Polyurea vs. Hybrid Polyurea: What’s the Difference?

Everything’s a hybrid these days, it seems. And what do you know, industrial polyurea coatings are jumping on the bandwagon too. Here at Phoenix, we’re often asked to explain the difference of polyurea versus hybrid polyurea.

Many times, the answer quickly gets beyond what the customer wants to know. A discussion of amines, isocyanates, and resins or polyols often produces blank stares from even the most interested questioner. What they really want to know is, “Is one of these better for my use than the other?”

The answer? Yes, and it very much depends on your use.

The Basics

First, industrial polyurea coatings are elastomeric substances created by mixing two by-products of the petroleum industry. These components are mixed together just before they’re applied, either with a high-pressure spray rig, or from low-pressure cartridges.

Then, because they’re sprayed directly onto the substrate, these coatings protect surfaces from corrosion and external damage. Because they’re most often spray applied, they turn into completely seamless waterproofing barriers.

spraying industrial polyurea coatings

Spray-applied coatings become a seamless, monolithic waterproof barrier that can handle virtually any configuration of surfaces.

How They Work

Both polyurea and hybrid polyurea coatings work basically the same way – the differences come mainly from the chemicals used in the formulation. Either one can be spray applied, using the same type high- or low-pressure equipment. Both have remarkable physical characteristics, and can withstand abrasion, dings and dents, impacts, and scratches. However, pure polyurea formulations are typically low-odor, zero Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) products that can be used in more sensitive conditions. For things like direct food contact or potable water storage, pure polyureas outshine their hybrid cousins.

It’s important to understand how the different characteristics of polyurea versus hybrid polyurea may affect your application. Explore an overview of the fundamental differences between polyurea and hybrid polyurea to understand where they’re typically used.

1. Pure and Simple

Often, pure polyurea is a zero VOC, extremely low odor cured coating. As a rule of thumb, this is because pure polyurea formulations combine more completely to create an inert substance that won’t off-gas or degrade. This makes them ideal for environmentally sensitive applications. Pure polyurea has good chemical resistance to hydrocarbons, hydrogen sulfide gas, and immersed sewage applications.

Hybrid polyurea is more like polyurethane in that it usually has a slightly more complex resin (B-side) mixture. This can mean it may have a mild odor, or be only low-VOC rather than zero, or a host of other variables. While they may be modified for a specific purpose, like increased hardness or color stability, hybrid polyureas are not recommended for things like direct food contact or potable water storage.

2. Dollars and Sense

Protective coatings should do what they say – protect your stuff. Being industrial polyurea coatings, both pure and hybrid polyureas will do just that. Of course, that added protection usually comes with a cost to evaluate.

For many industrial projects, the choice might be between an epoxy and a pure polyurea, where a hybrid is prohibited for environmental (maybe VOCs) reasons. In those cases, the cost benefit of polyurea is clear – reduced downtime, easy maintenance, quick return to service.

When it comes to pure vs hybrid polyureas, a rule of thumb we tend to use is that pure formulations are more expensive than hybrid formulations. The reason for this is that hybrid formulations can often use a variety of substances to create the B-side resin, and costs can be offset in that way. Pure formulations are often limited to specific compounds for the B-side based on the chemistry required to create the 100% solids pure cured product.

3. Application Specific

For industrial spaces like warehouses and parking decks, oil field applications like secondary containment for tank batteries and pipelines, or cold storage and food processing plants, pure polyurea is often the best choice for a protective coating. Pure polyurea handles low temperature installs with ease.

Polyurea applicators seamlessly coat large areas quickly with an impervious membrane which can then easily be maintained long term. Alternate coating choices like epoxies can take weeks to fully cure, making polyurea an extremely appealing option.

Unless there’s a good reason to choose otherwise, hybrid polyureas are your best bet for vehicle protection. Their relatively low cost and wide range of usability make them ideal for spraying pickup truck beds, ATVs, UTVs, RVs, accessories, and more.

If you’re in search of great deals on protective coating supplies, you know we’ve got them.  Phoenix Protective Coatings is your industrial coating supplier, and we pride ourselves on listening to customers and providing you with top-tier technical knowledge and support. Explore our broad range of products and contact our expert team for additional information today.

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