Enable faster returns to service when installing flooring

All photos courtesy of The Sherwin-Williams Company

By Casey Ball
Whether building a new facility or upgrading an existing one, downtime can be a site manager’s worst nightmare. This can interfere with overall project productivity, creating delays that prevent multiple service providers from completing their tasks.

Unfortunately, when it comes to installing or repairing a resin flooring system, downtime is a given for almost every discipline involved. However, unnecessary delays can be avoided by becoming more familiar with the different flooring types and their limitations, allowing design/build professionals to select the system best suited to the schedule, budget and longevity requirements of the building. project.

To avoid contaminating a new resin flooring system, other construction activities often have to stop and personnel have to clean the area throughout the installation in stages, often over several days. The applicator’s goal is to return the installation to service as quickly as possible after the flooring has been installed. To speed up installations and minimize project downtime, it’s best to select flooring systems that apply and cure quickly. These products include urethane concrete coatings, which can allow foot traffic within four to eight hours of application and full service within six to 12 hours.

Additionally, methyl methacrylate (MMA) systems allow for foot traffic after one hour and full service in two hours, with the caveat that they typically require additional project setup time to mitigate odors. Conventional epoxy mortar systems are another common alternative, but they generally require a 24 hour curing time before returning to service. The three systems also differ in their number of application steps and total installation times, with urethane and MMA systems offering increased efficiency.

Assessing Resinous Flooring System Options
For commercial installations, there are three commonly used flooring system chemistries.

Epoxy mortar systems
These economical medium to high durability floor coverings can be applied in thicknesses ranging from less than 40 mils (1016 µm) to 9.5 mm (3/8 in). Although quick to install, these systems are slow to harden. They have good chemical resistance, but poor abrasion resistance, which can lead to wear patterns in high traffic areas.

MMA systems
MMAs tend to offer the fastest option for flooring installations by setting up and curing quickly. However, with this high speed comes a price premium. MMAs also have a strong odor, which often requires the installation of mitigation systems during application, which lengthens project timelines. The systems have excellent weather resistance, which allows them to be used for exterior applications.

Urethane Concrete Systems
Self-leveling grout or mortar urethane systems offer fast installation times due to their fast-curing and moisture-tolerant properties. They have a high resiliency against Moisture Vapor Emission (MVE), allowing them to be applied over green (that is to say new) concrete. They can be returned to service 12 hours after topcoating and have excellent chemical resistance.

Figure 1: This table lists the critical performance characteristics of common commercial installation flooring systems using a scale of good (0), better (+), better (++).

Figure 1 offers a comparison of critical performance characteristics among these flooring systems. Each characteristic contributes in some way to the downtime, labor and longevity factors that go into the flooring selection process. These details, combined with this discussion, help design/build professionals decide on the most appropriate flooring system for a given project.

For example, one may choose to trade the potentially faster return to service possible with an MMA system for the added longevity of a urethane concrete system. This may slightly increase the initial application time of the flooring, but it could also significantly increase the maintenance interval of the flooring, which means less downtime later (see “Reducing installation times”). ‘future stop’).

When considering the cost of each system, the initial cost per square meter does not reveal the full picture. Factors such as application time, odor mitigation configuration, maintenance intervals, cure time and longevity all enter into the equation, making it difficult to assess the true costs of flooring without having a detailed conversation between the owner, the applicator and the flooring manufacturer.

For example, while epoxy mortar systems have the lowest initial cost per square meter, they also have the slowest curing time. If the facility chooses a more expensive, faster-curing MMA or urethane concrete system instead, it will experience a faster return to service, which could mean a faster return to profits that will more than offset the price premium of an MMA or urethane system.

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