Not All Concrete Floor Coatings Are Created Equal

There are a unique set of variables within each plant classification in commercial food processing. Some conditions have heat. Some have cold. Some have fat spillage to contend with. Some utilize steam in the operation. Some use hot water.

Whatever it is though, urethane cements perform much better than epoxy floor coatings in most critical areas. However, there isn’t a one blanket floor coating system for every environment. 

When it comes to the food processing industry, whether it’s a bakery or if it’s meat processing, all commercial food processing facilities are considered to be hostile environments for flooring materials. So, in this sense, the application of a floor coating system is about the same for all food processing industries.

On every job, a floor installer has to visit the job with a whole list of questions to be asked. For this reason, it’s important for the facility manager/owner to not only work with the installer, but with the manufacturer as well.

The facility manager can rely on the manufacturer and the installer to get the knowledge necessary to select the exact system needed.

Beware of an over simplification that someone may offer who uses a cookie cutter approach to every installation. You may hear from a contractor “I’ll just apply an epoxy. It’ll do a great job for you.” The manufacturer will provide the facts you’ll need to make the correct choices.

 A big consideration is the amount of required surface preparation. Surface preparation is going to be tailored to the condition of the existing slab and to the floor coating system being applied on top of it. If a bakery floor slab is in really good shape, the floor coating project could be cost averaged.

For example, seventy-five percent of the floor might get an application of a three sixteenths inch self level broadcast system, and twenty-five percent of the floor might get a trowel application of three eighths inch where needed. It is the average cost per square foot for the total job that you should focus on.

Prep is always done to the extreme where urethane cement floors are required. For a bare concrete floor in a bakery facility with a lot of sugar falling on it, a little more prep is required for this type of hostile environment. That’s just the nature of the business.

Sugar is extremely corrosive to concrete. It penetrates into the concrete making it difficult to apply urethane cement or even an epoxy coating on top of it. 

Fats also present a problem. Urethane cement floor coatings and epoxy floor coatings can’t be applied over fats because the fats block the capillaries of the concrete slab and prevent the coatings from penetrating into the concrete thus acting as a bond breaker.

Scarification of the slab to create an extra amount of texture wouldn’t be necessary in this instance – just a good, solid shot blasting to prepare the slab. Verification that there aren’t sugars, salts or other unwanted products (bond breakers) embedded into the concrete is necessary.

So a thorough cleaning of everything should be done first before proceeding to shot blasting.

In conclusion, it’s important to keep in mind that these are dynamic floor coatings that are hand installed for the specific situation. In every circumstance, a floor coating specification can be changed and tailored for any need.

Be sure to consult the manufacturer in addition to the contractor to get the knowledge you’ll need to make the right decision for your project. Remember: Product + Knowledge + Service = Success.