Specifier’s resin flooring selection guide

by Ofentse Sefolo
Specifier’s resin flooring selection guide

The word resin comes from French resine, from Latin resina, which either derives from or is a cognate of the Greek ῥητίνη rhētinē ‘resin of the pine’, of unknown earlier origin, though probably non-Indo-European.” – Wikipedia

So, when epoxy systems where first synthesised, the end product from the reaction resembled resins derived from trees. Over the years pigments have been added to these epoxy systems giving them wide decorative finishes and applications and generally deviating from the original amber look of resin from trees. The term resin thus symbolises crystalline look, hard, brittle yet durable.

Since then, many different types of chemicals have been synthesised (polyurethane, polyurea, polyaspartic, etc) and used to manufacture resin flooring, with a variety of enhanced attributes which traditionally epoxies could not offer. However, one common feature remains: an in-situ polymerisation or “curing reaction” needs to take place to produce the final synthetic resin finish.

Recent resin advances

Nowadays synthetic resin flooring is available in a wide range of thicknesses from, coatings (thin floor seals) to heavy duty industrial protection. Whatever the thickness, when correctly installed, resin flooring provides a seamless finish with greatly enhanced performance, offering many advantages when compared to the bare concrete base.

The advantages of synthetic resin flooring:
• Strong permanent bond to the concrete base
• Excellent resistance to a wide spectrum of aggressive chemicals
• Impermeable to liquids
• Increased toughness, durability and resilience
• Resistant to impact or abrasion
• Hygienic and easily cleaned
• Greater resistance to cracking
• Low applied thickness
• Rapid installation and curing with minimum disruption to normal operations
• Seamless

Installation considerations for optimum results

When working with synthetic resin floor products, it is key to understand that the setting reaction by which the initial liquid components convert into a strong tough polymer only begins once the base resin and the reactive hardener are intimately mixed. It is also vital that these components are blended in the precise proportions (stoichiometry) needed to achieve the homogeneous and uniform properties needed for the final product.

Precise proportions

Optimum performance is assured using either pre-batched components or the precise proportioning of the components on site from bulk supplies. Since it is imperative that the chemical balance is not upset, no attempt should be made to use sub-divided packs of pre-batched components, nor to blend in other materials.

Stick to specifications

Another important consideration is that where there is a specification to incorporate separate primers and/or surface seals, as is the case with many synthetic resin flooring systems, it is essential that they are applied strictly in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations to achieve maximum bond between each application.

Mapefloor I 390 EDF from Mapei – a two-component, self-levelling epoxy formulate for high strength, dissipative coatings

Classification and flooring types

Synthetic resin floorings can be divided into different types varying in thickness and surface finish. These typically include epoxy, polyurethane, polyurea, polyaspartic and methacrylate resins, to name a few. Different resin types allow different combinations of application characteristics and in-service performance which are all considerations that will affect the selection of a flooring type.

In general terms, these categories of flooring are listed in ascending order of durability. However, the life of the installation will depend on the actual product formulation used and the quality of the substrate along with the degree of severity of the floor’s service conditions.

The table below offers a guide to understanding how the different synthetic resin flooring types are typically classified with a description of each of the service levels:
• LD is Light Duty – suitable for light foot traffic and occasional rubber tyre vehicles
• MD is Medium Duty – suitable for regular foot traffic, frequent forklift truck traffic, occasional hard plastic-wheeled trolleys.
• HD is Heavy Duty – suitable for constant forklift truck traffic, hard plastic-wheeled trolleys and some impact.
• VHD is Very Heavy Duty– suitable for heavily loaded traffic and severe impact.


Design considerations when selecting a synthetic resin floor

When deciding on the floor type and design, the best approach would be to have a discussion with all interested parties, including client, designer, contractor and supplier.

No simple guide on where to use different flooring types exists, since so many parameters can affect the decision for each situation and finished product.

Below is a handy Specification Framework to assist and guide you on the key considerations for designing your choice of synthetic resin flooring.

Synthetic Resin Flooring Specification Framework

Selection criteria to consider

One of the most important elements influencing the selection of the flooring system should be addressing the following with the supplier, client and designer:
• Type and degree of traffic
• Temperatures to which flooring will be exposed
• Nature and duration of any chemical contact with the floor
• Wet or dry service conditions
• Slip resistance requirements
• Ease of cleaning (including hygiene requirements)
• Moisture content of the substrate
• Time available for application and curing
• Prevailing site conditions at time of installation
• Cost
• Aesthetics
• Achieving a flow

Keeping your floor looking its best

Synthetic resin flooring offers lasting finishes if they are correctly installed, well cared for and regularly maintained. The maintenance of the final product should be considered along with the type of flooring.

Ensure housekeeping standards and maintenance appropriate for the type of resin flooring is agreed upon, for instance, a mechanical scrubber with wet vacuum is the most suitable in some instances.

Where hygiene levels are required to be high, e.g. in food preparation areas, a bactericide solution should be used and pressure washing at a temperature of 60–80 C is advisable. Steam cleaning may be required to meet the individual client’s requirements.

So for synthetic resin flooring installations to go smoothly, remember to consider the flooring and traffic needs, find the most suitable type and design, use accredited products and follow installation specifications.

Ensure that the contractor applying the flooring system has full knowledge and experience with the required product, substrate requirements and specification.

Thanks and acknowledgement are given to The Resin Flooring Association for the information contained in this article.

Main image: abecote 337  tough epoxy for light duty from a.b.e.

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