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What is the Difference in Epoxy and Polyurethane in Concrete Crack Injections?

This discussion has been around for as long as both products have existed. Like most disagreements, you’ll find the manufacturers on separate sides of the aisle, along with their distributors and end-users. “My product is better” “No, MY product is better.” Anyone get any flashbacks from childhood?

When it comes to injecting Foundation Cracks, the industry generally uses two products, but there are a couple extra out there as well:

  1. Non-expanding Epoxy Resin

The strongest repair available. Non-Expanding Epoxy bonds best with concrete. This resin will stand the test of time and will not be worn away by water or the elements. The only downside to using Epoxy is that you need a skilled, trained technician to install. This material does not come in the “do it yourself” kits sold at box stores. Again, proper training is required to install correctly, but this is by far the strongest material to inject into a Concrete Crack.

  1. Expanding Polyurethane Foam

While Epoxy is the strongest material used on Concrete Cracks, Polyurethane is the most common. This is due to one overwhelming reason: it is extremely easy to install. So easy, in fact, that kits of it are sold at any box stores and even online. Handy homeowners can purchase the kits and give it a go. Problem with this is that Polyurethane has the highest “Call back” rate in the industry. The material breaks down, and as a skilled technician is not needed for the injection, many times one is not used. Companies can hire and “train” these technicians quickly, with their purpose being to install as much product as possible, neglecting quality. In some cases, Polyurethane is used, like around Sewer Pipes or in large, shifting cracks. Otherwise, Epoxy is best.

  1. Bentonite

Bentonite is an expanding clay that is used on the outside of foundation walls to waterproof them. A foundation can be dug out and this dry powder laid all around. Once the powder comes into contact with water, it expands and seals. The problem with this is the repair is not instant (it may take a few rains to completely seal) and the clay product can come in through the cracks in the wall, so definitely not recommended with a finished basement. Used mostly by construction companies decades ago, we now have moved to more reliable and instant forms of repair, including Epoxy and Polyurethane.

  1.  Hydraulic Cement

This one is merely included to show the “band-aid” patch that is done. Never is Hydraulic Cement anything more than a surface patch for a Foundation Crack Repair. While it will stop water on a temporary basis, this is not a permanent solution. It cannot be done on a Foundation Crack when selling a home and be considered a “professional repair.” Whenever we see this, we see it for what it is, an attempt to stop the water temporarily and save $$

Drilling Holes

Very often, we come across Concrete Crack Repairs that have metal injection ports on them. An old-time way of repairing cracks was to literally drill into them and inject an expanding Polyurethane. A technician would drill a hole next to the crack into the foundation, angled toward the crack. The idea being that the port crosses the crack in the wall. Then, the tech will inject the foam.

Problem with this is there is no way to ensure the whole crack is filled. It is a “spray and pray” method. The second problem is that if that repair does not hold, you cannot inject from the inside anymore, it MUST be repaired from the outside.

There are still a couple companies out there that do this old-fashioned method. Why? Because it is what they have always known. And how many times do we continue doing what we have known just for the sake that we know it?

Summing Up

Just like any industry that uses technology, over time the technology gets better. As part of the industry, it is our responsibility to use the best techniques and materials.

  • Non-Expanding Epoxy Resin is the best product to use for your Concrete Crack Repairs.
  • Polyurethane can be used in certain situations but is by no means a default product.
  • Bentonite can work as well, but is sloppy and can take a few rains to be effective.
  • Hydraulic Cement is a band-aid.
  • Drilling Holes is to be avoided at all costs.