Coating Solutions for Commercial and Industrial Flooring
Are you in charge of choosing a flooring system for a commercial or industrial location? The good news is that there are a wide array of choices. The bad news is that there are numerous commercial and industrial flooring solutions to choose from.
- 1) Coatings
- 2) Ceramic Tile
- 3) Hardwood
- 4) VCT
- 5) Sheet goods
- 6) Carpet
Some of these choices are ruled out by the activities, materials and equipment present at the commercial and industrial site. But, most often, choices are made without evaluating the total requirements of the flooring system.
In retail, services, non-profit, production and light industrial locations, almost all facilities have some areas that will benefit by the protective and decorative nature of polymer floor coatings. These polymer floor coatings often include epoxies, urethanes and polyureas.
Why Install a Floor Coating System
Floor coatings are used for one or more of the following purposes:
- To provide a decorative finish.
- To provide a cleanable, sanitizable finish.
- To protect concrete from exposure to process chemicals and chemical solutions that would otherwise attack the concrete surface.
- To protect concrete from exposure to abrasion, wear, erosion or other physical mechanisms of abuse and deterioration.
- To prevent leakage of water through cracks or other breaches in concrete slabs into areas beneath the slabs.
- To contain and/or direct process solutions or other materials to drain systems.
Evaluate Your Commercial and Industrial Flooring Criteria
The following are typically the primary drivers for selecting one polymer coating system over another. These criteria should be discussed and evaluated for each area to receive coatings. While a common appearance may be desired for an entire facility, the area to area specifics may necessitate the use of different materials for each area.
Improper material selection often results in coating failures or in the failure to achieve the desired results.
- Surface Condition
The concrete slab’s level of flatness, porosity, smoothness and structural integrity will all
impact what type of chemical systems are applicable.
- A highly cracked or spalled floor may require special epoxy, urethane or polyuria repair materials prior to coating.
- A slab with high porosity may require a primer or additional layers.
- A highly sloped floor may not allow coatings that sag or where pigments may run or pool.
- A slab requiring expensive preparation or repair may not allow thinner coatings to hide those conditions.
The bond strength of a polymer floor coating is also dependent upon the floor surface being properly prepared prior to the coatings application. While there are many ways to prepare the concrete surface, the process that is used must ensure that it adequately removes loose materials, imparts a sufficient concrete surface profile and opens the pores of the concrete.
Most polymer flooring systems do not require waxing or polishing. They can be easily cleaned with mechanical equipment while leaving no traces of spills or streaks.No coating lasts forever and wear may occur in heavily trafficked areas. But unlike paints, most professionally installed floor coating systems have a thick enough top layer of the coatings to allow them to be mechanically abraded. Once properly prepared, a new protective layer of coating can be applied to the existing system.While the need for this rejuvenation may not occur for many years, once it is needed, there will not be the large investment of replacing the entire system (which is more typical of DIY kits and floor paints).
For minor amounts of dulling or scratches, new developments in special polymer waxes allow for simple janitorial processes to keep the high sheen and further lengthen the time period before new coatings are required.
Polymer flooring systems can be constructed to create a variety of textures ranging from very rough to extremely smooth. This texture will impact the slip wet and dry resistance, ease of cleaning and impact of items coming in contact with the surface.While some coating systems have a natural texture due to the media bonded between chemical layers, nearly all can be further modified by the introduction of sand, quartz or aluminum oxide into the topmost coatings. Aluminum oxide is available in very large sizes (16 grit) to extremely fine (240 grit). Some “high wear” systems utilize tabular aluminum to create surfaces that mimic that of an emery board or very fine sand paper.
- Chemical Resistance
A coating system for commercial and industrial flooring should be comprised of at least one, if not more, layers of chemicals that can resist the chemical exposure conditions. The types and concentration of chemicals and the anticipated maximum exposure times must be considered when selecting the construct of a chemical system. While many polymers can tolerate short term or splash spill exposures, long term or full immersion environments typically require Novolac polymers or specialty “containment” systems.
- Scratch Resistance
A coating for commercial and industrial flooring takes a lot of abuse from wheel and foot traffic, dropped items and moving of materials & equipment. The flooring coatings should be selected for their ability to withstand abrasion and impact. High wear patterns or greater impact resistance calls for greater thickness and higher density systems. Specialty topcoats may be required to withstand the abrasives present or to accommodate more rigorous surface cleaning.
- UV Resistance
Commercial and industrial sites may or may not have windows, but often have a fair amount of lighting installed. A good coating system for commercial and industrial flooring must be able to withstand periodic or continuous exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV resistance is important not just for the look, but also the longevity of the polymer flooring system.Most epoxies do not have high UV resistance, which is why most decorative floor coatings make use of urethane or polyuria based technologies, as these chemicals have UV inhibitors or are UV stable (do not yellow from exposure).Over a prolonged period of time, coatings impacted by UV exposure will begin to break down or chalk. Ultimately, the entire system can fail, if the system is not properly maintained or rejuvenated.
Some lighting, such as sodium vapor, may require special considerations during installation to negate their impact
In retail, offices or showroom environments, the decorative nature of a floor coating system is often paramount. In more industrial applications, aesthetics is often the last factor to consider.Aesthetics are very subjective, so the wide variety of coating systems accommodates a wide selection of personal tastes.
Coating System Solutions
The majority of coatings for commercial and industrial flooring fall into the following types:
- Neat Coatings
- Random Flake
- Single Broadcast
- Double Broadcast
Selecting the appropriate polymer coatings will avoid future headaches and potentially save thousands of dollars in maintenance and replacement costs.
The numerous options of decorative and protective coatings make polymer flooring systems a great choice for many types of commercial and industrial environments. Careful thought should be given to the flooring requirements described in the second section. Working with a professional floor coatings applicator such as Jordan Group Construction will make system selection easier and ensure that the final product produces the expected results.