flooring is any product or system designed for continuous
use on floor surfaces subject to severe mechanical
or chemical attack. There are various types of industrial
floor systems each suited to particular conditions.
The appropriate system will be comprised of properties
able to perform in these particular conditions. Additionally,
the materials should be rated to perform temporarily
in an abnormally hazardous situation that could occur,
such as a spill or accident. Thereby providing a window
of opportunity to contain the problem and limit potential
Industrial flooring is more about function than form. While an aesthetic quality
is generally desired, it is important to bear in mind that the flooring’s
purpose is much more utilitarian. Often material properties and make-up of
industrial systems are geared toward functioning under sever duress rather
than looking like a work of art.
Some Typical Concerns and Conditions Are:
Attack – There are numerous
chemicals which are commonplace in different
manufacturing processes and each has different
properties. Specific polymers offer different
chemical resistance values.
Attack – Manufacturing of
extremely heavy equipment requires the facility’s
floor surface be able to endure excessive compressive
loads. Specific polymer and aggregate combinations
provide compressive strengths 3 to 5 times higher
than standard 3000 PSI concrete.
Shock – The drastic fluctuation
in floor surface temperature is known as thermal
shock. A floor that is at 70 degree ambient temperature
in service but is subjected to 200 degree water
being dumped onto the surface undergoes thermal
shock. If a material is not designed to withstand
these drastic and sudden changes, cracking and
physical breakdown of the surface are likely.
As with all poured-in-place floor systems, surface preparation is critical.
Failure to properly prepare the substrate will certainly result in delamination
failure. In pre-existing facilities, it is crucial that the surface is not
only prepared mechanically, but that contaminants and caustics are removed
from the substrate. Failure to do so can often result in chemical breakdown
at the bond line from beneath the installed system. This can also result in
delamination failure. As a general rule, the anchoring profile should be 1/3
of the profile thickness of the installed system to insure against surface
Generally there are two main polymer types utilized in industrial floor systems;
epoxy and urethane. There are specialized components within each polymer type
that offer better protection against specific caustic agents. Products designed
for industrial use typically offer chemical resistance charts which identify
the products’ resistance values against specific chemicals. The product
selected is usually chosen based on the chemicals utilized in the facility
on a regular basis. Since industrial environments are among the most demanding
a product will face, it is important to understand the chemicals, load, and
frequency the surface will be subjected to in order to select the proper product.
Urethanes offer the most chemical resistance.
Benefits and Limitations
All floor systems have specific requirements for successful installation. It
is important to verify that the product manufacturer’s written guidelines
governing the installation process. Adherence to instructions is critical for
maintaining the manufacturers’ warranty; neglecting them will almost
certainly void the warranty. Proper product selection based on end use, appropriate
scheduling with other trades, testing and compliance to product moisture requirements,
and installation per industry Best Practice methods are the keys to a quality
flooring installation. Urethane products are often combined with concrete to
form polyurethane concrete.
Polyurethane concrete is extremely strong, handles moisture well, and is very
high in compressive and flexural strength. Thermal shock areas are typical
application areas for polyurethane concrete. Flexural strength is the key in
being able to handle thermal shock. Cook lines and freezers are two areas where
polyurethane concrete is often specified. Epoxy resins are numerous - water
and solvent based Novolac epoxy and Vinyl Ester - each with certain strengths
No one product is best suited to all environments. The properties that provide
added protection to specific agents make a product vulnerable to others. Different
aggregates such as silica, quartz, iron, or silica flour can be mixed into
resins to create mortars or self-leveling coatings. Whether the environment
is secondary containment or a processing facility, it is essential that a clear
understanding of the type of agents and traffic the surface will be subjected
to be understood prior to product specification. If the product or system installed
is not up to the task at hand, even a perfectly installed system will fail
under normal use.
Regular maintenance is vital to the long term welfare of all floors. There
is no surface available that remains in optimum condition without regular cleaning
and maintenance. The floor is subjected to the most abuse in any normal business.
Keeping the floor in good condition takes a little forethought and consistent
effort. The first key to maintaining floors is preventing as much soil, debris,
and potential damaging agents from being introduced to the environment in the
first place. Interior and exterior walk-off mats can minimize the amount of
sand, water, and foreign matter that are tracked onto the floor. Limiting contaminants
will simplify the maintenance process.
The maintenance program in industrial environments will be highly dependent
on the use of the facility. It is probable that EPA and Federal and State guidelines
will factor into the means, methods, and disposal of waste associated with
the cleaning and maintenance process. Verify compliance to all governmental
regulations and consult the system manufacturer for recommended processes.