If you’re trying to figure out whether to use polyurethane or polyurea in your project, the answer can be complex. Here, we’ll break down the composition, characteristics, application methods, and common uses of both materials to help you make a more informed decision.
The two are quite similar, but with some obvious differences. Although Polyurethane has been used as a coating product for a long time, polyurea is fairly new to the market. Both are quite similar, with a few distinct differences.
Polyurethane is a string of repeating monomers containing hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen coupled together by the polymerization process to form a polymer. The polymer is then introduced to an alcohol catalyst containing hydroxyls and isocyanates, to become a polyisocyanate called polyurethane, the result of an exothermic reaction.
Polyurea, discovered in the 1980s, is an elastomer formed by an added catalyst reaction that happens while the product is being applied. Therefore it may produce an exothermic reaction on the substrate while it cures. In this case, the final product is not formed until the application process, as opposed to many kinds of polyurethane used in the industry.
UNDERSTANDING THE USES OF EACH
Polyurea’s intrinsic properties make it an ideal candidate for durable, gorgeous coatings that stand up to some of the most arduous conditions, including marine and industrial conditions. It remains clear under UV light and handles damp environments, making it an appealing coating for floors and other building surfaces like countertops.
Polyurethane is often employed to make mattress foam, insulation, and hardened protective coatings, polyurethane is one of the most prevalent polyols in modern industry. You can find it in shoes, housing, furniture, cars, and more.
The creation of chemical polymers has unlocked new worlds of opportunity in manufacturing, and with the recent addition of polyurea to the lineup, the capability of these materials will continue to grow. New additives and application methods are continually being developed, and new industrial needs are being met or surpassed as the formulations are developed.
ANALYSING CURE TIMES
The time it takes for a coating to cure completely hinges on various critical variables. The factors that determine this include temperature, humidity, dew points, and the type of coating applied.
Too low or too hot of temperature and high humidity levels can adversely influence how your coating cures.
POLYURETHANE CURE TIME
Urethane coatings have varying cure times based on the product type and the formula employed. The majority of concrete Urethane coatings have an average of 10 to 12 hours cure time before allowing walking on them and will continue to cure for up to several days after. It is recommended not to drive or walk on freshly coated concrete for 36 to 48 hours.
POLYUREA CURE TIME
Traditional polyurea cures between 5 and 15 seconds and are used on a broad and diverse list of applications. Because of its rapid cure time, it is great for coating pipes and pipelines, the inside of tanks, bedliners, and equipment.
Polyaspartic, an aliphatic polyurea that can extend the cure time, making it easier for user-friendly applications. The pot life of polyaspartic is between 5 and 20 minutes and is dried in hours. Newly coated polyurea floors are accessible to pedestrians within 4-6 hours. The floor is ready for transport within 24 hours.
SO WHICH IS BETTER?
The primary distinction, in this case, is the polyurea reaction happens much more quickly than the polyurethane one and can gel in a matter of seconds after the mixing.
Polyurea and Polyurethane are widely used in the coatings industry, and both components are mixed using a variety of spray equipment. Polyurea coatings are still relatively new to the game but have proven to be a champion for the coatings industry.
Polyurea isn't always the no-brainer choice, despite its advantages over Polyurethane and other coating types; every project has unique specifications and budget to consider. To learn whether polyurea is the best fit for your project, click here to contact us for a free consultation with one of our experts.
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