Food and Beverage Epoxy Flooring
Why Food Grade Epoxy Resin Flooring?
In todays litigious world, protecting your food grade services and production has never been more important. One recall due to Listeria or E.coli can bring an otherwise successful facility to its knees.
Back in the day, it was not at all uncommon to use quarry and ceramic, or worse VCT tiling for food production facilities. Of course, these didn't compare to the likes of todays state of the art chemistry, urethane cement flooring. Tile of any sort presents a problem, as the seams are the perfect place to store all types of contaminates, and often require maintenance to include grinding out mortise joints and refilling in the case of ceramic.
Resinous flooring brings many benefits, such as including impervious surfaces, and removing the possibility of retaining any contaminates or soiling. Food grade epoxy floors allows you to apply a radius cove at all of the wall-to-floor joints, creating a food grade epoxy resin flooring system that will act like a bathtub, preventing bacteria and other debris from festering in any corners.
Differences Between Epoxy Flooring and Urethane Cement Flooring
FDA approved epoxy is actually a misnomer, as more commonly, urethane cement flooring is used in environments where varying temperatures are concerned. This is due to its thermal shock abilities, or the quality that allows the system to maintain the same expansion coefficient as concrete. Whereas, food safe epoxy resin, has a much more rigid quality about it, creating a scenario that when temperatures vary, the effects over time is micro fracturing at the bonding point and eventually peeling of the food safe epoxy resin.
We use the term epoxy often, and while we have done our very best to inform our clientele, it's not at all uncommon that they refer to all resinous flooring, as epoxy flooring. However, epoxy describes a particular chemistry, and not all resinous flooring falls under that category.
Application of Food Safe Epoxy Requires Experience
Typical food safe epoxy floors tend to be an easier installation, as they have a longer pot life, allowing for more working time. Keep in mind that most good quality epoxies and urethane cement are thermally cured, as opposed to moisture cured, and most we have had experiences with. How each is cured is crucial, and as an example, house paint would be a moisture cure because its drying is directly associated with humidity and temperature.
Urethane cement floors look very much the same in their cured state as epoxy. As previously mentioned, the major differences are that it retains an expansion coefficient very similar to concrete, making peeling less likely, and it is also much easier and quicker to repair and return to service, as typically it is 8 hours, versus epoxy which has a 24-48 hour curing cycle. This of course has a real effect on the food industry, due to the highly competitive market and need to meet their client's demands
The real difference in terms of installation is the application time is greatly reduced in urethane cements, as they set up much quicker, and have a fast turnaround. We have found many epoxy flooring contractors lean towards epoxy, not urethane cement, for the sake of ease, but that is not in the client's best interest.