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Industrial Floor Applications


Industrial 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 damage.

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.

Project Considerations

Some Typical Concerns and Conditions Are:

  • Chemical Attack – There are numerous chemicals which are commonplace in different manufacturing processes and each has different properties. Specific polymers offer different chemical resistance values.
  • Mechanical 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.
  • Thermal 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.

Application Process

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 shear.

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 and weaknesses.

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.

Maintenance

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.


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