Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to concrete floor coatings is not the best approach. First, there are different types of coating application styles. Second, there are all kinds of budget and/or regulatory requirements you may have to adhere to. Then, there’s the amount of foot and vehicle traffic in your facility. Installation timeframes and weather are other factors. Further, the types of solvents, chemicals and moisture levels can affect the durability of the flooring you select. You'll also want flooring that's easy to clean. It's a lot to absorb - literally. Hence, finding the right flooring solution can require careful planning and work with a flooring specialist.

How to Find the Best Flooring Solutions

A flooring system is a protective and smooth layer over your concrete floor. This specially treated coating might include a urethane cement or epoxy coating. These can help to minimize concrete erosion for your facility. It can help reduce incidents of "slips and falls" and hazardous contaminants.

When selecting new flooring, keep safety and durability top of mind. According to recent OSHA findings, 164 "willful" fall protection violations occurred. These are for facilities that intentionally disregard OSHA standards. In addition, 5,677 "serious" violations occurred. These are areas where death or serious harm could occur due to facility negligence. Hence, protective flooring is vital to worker safety.

Here are a few flooring tips to help with your manufacturing facility. These can promote worker safety, lower operational costs and improve workflows.

1. Examine the Types of Traffic in Your Facility

You might not think that your flooring needs a makeover but heavy machinery, high foot traffic and lift trucks can do a lot of damage. Steel- and rubber-wheeled carts, forklifts and pallet trucks can leave scuffs, scratches, cracks and holes. These can all affect the integrity of your floors. Furthermore, they can slow production, damage vehicles and raise housekeeping costs.

Key questions for your managers and facility managers to ask include:

  • How much foot and vehicle traffic do you have daily, seasonally and annually?
  • What are the ratios of vehicles to pedestrians?
  • Do we have tire marks, scratches, gouges and cracks?
  • Is there chemical wear?
  • Are you expanding in the future? Is this a temporary location?
  • Do you want to separate vehicle travel routes from pedestrian walkways?
  • How can you provide clear OSHA-approved outlines and directions for traffic flow?
  • Are items dragged and dropped?
  • Are there significantly heavy loads?

2. Color Coordinate (Standardize) Your Facility

Reducing accidents and fines is a top priority for every facility. OSHA reported that about 36.5% of fatal workplace accidents occur from falls (improper walkways, working surfaces). Hence, to meet fall protection guidelines (1926.501), color coating your facility with clear markers can help ensure you seamlessly direct traffic.

Your employees, visitors and vendors can have designated areas. And, you can improve workflows and take the "guesswork" out of what's in a specific location. For example, specific color schemes can separate storage spaces from your warehouse location.

Color schemes to explore include:

  • Black: This designates your finished goods area
  • Blue: This denotes a work in progress area or a section that's under repairs
  • Green: Store your safety equipment in this location or designate this as safe for pedestrians to walk in
  • Orange: Use this to store your machinery parts
  • Red: Use this for a "Do not block" location or your emergency exits and "Do not walk" areas or "No equipment allowed"
  • Red and White: This is an area for safety equipment only
  • Yellow: These can designate pedestrian walkways and the use of yellow and black is for extra caution areas

3. Review the Types of Products You Transport

Another area to address is the type of finish for your flooring. As your business grows and thrives, your facility is the lifeblood of your business. Because you have special parts that require careful attention, it's important to explore how any spills or dropped items might damage your flooring. It's also important to protect workers from contaminants and falls to ensure a safe working environment.

Key questions to ask include:

  • Do we need a finish that’s slip-resistant? Should it include static-control?
  • If a spill occurs, what is the turnaround time for cleanup?
  • Should the flooring include antimicrobial properties (food services, healthcare facilities)?

4. Consider the Age and Status of Your Existing Flooring

Unsure if your commercial floors are salvageable?

Concrete flooring naturally erodes if left untreated. Subject to foot traffic, spills and machines, over time the rough concrete becomes unsafe. Additionally, if your business manufactures food or medical products, erosion can lead to harmful bacteria. This can lead to inspection problems and costly fees, fines and repairs.

Depending on your facility, you may have a new or existing floor coating in place.

Newer Flooring

Newer facilities may include different types of resinous floor coatings. It’s also possible to find a multi-layered covering that includes different resins. Talk to your flooring specialist to address if the current flooring will meet your specific needs or if a customized approach is a better option.

Older Flooring

Worn or cracked flooring is a cause for concern. Further, if chemical leaks or other solvents occurred, these can lead to contaminants and hazardous conditions.

Key questions to ask include:

  • What is the age of the existing concrete flooring? Was the initial installation correct?
  • Is the flooring damaged or is moisture a factor? How much flooring is missing?
  • Is there a lot of delamination (trapped air and water beneath the surface)?
  • Is there significant spalling (rust deterioration)?
  • Has severe hot or cold weather worn out the flooring? Is exterior winter road salt deteriorating the interior flooring?
  • Does the current flooring have a coating and if so what is the mixture?

5. Find the Best Budget-Friendly Flooring Options

Allocating money for new flooring isn’t always within every budget. However, to avoid hazardous conditions and more costly repairs, keep flooring repairs and upgrades at the forefront. Dozens of flooring coatings vary according to coating, style and thickness. Furthermore, some manufacturers layer their flooring. They might apply a layer of epoxy and add a layer of urethane on top for added protection.

A few questions to ask include:

  • Is this for aesthetics? Are you remodeling your current flooring? Upgrading it? Or, creating a temporary fix?
  • Will a simple polish (little maintenance, most affordable) to your current flooring suffice?
  • Will you paint traffic lines or is tape (short-term, fast option) a temporary fix?

6. Factor in the Installation Timeline for Your New Flooring

Deciding on the lifespan of your flooring is another area to address. With a host of epoxy blends and urethane cement to select from, you can find the right coating that fits your budget and operational requirements.

A few questions to ask include:

  • Should this new flooring last 5 to 7 years (temporary spaces, quick repairs, low budget)?
  • Should it last 15 years or longer (more permanent solutions)?
  • Are you changing locations after a few years? Or, is this your permanent location?

7. Explore the Best Floor Coatings, Finishes and Add-On’s

Are you thinking about purchasing a new manufacturing floor coating? There are different types of floor coatings that include epoxy and urethane. Other points include the level of gloss or color that you want your flooring to have. And, will you require special floor markings or want to add your business logo?

Common floor coatings include:

Epoxy Coatings (Broadcast, Mortar): This is a layered coating of wet epoxy with the strongest adhesive properties. It’s applied in several layers and can sustain high foot traffic. It can also help prevent chemical and contaminant spills in harsh chemical environments. Epoxy flooring is non-porous and won't let in dirt, mold or water. Epoxy coatings can include quartz, sand, mineral chips and synthetic flakes. Hence, it can come in different aesthetic and color schemes. Installation can include 1/16” to 1/8" in thickness. Aside from flooring, mortar is useful for potholes and drainage floor slopes.

Benefits include:

  • Slip-resistant and anti-skid flooring that’s easy to clean
  • High durability and impact resistance It’s among the most affordable flooring types
  • Useful for restoring deteriorating concrete flooring
  • Broadcast coatings are for moderate to heavy traffic conditions
  • Mortar coatings are for the heaviest traffic conditions

Urethane Concrete (Mortar, Slurry): This is a durable coating. It’s found in kitchen manufacturing plants, pet kennels, dairy farms and food processing plants. Installation can include 3/16” to 1/4" in thickness.

Benefits include:

  • High impact, excellent heat and thermal shock tolerance
  • High tolerance with moist conditions and it’s self-leveling
  • High tolerance to various pH substances and chemicals
  • No odors from solvents with installation and it’s rapid curing (quick drying)
  • Flexible installation options and it comes in multiple colors
  • Highly durable for moderate to heavy traffic conditions

Other Flooring Types: Novolac flooring is another type of coating that uses epoxy. It can help to protect your floors from corrosion and spills. Polyurethane flooring is an additional option. Similar to epoxy but more flexible, it's highly resistant to solvents and abrasions.

Limited on downtime and need your flooring fast? Have urethane mortar flooring installed while you work.

8. Reduce Your Environmental Footprint

Creating an environmentally-friendly workspace is important to your business success. Having a floor coating that's Green and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) compliant can help you meet any safety and USDA guidelines.

Think about using non-toxic sealants and ask your flooring specialist about densifier additives. Select floor coverings that are low in clean-up and maintenance to reduce the need for chemical cleaning solvents.

9. Keep Track of Your Temperatures

Knowing when to have your flooring installed is important as temperatures can affect curing time. Keeping your facility floor cool is another concern in some regions. With the dog days of summer, temperatures can rise. However, it's important to take steps that keep your floor temperatures down. Excessive heat can affect worker safety and it can cause parts to malfunction. Additionally, if you work with special chemicals, they need to stay at specific temperatures.

Here are a few tips

Pre-flooring installation:

  • When installing epoxy flooring, recommended temps are 10-30-degrees Celsius or 50-80-Fahrenheit (higher temps cause cracking and a faster curing process)
  • Temps under 13-degrees Celsius or 55-degrees Fahrenheit slows the reaction and revs up the curing time
  • Apply urethane mortar in temperature ranges of 45-80-degrees Fahrenheit or 7-27-degrees Celsius (with low humidity)

Post-flooring installation in hot weather conditions:

  • Open your windows and doors, run fans (ceiling, floors) and use air conditioners
  • Use programmable thermostats to accurately gauge temperatures
  • Change your fan blades (bigger blades spin slower, smaller blades spin faster)
  • If your environment is low humidity, use evaporative cooling
  • Cool in specific zones (offices, chemical storage) and seal off areas to stop cool air from getting out

Find the Best Flooring Solution for Your Manufacturing Environment

Depending on the floor coating you select, it can react to traffic types in different ways. No one wants flooring that’s difficult to clean-up or leads to costly repairs. Hence, a high-quality coating can ensure you find a cost-effective solution that helps you meet safety guidelines. For assistance, let Concrete Coatings help.

Concrete Coatings of the Carolinas provides commercial concrete coatings. Industries we cover include Hospital/Medical, Manufacturing, Food/Beverage, Airline/Travel, Warehouse/Storage, Museums, and Vehicle Storage/Racing sectors. With decades of experience, we back our industry-leading flooring products with excellent workmanship and attention to every detail. Learn more about our flooring solutions by scheduling a consultation. We'll floor you with our ideas!

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Locations

CHARLOTTE, NC | 980.207.4735 
3120 Latrobe Drive, Suite 180 
Charlotte, NC 28211 

RALEIGH, NC | 919.460.7100 
5608 Spring Court, Suite 116
Raleigh, NC  27616 


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