Polyaspartic vs. Epoxy and urethane: Choosing coatings wisely
Choosing the right coating for your industrial assets is important. The right choice could mean added useful life and less maintenance for key assets. The wrong one might lay the groundwork for untimely and costly failures.
Foreknowledge of which coatings are better suited for different environments and job specifications is key to an efficient and effective coating job. Let’s compare epoxy and urethane coating systems, a longtime staple of industrial asset protection, to polyaspartic technology, a hybrid coating type increasing in popularity because it can limit lag time and reduce costs.
THE CASE FOR EPOXY AND URETHANE COATINGS
Epoxy and urethane coating systems offer two layers of protection over a surface. These perform well in heavy industry settings because they’re more tightly cross-linked and less permeable, offering good substrate protection, increased chemical resistance and greater hardness. Due to these qualities, metal and concrete substrates protected by epoxy and urethane combinations stand up well to use and abuse.
Epoxy and urethane coatings also can tolerate exposure to many industrial chemicals. For instance, surfaces protected by epoxy and urethane coatings stand up well against sulfuric acid, which is used in a wide variety of industrial processes. However, certain organic acids present in food production, such as nitric acid, can harm epoxy and urethane coatings.
Epoxy and urethane coatings are well-suited for interior spaces with controlled environments.
LIMITING LAG TIME WITH POLYASPARTIC TECHNOLOGY
Relatively new on the industrial coatings scene is polyaspartic technology, a hybrid coating similar to polyurethanes. Innovations in the technology have made these coatings a more versatile option compared to epoxy and urethane coating systems. Applying polyaspartics in a single coat accomplishes what traditional epoxy and urethane systems need two coats to do. The technology has come a long way as early polyaspartic formulations had low adhesion values. Well-known system failures have been blamed on this lack of adhesion promoters in early polyaspartic technology.
Polyurethanes are softer, more flexible and offer better color and gloss retention. They perform well as structural protection, are more versatile in terms of protecting assets in harsh weather conditions and offer better impact resistance than epoxy and urethane coatings. For example, tanks, exterior pipes, barges or exterior concrete are better protected with polyurethane coatings.
Polyaspartic technology breaks from traditional polyurethanes because polyaspartic esters can be manipulated to suit varying applications. Manipulating the esters allows for controlled drying times and extends potlife. Where epoxy and urethane coatings require much longer curing times, polyaspartic coatings cure much more quickly. That limits lag time, allowing assets to be put back to use more quickly. Polyaspartic coatings also can be formulated for application and curing at temperatures well below freezing.
Polyaspartic technology eliminates a step in the coating process compared to epoxy and urethane combinations, saving labor and material costs and shortening project timelines.
Because lower- and zero-VOC coatings can be achieved with polyaspartic technology, it’s safer to apply in confined spaces like storage tanks, railcars or pipes where ventilation is minimal. This also can save on taxes levied against high VOC outputs.