To Top Coat or Not to Top Coat...
Trying to decide if you should top coat your epoxy project? Maybe you're not sure which urethane is right for you. Today we'll clear some of your questions up, and educate you on the right urethane (top coat) and possibly a polish for your application.
In most situations we recommend putting down a top coat urethane. We're going to break down our most popular systems and tell you which of our urethanes work the best and why.
Metallic Epoxy Countertops
1. 848 Polymer Polish: You don't need to apply a top coat urethane, but we do recommend at least putting down 848 Polymer Polish. Use a high speed buffer for 848 polymer polish and it will shine like a mirror! It's the easiest way to add a protective layer to your investment. The product description does say it's for floors, but it is safe for counters.
Pros: Easy to apply, Looks beautiful, can be applied every 6 to 12 months to refresh the surface.
Cons: You must apply at least every 12 months. Can be sponged or mopped on and let it dry and you're done, however getting the best results requires using a high speed buffer.
2. HP90 - High Performance Polyaspartic Urethane: Can be applied thicker than standard urethanes therefore you don't get that orange peel texture like most urethanes that other companies sell.
Pros: Can be applied 10 to 15 mils thick to accomplish a flat, mirror like finish! Applying a polyaspartic urethane is one of the best way to protect your surface.
Cons: Can be much more expensive, and there is a learning curve. Since it's a polyapartic urethane, that means it dries fast. Working time can be a challenge if you don't have the right tools, or if it's your first time installing. Can fisheye on you if you don't have enough on the surface, so if you are trying to save money get our polymer polish as the end result will be orange peel or give a bumpy texture. Once you mix and pour on surface you MUST have enough down so it drips off the edges if you are doing a counter. If you try to STRETCH the material you will fail, and your efforts in trying to save money will cause you to spend triple what you initially spent. So either buy 30% more (80 sq ft per gallon is safe) or don't buy it at all and get the polish. NEVER GO BACK AND TRY TO BACKROLL HP90 IF IT'S BEEN SITTING FOR MORE THAN 5 MINS, IT WILL GIVE OFF THE ROLLER TEXTURE AS IT NEEDS ENOUGH TIME TO SELF LEVEL. POUR, SPREAD WITH SQUEEGEE OR A 1/4" NAP AND LEAVE IT ALONE. You can always go back the next day and sand starting from 80 grit to 3000 grit.
Metallic Epoxy Floors
The product that we include in our metallic epoxy kits as a binder is CLEAR100. You simply mix our metallic pigment powders with CLEAR100. We offer over 40 metallic pigment colors, and if you want to get creative you can buy several and make your own. Just like an artist with paint. CLEAR100 is very durable, but we do recommend applying a polymer polish or HPU High Performance Urethane.
1. 848 Polymer polish, see above for pros and cons.
2. HPU - High Performance Urethane: HPU is another industrial grade urethane and is perfect for heavy foot traffic and vehicle traffic. For heavy foot and vehicle traffic apply 2 coats. For light to medium foot traffic apply 1 coat.
PROS: Easy to apply with a 3/8" nap roller, and you have 1.5 to 2 hours working time. HPU is one of our best industrial grade urethanes. Can be pigmented if needed, great abrasion and chemical resistance, and is available in low and high gloss
CONS: There are really no cons with HPU. We will give you a tip so you achieve professional results. Apply 2 coats, and remember the first coat will always use more. Figure 320 square ft per gallon for your first coat, and 500 square feet for your second coat. Go the opposite direction on your second coat. Meaning, if you roll front to back on your first coat, second coat apply from left to right so you aren't rolling lines into your surface. That's a tip for every type of urethane out there.
3. HDI - is a 1 Component Moisture Cured urethane and is another great option for your metallic epoxy floor. Designed to be applied 2 to 4 mils and covers 320 to 800 sq ft. It's available in a 1 gallon pal or a 5 gallon bucket!
PROS: One component, which means no mixing! Just stir until streak free, pour it in a paint tray, and dip and roll with a 3/8" nap roller. 1 hour working time. Incredible hot tire pickup protection, and is used as a finishing coat for high traffic areas in industrial and commercial areas. HDI is one of our best urethanes and rivals most polyaspartic urethanes!
CONS: Can orange peel texture since it's designed to be rolled on very thin. (Quick comment: Customers that purchased and applied to their metallic epoxy floor love the protection and none have complained about the orange peel texture). Ask us about samples of HDI.
4. WBG Waterborne Urethane:
WBG urethane has little to no odor and is very close in comparison to HDI for it's hot tire pickup protection. If your project is in an area that has little or no ventilation choose WBG. Vehicle traffic apply 2 coats, heavy foot traffic apply 2 coats, medium to light foot traffic you can get by with 1 coat, but if you want your investment to last apply 2 coats.
PROS: Great hot tire pickup protection, along with amazing durability. Little to no odor enables us to sell it to residents of California. The protection of WBG is very close in comparison of HDI and is also simple to apply using a 3/8" nap roller and dipping and rolling it on the surface. Also this is a GREEN product! Great abrasion and chemical resistance, and is available in low and high gloss.
CONS: Compared to our other urethanes the cost is double.
Let's talk Industrial, Warehouse, Animal Clinic, Retail Space, Shop and Garage Floors
Since we covered pros and cons of our urethanes, we're simply going to write a brief description on what we recommend. To read pros and cons of each, simply scroll up. You have several urethane choices for your airplane hangar, firehouse, warehouse, shop, or garage floor. HPU is always our first choice when installing an industrial / shop floor. Since it can be pigmented, the color stabilization is amazing. HPU is often used in airplane hangars, animal care facilities, computer rooms, gas stations, manufacturing plants, fire stations, auto repair centers, garages, and so many more.
Which of our urethanes will work best for your Shop Floor (Epoxy project with no chips)
For epoxy floor systems with no chips, we call it a shop floor in most cases. Unless it's a custom system that we built for you. This is a no-brainer answer... For your shop floor apply 2 coats of Pigmented HPU. HPU has amazing color stabilization when we pigment it. HPU is available in clear, and in every color we offer (polymer colors not metallic pigments), great abrasion and chemical resistance, and is available in low and high gloss. If you need anti-slip, we offer Gladiator Grip (Anti-Slip) that you simply pour into your last coat of urethane and mix it in. You can use GLADIATOR GRIP in any of our urethane top coats. If you want to add extra hot tire pickup protection, apply 1 coat of HPU (pigmented), then finish it off with a coat of HDI.
HDI (We mentioned this above, but we must list it again)
OUR CUSTOMERS IN CALIFORNIA
If you're in California and you want to put down a urethane you must purchase WBG waterborne urethane. We offer WBG in quart / sample kits, 3/4 gallon kits, 1.5 gallon kits, and 3 gallon kits.
We always recommend applying 2 coats, but if you want to save money apply 1 coat, and decide later for the second coat. If you wait for more than a day to apply the 2nd coat, you will just need to scratch the surface with 60 to 80 grit non-directional sanding screen to create a mechanical bond. If you apply within the the timeframe listed on each products description you don't have to sand between coats.
In closing, we really hope this article helps you decide on which urethane is right for your epoxy system, but if you need help deciding, or if you need help building a system feel free to start a chat - bottom right side of your screen, email us email@example.com, or call our toll free number 1.877.288.1952. Have a large project? Let us earn your business. Contact us today and we will create a custom system just for you.