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Top tips for flawless floors

17 March 2017

Tom Dunn, director of major accounts at National Flooring Equipment discusses how plant managers can get the most out of industrial flooring renovation and minimise downtime

Battersea power station in London is probably the most well known power plant in the world. It is featured in Doctor Who, Monty Python’s Meaning of Life and on the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals. The iconic structure is currently undergoing an eco-renovation to secure a sustainable future for the complex. Floor preparation is a key factor. 

Industrial floors may need renovating for a number of reasons; one reason is safety – a loss of footing or a contaminated surface means a floor will need refinishing.

The plant manager must ensure the flooring is properly prepared, as the right profile of the floor leads to correct bonding, which ensures the new floor will be durable, strong and safe. 

If the floor is exposed to frequent foot traffic, wheeled or vehicular traffic, surface cleaning and substrate preparation is even more important. If the floor is uneven or cracked, this will cause health and safety concerns and may lead the coating to fail to set properly –  a big cost to the plant manager and a big health and safety risk.

Before starting the project, it is important to specify to the contractor the exact result desired. Ensure the contractor does a test sample of both surface preparation and coating in a hidden area to show what the finished project will look like. For large areas, a few test samples might be necessary.

Challenges

Renovating a busy, occupied building containing equipment can be a challenge. The facilities manager must decide whether the factory is shut down entirely or whether certain areas are closed off one at a time. Contractors should work with management to ensure minimum downtime.

The first step in any flooring renovation project is to remove the flooring to expose the subfloor. Surface preparation is then crucial prior to laying out the new floor.

A popular flooring choice in an industrial environment is epoxy. Achieving the right surface profile for the specific coating and thickness is essential for coating adhesion. The required concrete surface profile (CSP) is usually specified by the coating manufacturer and can range from the smoothest CSP (1), to the heaviest profile, (9). The type of equipment selected should match the desired CSP. For a CSP of 1-3, grinding is usually the appropriate technique. 

In the mid-ranges, shot blasting may be the most appropriate approach as this is a cost-effective, labour and time saving method that cleans and profiles in one. To achieve a heavier profile of around 7-9, a scarifier may be a sensible choice.

Epoxy will only adhere correctly to a dry floor, so it is important for the plant manager to check that the flooring team has tested moisture levels and taken steps to compensate if necessary. In industrial settings, it is also important to check for oil deposits, as this can lead to coating failure.

A further consideration is the size and space that will need preparing. If it is a large, open space area, it will be possible to prepare the floor efficiently with large machines, but if the space is littered with equipment it may be wiser to use several smaller machines. Any cracks or imperfections should be addressed.

Depending on the size and layout of the space, dividing the project into sections may be a good way to avoid total plant shut down and before the project starts, the facilities manager should make sure the correct power requirements are in place.

Health and safety 

As well as considering the health and safety aspects of installing a new floor, the plant manager should ensure the environment remains clean and dust free. If dust generated during preparation is not handled properly, it can be difficult to clean up later and can also cause respiratory problems for employees. 

Through good planning, open communication with the flooring renovation team and being aware of potential risks, the flooring renovation project will be a success – securing a long term future for the new floor. 

 
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