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Focus on flooring

28 July 2018

When it comes to designing food & beverage processing facilities, the premise is to maintain high levels of hygiene and safety. With this in mind, careful consideration should be given to the fabric of the building, especially the flooring and drainage systems, says David Sleight. 

Concrete flooring, including high-strength granolithic concrete finishes, are suitable in warehouses where resistance to heavy traffic is critical. However, untreated concrete can be dusty and susceptible to damage from water and products when wet.

Concrete flooring is not recommended for food and drink process production areas it does not meet the current food standard regulations because an exposed concrete floor can spall and absorb water and nutrients, allowing microbial growth. For this reason food and drink processing areas are generally epoxy or polyurethane resin coated.

It is important to specify a resin flooring system which is resistant to moisture, chemicals and food waste. It also needs to be anti-slip yet easy to clean and it must be durable.

As well as exposure to general wear and tear and cleaning chemicals, food manufacturing floors are also exposed to a variety of food contaminants including fats, hot oils, blood, sugar solutions and natural food acids; all of which can be corrosive and deteriorate floor surfaces in food processing environments resulting in uncontrolled bacterial growth and putting the site at risk of contamination incidents. Overall durability, temperature resistance, abrasion resistance, anti-slip and cleanability should all be considered.

To ensure integrity and hygienic standards it is essential to have a floor finish that facilitates fast and effective cleaning surfaces to wash all contaminants out of the area. So the floor needs to be seamless and impervious as well as being pitched to a fall that allows both water and solid food waste debris to run off into a stainless drainage system.

What are your options?
Food processors have come to rely on a range of specialty flooring contractors and products to meet the demands of their working environments. There are many flooring systems available with the most common being polyurethane and epoxy.

Polyurethane screed systems have thicknesses ranging from 4 to 12mm. They provide good resistance to thermal cycling when compared to epoxy-based systems in addition to providing long-lasting abrasion and chemical performance. They also have very low odour during application and have a seamless, easy-to-clean surface when dry. They tend to be one-layer systems, so application can be completed quickly, when compared to epoxy systems which tend to be multi-layer and therefore require more installation days to complete.

Epoxy systems are typically roller or trowel-applied, two-component systems. A variety of textures and colours can be achieved by broadcasting aggregates to create non-slip or skid-resistant floors with a thickness ranging from 0.5 and 12mm.

High-solid epoxy floors will provide good all round protection against acids and alkalis and offer more colour ranges for aesthetics, but do not offer as good thermal cycling performance as polyurethane systems.

The flooring material is not the only consideration. The design of any factory floor is also important.

At the junction between the floor and wall there is a difficult to clean gap where bacteria and debris can accumulate. Introducing a resin floor wall cove detail creates a seamless transition between floor and wall and provides an easy to clean surface.

Stainless steel drainage is the recommended option for food and drink processing environments. Drains should have appropriate capacity to deal with the expected volume of water and the drain bodies must be free of pockets that can hold food debris with drain outlets incorporating an internal water trap system.

A quality resin flooring system, in conjunction with stainless steel drainage, will ensure a hygienic and easy to clean floor that meets food standard regulations.

David Sleight is technical engineer at John Lord Specialist Flooring

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