Cementitious urethane floors are one of the best types of polymer flooring for production areas and for locations where the floor will be put under intense strain. This capability stems from its thick buildup and high cross-linked density, which means that it is able to effectively resist heavy impacts, corrosive chemicals, sudden extreme temperature changes, and other deteriorating factors.
A 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick cementitious urethane floor finish is particularly advantageous in areas prone to heavy impacts, as not only will it have a good chance of dissipating any impacts, but should a chip ever occur, then it would not progress down to the substrate.
This type of flooring also has excellent temperature resistance and a thermal coefficient of expansion similar to concrete, which means that it will move at the same rate as the underlying substrate during periods of thermal cycling. These properties make it especially advisable for cold stores, blast freezers, furnaces, and the space underneath hot ovens due to the inevitable long periods of exposure to extreme temperatures.
Antimicrobial additives can be incorporated within the polymer matrix of a cementitious urethane system in order to offer an advanced surface protection against harmful bacteria, mold, and yeasts. The Flowfresh range from Flowcrete Americas, for example, has a silver-ion based antibacterial agent homogenously distributed throughout the system’s resin matrix. The formulation complements regular floor cleaning and hygiene practices between wash cycles.
Methyl methacrylate (MMA) systems offer food manufacturing facilities certain performance advantages compared to alternative polymer materials. The most notable benefit is that MMA floors can cure at incredibly fast speeds and can be installed at extremely low temperatures—which is particularly advantageous for cold storage room renovations as it avoids having to bring the room up to an ambient temperature to recoat the floor.
MMA systems demonstrate a high level of resistance to a range of acids and alkalis and although they have a unique odor during installation, which can be a concern to facilities operators with produce in the vicinity, the odor is harmless and can be minimized during installation with proper ventilation.
The other main form of polymer floors are epoxies, which are typically trowel or roller applied, two- or three-component systems. Epoxies offer limited resistance to organic acids, which are found in a large quantity of natural foodstuffs. They also have a lower resistance to thermal shock, which makes them more susceptible to cracking and debonding in rigorous food and beverage environments.
Epoxies are a good choice for the non-processing zones of a food manufacturing site, such as the packaging, maintenance, staff break out areas, corridors, lobbies, and office spaces, as they will still provide the necessary properties to keep these parts of the building clean and free from contaminants.
HACCP International Certification
In North America, the USDA, FDA, and CFIA legally mandate facilities operating in the meat, poultry, and seafood sectors to implement food safety management systems based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles and hazard prevention. HACCP management systems help safeguard facilities from such things as spoiled produce and tainted equipment while protecting consumers from outbreaks of foodborne illness.
These guidelines state that a seamless and impervious finish must be maintained at all times, even when the floor is being subjected to a large-scale food processing facility’s intense working environment. To comply with HACCP, floors also need to allow for adequate drainage and cleaning.
Building materials that have attained HACCP International Certification have been evaluated to international standards and have been established as providing a set of key safety criteria for potential physical, chemical, and microbiological safety risks by a team of degree qualified food technologists and product assessors. This means that food and beverage producers operating a HACCP based food safety program can specify flooring materials, safe in the knowledge that they will meet the relevant regulatory authority’s standards for safe procurement, production, and processing as well as the requirements of the world’s leading quality and food safety standards.