This is the question we get asked all the time. Is it really necessary or is it just another sales trick to make you buy the more expensive option?
Well, we will be completely honest and say although we do believe having a topcoat is beneficial is not always necessary.
You might have already noticed that we recommend and our installers use only 100% solids epoxy. We’ve already discussed previously, that 100% epoxy is the best option on the market. Is strong, durable, and thick, providing better protection for your concrete floor. It can be chemical and impact resistant. It’s great for heavy traffic areas. It’s heat resistant (to certain degrees). So why would you even put a top coat on top of it?
Well, it’s simple really. Epoxies are made to provide thickness and adhesion to the concrete. Adding a polyurethane topcoat adds an extra layer of protection to the epoxy and your floor. It’s like being naked vs wearing clothes, or a more appropriate example, wearing a jacked in winter.
It is not really choosing one over the other, but combining both to achieve great and durable flooring.
Polyurethane top coating is a much thinner coating, but when applied over epoxy, it provides a unique number of advantages.
The main benefit of a topcoat is that it is UV stable. In comparison epoxy on its own is not, meaning that overtimes if exposed to direct sunlight the color yellows. A polyurethane topcoat prevents this.
Polyurethane is chemically resistant and it also offers resistance to staining from hot tires. It is resistant to hard chemicals, food acids, etc. If you use your garage for a puppy training area or a home brewery, then a polyurethane top would be recommended, as it can resist acids and prevent them from soaking into the epoxy.
It is impact and abrasion-resistant making epoxy more durable when applied on top.
Polyurethane topcoat can come in clear satin or semi-gloss finish or colored finish.
The way the concrete is laid and the weather can play a vital role in the concrete strength. On sunny or windy days where the top of the slab dries out quicker than the bottom, the top of the concrete surface can become crusty, leading to the potential hairline and shrinkage cracks.
Hot weather and heat also cause the concrete to expand. When the concrete expands, it pushes against anything in its way. As neither the concrete nor the walls are flexible, this results in cracking.
Like we said, having a polyurethane topcoat, it is definitely more beneficial than just having epoxy. However, if you have a garage, which has no direct sunlight over an extended period of time and you use your garage just to pull in and out your car, then having just two coats of 100% Solids epoxy will be sufficient.
If you use your garage for more than just parking your car (repair shop, puppy training area, gym, etc.) and your garage gets a lot of sunlight, then having a polyurethane topcoat would be recommended.
Please note that if the concrete slab is not prepared well and the epoxy cannot bond to it, it does not matter whether you use the best epoxy on the market or not, it is guaranteed that after a year or so it will chip or peel off.