What is Polyurea?
Polyurea is typically defined as an inert elastomeric substance created by combining an isocyanate compound with a synthetic resinous compound.
Unless you’re a chemist, that sounds complicated. So in layman’s terms: it’s a flexible, highly adaptable substance. It returns to its original shape even when subjected to enormous stress. Polyurea combines two relatively noxious chemical compounds into a single, completely inert, environmentally friendly end product. And once it’s cured, polyurea’s physical properties make it one of the best protective coatings available.
Facility owners use polyurea successfully for many applications. These include protective coatings, linings, and joint sealants. Apply over concrete and steel for corrosion protection and abrasion resistance. Polyurea has tremendous advantages over conventional materials for joint fill and caulk applications. This is due to its fast set nature, high elongation and durability/abrasion characteristics. Easily mold and shape polyurea by spraying it into pre-formed molds. Similarly, use polyurea as a hard coat protective shell over expanded polystyrene (EPS) for architectural molded fascia applications.
The main issue to understand is that Polyurea is not a specific coating system or a specification. It is a description of a polymer TECHNOLOGY. It is a great technology that encompasses many different formulations and physical property ranges. There are pure polyureas (defined by the PDA) and there are hybrid polyurea systems. Each possesses their own characteristics, advantages and disadvantages.
However, don’t expect polyurea to solve your protective coating or joint fill needs by itself. It must be specified and installed in combination with proper surface preparation and primers, correct manufacturer’s material formulation, proper equipment, quality control inspection and trained applicators.
Modern times call for modern technology.
Many traditional coating systems are not environmentally friendly. Often they outgas noxious fumes for days or even weeks as they slowly cure. Not only is this bad for the environment (and anyone around it), it also means projects have extended downtime while waiting for the protective coatings to cure.
Polyurea developed as a higher quality substitute for these existing coating systems. It cures nearly immediately (seconds or minutes as compared to hours or days/weeks). At the same time it has better overall physical properties than traditional systems. And because polyurea is a completely inert, highly durable system that can withstand many of the harshest environments heavy industry has to offer, it is typically suitable for nearly any application.