It goes without saying that these are the top two questions most of our customers have, whether they actually ask us that question or not. We realize that we’re not an entirely unbiased source to get these answers from, but we’ll give you our best straight answers nonetheless.
We think you’ll find this article helpful in sorting out what factors are important to think about. Even if you check up on our answers through your own research, the purpose of this article is to give you a good starting point, and we bet you’ll end up confirming what we say here.
First, what are the issues?
Challenges: Floors get more abuse and stress than almost any other surface in your building. This includes impacts, temperature changes, abrasions, foot and wheeled traffic, chemical spills and more.
Performance: At the same time, you need your floor to perform – provide good traction where needed, be easy to clean, accomodate traffic and equipment, and last a long time without breaking down.
Visual function: In addition, you may want your floor to reflect more light to improve visibility and save energy. You may also need it to provide a visual map that aids efficiency, organization or safety, or simply to contribute to a more attractive work environment.
Corporate Image: Finally, the treatment of your industrial floors can be an extension of your company image, creating a consistent look that utilizes your corporate colors and iconography.
Most industrial floors are concrete. Concrete is porous and somewhat easily scratched, gouged, or chipped. It is sensitive to moisture, chemicals, abrasions, impacts, steel-wheeled traffic and more.
So the basic issues are these:
- Preserving concrete floors for long and trouble-free service life by protecting against all kinds of applicable stresses — moisture, chemical, impact, abrasions, whatever
- Making cleaning quicker and cheaper
- Reducing any other maintenance needs
- Providing the needed working functionality, such as a chemical-resistant non-slip surface
- Visual issues — better visibility, functional markers, company image and/or general aesthetics.
So what are the different options, and how do I choose the best one?
There are a lot of brand-names. But in reality there are only a few types of systems with a lot of special variations in the formulations that offer various trade-offs, such as abrasion resistance vs. solvent volatility or cure-time and others.
The best of these formulations have evolved over the past 30 years to where there are now some truly outstanding industrial concrete coatings that didn’t exist before.
The performance of these coatings now exceeds that of almost any other type of flooring, including tile, granite, marble, wood, engineered laminates, polished concrete and many more.
The options can be divided mainly by three properties:
- Chemistry (type of material)
- Finish (for example, smooth or textured)
Chemistry: the leading types of coatings are epoxy, polyurethane, polyester, vinyl ester, acrylic, methyl, and methacrylic. There are thousands of formulations, but most fall into one of these categories. The key is to choose the right one for each situation. There is no single superior type. The differences between each kind are very specific, and the right one will depend on the particulars of your building as well as what properties are most important – chemical resistance, impact resistance, thermal and mechanical resilience, and even such aesthetic issues as transparency and clarity, among others.
Thickness: Thicknesses can range from a few millimeters up to 1/2 inch. Needless to say, those two extremes would apply to very different situations. Thickness doesn’t necessarily correspond to toughness or service life, but a thicker coating can offer some special possibilities. Examples include getting good one-step results in filling imperfections and coating a very rough, embedding quartz or other materials to create a textured and highly slip-resistant surface, embedding materials for decorative effect, and more.
Finish: To achieve either a very smooth and consistent or a textured finish, each one has specific requirements. For example, a very smooth finish can be achieved either through an exacting surface preparation sequence or by a thicker application.
How do I choose the best finish system for my company?
Basically, there is only one way: by evaluating each factor in your situation in detail. This includes the current condition of your floors, environmental factors like temperature variations and moisture, and everything related to the intended use of the floors and hazards they may be exposed to. Once these factors are known, it is fairly straightforward to choose the best formulation and application method from among the hundreds available.
How do I choose the right company to handle my industrial flooring needs?
The most important thing to consider in choosing a company to apply industrial floor coatings is know-how and attention to detail.
- The preparation of the floor is key. Even a brand new concrete floor needs to be both mechanically and chemically prepared and verified before proper bonding and longevity will happen. A poor preparation, or the use of incompatible materials to repair cracks or other imperfections will cause early multiple failures in your floor.
- Very careful and methodical evaluation of each flooring situation and corresponding choice of chemical system and method of application also has a large effect on performance and longevity.
- Years of experience and ongoing education equips a company to deal with unique situations and needs. Flexible and knowledgeable problem-solving can be invaluable when things aren’t exactly a textbook situation.
- Reliable, on-time completion can be important for a busy company that has it’s own deadlines to meet.
- Finally, it’s very important to meticulously carry out each step exactly as required for the ultimate result. No steps should be left out and no shortcuts should be taken. And times, mixture ratios and procedures should be precise.