August 2023

Epoxy Vs Polyurethane Garage Flooring

Your garage is more than a space to park your car. It’s an extension of your home and a reflection of who you are – so choosing the right garage flooring is crucial.

When thinking about what kind of garage flooring to use, you’ll need to consider factors like climate, its purpose, your lifestyle and needs, and more. In this blog, we’ll dive into two popular garage floor coatings – epoxy and polyurethane – exploring their features and benefits to help you make an informed decision for your Calgary, Alberta garage.


Should I Redo My Garage Floor?

Well, that will obviously depend on your individual circumstances, but here’s what we can say for sure.

Garage floors endure a lot of punishment over the years, especially if they’re just basic concrete. Constant exposure to water, heat and cold cycles, chemicals, and the weight of heavy vehicles can lead to rapid degradation. However, revamping your garage floor can breathe new life into the space and ensure its longevity for years to come.

What to Consider When Redoing a Floor

    1. Aesthetics: One of the primary considerations when choosing a garage floor coating is how you want it to look. Do you want things like patterns, solid colours, or reflectivity? You can personalize your garage’s appearance to match your vision.
    2. Durability: Durability is one of the most important factors in garage flooring. You may need something that can withstand heavy vehicles, snow and ice, chemical spills, dropped tools, or something else entirely.
    3. Maintenance: Keeping your garage floor in top-notch condition requires some level of maintenance. Some coatings have low requirements and are easy to clean, making them truly convenient for busy homeowners, while others may require more frequent touch-ups or reapplication.
    4. Usage: Consider how you intend to use your garage space. Is it just a parking spot, or will it be a storage area, hobby room, or workshop?
    5. Environmental Friendliness: For eco-conscious homeowners, choosing a garage floor coating that aligns with their green values is essential. While nothing will be 100% emissions-free, some options have less environmental impact than others.
    6. Budget: Your budget is a deciding factor in the whole process. Will you be able to invest in the longest-lasting, top-of-the-line materials, or will you scale back to something more affordable?

These are important questions, so if you need further assistance in selecting the perfect garage flooring, feel free to reach out to The Garage Store team. We’re here to help you create a garage floor that not only looks stunning but also stands the test of time.


Pros and Cons of Epoxy Floor Coatings

Epoxy has been around for more than 100 years, and it comes in many versatile forms, making it suitable for various garage environments and needs. It’s popular because it’s cost-effective, customizable, and highly durable, withstanding Calgary’s seasonal extremes of hot and cold.

Benefits of Epoxy Floor Coating

    • Bright and Clean: Epoxy creates a bright and clean look, elevating the appearance of your garage. It can even be customized with colourful chips during installation, adding a touch of personalization.
    • Easy Maintenance: Epoxy is a “thick mil” application, meaning it self-levels to a certain extent and can hide imperfections along the surface. It’s smooth and easy to clean, preventing dirt and fluids from adhering. Proper sealants also protect the underlying layers from moisture and damage.
    • Cost-Effective: Epoxy is an affordable option, typically costing less per square foot compared to other materials, although pricing may vary based on the product and environment.
    • Exceptional Durability: Epoxy floors can be made to resist chemicals, heat, water, pressure, and common wear-and-tear factors, ensuring a long-lasting flooring solution.

Cons of Epoxy Floor Coating

    • Prone to Damage: Small chips in epoxy flooring can lead to peeling, cracking, and other issues that may necessitate replacement over time.
    • Slippery Surface: Some epoxy types can be slippery, especially when wet. However, anti-slip materials can be added to the top layer to enhance safety.
    • Potential Yellowing: Epoxy coatings are prone to yellowing as they age if they are not aliphatic (UV-resistant). This may affect the appearance over the years, and it can be more or less impossible to match colours if you’re attempting repairs after some time has gone by.
    • Difficult Application: Applying epoxy can be a long and tedious process, with some hazardous chemicals involved. These coatings also require warm, dry conditions, with a lot of prep work done on the underlayer to ensure proper adhesion.
    • Curing Time: Depending on the type of epoxy and the surrounding environment, it will take at least a day and possibly several days to fully cure. Factors like ambient humidity can impact adhesion, leading to issues like bubbling or peeling, and you may have your garage out of commission longer than anticipated.
    • You may experience “hot tire lift”, when the rubber on your tires heats up on a sunny day and then cool after being parked on the epoxy surface. When the vehicle is driven again, the material can stick to the tires and pull free.


Pros and Cons 0f Polyurethane Floor Coating

Polyurethanes are great for concrete floors, specifically those with a space beneath the cement slab (like if your garage is over a basement room, or an outdoor open space). Their unique stretchability compared to other coatings makes them ideal for waterproofing situations – elastomeric polyurethanes can stretch up to 500%, preventing water leakage into cracks and chips. If you’re anticipating a lot of hard wear on your floor, you might consider urethane cement, which is one of the most durable floor systems available.

Polyurethanes can look great and work exceptionally well to enhance the floor’s overall appearance.

Benefits of Polyurethane Floor Coating

    • Enhanced Flexibility: Polyurethane coatings are more flexible than epoxy, making them an excellent choice for areas that experience temperature fluctuations or minor movements without risking cracks or peeling.
    • Superior UV Stability: Polyurethane coatings have better UV resistance, making them ideal for garages exposed to direct sunlight, as they retain their colour and appearance over time.
    • Long-Lasting Protection: Polyurethane floors offer impressive durability, with long-lasting protection against wear-and-tear, chemicals, water, and other damage. They can be mixed with other materials to boost this even more.
    • Aesthetically Appealing: Polyurethane coatings offer some aesthetic options in terms of colour and finish, and many types can be used as a topcoat over other materials for that final touch.

Cons of Polyurethane Floor Coating

    • Initial Investment: The cost of many polyurethanes, especially ones like the elastomeric and urethane cement mentioned above, can be substantially higher than an epoxy or other coating system.
    • Curing Time: It depends on the exact type you’re using, but some polyurethanes may take a long time for coats to cure enough to reapply. This can increase labour cost and out-of-service times.
    • Expertise Required: Generally, applying a polyurethane coating requires more training and skill than an epoxy, with more potential for it to cause issues if done incorrectly.
    • Low Friction: Polyurethanes can be quite slippery, which is asking for trouble if water pools up on the surface, too. To get around this, you may need to add a non-slip additive during the application process.


Can I Use Epoxy and Polyurethane Together?

You sure can, but we highly recommend professional installations to do so, in order to avoid future headaches.

Using both epoxy and polyurethane together for your garage floor coating enhances performance, because epoxy is ideal for building thickness and improving imperfections, while polyurethane serves as a clear protective coat, ensuring a longer-lasting, scratch-resistant, waterproof surface. To avoid yellowing, consider using UV-stable colour chips in the epoxy, followed by clear aliphatic polyurethane coats for lasting protection.


Polyaspartic Polyureas

There are many different options to choose from for either type of flooring, but one of our favourites is Spartacote® coatings, made of special polyurethane compounds known as polyaspartic polyureas. We have applied these in thousands of homes and businesses around Alberta, with excellent results that truly last. A popular trend is putting these down with a multi-layered decorative chip floor, which uses a solid base coat, a clear coat embedded with a range of vinyl chips, and an anti-slip clear top coat.

What makes these such a great choice?

  • Many colour and gloss options
  • Resistant to UV, stains, impacts, and abrasions
  • Strong adhesion to concrete
  • Fast cure times – can be back to service in as little as 48 hours
  • Can cure at temperatures as low as -30° C
  • Mechanically and chemically bonds to concrete, porous tile, metal, fibreglass, and other substrates
  • High film build (9-18 mils in a single coat)
  • Crystal clear with an amazing finish
  • 3x the abrasion resistance, 2x the adhesion, and 95% more flexibility than epoxy, in addition to an install time measured in hours instead of days

Need more reasons to go with Spartacote? We’ve got a whole pamphlet on it – drop us a line and ask about it!


Installing Garage Flooring in Calgary, Alberta

Installing garage flooring can be a major project, so getting it right from the beginning is essential. If you’re seeking expert advice on the best flooring for your Calgary garage (or any of the other surrounding towns, like Okotoks, Cochrane, or Chestermere), don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We offer a complimentary consultation to assess your needs and make sure you’ve got the right product for your purposes – so, whether you’re considering epoxy, polyurethane, or any other floor coating or finish, we’ll guide you through to the end!

Don’t settle for the same grey floors that fell out of fashion years ago. Make your garage shine with something new from The Garage Store!

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