polymer flooring questions answered
With such a wide variety of technologies available, as well as the level of expertise and preparation that is required to install them, it’s no wonder that questions about polymer flooring, cementitious screeds and flooring preparation might arise. To help, we’ve answered some of our most frequently asked questions here…
Resin flooring can sometimes be more expensive in the short term than using other materials, this can be as a result of a potential increased cost of materials as well as the outlay for specialist trained resin contractors to install the product, but its durability alone makes it an extremely cost-effective option, as you won’t need to replace it for many years.
And, when you take into account other savings that you can generate as a result of selecting resin flooring, such as reduced maintenance, cleaning and energy costs, it makes sense that an investment now will continue to pay dividends in the long term too!
In a nutshell, yes. Although typically installed in institutional and commercial venues, comfort resin flooring offers the same safety benefits enjoyed by high-build and self-smoothing polyurethane flooring systems such as excellent durability, chemical, UV and slip-resistance.
Comfort floors should be installed by experienced applicators in the field of resin flooring systems. Any cracks in the substrate should be bandaged or a levelling screed should be used to ensure a smooth, level surface prior to the installation of polyurethane comfort flooring. Comfort resin floors act like a skim and will highlight any imperfections in the substrate when cured if preparation isn’t taken seriously.
The area needs to be sealed prior to installation, with all windows and doors firmly closed, as well as free from any moisture or dust particles. If underfloor heating is incorporated into the substrate, this should be switched on and set to roughly 22°C before installation can begin. Most resin comfort floors are two to three-layer systems and typically a day is recommended between each coat.
Demarcation and colour blocking across the floor space can be used in industrial workspaces to notify employees and visitors of workflows, warn of any potential risks, hazards or dangers as well as highlight safe walkways and / or areas that should remain clear and accessible.
Resins are also available in virtually an unlimited palette of RAL colours to complement any floor demarcation processes that you may have in place.
Major benefits of resin comfort floors include the reduced risk of cracking due to the increased flexibility of the polyurethane resin and a reduction in noise transmission caused by footfall in multi-level spaces.
Resin comfort floors are also extremely hygienic and very easy to clean given their seamless and smooth finish – plus they come in a vast (virtually limitless) range of colours, decorative effects and unique motion patterns.
The durability of resin flooring makes it more cost-effective when compared with other flooring systems such as tiles, sheet vinyl and linoleum, it’s more resilient, prone to wear and tear and therefore generally lasts a lot longer.
Resin comfort flooring is made up of layers of flexible polyurethane resin that is liquid-applied onto a primed concrete substrate or alternatively a rubber mat, rubber crumb or cork underlay.
Resin comfort flooring is also frequently referred to as liquid-vinyl or cushioned resin flooring. All of these terms; ‘comfort’, ‘cushioned’, ‘vinyl’ – make reference to the floors’ somewhat unique properties of providing a cushioning effect underfoot…this quite literally makes these floors more comfortable, warmer and surprisingly soft underfoot for those using them to walk and work on.
Achieving the correct mix ratio of vebrobound Driveway is important to ensuring the strength and integrity of the installed resin bound driveway system.
FeRFA guidelines recommend a minimum of 6.59% by weight of resin binder to aggregates. Download the Vebro Polymers guide to transforming outdoor spaces with vebrobound Driveway to see the recommended consumptions for vebro PU Binder and vebro Decorative Stone Blends for 12.0 mm, 15.0 mm and 18.0 mm applications.
The screed is laid onto a mechanically prepared and suitably primed substrate using a priming adhesive such as PVA (polyvinyl acetate), SBR (styrene butadiene rubber), epoxy resin, or as a slurry combination (using PVA or SBR suitably mixed with cement with the intention of maximising potential physical / chemical bond).
The screed is intentionally separated from the substrate by the use of a membrane (usually a plastic sheet, building paper / house wrap, or a cavity drain).
The screed is laid on thin sheet acoustic insulation, rigid thermal insulation or a void former with a separating membrane placed onto the rigid thermal insulation or void former.
With correct care and maintenance, resin comfort floors can last well in excess of 10, 15, 20 years, even longer still with the routine refurbishment of the topcoat. At the end of their lifespan, resin comfort floors can simply be overlaid whereas with sheet vinyl or linoleum this typically needs to be removed and disposed of.
Resin comfort floors have a very cost-effective life-cycle profile in comparison to alternative floor coverings, albeit a higher square metre rate install cost, reduced maintenance and energy costs over time combined with a longer lifespan makes resin comfort floors the economical choice over the footprint of its service life.
What is a semi-dry, sand & cement screed?
A traditional semi-dry screed essentially consists of sand & cement, mixed at a ratio of between 3 to 5 parts sand & 1 part cement. In the majority of cases 4 to 1 is sufficient.
In the past, reinforcement was achieved by using hex wire (chicken wire) or D49 mesh. However, in the early 1990’s polypropylene fibres (PPF) started to become very popular, and today PPF is the most common used reinforcement used for traditional floor screeds.
By definition, a screed relies on water being one of the principal components added, and with watering involved the screed can shrink. To avoid shrinkage cracking occurring throughout the screed, appropriate polypropylene fibres can be added. Other additives, such as those with water reducing and strength gaining properties, can also be added to make the screed dry more quickly.
Traditional semi-dry screed drying times vary according to the weather conditions, humidity level and depth, as well as any admixtures that have been incorporated into the screed. Traditional semi-dry screeds generally dry at a rate of 1.0 mm/day for the first 40.0 mm, and 0.5 mm thereafter after the screed has been cured for 7 days.
Semi-dry floor screed systems are the only reasonable method to achieve a floor in a wet room type areas laid to falls.
What is a proprietary fast / quick drying, sand & cement screed?
Screed mixes generally contain more water in them than is required to hydrate the cement. Around 40–50% of the water added to a screed mix is used to hydrate the cement, whilst the remaining 50–60% takes up the role of making the screed workable in terms of ease of application.
A proprietary or fast / quick drying semi-dry screed (whilst being based on the same sand & cement ratio as a traditional semi-dry sand & cement screed) differs by the additional inclusion of either a liquid or powdered additive to quickly reduce the level of retained moisture within the screed. These types of additives allow for floor coverings or resin coatings to be laid over the screed much earlier than would be possible with semi-dry traditional screeds.
Additionally, the incorporation of such additives promotes quicker physical strength gain, facilitating early access to follow-on trades. The reduced water demand in these types of additive-incorporated screeds also reduces shrinkage compared with traditional sand & cement screeds.
Resin comfort floors have become increasingly popular in institutional facilities over the last few years including schools, colleges, healthcare, medical-care and public leisure facilities.
Whilst being tough and durable, resin comfort floors are also easy to clean which makes them a great choice in these sectors. Resin comfort floors provides the ideal solution for all areas including; entrance foyers, service corridors, classrooms, hospital wards, recreation areas and laboratories.
Including a rubber mat within the build-up of comfort resin floors simply enhances all of the major benefits offered by this type of flooring.
The inclusion of a soft rubber mat makes the floor even more comfortable to walk and work on and also significantly improves acoustics – particularly between floors – deadening unpleasant noise transfer (think of that horrendous screeching noise when the bell rings and you’ve got 35 kids pushing their chairs under their desks right above you!)
Allowing light foot traffic after 12 hours from the completed installation, homeowners are able to walk across their newly installed driveway the next day.
Wheeled traffic is not recommended for 72 hours after installation, and care should be taken until the full chemical cure has taken place 7 days after installation.
An extremely flat finish can be critical in the finished goods or raw materials warehousing area of an industrial facility, where racking aisles may be narrow and stacked high. A slight deviation in the floor level could spell disaster for forklift truck operators attempted to retrieve goods.
Epoxy, polyurethane and MMA resin floor systems have a self-smoothing property and, provided their installed by an experienced applicator, are capable of achieving SR1 flatness, making them ideally suited to warehouse spaces.
Their seamless application also means that there are no grout lines or breaks in the floor surface in the driveways of warehouse aisles.
Slips and trips are one of the most common accidents that occur in the workplace, and one of the reasons for this can be unsuitable floor coverings. With a staff body to protect, it is important to consider this when choosing a floor finish, as well as the service criteria that a floor will be subject to.
For example, areas subject to either wet processes, frequent spillages or those that employ rigorous cleaning regimes such as steam cleaning or hot water wash downs should take particular care to ensure an anti-slip finish when replacing floor coverings or coatings.
Liquid-applied resin floor systems are great to custom build any safety features that you require from your floor within your workspace, surface profiles can be tailored to include quartz, aluminium oxide, glass spheres or silicon carbide in order to enhance the slip resistance profile of the floor finish.
Antistatic floor coatings create a preferred pathway for the flow of electricity to follow, keeping the electrical charge under control as the charge is drained to a suitable earthing point.
The floor coating contains conductive elements that transmit the electrical flow through the full thickness of the coating. It is then transmitted into through a copper earthing tape, onto which the resin floor finish is laid.
Think of the grounding point as a plug hole and the electrical charge as bath water. The water (electrical charge) drains over the resin anti-static floor and is removed via the plug hole (grounding point).
The rate at which an electrostatic charge is dispersed within and through the floor finish is controlled by the floor coating material’s electrical resistance, measured in ohms (Ω), and usually expressed in thousands (kilo-ohms or KΩ) or millions (mega-ohms or MΩ).
Static conductive resin flooring is defined as having and electrical resistance of less than 1.0 × 10⁶ Ω (1 million ohms). These have a low electrical resistance, so electrons flow easily across the surface or through the bulk of these materials. Charges go to ground or to another conductive object that the material contacts or comes close to. Conductive materials have a surface resistivity less than 1 × 10⁵ Ω/sq, or a volume resistivity less than 1 × 10⁴ Ω-cm.
Static dissipative resin flooring is generally defined as having an electrical resistance of between 1.0 × 10⁶ Ω and 1.0 × 10⁹ Ω. For these materials, the charges flow through the material slowly and in a somewhat more controlled manner than with conductive materials. Dissipative materials have a surface resistivity equal to or greater than 1 × 10⁵ Ω/sq but less than 1 × 10¹⁰ Ω/sq or a volume resistivity equal to or greater than 1 × 10⁴ Ω-cm but less than 1 × 10¹¹ Ω-cm².
With an upper temperature resistance ranging between around 60°C for thinner systems and up to 130°C for those applied between 6.0 mm and 9.0 mm thick, polyurethane concrete can reliably resist hot water washdowns.
For areas facing lower temperatures, such as refrigerators and freezer storage, polyurethane concrete systems are capable of withstanding temperatures below freezing.
Although epoxy, polyurethane and MMA floor systems are able to cope with moderate temperature swings, they are not recommended for processing areas where freezing or boiling conditions are expected.
Epoxy, polyurethane, MMA and polyurethane concrete all exhibit good resistance to a range of chemicals associated with cleaning agents or foodstuffs.
For more aggressive chemicals or food & beverages ingredients such as hydrochloric acid, sugars, oils, blood and detergents, heavy-duty polyurethane concrete provides a resistant surface underfoot.
That said, not all chemicals are created equal, so it’s important to check that your choice of flooring material will be suitable for the specific chemicals found in your processes or facility.
Industrial and manufacturing spaces are often subject to heavy loads, equipment and machinery as well as the constant coming and going of rubber-wheeled forklift truck traffic and other punishing processes.
As a result, durability in a flooring material is often critical to avoid the risk of floor failure or the surface wearing far too soon and having the headache of having to replace it all over again!
Epoxy, polyurethane and MMA resin surfaces have a longer lifespan compared to most other flooring solutions. Resin creates a hard, fast bond that is much stronger than just concrete and is highly resistant and able to withstand impact and heavy-duty industrial wear and tear.
Resin also has the advantage of offering a degree of flexibility under stress; this property gives it durability under impact and thermal shock.
The chemical resistance of flooring materials largely depends on a number of specific factors, including the type of chemical, its concentration, and the temperature and degree of surface contact time.
Generally speaking, polyurethane concrete systems such as vebrocrete offer a good degree of chemical resistance to a wide range or acids, alkalis, and solvents. For low to medium concentrations of organic acids such as hydrochloric, acetic, lactic and formic, polyurethane systems demonstrate excellent chemical resistance.
However, some stronger concentrations of these types of acid can cause some surface staining, usually without loss of physical strength properties even at elevated temperatures over prolonged surface contact.
Additionally, polyurethane concrete systems offer excellent chemical resistance to solvents and alkalis at low, medium and high strength concentrations at prolonged periods of contact and temperatures with minimal surface staining and loss of physical strength properties.
For chemical resistance to high strength organic acids, even with prolonged exposure, methyl-methacrylate (MMA) chemistries such a vebrospeed offer superior resistance against surface staining without loss of physical strength properties. Additionally, MMA systems offer good chemical resistance to a variety of alkalis at various strength and concentrations. However MMA systems are generally not suited to solvents and should be avoided in facilities where solvents will be present.
Epoxy systems, such as various systems in the vebrores range, are generally suited to weak to medium strength acids including organic and inorganic acids like boric and phosphoric, but are not suited to high concentration organic and inorganic acids. Epoxy systems generally offer good chemical resistance to a variety of alkalis at various concentrations, but are more susceptible to attack from medium strength acids at elevated temperatures. Epoxy systems have limited chemical resistance to solvents dependant upon solvent type, temperature and duration of exposure.
Resins are seamless in nature and don’t include joints or grout lines, which are susceptible to harbouring dirt, grease, bacteria and stains in general. Dust and dirt can simply be swept, mopped or hoovered away and the floor cleaned according to manufacturer’s guidelines based on the surface profile of the floor.
Resin flooring is also extremely strong and durable, meaning that it has an extended service life compared to other floor coverings. Installed properly, and with the correct maintenance, it can last for years without cracking or peeling, meaning that you won’t have to replace the floor or carry out repairs as frequently than you would if using other materials.
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