EPOXY FLOORING AND YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Safety, sustainability, and indoor air quality are hot topics these days. Responsible organizations are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment as well as the well-being of employees and guests within their facilities. This brings into focus building design and construction, the products being used, and how they are installed.
When choosing a flooring system, safety is always top of mind. To start, you'll want your floor to be slip resistant to protect employees and visitors. In addition, the cleanliness of your floor is also an important safety factor, ensuring the elimination of bacteria, mold, dirt, and other contaminants, especially in food and pharmaceutical environments. Finally, you may be concerned about the installation procedures or the products themselves. When the floor is installed, can employees still work in the building? Can customers, patients, or visitors enter? Will the floor product itself cause any air quality problems for employees after it is installed? Epoxy floors can offer many safe, sanitary, and sustainable benefits, including those related to the issues above.
Epoxy Flooring and Slip Resistance
Textured epoxy floors can provide excellent slip resistance for your facility, but one size does not fit all. There are many factors to consider when choosing a floor for slip resistance and for selecting the right texture for your floor. First, a reliable flooring manufacturer will have proper slip-resistance test results for their flooring product that they can make available to you should you require the information. Second, factors like the daily volume and type of traffic your floors experience, expected contaminants, and maintenance procedures should be considered. Your flooring representative should be able to help you determine the proper floor for your environment. An epoxy flooring system can be configured based on the type and level of texture needed as determined by the evaluation of your facility. The right level of texture is an important detail for balancing slip resistance and sanitary conditions, since a higher level of texture can make a floor more difficult to thoroughly clean.
Epoxy Flooring for Sanitary Environments
Resinous epoxy flooring systems are poured in place or trowel-applied, naturally antimicrobial, and impervious to water. Since they are seamless, contaminants on the floor can be easily washed away with no place for dirt to hide or bacteria to harbor and grow. Since they are durable and impact resistant, they continue to provide this benefit over time because the floor does not crack, split, or break leaving openings where microbes will inevitably find a home. In food service and food manufacturing environments, polyurethane flooring systems, another type of resinous flooring, is recommended for its ability to stand up to extreme temperatures and sudden temperatures changes that go along with hot water washdowns or accidental spills as well as the heating and cooling that occurs beneath equipment like kettles.
Epoxy Flooring and Odor During Installation
Contracting with a flooring installer who takes all necessary precautions, knows the materials well, and uses proper ventilation equipment is the most important step in safety for employees and others when it comes to a new flooring project. Not all epoxy floors are low-odor installations, but there are several options, and when necessary, these formulations can be selected. There are certain expectations when it comes to low-odor epoxy flooring installations: 1) to protect the health of those inhabiting the building 2) to reduce distractions for employees due to chemical odors 3) to increase safety in areas where ventilation is not optimal 4) to avoid costly business shutdowns.
Epoxy Flooring and Air Quality
Over the years, as we’ve learned more about the products we use and their effects on human health, many measures have been taken to protect people. Since 1967, California has been focused on addressing air pollution. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) was a merger of the Bureau of Air Sanitation and the California Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board. That same year, the Federal Air Quality Act of 1967 was enacted, giving California the ability to set its own more stringent air quality rules due to California's unique geography, weather and expanding number of people and vehicles. In 1995, following a public hearing, the CARB revised the definition of "Volatile Organic Compounds" (VOCs) used in their consumer products regulations, based on the committee's findings. Currently a third of U.S. states have adopted stringent VOC regulations.\
VOCs are emitted as gases from specific solids or liquids including chemicals such as cleansers and disinfectants, paints and paint strippers, air fresheners, automotive products, hobby supplies, pesticides, wood preservatives, adhesives, permanent markers, and many more. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently as much as ten times higher indoors than outdoors.
So, are epoxy floors safe when it comes to indoor air quality? The answer is, yes. Epoxy floors may have an odor when being installed but most are considered low-VOC products with readings below the typical 100 g/l threshold. Odors and vapors can also be managed project-to-project to help eliminate any concern by using proper ventilation.
Epoxy Flooring and Sustainability
Unlike many other flooring products, epoxy floors become a part of your building’s structure, so they won’t end up in a landfill after their long life or when a change is desired. Epoxy floors can also incorporate recycled materials and rapidly renewable components. When planning your project, ask your epoxy flooring representative how you can choose the most environmentally-friendly option. Some epoxy flooring products may help you achieve points for LEED certification. Sustainability is also a factor in how the epoxy flooring company manufactures and delivers its product.
How Can Stonhard Help You?
Slip resistant floors for commercial and industrial environments:
All Stonhard floors are slip resistant. Depending on the product, varying levels of texture can be offered for the needs of your specific environment. For commercial environments, our Stonshield line offers exceptional slip resistance with design flexibility. It is popular in grocery and retail stores, animal facilities, prisons, and even poolside!
Antimicrobial, Sanitary Solutions:
Stonhard resinous floors are naturally bacteriostatic and fungistatic because there are no seams, welds, or grout lines where bacteria can harbor and grow. This seamless structure also makes the floors easier to clean and maintain. When combined with hygienic drains and sanitary wall protection in industries like food and beverage processing and pharmaceutical manufacturing, our floors become part of a total hygienic solution. You can read our whitepaper here: The Total Hygienic Solution. In addition, we offer Stonplus PROTECT, an antimicrobial, organic thione compound, that when used as an additive with your Stonhard flooring system, acts as a long-lasting bacteriostat and fungistat. Stonplus PROTECT is toxicologically safe and EPA registered, containing no heavy metals. Popular uses are: hospitals, pharmaceutical and research facilities, clean rooms, food processing areas, breweries, dairies, commercial kitchens, lavatories, and showers.
Low-Odor Flooring Installations:
Stonhard installers take all necessary precautions, using proper ventilation and equipment regardless of the flooring product being installed. Low-odor flooring installations are available to help businesses avoid shutdowns and where ventilation is not optimal. These may include corporate, healthcare, education, and hospitality environments. Our Stonblend, Stonshield, and Stonres floors offer low-odor choices.
Low-VOC Flooring Products:
Stonhard works with you based on region and/or facility to ensure the appropriate system with the correct components are installed to meet all VOC requirements. Low-VOC options are available in all Stonhard product families, such as Stonclad, Stonshield, and Stontec. Most products are below 100 g/l and many are even below 50 g/l.
Sustainable Flooring Solutions:
Stonhard resinous floors become a part of your structure, so they’ll never end up in landfills. For more than 15 years, our unique packaging has prevented many millions of one-gallon pails and quart cans from being dumped in landfills annually, and that’s just the beginning. Learn more about our sustainable solutions here: Stonhard is Committed to Sustainability.
Interested in recycled and renewable products? Stonblend GSI-G is an epoxy mortar system that blends recycled glass chips into the surface. Stonclad GR is an epoxy mortar system that uses recycled material. Stonclad G2 is a polyurethane mortar system that incorporates post-industrial recycled glass and bio-based materials into its composition.
Do you have more questions about the safety and sustainability of our products? Contact us and your local territory manager or architectural engineering & design representative will be happy to answer!