Although typically epoxies are one of the most popular floor coatings for commercial and industrial sites, urethane floor coating (or polyurethane floor finish) is still regarded by many as the most reliable and economical choice when it comes to a high-quality floor finish. Because urethane floor finish is better able to resist scratch, impact, and abrasion, it is still a valuable choice when considering which floor coating to use in your organization.
What is the Difference Between Urethane and Polyurethane Coatings?
Polyurethanes are polymers that are organically connected to a chemical compound group called carbamates. Polyurethanes can polymerize with any number of these carbamate groups, providing different levels of chemical, moisture, and bacterial protection. Ethyl carbamate (Urethane), is not related to polyurethanes in any way, and is a derivative of sugars that is a potentially carcinogenic component of food and alcoholic beverages. Ethyl carbamate is actually an ester of carabamic acid, and is not included in the manufacture of any polyurethanes.
The term “Urethane” is used interchangeably with the term “Polyurethane” when talking about the manufacture and installation of floor covering products. Both terms refer to a polymerizing carabamic compound that produces flexible, non-toxic floor coatings.
What is a Polyurethane Coating or Urethane Floor Coating?
A polyurethane coating (or urethane floor coating), is a highly flexible, highly abrasion-resistant floor coating that is known for its shine and longevity. Developed in 1937 by I.G. Farbin, these materials were used to create gum rubbers, rigid foam, and elastomers. They were also used on WWII aircraft on a limited scale.
Currently, urethane floors and urethane floor finish are one of the most historically used products in building and architectural planning. Because urethane floors are so flexible, they allow for high levels of foot traffic and large machinery usage. In addition, urethane floors provide an extra level of abrasion resistance due to their flexible nature, and will remain glossy and new-looking even if in contact with abrasives like glass, sand, or concrete.
What Are the Common Problems With Polyurethane Floor Finish or Urethane Floor Finish?
Even though there are many reasons why urethane floor finish is still a popular choice, there are several drawbacks. Because it is such a thick compound, it must be applied in very thin layers to avoid non-uniform thickness and lumping. In addition, because a polyurethane floor finish must be applied in such a thin layer, it will not cover imperfections in the underlying substrate as well as an epoxy or epoxy mortar system might. In this case, it is better for an epoxy primer layer to be installed first, with a polyurethane coating on top.
What Are Some Uses for Polyurethane Coatings or Urethane Coatings?
Since urethane coatings are so flexible and scratch-resistant, they are excellent choices for warehouses and industrial complexes where large machinery will be housed. In addition, polyurethane coatings are soft on animal paws, so they are good choices for veterinary labs, and animal laboratory facilities. Finally, since urethane coatings are so durable and glossy, they can make excellent showroom floors and even aircraft hangars.