Choosing the right topcoat for resinous floor systems can depend on numerous factors; environmental conditions, personal preferences, product performance, cure time, and VOC regulations can all play a part. The following outlines some factors to consider when choosing a topcoat for resinous floor systems:
Epoxy vs. Urethane: Urethane topcoats are available in gloss or satin sheens. These coatings provide exceptional abrasion resistance, UV resistance, and flexibility. Epoxy topcoats can be applied at high mil thicknesses, are lower VOC, and may be more budget friendly. The choice between epoxy and urethane will depend on the client’s budget and performance expectations. Both type of coatings offer clear and pigmented product selections.
Chemical Resistance: Some environments may be exposed to harsh chemicals or cleaning agents. Most urethane topcoats will provide excellent chemical resistance for typical chemical exposures. In areas that have harsher chemical exposures, a novolac epoxy topcoat may be necessary. Novolac epoxy systems provide mid-range to high performance chemical resistance.
Odor: Some urethane topcoats have stronger solvent odors than others. Areas such as retail applications, residential areas, or manufacturing areas that haven’t closed completely for production may require a lower odor topcoat. Water based and polyaspartic urethanes offer lower odor selections than solvent based aliphatic polyurethane topcoats.
VOC Compliance: VOC regulations vary from region to region. In some areas, topcoat choices may be more restricted due to stricter VOC regulations. For those areas you will want to choose a lower VOC product. High solid urethanes typically meet VOC regulations, even in the areas that have more strict regulations, such as CA. Epoxy topcoats could also be considered, depending on the system and environment.
Ease of Use: Multi-part products can sometimes be difficult for novice users. When an easy to mix product is needed, a one component moisture cured urethane may be a good choice. Keep in mind, because these products are moisture cured, they are not ideal for dry climates.
Quick Application: When a quick cure product is necessary, polyaspartic urethanes are your best choice. Polyaspartic urethanes offer quick cure times, with some ready for light foot traffic in 1-2 hours.
Finish Characteristics: Urethane topcoats range in finish from high gloss to satin. Gloss finishes will be more light reflective, but a satin finish may show less scratches and dirt. The decision on gloss vs. satin depends mainly on the expectations of the client.
Clear/Pigmented: For decorative epoxy floor systems, such as paint chips, quartz, and metallic, a clear epoxy or urethane topcoat should be used. Pigmented urethane topcoats should be used for solid color systems. Epoxy coatings are not as UV stable as urethanes, so using a pigmented urethane topcoat will help protect the color stability of the floor. Clear urethane topcoats will not offer as much UV protection for solid color systems.
Slip Resistance: When a more slip resistant surface is desired, aggregates or powders can be added to the topcoats to provide a more textured surface. High wear additive powders can be added to thin mil topcoats. For more aggressive textures and for thicker mil coatings, an aluminum oxide aggregate or broadcast sand should be used. For more information on aggregate selections, download our Aggregate guide.
Our urethane topcoat guide can be used as a quick reference sheet for our available urethane products.
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