Preparing for an industrial flooring project can seem like a daunting task. As project manager, you will likely find yourself asking such questions as, what impact will this flooring project have on productivity? How much down time should I count on? What type of flooring is best for my facility? What should I allow for in terms of budget?
As always, Preferred is here to help. Read on for important factors to consider while planning your next industrial flooring installation project.
With the exception of budget (more on that later) perhaps the most important aspect in preparing for an industrial flooring installation project is developing a plan to minimize disruptions to daily operations during the installation process. It will be necessary to close down areas of your facility to foot and equipment traffic to allow the floor to be prepared and conditioned as well as for coverings to be applied and to cure.
In order to minimize disruptions to your operation, ask your flooring contractor to conduct work during nights, weekends and other times when your facility will be either empty or operating with a skeleton crew. While preparing, it will still be beneficial to decide the most efficient order in which to close sections of a building during the installation process.
If day to day activity at your site consists of heavy foot and equipment traffic but chemical spills of any kind are unlikely to occur (such as at a typical warehouse or big box store), then a polished concrete floor would be an excellent choice.
Concrete polishing is a mechanical process in which abrasion (via a diamond grinder) is used first to grind concrete floors flat and then polish them to a desired sheen. The resulting surface is shiny, water resistant, and easily cleanable.
Polished concrete floors are easy to clean due to their non-porous nature and are also low maintenance as there is no surface coating that can chip, wear, or deteriorate. As an additional benefit, concrete polishing can be accomplished fairly quickly with most jobs wrapping up within three days depending upon the size of the facility.
Cementitious Urethane Mortar floors are typically utilized in food and beverage facilities where acidic spills, sanitizing chemicals, or hot water wash might occur. This 1/4-inch urethane cement floor covering is very resistant to corrosion, staining, and thermal shock.
If your employees regularly handle sensitive electronic equipment, you may want to consider the installation an electrostatic dissipative floor covering. This type covering is impregnated with conductive fibers that ground employees and equipment to the concrete sub flooring preventing the accumulation of electrostatic charges that can damage or ruin sensitive and costly electronics.
Floors that are badly gouged or uneven may benefit from the installation of epoxy overlayment flooring. The installation of this 1/4" thick flooring system involves the application of a blend of epoxy and quartz that is first troweled onto the surface to fill gouges and uneven areas and then compacted flat. Once cured, epoxy overlayment flooring is four times harder than cement, making it the perfect system for high impact, high traffic activity.
Project managers in search of a chemical resistant and impact resistant flooring system should consider thin film epoxy and urethane flooring. This system incorporates the best of both worlds (epoxy and polyurethane) with two coats of 8-10mm thick epoxy followed by a 3-5mm thick coat of urethane. The result of this process is a floor that offers the chemical and impact resistance of epoxy and the discoloration resistance of polyurethane.
A project manager should consider if floor markings should be added as part of a floor covering installation. Floor markings can improve operational safety by clearly designating pedestrian and equipment travel lanes and can improve organization and tidiness by designating how and where items and equipment should be stored.
Drafting a budget for your industrial flooring project is the most important part of the planning process. Here are a few tips to make budgeting go as smoothly as possible.
Determine your priorities. Industrial flooring projects can be costly endeavors. As such, it might be necessary to complete projects in phases over months or years. It is important to determine which areas of your facility are most in need of flooring installation and which areas can wait. Staggering a project in such a manner will also reduce disruptions to day to day operations.
Account for downtime. While we always do everything we can to limit the impact of a flooring project on your business, some downtime will be inevitable. The potential financial impact such pauses in operations will have on your bottom line should be factored into the budgeting process.
Plan your budget around your project and don’t plan your project around your budget. While it can be tempting to set aside a finite dollar amount for a flooring installation project prior to contacting us, we strongly advise against this course of action. Locking into a rigid budget without first consulting preferred can result in an undesirable limitation of product options and project scope.
Talk to us first. Before committing to a project budget, we highly recommend you reach out to us for a free estimate. A member of our team will tour your facility and work with you to find a flooring solution that works for your organization at a price you can afford.
Surface preparation is arguably the most important part of any flooring project, so naturally Preferred takes special care during this part of the process. By incorporating methods such as sand blasting and diamond grinding, we first make sure the concrete subfloor is flat, free of dirt and oils, and properly scarified to allow optimal adhesion of floor covering products.
Once the surface has been cleaned properly, the first coat of floor covering will then be allowed to dry overnight. Preferred always takes care to sand between coats as this ensures proper intercoat adhesion. Watch as our team completes a floor installation at a local hangar.
While we always strive to minimize the impact of a flooring project on day to day operations, some down time will be unavoidable as sections of your facility will need to be closed during the preparation, application, and curing processes. Our crews will work nights and weekends in an effort to minimize disruptions, but it is still important to factor area closures into your project plan.
You might also be concerned about the impact dust from sanding and grinding as well as fumes from floor covering products might have on operations. To mitigate these potential disruptions, we only employ surface preparation equipment (sanders and grinders) that have integral dust collection apparatus to greatly reduce the volume of dust in the air. Additionally, we use only VOC-free floor covering products which produce very minimal odors during the drying and curing processes.
When considering a flooring contractor for your upcoming project, asking the right questions is crucial and the most important question you can ask is, “Can I see your work?”.
Don’t be afraid to ask a contractor who their previous clients were. Whenever possible tour the facilities to view such work first hand. Take note of how their work has held up over time and ask other project managers about their experience with a given contractor.
Another question to ask is, "Can I tour your shop?". You can tell a lot about a contractor when you visit their shop. Do they have the equipment and staff to complete the project?
Other questions you may want to ask are:
"Can I see your D & B report?" and "Is there a warranty on the flooring and your work?" - Be sure to check the company's financial stability before signing the contract.
"How long will the project take to complete?"
Once a flooring project is underway, it will be important to periodically monitor the work being done and then to audit the job after completion to ensure work was completed as defined in the contract. We recommend you become part of the process. Check in on the project daily. Ask questions. Request updates. Perhaps most importantly, check to make sure your contractors are applying the floor covering products they agreed to in their proposal and not a lower quality alternative.
Once your floor covering has been installed, you will want to protect your investment with a proper care and maintenance routine. The details of this maintenance regimen will depend upon the type of floor covering in your facility.
Polished concrete floors should be regularly cleaned of dirt and debris and a quality sealer should be applied. Spills (especially of acidic and oily substances) should be cleaned immediately to prevent staining and discoloration.
Floors with epoxy and polyurethane finishes are more resistant to the effects of spills, but should still be subjected to a careful cleaning routine to minimize wear and maximize longevity.