Choosing the Right Flooring System
By Bryan Salvage, Editorial Director
New technologies enhance flooring options for packers, processors.
Whether constructing a new plant or expanding or renovating one, choosing the right flooring system is one of the most important decisions to make because of the harsh packing and processing plant environments coupled with food-safety concerns. Packers and processors have many options to choose from, but technology providers say there are certain choices many companies are making in flooring systems.
“For many years, companies simply commenced operations on concrete and resurfaced it when it became unserviceable. A number of companies now recognize that an unprotected floor can become damaged beyond repair, necessitating its removal and replacement,” says Jim Ratliff, national accounts manager, The Sherwin-Williams Co., Industrial & Marine Coatings, Cincinnati, OH. “Topping systems can be removed and replaced at substantial overall cost and time savings as compared to replacement of the concrete itself. There now seems to be more movement toward protecting floors from the beginning of operations.”
The Sherwin-Williams Company, founded in 1866, is the largest manufacturer of industrial coatings in the United States. The company relays it manufactures and distributes the industry’s most complete line of paints, coatings, linings, polymer flooring, and sundries.
“Our capabilities are very well suited to the food and beverage markets, particularly to the meat and poultry processing segments,” Ratliff says. “We understand corrosion, and we can provide a protective coating or lining system for almost any application or exposure with products that meet requirements for use in USDA-inspected facilities. Our extensive distribution network is unequalled—ranging from architectural coatings, to chemical resistant linings, to high-performance flooring, and integrated, seamless wall systems.”
Fast-track building methods are commonly being employed in new construction projects.
“Demand is increasing for polymer flooring systems that can be installed over newly placed concrete under less-than-optimum conditions and then quickly put into service,” Ratliff says. “Solvent-free and low-odor systems are favored since other trades can work simultaneously in adjoining or adjacent areas. Water-borne systems are also gaining approvals in some applications. But with a few exceptions, their use has been limited.”
Ratliff says waterborne urethane cement slurry and mortar systems are making significant gains on epoxy and vinyl ester flooring systems in meat and poultry plants. Their comparatively superior resistance to thermal cycling versus epoxy and vinyl ester systems provides excellent, long-term performance, he adds.
“The chemical resistance of urethane cement is very good,” Ratliff continues, “specifically as that relates to the chemical exposures common to meat and poultry processing operations. Urethane cement systems are slightly more expensive up front, but their service-life cost has been providing attractive ROI rates.”
Fast-track methods are pushed to the limit on renovation work.
“The faster [the plant operation] comes back on-line, the faster it reclaims its place in the revenue-generation stream,” he says. “No MRO project can wait twenty-eight to thirty days for concrete to cure before coating it. Time is money, and quickly placed, quickly serviceable floors save valuable time.”
Sherwin-Williams FasTop Urethane Cement systems form the backbone of the company’s polymer flooring system lineup for the food and beverage market segment. These materials provide outstanding performance in the challenging environs of meat and poultry processing plants, Ratliff says.
“These systems are made to order for the constantly damp and/or wet conditions, cool temperatures, and sanitation processes commonly used in these plants,” he adds. “They provide excellent resistance to impact, abrasion, and heavy wear. These systems are very low-odor with no volatile organic compounds [VOC]. We will continue our research and development efforts, constantly striving to bring the best products to market.”
Other options
Continuous, seamless epoxies are the floor of choice for new construction and remodeling food processing plants, says Joe Geary, vice president, Upgrade Solutions, AgION Technologies Inc., Wakefield, MA. Floors, ceilings, passageways, and process walls are known reservoirs for damaging bacteria, he points out. Commonly used cleaners and sanitizers are not effective enough because contact times may be limited, and because bacteria can develop adaptive resistance to cleaners. Microbes survive, recolonize, and grow, and biofilms are difficult to remove.
“These concerns are multiplied many-fold in ready-to-eat meat and poultry facilities with the Food Safety and Inspection Service [FSIS] Zero Tolerance policy for certain microbes, so food processors are looking for flooring systems with active protection,” Geary says. “The AgION Clene Coat product line uses the antimicrobial power of silver to deliver safe, long-lasting, and effective protections against damaging bacteria on surfaces that are protected with the AgION Clene Coat products.”
The AgION Clene Coat flooring systems place the AgION antimicrobial compound at the surface, where silver ion release takes place and microbial growth is controlled. Cleanliness is achieved by the continuous controlled release of silver ions from the flooring surface. Silver ions are a broad spectrum antimicrobial and deliver broad spectrum trimodal action against a wide range of microorganisms: respiration is prevented, reproduction is inhibited, and metabolism is disrupted, Geary says. “This feature is built into all Clene Coat products.”
There have been trends towards the more durable urethane-based floor systems, says Mark Paggioli, marketing director, Dur-A-Flex Inc., East Hartford, CT. This company has more than 35 years of experience in commercial/industrial flooring systems and polymer components — epoxies, urethanes, and methyl methacrylates (MMA), plus premium quartz aggregates.
“[Urethane-based floor systems] typically tolerate very abusive environments quite well,” he says. “But at the same time within a plant, different areas have different requirements, and not every area of that facility will require a urethane-based floor system.”
Dur-A-Flex offers epoxies, urethanes, and acrylics; and it basically has three types of chemistries to do a seamless floor system — with each one possessing different attributes.
“You’re seeing urethane floor systems going into a lot of meat and poultry plants because they tolerate thermal shock pretty well,” Paggioli says. “These plants have a lot of heavy abuse — a lot of traffic plus hot wash downs. The urethane floor system is also installed in a fairly quick turnaround time.”
Dur-A-Flex’s newest offering is its Poly-Crete line. Poly-Crete KT™ is a 100-percent solids, aromatic urethane system blended with special aggregates and used as a self-leveling slurry system incorporating a natural quartz broadcast. It provides an extremely tough, durable, floor topping, and is designed to protect concrete and wood substrates from chemical attack, corrosion, impact, and thermal shock, Repeated exposure to hot oil or steam does not cause pitting, cracking, or crazing.
Poly-Crete HF™ is a trowel-applied cementitious urethane featuring exceptional durability. It tolerates thermal cycling and high-service temperatures while providing rapid installation time. It is designed for the most abusive environments.
Continuing growth in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products is driving the construction of more new RTE plants, says Paul Patuka, president of Advanced Surfaces Corp., Douglasville, GA.
“A lot of processors are building cook plants,” he adds. “Wayne Farms, for instance, is investing a lot of money in cooking, Although the lion’s share of the business is still facility renovations, we’re getting more and more new construction work [due to this growing RTE trend].”
Most polymer floor products on the market today do not have very good thermal shock characteristics, Patuka says. As a result, many processors are turning to Ucrete, the company’s polyurethane concrete floor system. It delivers the ultimate in thermal shock resistance.”
Ucrete stands up against temperatures ranging from -50º F to 235º F, and it is very durable.
“The flooring trend is into urethane concrete,” Patuka says. “We’re master Ucrete contractors.”
Additional Ucrete features include: extremely durable; ability to install over green concrete; high impact resistance; chemical resistance; virtually seamless; no joints to harbor bacteria, self-priming; and rapid cure/fast installation.
“Ucrete also exhibits low odor during installation,” he adds. NP
Technology providers contributing to this article include:
• Advanced Surfaces Corp., phone (800) 963-4632 or (770) 920-0066, or visit
• AgION Technologies Inc., phone (718) 224-7100 or visit
• Dur-A-Flex Inc., phone (860)528-9838 or (800) 253-3539, e-mail, or visit
• The Sherwin-Williams Co., phone (513) 761-0011 or (800) 543-7694, e-mail, or visit