Polyurea vs Polyurea Hybrid: How to Tell the Difference

polyurea vs polyurea hybrid coatings

Polyurea and polyurea hybrids are used for a similar purpose, as they are both sprayable coatings that form seamless, protective barriers on virtually any surface. Once cured, they have excellent resistance to abrasion, corrosion, and impact damage. They can also be sprayed through the same type of high- or low-pressure equipment.

Polyurea is considered a premium product due to its higher properties and chemical resistance, whereas hybrids are a cost-effective option with qualities of both polyureas and polyurethanes. The one big difference between these coatings is moisture resistance, as it does not react with water like a urethane or hybrid would. This allows it to be used in extremely sensitive conditions.

A common misconception in the industrial coatings market is that some products claim to be “pure” polyurea, but do not reflect it in cost or properties. These coatings may also boast a high percentage of polyurea content to make them seem superior to typical hybrids. It’s believed that the higher the content, the better the product. Due to this, many applicators ask for the polyurea content in any given product.

However, percentages mean nothing if they are not verified by a third-party testing agency. The truth of what the product is lies within the physical properties. If you look at the properties, you’ll usually be able to determine where the material falls on the polyurea to hybrid spectrum.

The Truth Is in the Physical Properties

To determine if a polyurea is “pure” or a hybrid, you’ll want to look at three main properties: tensile strength, elongation, and tear strength. It is a combination of the three that allows you to tell the difference between the coating types. These three properties will typically all be high for polyurea, but you will see variations for hybrids. Only one or two may be on the higher end for a hybrid while the other(s) are relatively lower, which is how you’re able to decipher its polyurea content.

Note: these properties are averages for 50-60 D materials. Properties will change if the durometer is increased or decreased.

Tensile strength is the strength of a material (in this case, the coating) to withstand pulling force tension before it fails. It is usually listed as the pound-force per square inch (psi) at which the material fails on average. This is determined using standardized mechanical testing.

  • What to expect for polyurea tensile strength: Typically, above 2,500 psi

Elongation is the maximum strain or stretch a material (the coating) can withstand before it fails. It is listed as a percentage found by comparing the final and original length of the tested material. Elongation is tested using the same standardized mechanical testing as tensile strength. It is important to know the relationship between tensile strength and elongation to understand the point at which failure or deformation may occur.

  • What to expect for polyurea elongation: Typically, above 300%

Tear strength is the amount of force required to rip a material (the coating) or continue tearing it along the vertical axis. It is usually listed as the average tested force in pounds per linear inch (pli) needed to rip the material. If the material was cut or punctured, the value represents how much force along the axis is needed to continue the tear. These values are based on a standard ASTM test method and die shape (ASTM D624, Die C).

  • What to expect for polyurea tear strength: Typically, above 350 pli

Tensile Strength vs Elongation vs Tear Strength

Let’s compare the properties of VFI-201 vs VFI-206 and VFI-542. Other people in the industry would potentially consider VFI-206 a pure polyurea, but its properties show that it has just enough urethane content to make it a hybrid (shown in its lower elongation).

Properties VFI-201 50 D Polyurea Coating VFI-206 60 D Polyurea Hybrid Coating VFI-542 High Pressure Spray Bedliner
Tensile Strength 2880 psi 3000 psi 2410 psi
Elongation 448% 250% 80%
Tear Strength 387 pli 480 pli 241 pli

How to Choose Between a Polyurea and a Hybrid

Knowing the difference between a true polyurea and a hybrid will help you choose the best coating for your application. Your choice will depend on the intended use and potential exposure to the elements.

While polyurea coatings are the premium option, you should determine if you actually need one. Its moisture resistance makes it the common choice, but it is misconceived that a hybrid needs more moisture resistance than required. If you have a moisture problem during application, you may be looking for an entirely different product.

It is also important to know the differences in setting speed for successful application. Polyureas tend to be rapid curing with about 4-6-second gel times, while hybrids gel at about 8-10 seconds. A polyurea’s faster setting abilities can make it tricky to work with and ensure adhesion.

Polyurea hybrids are super versatile, providing a good balance between properties, moisture insensitivity, and price. VFI recommends our hybrid solutions as they are cost-effective and can be custom-formulated to fit your needs. Contact us today to find the right coating for you.