Flooring That Lasts, Safety That Endures

Epoxy Resin vs. Polyurethane (PU) Cement: What’s the Difference and What’s Better for Your Facility? 

Learn the key differences between Epoxy Resin and PU Cement with Ascoat.

Deciding on the best type of resin flooring for your facility can be a daunting task, especially with the variety of options available. Despite the common reference to all resin floors as ‘epoxy flooring,’ there’s a world of difference between the many resin technologies. Epoxy resin is very popular and well-established, but many other resin technologies exist, including polyurethane cement (PU cement), polyurethane (aromatic or aliphatic), poly aspartic, methyl methacrylate, polyester, vinyl ester, acrylic and other polymer technologies.

In clean manufacturing environments such as food and beverage or pharmaceuticals, epoxy and PU cement floors are the top choices due to their durability, environmental tolerance, and low odour during application. But which one is right for your facility? We’ve outlined the main features and benefits of both flooring types to help your decision-making process.

PU Cement Advantages

PU cement can be seen as an upgrade over epoxy-based flooring due to its superior chemical, thermal and abrasion resistance, as well as greater cost-efficiency when installed at greater thicknesses. As one of the toughest floor coating technologies in the market that is easy to clean and maintain, PU cement is the flooring of choice for a majority of Australian food and beverage facilities, as well as a range of heavy-duty industries like manufacturing and mechanical.

Temperature Resistance: PU cement is less affected by thermal shock than epoxy, making it a better choice for areas subjected to high temperatures.

Chemical Resistance: It offers superior resistance to chemicals, acids, and alkalis.

Heavy Impact Resistance: With higher compressive strength and thicker application, PU cement excels in heavy-duty settings.

Will your floor be subjected to elevated temperatures over 60°C, either during spills or washing down?

PU cement will be better than epoxy, as it is far less prone to thermal shock because it has nearly identical thermal behaviour as the underlying concrete slab. Epoxy, on the other hand, is more malleable and shrinks/expands at a very different rate to the underlying concrete slab, creating a bond stress that leads to delamination.

Will your floor be subjected to reasonably strong chemical or acid/alkaline exposure?

PU cement has better chemical resistance and will fare better than standard epoxy.

Is there a greater risk of heavy impact over the floor?

Due to the higher compressive strength and film thickness, PU cement will generally perform better in heavy-duty applications.

Epoxy Resin Advantages

Popular for its seamless application, resistance to damage and desirable surface characteristics, epoxy flooring is a proven, cost-effective method of protecting concrete floors in commercial and industrial settings. Unlike other resin flooring, epoxy offers good chemical and heat resistance and low shrinkage.

Finish Quality: Epoxy provides a flatter, shinier finish and is easier to apply, allowing for self-levelling.

Colour Stability: It comes in a wide range of colours that are more stable over time, reducing fading and discolouration.

Versatility in Application: Epoxy can be applied in thin layers and is easier to work with for creating coving or screeds, making it ideal for detailed work.

Is the area required to be ultra-flat and of a super high level of finish?

Epoxy is more forgiving during application and is able to self-level over a longer time compared to PU cement, which tends to start to thicken or ‘gel’ well before epoxy does. Epoxy possesses a higher gloss level and results in a shiny finish. It’s also available in a wide range of colours and is more colour-stable compared to PU cement. So, it will generally be more aesthetically pleasing, and less likely to fade or discolour as much as PU cement in the long run.

Can I get away with a thinner roll coat type application or a 2-3mm system?

If you don’t need a very thick coating (3mm and above), epoxy resin is a superior option. Unlike PU cement, which needs to be trowelled on, epoxy coating systems can be very successfully applied by a roller or even squeegee and rake-type applications – resulting in a superior coating for thinner applications.

Do you require the forming of coving or screeds to fall with a polymer mortar?

Due to the favourable application characteristics and the more forgiving nature of epoxy, a skilled flooring contractor can create intricate profiles like ramps or traversable bunds and various coving shapes and profiles with relative ease compared to PU cement. A good flooring contractor usually has a number of reliable recipes to augment epoxy resin to create putties and fine fillers, all the way through to blending epoxy with large aggregate for bulk filling mortars.

Making the Right Choice for Your Facility

The choice between epoxy and PU cement flooring depends on the specific needs of your facility. If you’re dealing with high temperatures, chemical exposure, or heavy impact, PU cement might be the way to go. For areas requiring a high-quality finish, colour stability, or detailed application work, epoxy could be the better option.

Our team can assist you in considering the advantages of each to make the best decision for your environment. Contact us today on (03) 9587 7433 for flooring that lasts and safety that endures.

Ascoat’s Technical Manager, Arthur Karayannis, has worked in the epoxy flooring and protective coatings industry since 1991, with extensive experience as an epoxy applicator and materials supplier. With a Level 2 Concrete Coatings Inspector qualification through the SSPC, he holds the highest concrete coating inspection qualification currently available. Arthur prides himself on delivering industry-leading customer service, educating clients on appropriate flooring solutions, and solving even the most complex flooring problems for customers and stakeholders.

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