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Wear and Tear of Industrial Floors Explained

One of the most frequently asked questions by facility managers and owners is, “how long will my new industrial flooring last?” Because there are so many varieties of epoxy floor coatings and other industrial flooring systems designed to accommodate such a broad spectrum of facilities and operational activities, there is no single answer to that question. The usable life of resinous flooring can range from two to fifteen years, depending on site conditions, the system installed, and the type and frequency of traffic in the area.

Good Quality Industrial Floor

A first class installation of Florock by the team from Hardig of OH.

Building owners’ needs and expectations vary greatly and resinous flooring manufacturers are able to accommodate requests for shorter term protection, as is often requested for leased facilities, in addition to flooring that will last a decade or longer. However, there are several factors that impact the reality of how long the concrete floor coating in a given facility will last, regardless of the system you choose.

Strength of the Concrete Substrate

The condition of the concrete substrate is an important factor in longevity of the floor coating system. Anything other than a structurally sound foundation opens the door to a host of potential problems occurring in just about any floor covering. While epoxy and other coatings can be used to repair, strengthen and beautify a slab surface, they cannot make up for an inherently weak, sub-par concrete slab structure.

Most building codes outline the recommended base and subbase materials (including vapor barrier), minimum slab thicknesses, compressive and flexural strengths, reinforcement and other details required of commercial and industrial concrete floors. When in full compliance, most concrete floors can be considered suitable for coating with epoxy or other resinous systems.

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Proper Surface Preparation

Proper surface preparation is one of the most important steps of industrial floor coating installation. The success and longevity of the flooring is dependent upon its tenacious adhesion to the substrate. The presence of dust, dirt, oils or moisture can compromise good bond.

Beyond ensuring the surface is free of any visible dust and dirt, careful evaluation is needed to exclude the presence of any other contaminants that could interfere with coating bond. Things to look out for can include:

  • The moisture content of the slab – New concrete must be sufficiently cured and dry enough to accept the type of coating being installed.
  • Moisture transmission issues – A breached or non-functioning vapor barrier can allow moisture and moisture vapor to enter a slab-on-grade from the soil underneath it. The Moisture Vapor Transmission (MVT) of all slabs, old and new, should be tested prior to coating, so that remedial or mitigating steps can be taken, as required.
  • Grease, oils or other residue, such as silicone, on the slab surface can severely compromise good bond of a floor coating and must be completely removed.
  • The application of curing compounds, cure-n-seals and the like, should be avoided, as they can impede proper adhesion of flooring systems. If present, these substance must be removed from the slab surface before coating.

Your factory-approved flooring installer can discuss their surface preparation techniques with you. These should include a full examination of the slab and joints, removal of any surface contaminants followed by mechanical grinding or shot blasting to open the pores of the concrete, as well as testing for moisture and MVT.

Frequency and Type of Traffic

Obviously, less frequent traffic results in greater longevity of a given floor coating. However, the type of traffic is just as important as the volume. Given the same coating system, the longevity of the protective flooring in a high traffic municipal parking garage, when compared to a warehouse aisle with a lower volume of traffic, can vary significantly. The wider rubber tires and balanced loads of passenger cars in the garage may be far less punishing than the warehouse’s less frequent, but very heavy, unevenly distributed loads – especially if pallet jacks with small, hard plastic or metal wheels are used. When selecting coating systems, knowing such details can make all the difference.

Industrial Floor

Chemical resistant FloroThane topcoat over FloroPoxy primer being expertly applied in a 15K SF hangar, by Hardig of OH.

Type of Coating

Industrial grade resinous flooring is designed to be durable and resist wear-and-tear under specific conditions. A major benefit of working with an established manufacturer is their ability to help facilities customize systems for optimal performance and longer usable life, resisting damage from stresses such as:

  • Moisture Vapor Transmission (MVT)
  • Ongoing damp conditions, as found in wet processing areas
  • High abrasion, where pallets and other items may be dragged
  • Thermal shock and regular temperature cycling
  • Exposure to harsh chemicals, acids and alkalis

Florock offers multiple options that accommodate to the specific needs of virtually any industrial or commercial environment. Click the Flooring Requirements tab at the top of any page for a list of these special-needs products.

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Maintenance Routine

Informed facility managers in industrial settings plan for two categories of floor maintenance as part of their team’s overall routine:

    1. Cleaning: Simply sweeping or vaccuuming daily to remove dirt and particles goes a long way to keeping a finish intact. The longer debris remains on the floor, the more risk of particles being ground into the surface by pedestrian and vehicular traffic, causing potential damage down the road. Any spills should always be cleaned up immediately and a weekly wet mopping or gentle scrubbing in accordance with flooring manufacturer’s instruction is also recommended.

 

  1. Repairing and Recoating: We offer concrete floor crack repair kits and strongly suggest that repairs be attended to as soon as a crack or divot is noticed. This can help prevent the damage from expanding into a more costly and time-consuming maintenance and safety issue. Additionally, all floors should be evaluated annually and repaired or recoated when needed. During this process, slip resistance can be augmented throughout the floor or enhanced in specific areas, as desired.

For larger spaces or customized systems, work with a factory-approved installer whose expertise and professionalism you can count upon. Florock offers the variety and quality of products you need, as well as a knowledgeable team ready to answer your questions and advise you on optimal floor coatings systems capable of withstanding the wear-and-tear of your operation.