Polyaspartics coating chemistry is very closely related to Polyurethane technology which dominates the coating market. Both resin chemistries allow for generating extremely durable, hard, abrasion, and chemically resistant coating systems. and both coating technologies virtually use the same type of polyisocyanate reactive crosslinking chemistries. Not sure when to use which sealer? In this article, we’ll map out the differences between polyaspartic and polyurethane coatings and discuss when to use each sealant to protect your concrete surfaces best. What’s the Role of Polyurethane and Polyaspartic Sealers? Both polyurethane and polyaspartic sealers can protect and strengthen your concrete surfaces. You can add either as a top coat, which will completely transform your concrete’s capabilities. Both bond with concrete and form a thick layer of protection, including: Heat resistance Scratch resistance Chemical resistance Abrasion resistance Still, despite playing similar roles in preserving concrete, polyurethane and polyaspartic coatings hold unique advantages and disadvantages. What Is a Polyurethane Sealer? Polyurethane sealers and coatings give surfaces additional protective qualities. However, they tend to work best as a top coat. This is because they add a relatively thin film that protects concrete surfaces from spills, oils, chemicals, and wear from heavy traffic. Essentially, they provide many of the same protective qualities as polyaspartic sealers. However, they differ from polyaspartic coatings in a few key ways: Cost: Polyurethane sealers tend to be less expensive than their polyaspartic counterparts. Curing time: Polyaspartics cure much faster than polyurethane. Polyurethane takes 24-48 hours to cure, whereas polyaspartic sealers can cure in a few hours. UV protection: Polyaspartic polyurea and Aliphatic polyurethane are both UV stable. They do not yellow. Volatile organic compounds: Because polyurethane is often solvent-based, it tends to contain some volatile organic compounds (VOCs), although some coatings are available in low-VOC forms. Polyurethane sealers or coatings can be formulated in water-borne formulations. In contrast, polyaspartic polyurea cannot be formulated in waterborne formulations. Because polyurethane features many of the same advantages as polyaspartic coatings, it’s popular in residential garages, industrial warehouses, and commercial spaces that can afford to shut down floor access as the sealants cure. Pros Less expensive Strengthens surfaces Preserves decorative concrete Protects against friction, wear, oils, chemicals, spills, and heavy equipment Cons Longer curing time Sometimes contains VOCs What Is a Polyaspartic Sealer? Like polyurethane coatings, polyaspartic sealers penetrate concrete surfaces and protect them from wear, scratches, cracking, and stains, which makes them popular for industrial, commercial, and residential concrete flooring that an owner needs to retain a sharp look and exceptional performance amid heavy use. Although polyaspartic and polyurethane coatings offer similar benefits, polyaspartics provide a few additional advantages. First, because they cure quickly, they have a faster return-to-use time, which is attractive for businesses that can’t afford to shut down operations for long periods. Second, they often contain zero VOCs. By cutting out VOCs, polyaspartic coatings release less odor and produce cleaner air than polyurethane spaces. Finally, polyaspartics can be applied in a thicker coating, which means you can use them as a complete flooring system rather than solely as a top coat. Essentially, because they can be formed into a thicker coating, you can reduce the number of coats you need to apply to maximize protection.. Polyaspartic sealers’ unique qualities and fast cure time make them popular in restaurants, commercial spaces, showrooms, and industrial garages. Pros Strengthens surfaces Preserves decorative concrete Protects against friction, wear, oils, chemicals, spills, and heavy equipment Zero VOCs Fast curing Con Higher up-front cost Chemical Differences Between Polyaspartic and Polyurethane Coatings Wondering what gives polyaspartic and polyurethane sealers their unique properties? Here’s how each coating is produced: How Are Polyurethanes Produced? Polyurethanes form when a polyisocyanate reacts with a polyalcohol (polyol), with the assistance of a catalyst and other additives. Essentially, isocyanates can be either aromatic or aliphatic. Depending on the type of isocyanate used in the reaction, you’ll be left with either an aromatic polyurethane or an aliphatic polyurethane. How Are Polyaspartics Produced? When a polyisocyanate combines with an amine-terminated polyester resin, it reacts to form polyurea. When an aliphatic polyisocyanate reacts with a diamine, it’s called polyaspartic polyurea. “Polyaspartic” is just a shortened term for polyaspartic polyurea. A Side-by-Side Comparison of Polyaspartic and Polyurethane Coating Because the two compounds have subtle differences, it’s important to dive into the details and determine how much each factor is worth to you. Here’s a side-by-side breakdown that details each product’s differences: Polyaspartics Polyurethanes Thin film builds (up to 5 mil DFT) Only thin film builds, up to 5 mil DFT Low to zero VOCs Vary between 0.1 lb/ga and 2.5 lb/ga Variable cure speed Slow to moderate cure speed Quick return to service 24-48 hr before return to service Short pot life (20-30 min at 700°F) Long pot life (1.0-1.5 hr at 700°F) Who Uses Polyurethane and Polyaspartic Sealers? Both polyurethane and polyaspartic coatings are top choices for commercial, industrial, and residential concrete flooring. Here are a few examples of where these sealers are most popular: Restaurants and breweries: Because they add chemical resistance and stain-proofing, these coatings are a top choice for restaurants and breweries. They can protect flooring from spills, heavy foot traffic, and grease while preserving intricate designs. Showrooms: Showrooms and lobbies benefit from floors that dazzle visitors despite wear. That’s why these sealers are popular flooring options exposed to high customer traffic. Retail and commercial stores: Retail and commercial store owners who want to impress customers often use polyurethane or polyaspartic sealers to maintain a floor’s stunning appearance. They’re also popular coatings on heavily trafficked commercial spaces, such as mall floors. Professional and residential garages: Because they help floors shrug off oil, chemicals, grease, and other destructive materials, these sealers are popular in garages of all kinds. Find the Right Product for Your Next Project Ultimately, the most effective way to decide which product is right for you is to weigh your priorities, consider the pros and cons of each coating, and pick the sealant that brings out the best in your concrete surface. Still, the best solution for your project may not be so obvious. Have questions about your next project? Talk with one of our concrete coatings experts today.