Why is Urethane Cement Flooring the choice in the food and beverage industry?
Updated: Apr 21
History: Urethane cement flooring systems were not widely used in this country until the 1990’s when the original patent on the material expired. Within a few years all major flooring material manufacturers offered one or more systems based on a urethane binder, combined with Portland cement and aggregate. Today this chemistry is the dominant material used in Food & Beverage facilities, replacing epoxy based floor systems. The urethane's used in these systems are water based; the water hydrates the cement to provide a polymer modified concrete with a highly chemical resistant urethane binder.
Typical Physical Properties: Data Sheets are often used by specifiers or owners to compare floor materials. Without understanding how and why the tests are conducted it is easy to arrive at an erroneous conclusion. Epoxies have much higher tensile and compression strength numbers than do urethane concretes but do not perform as well in many food and beverage applications. As an example concrete has tensile strength numbers from 300-400 psi, epoxy 3,000-6,000, urethane concretes at 500-1,000. Your epoxy or urethane topping at 1/4” appears to be far stronger but when the 8” thick slab wants to move neither topping will hold it together.
Urethane Concrete Flooring
Compression strength of typical industrial concrete slabs is 3,000 – 4,000 psi, epoxy 10,000 – 15,000, urethane concrete 5,000 – 8,000 psi. You arrive at compression strength by testing cubes or cylinders for each material at the same thickness, generally 2 inch cubes. The comparison to concrete thus is very accurate at the tested thickness, but the floor material is applied at ¼” or less to a concrete slab which is many inches thick.
Urethane concretes contain Portland cement as does the slab you cover. Though lower in physical properties than epoxy, they are closer to the physicals of the concrete they protect. This results in better performance against thermal shock and or impact as the concrete absorbs this energy transfer far better than the epoxy system.
A few of the major benefits of urethane concrete flooring include; low odor for worker safety and protection of the client's surrounding assets. Furthermore, it has a higher tolerance for frying grease and the like. Maybe most importantly, is it's expansive coefficient that is very similar in concrete, the advantage being its ability to maintain adhesion whether hot or cold water and finally it's extreme chemical resistance allow for aggressive cleaning if the standard operating procedures calls for the same
Performance: Urethane concretes have several advantages versus epoxy that are important for many F&B applications.
Low temperature installation (35-90 F)
Operating temperature (300+F)
Live steam exposure
Resistant to moisture vapor transmission
Can apply to “green concrete”
Faster return to service
Better chemical resistance than standard epoxy, equal or better than novolac epoxy
Aggregate filled epoxy floor systems have always had issues in constantly wet environments. If water gets into the aggregate layer the floor system eventually softens and fails. Due to the Portland cement component urethane concretes are unaffected in constantly wet environments. The Portland cement is not filler but is hydrated by the water to form concrete. We use concrete to make dams, it works well in constantly wet areas, the urethane binder provides chemical resistance to protect the concrete component.
High Performance Systems was the 8th largest installers of Fastop urethane cement flooring systems.
Please give us a call to discuss your next project, even if it's still a concept. We want to be your urethane cement flooring contractor from start to finish, making an unbeatable team!
The Smedley Family brings care and compassion to every project
If you need help with design and installation of your flooring system, make sure to contact us to get started and we will do a free assessment of your floor plan.