Epoxy and resin flooring solutions offer advanced, sophisticated protection for industrial environments.

Over the past few decades, the protection of industrial flooring has gone from virtually nothing to an advanced, sophisticated process. A number of manufacturers and suppliers offer coatings and surfacing to protect concrete and other flooring slabs from damage, deterioration and contamination.

Epoxy and resin coatings on concrete industrial flooring offer a number of benefits that make them ideal for applications in commercial, pharmaceutical, factory and food & beverage facilities, among others. They offer benefits that span far beyond aesthetics, such as chemical resistance, non-slip properties, low maintenance and the ability to withstand wear and tear.

Industrial flooring is generally subjected to a lot of abuse, ranging from thermal shock and chemical attack to abrasion. Traditional flooring applications aren’t designed to withstand these conditions and it’s for this reason that flooring needs protection.

Concrete is porous, so liquid, food particles, bacteria and dust can easily seep into this flooring surface if it isn’t treated with a floor coating.

The porous nature of concrete means there could easily be unwanted germs and bacteria if the flooring hasn’t been sealed. Traditional concrete is only 25 MPa, which isn’t hard enough to withstand damage from tools, equipment, shopping trolleys or forklifts, for example. If you want your concrete flooring to last a long time, then it’s worthwhile investing in an epoxy or resin coating. There are many types of coatings available, so you would be able to choose a coating for chemical resistance, strength or any other operational requirement.

Continued impact and wear and tear can lead the concrete flooring to create dust, which can be problematic in a variety of industrial and commercial facilities. The question isn’t whether industrial flooring needs protection, it is what type of protection it needs. Clients, design professionals and facility managers want flooring applications that will offer the performance benefits they need as well as low lifecycle costs throughout the building’s lifespan.

As a flooring specifier, you will need to evaluate the existing surface to determine whether it’s structurally sound, whether it shows any signs of distress (such as unevenness or cracks) and the type of preparation that the surface will need, as patching, levelling and repairing is a crucial part of the application process.

BENEFITS OF EPOXY AND RESIN FLOOR COATINGS

Durability
An industrial floor with a protective coating can easily outlast other types of flooring. Not only are these types of floors strong and robust and better able to withstand force, weight and damage such as cracks, chips and cuts, but the coating is also mixed with a special sealant agent that protects against chemicals, water and other types of moisture damage.

Longevity
While other industrial flooring applications will have to be replaced every few years, these floors can stand the test of time. The initial cost of resin flooring might be higher than other materials, but the lifespan of the floor will be longer than other, cheaper alternatives. The risk of damage and wear and tear on an unprotected concrete floor will also be significantly reduced.

Design flexibility
When a client or design professional thinks of industrial flooring solutions, they can often wrongly assume that the floor won’t have much aesthetic appeal. Thanks to technological advancements from suppliers, there is a wide variety of options in terms of colour, textures and finishes. Resin and epoxy flooring is also used in upmarket kitchens and other residential spaces, where design, patterns and aesthetics are a requirement. Resin floors are applied by hand, resulting in a clean and precise application and finish.

What unique conditions need to be considered for industrial and resin flooring?

Various operational criteria and maintenance requirements need to be considered when selecting resin and epoxy flooring, including:
•    Hygiene
•    Slip resistance
•    Nature of chemical contact
•    Thermal shock and cycling (where the ambient temperature of the environment changes significantly)
•    Cleaning and maintenance

WHAT TYPES OF ENVIRONMENTS BENEFIT FROM INDUSTRIAL FLOOR COATINGS?

Food, beverage and food processing environments
Food processing environments are subject to an array of food by-products such as sugar, hot oils and blood. These can infiltrate an unprotected concrete floor, leading to microbial growth and bacteria. Without a protective coating, this flooring will also need laborious cleaning such as power washing, steam cleaning and the use of aggressive cleaning agents in order to maintain a high standard of hygiene, which is vital for consumer confidence as well as adherence to health and safety legislation.

Pharmaceutical environments
Absolute sterile and hygienic environments are necessary when producing products for the pharmaceutical industry. There are floor coatings available that have been tailored for the areas that are typically present in a pharmaceutical production facility such as aseptic areas, chemical storage areas, plant rooms, laboratories and tablet filling rooms.  

Commercial buildings
In many commercial buildings, the floor will be one of the largest components of the interior scheme. Industrial floor coatings in commercial buildings can withstand extreme wear, abrasion and scratches. The variety of colours, aggregate blends and textures available can enable design professionals to fulfil all their creative and aesthetic requirements.

Industrial facilities
Industrial plants and manufacturing facilities need floor coatings that can combat the effect of chemical attacks, bacteria, corrosion as well as the wear and tear that is commonplace in these environments. Industrial plants often can’t afford downtime for floor replacements, making this hardwearing solution an economical and practical solution for industrial clients.

Retail
The interior design scheme of a retail establishment says something about the brand. Contemporary floor coatings can create the high-impact look and feel that leaves a lasting impression on a customer. The durability of these flooring solutions also makes it ideal for retail units, cafeterias, department stores, fashion boutiques and shopping malls where there are heavy shelves, exhibit spaces, trolleys and other items that could cause damage to an untreated floor.

Stadiums
Building sporting arenas comes with a unique set of challenges. Design and construction professionals will need flooring solutions for a variety of features that these facilities accommodate, such as water sports, car parks, transport platforms, VIP areas, kitchens and catering facilities, among others. Epoxy and resin floor coatings can be used as a protective solution on everything from the stairs to the seating within specialised sporting environments.

Acknowledgement and thanks go to the following for the information contained in this article: www.concretenetwork.com, www.flowcretesa.co.za, www.abe.co.za and www.florock.net.