When brainstorming ways to protect your concrete flooring, one of the most effective ways you’ll find of doing so is by using a coating, typically a polymer/epoxy/resinous coating. Choosing the right kind for your specific facility, however, is a bit more complex than you might think. There is a number of things that building managers or owners need to consider when deciding which coating system will be the best fit.
There are five fundamental points decision-makers will want to assess while researching the different coatings that are available, since various resinous flooring systems are designed to perform under specific facility conditions. For instance, there can be separate systems and topcoats to consider for the parts of a facility patronized by the general public versus areas accessed only by company employees—in this instance, systems that offer custom aesthetics and superior wear resistance will be at the forefront.
The five basic considerations when choosing optimal protective floor coatings for industrial, commercial or institutional concrete floors are:
- Level of traffic and type of activity taking place in different areas within the facility
- Amount of heavy equipment in the facility and whether employees will be pushing the machinery across the floors
- What chemicals are handled, as well as their concentrations and how long a given chemical is likely to stay on the floor before being cleaned up
- Whether germ or pathogen control is a concern, and whether antimicrobial properties are needed
- How stylish and attractive the floors should be, balanced with how durable the floors need to be
Level of Traffic and Type of Activity
The amount and type of traffic in a given facility will greatly influence the type of flooring that will best serve it—or at least it will inform how heavy-duty the floor coating should be to perform to the requirements of the facility. If, for example, the facility has ongoing foot traffic as well as heavily laden forklifts and handcarts traversing the floors, the strength and durability of the surface will need to be relatively high in order to function as expected.
There should also be consideration of what operational activities go on in a given space. For example, if near-boiling hot liquids are likely to spill onto the floor during manufacturing processes, if a floor is consistently damp or wet, or if extreme temperature cycling takes place within the room, then thermal shock resistant flooring is a must. In other words, certain areas may need enhanced flooring systems to ensure long-term use, whereas other sections may be just fine with standard-quality coatings.
Varying levels of traffic and activity are inevitable across industries as well. For instance, a food processing plant presents a different type and volume of traffic than a hospital. Yet, it’s critical that flooring in both facilities handle very heavy loads and resist punctures and other damage. Luckily, resinous flooring manufacturers offer ideal solutions for these and the many other challenges presented, including varying needs for slip-resistance and safety markings.
What Type of Machinery Is Used in the Facility?
In a similar vein, you’ll need to assess what types of machinery and equipment are used in the building, as well as how often equipment is moved or transported. Flooring with impressively high compressive strength is available for facilities that store and utilize very heavy machinery. Manufacturers also offer solutions to help protect concrete from damage caused by constant equipment vibration.
Many of today’s businesses and institutions rely on highly sensitive electronics and require static control flooring to help safeguard both equipment and personnel. You’ll want to consider electrostatic dissipative (ESD) floor coatings for mission-critical facilities such as data centers and hospital operating rooms, as well as manufacturing locations with extruders, converting lines, plastic molding and the like. In addition, any operation that utilizes large volumes of certain powders or volatiles, or stores armaments or other explosion hazards can benefit greatly from installing conductive floor systems as part of their safety program.
Are Chemicals Used in the Facility? If So, What Kind and How Often?
The next point of clarity you’ll need when choosing a concrete floor coating is whether or not chemicals are handled in the facility. If they are, you’ll want to know what types and concentrations of chemicals are being used, as well as how frequently. It’s imperative to choose flooring that can resist chemical damage, as well as stand up to regular cleaning with whatever substances are utilized. In extreme environments where hot chemical solutions or extreme pH substances are employed, thermal shock resistance coatings with excellent chemical, acid, and alkali resistance may be required.
Whether in commercial or industrial settings, concrete floors are porous. Without the proper coating, chemicals, solvents, acids, alkalis and other compounds can be absorbed into the concrete slab, leading to deterioration. When working with a quality manufacturer of concrete floor coatings, you’ll be able to choose from systems that offer the appropriate protection against a facility’s chemicals, as well as flooring that is resistant to stains.
Will You Need Anti-Microbial Flooring?
Some industries require the flooring in their facilities to meet rigid standards for safety as well as public health reasons. The following operations are likely to require antimicrobial flooring to help support their pathogen control efforts:
- Food and beverage processing
- Hospitality and restaurants
- Animal health/veterinary
- Healthcare and medical locations
- Schools and community living situations
- Science and research locations
- Biotech, pharma and similar manufacturing
Undesirable microbial growth in these facilities can create health problems for occupants and a dangerous risk to the public at large. Management’s pathogen control efforts can be greatly supported by choosing a concrete floor coating that is capable of withstanding frequent cleanings, as well as flooring that has been formulated with antimicrobial protection, meets FDA requirements and is USDA-compliant for incidental food exposure.
USDA-compliant floor coatings are perfect for institutional and commercial kitchens, food processing plants and packagers, beverage production and bottling facilities, dairy production facilities, meat and poultry processing plants, restaurants/fast food, hospitality and recreational facilities, and grocery/specialty food stores.
For schools and community living settings—as well as aseptic manufacturing locations—anti-microbial floor coatings that discourage pathogen proliferation can be a great asset, as they are supportive of rigid sanitation protocols and can help managers conform to building hygiene mandates. It makes good sense to improve occupant and visitor safety by choosing flooring that not only resists chemical and other contamination, but also stands up to the unique challenges these types of facilities present.
Appearance and Aesthetics
Finally, once you’ve squared away the performance necessities, it’ll be time to decide what you want the floor to look like. There are a number of concrete coating systems on the market that lend unique looks to facilities both commercial and otherwise.
Custom colors and patterns, as well as different finishes are available, so building managers and business owners can truly tailor the appearance of facility floors to meet specific designs—whether that means embedding a logo in the floor, adding a metallic sheen to the finish, including lines and markings to direct visitor traffic, or mixing colors to create a truly unique look. These design-forward concrete coatings can also offer the same high performance found in their industrial-looking counterparts.
Choosing the System
Look for experts in concrete floor coatings when exploring which system to use in a facility. Experienced professionals will be able to advise you on which systems will be best to match the needs of the operation’s flooring. Various systems are designed to meet different requirements, from the ability to withstand extreme thermal shock to standing up to ultra-heavy forklift loads and everything in between.
You can find out more about my company’s products specifically at www.florock.net.