Decorative Surfacing Resins
Introduction and system guide

Decorative resin surfacing is a system in which highly decorative aggregates are stuck to a floor surface (such as a driveway) by using a high performance adhesive (the resin). The completed surface is highly decorative and very hardwearing and provides an alternative to other forms of surfacing such as asphalt, concrete or paving. There are two basic types of decorative resin surface and each type contains its own sub-categories:

1) Resin Bound (Trowel Applied/Screed)
In this system decorative aggregates are mixed with a resin and then trowel applied at a depth defined by the desired use of the finished surface. When cured this creates a smooth surface in which the stones are held together by the clear resin.

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2) Resin Bonded (Coat & Scatter)
A thin layer of coloured resin is applied directly to the existing surface and then a decorative aggregate is scattered over the resin. When cured the surface is swept to remove any excess aggregate and you are left with a surface that looks like a loose gravel drive but without the problems associated with loose aggregate.

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As a manufacturer we find that the terms 'bound' or 'bonded' can be very confusing for both installers and customers. When dealing with our customers we try to refer to a bound system as 'trowel applied' and a bonded system as 'coat and scatter'.

Each system has it pro’s and con’s and these should always be taken into consideration before choosing one system over another. Star Uretech manufactures both bound and bonded surfacing resins and this allows us to view the systems without bias however many manufacturers and installers only have access to one system and this often leads to a bias specification and the wrong type of system being used.

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The reality is that both systems have a place and sometimes neither system is suitable for a specific application. Star Uretech view each installation on its merits and specify accordingly, even if this means pointing a customer away from a decorative resin application.

Types of Resin Bound (Trowel Applied/Screed) system:
There are four types of bound (trowel applied/screed) system.

  • Aliphatic:

    This is the best choice for a decorative resin bound surface. When cured, aliphatic systems do not discolour, have very good chemical resistance and produce a strong but slightly flexible surface. More and more installers are either switching to or introducing an aliphatic system and we advise anyone thinking of having a resin bound surface installed to confirm that the selected resin is an aliphatic.

  • Aromatic:

    This are the cheapest type of system as they are not UV resistant and discolour in sunlight. This discolouration can leave a patchy, dark and dirty looking surface which can also be vulnerable to reflective cracking. It is our view that anyone having a decorative resin surface installed should avoid aromatic products in order to ensure the installation maintains its decorative apperance and is long lasting.

  • Epoxy:

    This old technology has all but disappeared and has historically been very problematic. Its hazardous rating, poor performance and installation difficulties have all been contributory to decorative epoxy systems being phased out of use. It is our view that an epoxy system should be avoided at all costs.

  • Aspartic:

    This is a relatively new type of system in the decorative resin market and Star Uretech has patented a decorative surfacing product based upon this chemistry. Whilst such a system does offer some benefits we believe that the additional costs associated with aspartic formulations currently prevent them from being competitive.

  • Types of Resin Bonded (Coat & Scatter) system:
    There are three types of bonded (Coat and Scatter) system.

  • Polyurethane

    This is the best choice for a decorative resin bonded surface. A polyurethane system offers very high performance combined with simple application methods. Resin bonded polyurethane systems are considerably cheaper than any bound system and good quality systems even pass the Highways Type 1 performance scuffing test.

  • Polyurea

    Although cheaper than a bound system a polyurea bonded system is usually more expensive than a polyurethane. As with a polyurethane, polyurea systems offer very high performance however they are slower to cure. If the system is being installed in hot weather or by an applicator with limited experience then the reduced cure rate can be very advantageous.

  • Epoxy

    Although epoxy systems are often cheap they can be difficult to use and carry a hazardous rating. Most contractors and manufacturers have now moved away from this technology as application problems are not always immediately apparent and problems can occur months after a seemingly successful application. Star Uretech do not advise the use of any epoxy based systems.

  • Summary:

    If cost is the deciding factor then a bonded (coat & scatter) system should be considered. Any attempt to reduce the cost of a bound (Trowel applied) system by using a cheap resin, reducing the resin to aggregate ratio, laying at a reduced application depth or adding diluents to the mix will result in application failure. If aesthetics are the deciding factor then a bound (Trowel Applied) system should be considered. This may require the current substrate to be replaced however when a good aliphatic resin is used the end result can be a spectacular decorative surface that can last in excess of 20 years.

    We love to talk and we are always happy to help so please contact us.
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