Epoxy vs Polyurethane Coatings: What’s the Difference?

In recent years, epoxy and polyurethane coatings have become increasingly popular. But everybody is wondering – what is really the difference between the two? They seem to perform a very similar, if not the exact same purpose, and things like price, durability, and aesthetic seem to be extremely similar, as well. So how do they differ?

To start off with, let’s discuss epoxy coatings and the upsides of them.

Epoxy coatings

Epoxy coatings are a type of resin that is created by combining two components: a resin and a hardener. This combination creates a durable, protective barrier against moisture, chemicals, and other substances. Epoxy coatings have excellent adhesion properties too – they bond well to most surfaces – do note that epoxy paint differs from epoxy coatings in this way.

We assume you already know all this if you’re comparing epoxy vs polyurethane, so let’s get into some other benefits of epoxy.

Bonding to concrete

If you’re looking for a coating solution that can bond to concrete and provide a strong barrier against moisture and chemicals, epoxy is the way to go. Epoxy coatings are designed specifically for concrete flooring applications, and they provide outstanding protection against abrasion and wear-and-tear caused by heavy traffic or machinery.

For example, if you’d like to put an epoxy coating on your garage floor, there are quite a few kits out there that are perfect for the job.


Epoxy coatings are a great choice if you’re looking for a coating with thick build. Epoxies typically come in two parts, and can be mixed at different ratios to achieve different thicknesses. The thicker the epoxy, the more durable it is and the better protection it provides against moisture and chemicals. It also looks better – epoxy surfaces have a nice glossy finish that can really give your flooring an attractive appearance.


The finish of epoxy is quite thick, providing excellent durability and impact resistance. As such, they are frequently used on a substrate of concrete due to its high bonding potential.

Installation & performance

Epoxy coatings are quite easy to install – they can be brushed or rolled on, and most epoxies don’t require any extra prep work, such as grinding or sanding. They have excellent performance – once it dries, an epoxy coating will provide superior protection against moisture and chemicals.

This is a topic we delve deeper into in our comprehensive guide to epoxy floor coatings.

Polyurethane coatings

Polyurethane coatings are a type of synthetic polymer which is technically a resin, but they differ from epoxy in one key way – they are made up of an isocyanate and a polyol that react with each other to form a hard plastic-like coating.

Known for its durability, flexibility, and resistance to chemical abrasion, polyurethane is occasionally used a topcoat for epoxy to act as an extremely strong barrier to damage.

UV stability

Further, polyurethane coatings are highly UV-stable, meaning that they can withstand direct exposure to sunlight without fading or yellowing. This makes them an ideal choice for outdoor applications, such as patio flooring or pool decks.


Polyurethane coatings also provide superior chemical resistance compared to epoxy – they can withstand exposure to a wide range of substances without degrading or breaking down. This makes them ideal for industrial and commercial applications, where chemical spills may occur.


Polyurethane, as a finish, is surprisingly softer than epoxy (even if it is slightly more expensive), but this makes it more suited for surfaces that have frequent movement like a parking lot. They also tend to be a bit safer than epoxy, which can have high VOC levels, meaning polyurethane is great for food processing facilities.

Installation & performance

Installation & performance

Polyurethane coatings are a bit more involved to install than epoxy – they need special preparation, such as grinding and sanding, before application. Once installed, however, the performance is outstanding – polyurethane coatings provide an incredibly strong barrier against moisture and chemicals as well as decent impact and abrasion resistance.

Epoxy vs polyurethane: using both for flooring solutions

For optimal performance, you may want to consider using both epoxy and polyurethane coatings for your flooring. Start by applying a thick layer of epoxy, followed by a topcoat of polyurethane. This will provide superior protection against moisture and chemicals from the polyurethane, as well as increased impact and abrasion resistance from the base layer of epoxy.

Overall benefits of using epoxy and polyurethane coatings together

When used together, epoxy and polyurethane coatings provide superior protection against moisture and chemical spills, as well as increased abrasion and impact resistance. They are also cost-effective, easy to install, highly UV-stable, and can be customized with a variety of finishes for different looks. Ultimately, epoxy and polyureth coatings are an excellent choice for flooring solutions, providing superior durability and protection.

So: is epoxy or polyurethane better?

The answer is: it depends. Different applications may require a different type of coating, so be sure to consider your needs before selecting the best option for you. In any case, using both epoxy and polyurethane coatings together can provide an unbeatable combination of durability and protection for any flooring project.

But, if you can only afford one, think about it this way: polyurethane is best for spaces with high traffic or a need for safety, while epoxy is great for industrial spaces that need a long-term finish.

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