YOU can choose the best quality resin flooring in the world, but if your surface preparation is not up to scratch, or you haven’t properly assessed the site conditions, you’re going to run into problems.
The aim of surface preparation is to provide a subfloor surface which is structurally sound, clean and free of contaminants which could either affect the adhesion of a resin floor (oils, fats, greases, water dampness) or affect the chemical curing of the resin primer so you can achieve a surface profile which will provide a mechanical key. Substrates should also achieve the required compressive strength and surface tensile strength.
All manner of subfloors of varying materials and levels of quality can be encountered during the resin installation process. Depending on what you’re dealing with, there is a range of preparation methods and specialist equipment to help make sure the surface preparation is right for the job.
Most projects will use a combination of techniques depending on the size and condition of the area you need to prepare. For example, you might choose from vacuum assisted shot blasting to clean and profile a subfloor in one go, or diamond grinding techniques for uneven concrete or asphalt, tiles, paint, coatings, thin adhesives, latex, whereas scarifying and scabbling can be used to reduce levels, reduce tampered surfaces or create textured surfaces.
When mechanical surface preparation has not fully removed the contaminant or you might have concerns with oil contamination, use a good quality industrial degreaser to breakdown the contamination. These products should be applied in line with manufacturer if in doubt advice should be sort from the manufacturer.
And then there’s the damp proofing to consider. In new constructions where concrete bases are in contact with the ground, a damp proof membrane should have already been incorporated into the slab design but, in existing buildings without a damp proof membrane, various DPM systems in conjunction with screeds and membranes are often used.
Of course, even with the right surface preparation, we all know things can go wrong. One of the challenges is that epoxy and polyurethane flooring can take up to seven days to achieve a full chemical cure. I won’t underestimate the frustrations caused when other trades on site cause complications by ignoring demarcation tape and walking on the un-cured surface or contaminating it with sawdust and general builders’ dust.
And that’s before you consider the other possible issues that may be out of your hands such as leaking roofs, flooding from floors above, or burst and leaking water pipes!
You won’t always be able to foresee these issues, but a well-informed contractor can take some sensible precautions, such as recommending faster cure products for sites where contamination is most likely. You can also make a real difference by mixing your materials in the right way, at the right temperature.
Getting this wrong can dramatically affect the curing time, leaving the installation more vulnerable to contamination, or in the worst cases not achieving chemical cure at all.
The worst case scenario is that the floor will fail and then the only option is to start the whole system again, incurring considerable time and financial penalties.
However, depending on the system being applied, any un-cured material can usually be scraped from the surface and followed by a solvent wash so that the substrate can be reapplied or, if the surface has already cured, contamination can often be removed using a diamond grinder or similar method before reapplying the surface layers.
In my opinion, it is impossible to over emphasise the importance of correct and thorough surface and site preparation.
T: 01462 489405
Doug White is a regional technical consultant at Altro
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.