Have you ever tried using a combo shampoo/conditioner? You know the product that claims to be able to shampoo and condition all in one step; saving you time, money and be the cure-all for your hair cleansing needs? Well maybe if you have a crew cut this is a great fit, but anyone with longer hair, who has tried this method, knows it doesn’t work. The product, rather than being good at anything, kind of stinks at both. It neither cleans that well nor conditions the hair. For the best results you shampoo and then condition. It’s a two-step process.
The same is true in epoxy floor systems. Some claim that epoxy is the best top coat, some say urethane is the best, and yet some marketing claims that their new poly, -aspartic or -urea, is 10X stronger and does the work of both. (Whenever I see this, I always think of the elixirs of the early 1900’s.)
In our commercial epoxy broadcast systems, we double topcoat our floors. Yes, a double topcoat. We coat with epoxy, wait and then coat over the systems again with a urethane.
The 1st Topcoat
After a broadcast, the floor needs a topcoat to encapsulate the chip or sand media and offer a way to ‘seal’ the floor. The tried and true method of a UV-stable, 100% solids epoxy seems to offer the best in this area. 100% solids fill in the voids, offers additional build and can provide a nice clean installation. Urethanes are not recommended here because they are applied in thinner applications. Whereas an epoxy may be installed in a coat of 12-16 mils and maintain that thickness when cured, a urethane will need to be installed somewhere 3-6 mils and after curing be 2-4 mils thick. This can ‘look’ good at installation but fails to offer the needed impact resistant, and the ability of the floor to be protected against a possible dig into the floor. The epoxy ‘locks’ the floor together, wherein the urethane just offers a protective film. The long-term consequence of only using a urethane is that in time the broadcast media can break free and start to disintegrate or peel away from the floor system.
If the floor is not exposed to commercial traffic flow, or if someone wants to cut the budget, you can finish the floor here. Leaving only the 100% solids epoxy body coat. The long-term downfall here is the floor can wear traffic patterns where there is heavy traffic; think front door, entrance to a kitchen, or bathroom foyers. The floor is also limited in its finish options. A gloss finish is the only available option with 100% solids.
The 2nd Topcoat
This is where urethane can shine, literally, if you choose a gloss finish, or can also mute a floor to a satin finish, or even add some slip-resistance in a wet area like a wash bay or shower. Urethanes are best applied in thinner coats 4-6 mils. When built on top of an epoxy floor, urethanes offer a coating that is less scuff and scratch resistant. Urethanes by nature are also more UV stable and can provide a protective film to the long-term color stability of the floor. Most of all, they just add long-term durability and more selective finish options for your application.
So next time the marketing world tells you that you can shampoo/condition in one step, or sell you a paint that is a primer/paint all-in-one. Just ask, is this really the most effective way to proceed? Does this actually produce the results I want?
Of course, if we can help with one of your projects, or you have more questions, need samples. or want to chat epoxy, please reach out. We are here to help and are grateful to be part of your project.