect that pricey investment, so a polyurea coating is well worth the money. Protection should be your top priority.
- Determine what type of concrete flooring you’re dealing with, how it’s used and what your primary objective is for applying a concrete coating
- Older floors likely just require an aesthetic improvement and any additional protection is just a side benefit, so a concrete stain or epoxy is probably the best option
- New concrete flooring should receive the best protection possible in order to protect the pricey investment, meaning a polyurea coating should be your top choice
Once you’ve established the surface in question and what exactly you’re dealing with, you should then debate what level of performance you require or desire. Different concrete flooring has different needs depending on where it’s at. Garage flooring, for example, likely requires far more protection than a concrete basement floor, while an outdoor concrete surface like a patio needs to withstand the elements at all times. There are four primary areas of abuse concrete flooring faces that you should consider
- Chemical Exposure
- Thermal Shock
Abrasion covers a lot of types of damage like wheels, tools or anything that can scratch concrete. Impacts are anything that might be dropped on the concrete and chip it, while chemical exposure includes gasoline, oil and salts. Thermal shock refers to the temperature fluctuation that severely abuses concrete. Polyurea is resistant from -30 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while the epoxy isn’t very temperature resistant.
A few other things to consider when choosing the right concrete coating are how the concrete finish looks. Our polyurea coatings, for example, come in five different types, each with a different aesthetic and maximum protection. Installation time is also important because as we touched on earlier, epoxy takes several days to cure, while polyurea installs in 24 hours or less.
- Life Expectancy
Finally, what about the concrete coating’s life expectancy? You’re investing money into a coating, so you want to get the most from that amount. Many concrete protectors need re-application every year or so, while polyurea coatings yield results for a decade or more.
So, What is the Best Concrete Coating?
Like we said at the beginning, answer the question “what is the best concrete coating” can be a difficult one to answer because there are so many variables at play. We hope that you found today’s post informative and helpful so that you can answer that question for yourself and feel confident in that choice.
If you ask us our professional opinion, the answer is quite clear: polyurea coating is by far the best concrete coating out there. Polyurea provides the highest level of protection by a mile, installs the quickest and in any condition, plus, it looks amazing and even offers you several choices within the category.
While the initial price might scare you off, consider how much money you’ll spend in the end having to constantly re-apply epoxy flooring every year or so, not to mention the damage to which you’re still potentially subjecting your concrete flooring. Laying concrete is extremely expensive, so the investment of providing it ultimate protection now will easily save you money in the long run.
Garage Force is the industry leader in concrete coating solutions, developing the most revolutionary concrete protector on the market. Our polyurea coating systems are 20 times stronger than traditional epoxy flooring, creating a seamless membrane to protect your concrete flooring from chipping, cracking, spalling, pitting and more.
Our polyurea coating systems are incredibly easy to maintain, are durable, slip-resistant and are extremely resistant to abrasion, impact and water/chemicals. And to top it all off, they look amazing!
Perfect for residential or commercial concrete flooring, keep your concrete from cracking under pressure and protect it with Garage Force’s extremely effective polyurea coating systems! Contact us today for a free quote and to schedule your installation!