Polycuramine or Epoxy Garage Flooring: Which is Better?

I’ve seen plenty of damaged garage floors, including one in my own home from a leaking hot water tank. 

The right garage floor coating would have made some of the damage much less impactful. But, there are so many options that it can be hard to know which one makes sense.

This guide will examine two of the most popular garage floor coatings, polycuramine and epoxy coatings, to help you decide. We’ll give a brief overview of each and then compare them in terms of cost, durability, and application. 

Pouring epoxy on floor

What Is Epoxy Flooring?

Epoxy arguably isn’t flooring, but a protective cover for existing flooring.

You can’t lay epoxy down by itself. Instead, it always has to be an additional layer on top of something else, like concrete.

Traditional epoxy garage floor coatings are a mixture of resin and hardener that coats the base of a garage. This usually gives it a slightly glossy finish to make it visually attractive. You can add color flakes to epoxy flooring, but that’s not necessary for a great look.

Also, remember that a proper two-part epoxy coating isn’t the same as one-part epoxy paint. Personally, I recommend always going with an epoxy coating for better durability. You can check out my in-depth guide here.

Durability

Most epoxy floors wear out after about ten years of casual use. High-traffic areas, like workshops, usually see it wear out in 2-3 years instead.

High-quality epoxy floors may last up to 20 years under casual use, especially in a temperature-controlled garage.

While it lasts, though, it’s among the most durable garage floor coatings you’ll find.

Epoxy coatings are functionally waterproof and impervious to mold and mildew. Epoxy is very stain resistant, apart from a few select chemicals. It’s also durable enough to hold up under heavy traffic and is even used in industrial applications.

Most epoxy has a compressive strength of more than 5000 psi, making it comparable to some forms of high-strength concrete. By contrast, residential concrete has a compressive strength of around 4000 psi.

In other words, the epoxy coating is more durable than the bare concrete below it if you drop something heavy on it.

This is crucial to understand if you go shopping for epoxy coatings.

Some floor companies advertise their floor’s compressive strengths. However, this is largely irrelevant for all but the most specialized applications.

In practice, all true epoxy coatings are better than traditional garage flooring unless you bring in ultra-heavy objects.

Choosing the Right Epoxy

One of the most important things to look at when shopping for an epoxy coating is the percentage of solids.

When talking about epoxy garage floor coatings, “solid percentage” refers to the “amount of the chemical compound that will turn into solids in the end.”

The higher the percentage of solids, the higher the quality of the epoxy coating, and the more durable it will be.

Coatings with lower percentages of solids see more of their material evaporate as it dries. That leaves you with a thinner coat over your garage floor than you may have expected.

Now, it’s important to emphasize that quality matters a lot when you’re getting epoxy flooring.

High-grade epoxy is significantly better than lower-quality materials and is worth the investment.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll pay more for it. However, you’re likely to get several years of further use, which is a bargain by any measure.

Epoxy vs. Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a competitive resin for two-part epoxy.

Epoxy is noticeably harder and bonds better to concrete. It’s also relatively easy to apply, and these properties make it popular for many people.

Polyurethane isn’t quite as hard and doesn’t bond to concrete as well, but it has outstanding flexibility.

It also resists UV light better than epoxy, making it a better choice in areas with a lot of sunlight.

Both products resist chemicals well, although polyurethane is a bit better. However, polyurethane is more challenging to apply than epoxy, so it’s not as good for DIY buyers.


What Is Polycuramine?

Polycuramine is a trademarked product from Rust-Oleum, which makes a variety of paint and protective products for household, commercial, and industrial applications.

Polycuramine is a proprietary mixture of polyurea, urethane, and epoxy combined into one flooring product.

It’s durable, although not as much as Rust-Oleum’s marketing would have you believe. When they say it’s 20 times stronger than epoxy, they’re referring to basic epoxy paint, not high-solid epoxy coatings.

However, marketing gimmicks aside, polycuramine is still a tough, eco-safe product that’s relatively easy to apply and provides a glossy finish.

At a minimum, Polycuramine is better than many older kits, including lower-quality epoxy paint. However, it’s only similar to good epoxy, making it hard to pick between the two based on this alone.

That said, Polycuramine is still a new product on the market, so many people aren’t familiar with it. We also don’t know its true long-term performance.

Epoxy, in contrast, is an established and extremely reliable product.

Application

A standard garage is between 200 and 450 square feet, depending on whether it’s a single or two-car garage. Rust-Oleum makes two polycuramine garage floor coatincomes in two kit sizes: 

  • 1 Car Kit (90 fl oz) – Covers up to 200-250 sq ft
  • 2.5 Car Kit (180 fl oz) – Covers up to 450-500 sq ft

Of course, that depends on factors like how porous the concrete beneath it is.

Applying it too thinly has obvious problems, so it’s better to cover less per pouch and not try to stretch it further. You may also need to apply a second coat, which raises the price.

Polycuramine is safe to walk on after about 10 hours and safe to drive on after 24 hours. That’s noticeably faster than some other garage flooring materials. It’s near-impervious to most chemicals, so it’s suitable for many riskier environments.

It also allows you to apply it in a broader range of temperatures, between 40 and 90 degrees. That’s more than most epoxy coatings.

The mixture is about 96% solids, with a highly glossy finish once it has been set. That’s pretty impressive and one of the best solid percentages from an off-the-shelf product.

Polycuramine is self-leveling and works well on uneven garage floors.

However, you’ll want to apply more than one coat if you have an aggressive slope. Otherwise, there’s a real chance it will flow downhill, and you’ll have sections with no coating.

Potential Issues

However, like all products, polycuramine has its flaws.

Notably, it’s not UV stable, which means it turns yellow if you expose it to sunlight regularly. That’s not a significant issue for garages without windows. It’s worth noting that epoxy isn’t any better, but a discolored polycuramine garage floor is difficult to remove.

Another issue is how thin it goes on. Polycuramine is about three millimeters thick when applied correctly, compared to about ten millimeters for epoxy.

This is why it’s often better to use at least two coats of polycuramine and possibly three. That means the price can go up quickly.

It can also be challenging to apply polycuramine if you’re not used to doing floor coatings. It’s easy to put it on too thick in some areas and end up with much less coverage than you expected. Many people DIY these kits, so coverage issues are pretty common.

Colors may vary slightly between kits, even if they’re the same UPC\SKU.

That can make it awkward when you need to apply more than one of these kits. Having a large, discolored section of flooring is always bad for a garage’s overall appeal.

There is some good news for additional coats, though.

Polycuramine has a 7-day recoat window, compared to most products that have less than 24 hours. It means you can easily add another layer without having to do more than clean the surface.

Image: Rustoleum.com

Polycuramine vs. Epoxy: Product Options

So let’s explore the different polycuramine vs. epoxy product options. Epoxy is the clear winner, although many of these products are lower-quality that you shouldn’t necessarily choose.

As a trademarked and branded product, polycuramine is only available in a few colors directly from Rustoleum under their Rocksolid garage floor coating kit.

It’s worth noting that color choice is limited since it’s a proprietary compound.

By contrast, epoxy comes in a wide array of colors and patterns for flooring, which we discuss in more detail here. You can even layer epoxy coatings to create a custom look. I always recommend using a primer and a protective top-coat for a longer lifespan.

Epoxy also comes in single-component paints, but these are noticeably inferior quality to a two-part mix.


Polycuramine vs. Epoxy: Abrasion Resistance

The highest-quality epoxies have higher abrasion resistance than polycuramine.

The primary metric for this is called the Taber C-17 abrasion test and is meant to mimic actual wear from things like wheels and foot traffic.

That’s not too critical if you only walk through your garage once every few days.

However, if you use your garage as a workshop or repair your car, you want a Taber C-17 score of 5 mg or less.

Adding a protective coating over epoxy will give it much higher abrasion resistance. That will help it beat out polycuramine for durability.

Polycuramine vs. Epoxy: Cost

As you might expect, the cost of epoxy flooring can vary greatly.

Most people spend between $1500 and $3000 to epoxy coat a typical two-car garage for materials and labor.

It will depend on the type of epoxy coating you choose, the size of your garage floor, and whether you need to hire contractors to do the work.

Polycuramine is noticeably cheaper, with a 2.5 car kit (roughly 450 square feet) retailing for about $280.

However, as we discussed above, it’s recommended to add at least one additional coat when applying polycuramine. That will noticeably increase the total cost.

Most people apply polycuramine themselves, so this price does not include labor or the fees for prep work.

The important thing here is that polycuramine is noticeably cheaper than epoxy while being almost as good while it lasts. That’s the deciding factor for many homeowners.

However, even this isn’t as simple as it can seem at first. Because polycuramine is such a new product, we don’t know its actual lifespan.

Things like excessive UV exposure or an improper application can shorten the lifespan of a polycuramine garage floor coating. However, it’s safe to say that it’s reliable for two years and somewhat iffy after that.

High-solids epoxy in a home garage usually lasts at least five times as long but at three times the price.

If you expect to stay in your home for more than a few years, a good epoxy coating will probably cost less over time.

Polycuramine vs. Epoxy: Application Speed

Are you wondering how long it will take you to apply polycuramine vs. epoxy?

Polycuramine wins, hands-down, for how fast you can use it after applying it. You can walk on a polycuramine garage floor coating in 8-10 hours and drive on it after 24 hours.

Epoxy is ready for light traffic after 24 hours, but you’ll need to wait 7-10 days before you can drive on it. This depends on the outdoor temperature and humidity.

For some, that’s a significant delay in using your garage or moving your stuff back in.


Choosing Between Polycuramine and Epoxy

Polycuramine is an exciting addition to the roster of floor coatings that homeowners have access to. Ultimately though, epoxy coatings are still better for most situations.

Here’s why.

The biggest concern for floor coatings is reliability. Most regular homeowners only need to apply a garage floor coating once or twice during their entire time at a property. If you need to apply coatings more often, something is going badly wrong.

There are still questions about how well polycuramine will hold up over time.

This can be a big concern, especially if you have a lot of foot or vehicle traffic. Once a garage floor starts going, you must replace the entire coating.

Early reports suggest it may have a shorter life than advertised, so epoxy’s reliability makes it a better choice overall.

Finally, when comparing polycuramine vs. epoxy coatings, the price difference can be another significant factor. For most people, garage floor coatings are more of a “nice to have.”

But if you’re looking for one of the toughest floor coatings for your garage, an epoxy coating is the better option for most people.