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- Related Information:
- Epoxy floor coating videos, with Bob Harris
- Using concrete coatings to create images with FloorPix
- HoverTrowel finishes polymer floor coating with ease
Polyaspartic CoatingsA new polymer for one-day floor toppings and countertop sealers
Every so often you hear about some new wonder material that sounds too good to be true-and that's usually because it isn't true. Recently there has been a lot of talk about a miraculous new concrete floor coating and sealer called polyaspartic polyurea. This material, according to its proponents, can be applied at nearly any temperature, bonds easily to nearly any concrete surface, cures to full strength within half an hour, is flexible enough to bridge small cracks, can withstand high temperatures when cured, and has superior stain and UV resistance.
So, you're asking, is all that really true? After talking to lots of people, both believers and skeptics, I believe that the simple answer is, yes, it is true-BUT. The big "but" is that you must properly prepare the floor and the moisture vapor emission rate can't be too high and you need to have the proper solids content in the polyaspartic coating to allow it to wet out the concrete surface in order to develop proper bond. When those conditions are met, polyaspartic floors are extremely successful and an experienced contractor can indeed complete a floor in a single day. But-another but-when moisture-vapor emission rates are too high and when using 100% polyaspartic coatings, some floors have failed. Here, we'll give you both sides of the story and discuss the applications for polyaspartics, ranging from a new way to topcoat decorative concrete floors to sealing concrete countertops.
What are Polyaspartics?
To begin with, a polyaspartic is a type of polyurea (actually a polyaspartic aliphatic polyurea). Polyurea as a commercially viable material was developed in the 1980s by Texaco Chemical Company (now Huntsman Chemical). All polyureas are two-part systems, meaning that a resin has to be mixed with a catalyst to create the curing reaction that hardens the material. Polyurea has been used very successfully for corrosion-resistant coatings and repair materials, although application is awkward since it has an extremely short pot life-about 3 seconds, so the two parts must be mixed at the spray tip, requiring lots of maintenance on expensive high-pressure equipment.
Polyaspartic polyurea (or simply polyaspartics) overcomes many of those difficulties, while retaining the advantages. According to Bayer Material Science, polyaspartics are "based on the reaction of an aliphatic polyisocyanate and a polyaspartic ester, which is an aliphatic diamine." I bet you're glad we got that cleared up!
For most of us, the important thing to understand is that polyaspartics are a polymer coating material that has the following characteristics:
- Rapid curing (from 5 to 120 minutes, depending on the formulation)
- Can be successfully applied at surface temperatures from -30°F to 140°F
- Very low viscosity-equivalent to water-which gives it outstanding wetting ability on a properly prepared concrete floor
- High film build (up to 18 mils in a single coat)
- Bubble-free surfaces even at high humidity (although high humidity can speed up the cure time considerably)
- Potlife of 5 to 120 minutes
- UV stable so it will never turn yellow-and can provide UV protection to underlying coatings
- Made with a high solids content (as high as 100%), which means low or no volatile organics (VOCs) during application
- The cured coating can handle temperatures up to 350°F
- Crystal clear and does not blush white from moisture in the concrete
- Able to resist most stains, especially from oils and fats and even from red wine
- High abrasion resistance-higher than epoxy or urethane
- May be able to resist higher internal moisture vapor emission rates than some other non-breathing coatings-although this is an issue that is currently being investigated
How to Install a Polyaspartic Coating
Installing polyaspartic floors: A step-by-step guide
Polyaspartic case study: Applying a polyaspartic coating to a grocery store floor in one day