A Guide To Industrial Flooring

The correct flooring choice for industrial sites is mission critical, delivering a secure, sterile, and well-organised operative workfloor. But, selecting the appropriate industrial flooring presents challenges as floor failure may be inevitable within 14 months, with attendant client headaches and capital outlay, as well as legal issues.

Ameliorating potential disaster depends on following the correct procedure in choosing the most appropriate flooring that satisfies the mandates of the context-specific work environment with regard to the rules of the particular industries’ well-being, security, sanitation and accordance.

Some pointers to avoid during the ordering procedure comprise selecting a finish based solely on looks, choosing the least expensive option, going with the identical previous choice, and ignoring the state of the substrate or the practical use of the site. These criteria will result in a floor that snaps, powderises and disintegrates when used for the daily operations it is intended.

Look at flooring properties (anti-bacterial agents, anti-slip aggregates and the dissipation of electricity) when considering industrial floor destruction triggers such as chemical abuse from a water, dust, fuels, sanitizers, acids, lubricants, and in certain industries, by-products from foodstuffs including sugars, hot oils, blood and grease. Finish as well as substrate and soil degradation may result, and the corrosiveness of contaminates depending on their temperatures must be factored in.

Another consideration is risk auditing the degree to which the floor is exposed to corrosion, divided into immersion, intermittent spillage or infrequent contact.  And, traffic loading, equipment being moved, dropped tools, dragged pallets and forklift traffic places extra strain on the floor. Here, determining the compressive floor strength defines the suitable flooring needed per task.

Industrial facilities are subject to stringent cleaning with hot water / steam to get rid of grease and fuel – these factories usually experience room temperatures, so heated cleaning produces thermal shock with flooring exposed to unusually hot temperatures

Flooring comprising epoxy, vinyl or MMA is unsuited to thermal shock, leading to cracking, delamination and material damage / failure during temperature fluctuations, including thermal cycling (temperature raised or lowered seasonally or during cleaning).

Successful flooring finishes hinge on correct substrates underpinning them, and inferior substrate / concrete results in delamination (smooth concrete, failure to remove the laitance, ineffective bonding of resin to substrate).

Concrete absorbs ground moisture and new concrete has a significant moisture content until dried, so its pH level and moisture content adversely affects flooring (causing blistering and debonding), necessitating the analysis of the moisture level during specification, and the use of a damp-proof membrane (DPM) if necessary, which smooths the moisture vapour transition).



Floor Screeds

Following a 1:3 or 1:4.5 ratio of cement to sharp sand, floor screeds comprise cementitious matter, spread over precast concrete flooring or in-situ concrete ground flooring.  Options for application include direct base bonding, unbonded laying over a moisture-proof membrane that is positioned over the slab. Another method is to apply it on a layer of firm insulation material for application with cast-in water pipes to deliver underfloor heating.

For fortification, use a fine metal of glass mesh; the screed may be kept as is or floated to enable smooth surfacing to lay the finish over.

If reinforcement is required, this can either be in the form of a fine metal mesh, fibres which are normally polypropylene or a fine glass mesh. Ready, factory-mixed sand / cement screeds trump site-mixed ones in terms of consistency. Pumpable flowing screeds deliver more level surfaces. These are calcium sulphur binder-based, applied (with varying minimum thickness) more quickly than sand / cement screeds, and can be used in combination with underfloor heating

Cement Sand Screeds

The most likely cause of bonded screed failure to the below substrate is if the screed is too thick, and an unbonded screed fails by lifting or curling, which happens if the screed is too thin. The ideal bonded screed thickness is >50 mm and unbonded < 70 mm to 100 mm to avoid curling.

Criteria for screed design (depth and type) include specified floor finishes, the construction tolerances and the provision of falls. Included is structural dictates like mitigating disproportionate collapse and the actioning of composite movement with the slab below.

Screed use can be avoided by stipulating more stringent construction tolerances that ensure direct flooring material flooring reception. If screeding is required, use cement sand screed or the more contemporary proprietary self-smoothing type.

The following definitions apply to specific screed types:

Levelling screed – screed finished to specified level to receive final flooring.

Wearing screed – screed that functions as flooring.

Bonded – screed laid onto a mechanically prepared substrate.

Unbonded – screed deliberately kept apart from substrate by membrane.

Floating  – type of unbonded screed laid on acoustic / thermal insulation.

Cement sand screed – contains sand up to 4 mm maximum aggregate size.

Fine concrete screed – contains concrete with maximum aggregate of 10 mm.

Pumpable self-smoothing screed – mixed to a liquid that can be moved by pump to site and will flow adequately to deliver the desired level accuracy and surface regularity (also known as self-levelling screeds).

Curling – upward deformation of screed edges.

Leveling equipment

The level and flatness of any concrete floor is of major concern for structural engineers, flooring inspectors, superintendents, finishing foremen and construction contractors.

Extreme concrete floor flatness (FF) and floor levelness (FL) are mandatory for sites containing carefully calibrated equipment, as well as for warehouses, offices and distribution centres. Even, level surfaces are conducive to secure lift truck activity, as well as guaranteeing that high-level vertical storage shelves are able to support electronic picking setups.

Electronic floor profilers were patented in the ‘70s in order to streamline floor flatness and levelling, and were manually operated wheeled machines that created new floor measurement codes, known as F-numbers, which became standardised indicators of FF and FL for industry.

Other pour concrete floor finishing enhancers, eg the laser screed and ride-on power trowel, were also developed, as well as laser scanning. The latter assists in “reality capture” and has immense use in digitally capturing the surface topography of a freshly minted concrete pour in 3D form.

Aberrations in floor flatness and level can be analysed with computer software for the benefit of inspectors and concrete contractors. The exactness, rapidity, ease and flexibility of laser scanning is replacing traditional floor profiling devices as the new standard for FF/FL measurement

Practical floor application tools include spike shoes, spike rollers (For the removal of air bubbles from and cementitious floor coatings,  epoxy floor coatings and self-leveling screeds), rakes, adjustable levelers, squeegees and spatulas and mixing machines.

Posted in Cement and concrete, Construction equipment, General.