Safety is the top priority for processors considering a new flooring installation.

West Coast Industrial Flooring recently installed a Dex-O-Tex Cheminert K floor at California Olive Ranch. The epoxy mortar system, by Crossfield Products Corp., is resistant to a wide range of acids, bases, solvents, oils and food fats.  Source: West Coast Industrial Flooring, Inc.

Money may be tight right now for most companies, but safety is still the number one priority for food and beverage processors. While manufacturers are being squeezed on other aspects of business, most choose not to skimp on plant safety.

“Safety is a huge priority,” says Christina Molnar, vice president of SlipNOT Metal Safety Flooring. “Food processors are very serious about putting slip-resistant flooring in their facilities.” Since food can sometimes get caught in floors’ traction, the company offers various grades from a less aggressive, but easier to clean, flooring to grades with more traction.

The old technology of diamond plate, which looks like a stainless steel plate with raised diamonds, is not truly slip-resistant when oils and fats drop on it, according to Molnar. “But there’s new technology out there, which gives 100% coverage,” she states.

With these products, you can expect a 20+-year life expectancy, plus Molnar says SlipNOT products are chemical-resistant. “You can clean the products with caustic materials without problems,” she points out.

SlipNOT flooring is used on decking and platforms in many of Campbell Soup’s North American plants, especially in areas where a solid material is needed to prevent anything from falling in food below. “We chose them because they are the most durable in our environment,” says Bob Cook, director of safety for Campbell Soup. The processor has established a coefficient of friction of 0.6, and SlipNOT materials provide this in its wet environment.

“It’s a durability thing,” Cook adds. SlipNOT was placed in Campbell’s Paris, TX plant 14 years ago. “We’ve gone with similar-type products that don’t withstand the rigors of our processes.” Now SlipNOT is the engineering standard in Campbell’s new soup plants, he states.

SlipNOT Stainless Steel Flooring plates and handrails have been installed in this meat processing facility.  Source: SlipNOT Metal Safety Flooring.

Keeping it sanitary

Kwasny/SaniCrete has developed a modular pre-finished curbing system to protect freezer panels. The new, patented-pending system is composed of high-density, prefabricated, energy-absorbing expanded polypropylene foam-the same foam used in automotive bumpers-making it high-impact and thermal shock-resistant, according to Kwasny/SaniCrete’s Heather Blasko.

The new curbing system has anti-bacterial protection, according to Blasko. It comes in two pre-finishes, stainless steel or polyaspartic, which is a highly chemical- and abrasion-resistant 125ml lining system reinforced with fiberglass fabric.

The company’s newest development is just one of the options for seamless, sanitary solutions. SaniCrete STX is a heavy-duty polyurethane-based flooring system with crack resistance and strength, says President Keith Kwasny. It incorporates a patented “twisted” stainless steel wire strand that permanently locks the flooring system together. “The crack resistance eliminates the chance for harborage of microorganisms which can lead to food safety issues.” The flooring is available in various non-slip textures.

“More [customers] are asking for seal coats to enhance the look and cleanability of the flooring system,” adds Kwasny. Some, he says, request an anti-microbial additive to the sealer and/or flooring system.

Reducing downtime

One advantage of doing business with a company that installs its own manufactured products is shorter downtime. Kwasny says there’s a trend to reduce flooring installation time, forcing suppliers to create products that cure faster. Customers want 36- to 24-hour timeframes which puts pressure on the installer, he notes.

“You’re never given enough time,” when installing these floors, says Joe Schmit, director of sales of the StrataShield flooring line at Tnemec Co. “If you’re lucky, they’ll give you a weekend.” This leaves only a short period to prep, install, cure and clean up.

If the temperature is above 45

The Sikafloor PurCem Series, a cementitious urethane flooring product, is designed for heavy-duty environments and can withstand thermal shock, abrasion, impact and chemicals. Source: Sika Industrial Flooring.

Changing of the tide

Epoxy mortar flooring systems have routinely been the choice in new construction projects, according to John Crowley, vice president of new business development for Garon Products Inc. “But the biggest headache food plant facility managers have with epoxy mortars,” says Crowley, “is that they have a tendency to pop off the slab when introduced to radical heat changes, and that means valuable time and revenue are lost while the concrete is being repaired.”

Garon’s urethane mortar flooring systems, Mortarthane HF and Mortarthane SL, are alternatives for food plants with floors exposed to abuse from water, temperature changes, hot oils, blood, sugars, acids, fats and countless other ingredients. “Many of these elements cause or accelerate corrosion-an invitation to food safety hazards,” he says. And, “because of their dense, inert makeup, they are impervious to water and chemicals and withstand steam cleaning on a daily basis.”

Even though it is a relatively new arrival in the US, urethane cement flooring has been used in Europe for over 30 years, Crowley says. Because there’s no need for a primer or topcoat, urethane cement saves money, he adds. It “protects our customers from a myriad of issues including premature flooring failure, slip and fall accidents, and loss of revenue, to name a few,” says Crowley.

Joe Schmit of Tnemec agrees that the trend is moving away from traditional epoxies toward polyurethane-modified concretes. “It’s been going in that direction for several years,” he says. There’s more exposure to these types of systems, he adds, noting that more companies offer them, and more contractors are becoming efficient with their installation.

Hill Country Bakery of San Antonio, TX opted to use Tnemec’s polyurethane-modified concrete floor topping system, Series 245 Ultra-Tread S, in two of its plants. It’s a low-odor, fast-curing, slurry-applied floor topping designed for abusive service areas.

The company needed a floor topping system that could withstand the heat of its commercial ovens. So, John Guidry, a flooring contractor consultant with T.W. Hicks Inc., recommended the Series 245 Ultra-Tread S.

“It’s resilient, looks good when cleaned and is easy to clean,” says Steve O’Donnell, managing partner of the bakery manufacturer that wholesales to cruise lines, casinos, airports and coffee shops.

Tnemec manufactures high-performance flooring and wall coating systems for the food and beverage industry, ranging from epoxies to polyurethane concretes like the Series 245, says Schmit. Series 245 handles constant cleaning, thermal shock and physical abuse, he adds, and is VOC-compliant and fast curing.

There are many advantages of using cementitious urethane flooring systems over epoxy mortars, according to Steve Hess, president of Surface Solutions Inc. For one, new concrete has to cure for 28 days, he says, while cementitious urethane needs only seven days because it breathes with concrete.

Cementitious urethane also has better thermal shock resistance, he notes. Epoxies tap out at 160

Garon Products’ Mortarthane HF was used in a resurfacing project for flavors manufacturer Brand Aromatics. It is a 100% solid, thermal shock-resistant urethane mortar that withstands aggressive thermal cycling differences while providing safe footing in wet conditions.  Source: Garon Products.

Less expensive alternatives

Some companies still prefer epoxy, mainly due to its lower costs. West Coast Industrial Flooring (WCIF) recently installed Dex-O-Tex Cheminert K, an epoxy mortar system by Crossfield Products Corp., at a California Olive Ranch location. The olive oil processor was happy with this same flooring system installed at another location three years earlier, according to WCIF President Mike Houx, for its impact, abrasion and chemical resistance, cleanability and non-slip qualities. Cheminert K is resistant to a wide range of acids, bases, solvents, oils and food fats.

“Floors protect the concrete from erosion,” Houx says. In any food processing plant, particularly in vegetable processing, acidity erodes concrete, he adds. At California Olive, the company required a nominal 1/4-inch floor because of the heavy-duty uses.

Although epoxy floors have been in the industry for 50 years, Houx usually recommends urethane floors over epoxies. Epoxies are a little cheaper, he says, but urethane is more functional.

Tnemec Series 245 Ultra-Tread S was placed in two Hill Country Bakeries in San Antonio, TX for its resilience, good looks and cleanability.  Source: Tnemec.

Standing up to cleaning agents

“It’s important for flooring manufacturers to test their materials for resistance to cleaning compounds,” says Scott Gallagher, marketing manager for Atlas Minerals and Chemicals. “(Cleaning agents) constantly change in the food and beverage industry.”

CIP-type cleaning solutions, such as nitric acid- and sodium hypochlorite-based compounds, are very strong, he notes. “The biggest concern isn’t necessarily the food (and its byproducts), but the sanitizing compounds.”

Altas, a manufacturer of setting beds and grout materials, also distributes dairy brick, vitrified tile and quarry tile flooring systems. Atlas’ VTF System uses vitrified tile for its durability, uniformity and aesthetics. It has high compressive strength and low absorption. And, with flush joints, these tile floors have a smooth finish that aids in their cleanability. The grouts are resin-based, creating a system that is microbial growth-resistant, he says.

About three years ago, the company introduced a moisture-tolerant, trowel-applied setting bed called Red Furnane Setting Bed MT, which can be used on wet concrete. Atlas also has two primers that go below the tile/brick, reducing the construction schedule. Usually with newly poured concrete, you need 28 days for the substrate to set up completely, Gallagher says. But Atlas GC Primer and Rezklad E-Concrete Primer MT can be used between 24 hours and five days after the concrete has been poured. “The major advantage,” he states, “is that it greatly accelerates the construction schedule.”

Boulevard Brewing Co. selected a hexagon-shaped vitrified tile, by Blome Inc., to lay out a decorative, yet functional, floor for its new bottling facility in Kansas City, MO.  The bottling line is a focal point for visitors.  Source: Boulevard Brewing Co.

Brewer installs decorative and functional flooring

For some food and beverage processors, plant tours are a crucial part of their business. These manufacturers must make decisions about plant interiors that not only consider food and worker safety but also aesthetics.

Finding a functional, yet decorative, floor was a must for Boulevard Brewing Co. The Kansas City, MO brewery chose hexagon-shaped vitrified tile from Blome Inc. to lay out a decorative pattern in its new bottling facility. Vitrified tile has low porosity, making it stain-resistant and strong.

“The tiles were used for food and beverage installations in Europe,” says Steve Blome, president of Blome Inc. “We brought the tile over from Germany, and we incorporated our new technology-settings and grout materials-to make it an even higher level.”

Blome uses a 100% solid epoxy setting bed to bond tile to the floor and a chemical-resistant grout between the tiles. The company also offers a vinyl ester grout for CIP areas and chemical storage areas.

According to Blome, dairy brick is more porous, with a 4% absorption rate compared to vitrified tile’s 0.5%. Vitrified tile also has more precision tolerance, he says, avoiding the possibility of puddling. Virtually every tile is the same shape and size, making a smoother floor.

The floor is very cleanable, according to Mike Utz, plant manager at Boulevard Brewing. “There are no cracks in the floor, no place for beer to get through it.

“A critical component was the waterproof nature of it,” he adds. The bottling line is on the second floor. Since concrete, which can crack, is below the tiles, Utz says it was important to have a floor with a bathtub-like containment that could drain any beer that may seep through the grout to an outside source.

Dairy brick only comes in red, whereas tile has many color options. Vitrified tile also is available in various surface textures such as smooth, which is used in laboratories and employee lounge areas, to rough, orange peel-like textures used in wet processing areas; and an aggressive, diamond tread used in the meat industry. The tile also is available in 4- by 8-in. rectangles or 4-in. hexagons to create interesting borders, flowers and designs.

Although it can take up to three weeks to install a 6,000-sq.-ft. site, the life expectancy is at least 20 years, Blome says.

Flooring can ‘go green' too

Dramatically diminishing job site waste is one of Stonhard’s objectives, according to Mike Jewell, vice president of marketing. Ninety percent of its products are shipped in flexible packaging, which means no cans, pails or buckets. The amount of volume is so immense, he says, the company is keeping millions of cans and pails out of landfills.

Stonhard’s products help food processors gain LEED certification points in areas of waste construction management, building reuse, recycled content, regional materials, rapidly renewable materials and low emitting materials through their manufacturing, packaging and installation processes.

Two of its products are made from recycled material. Stonclad GR, an epoxy system with an impact-, abrasion- and chemical-resistant finish, uses recycled glass as a filler in lieu of sand or silica. Unfortunately, Jewell says, “It does require a premium. Sand is still very cheap, but glass, even recycled glass, is not.” 

Stonblend GSI-G, an epoxy mortar system with a long-wearing, stain-resistant finish, also uses recycled glass, but the glass chips contribute to its aesthetics. “The end result is a sophisticated and progressive look while the floor retains its stain- and wear-resistant characteristics,” adds Marketing Manager Kendall Ellis.

The company’s Stonclad UT, a troweled, polyurethane, textured mortar system designed for heavy-duty environments, is made from a plant-based resin in an effort to utilize rapidly renewable resources rather than non-renewable fossil fuel-based materials. “It performs under sustained temperatures of up to 250

Food & Beverage Industry Flooring Suppliers

Atlas Mineral and
Chemicals Inc.
1227 Valley Road,
P.O. Box 38
Mertztown, PA 19539

Blome Inc.
1450 Hoff Industrial Drive
O’Fallon, MO 63366

300 Edwards St.
Madison, OH 44057

Crossfield Products Corp.
3000 E. Harcourt St.
Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221

Garon Products Inc.
P.O. Box 1924
Wall, NJ 07719

24535 Hallwood Court
Farmington Hills, MI 48335

Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings
101 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115

Sika Industrial Flooring
Division of Sika Corp.
201 Polito Ave.
Lyndhurst, NJ 07071

SlipNOT Metal
Safety Flooring
2545 Beaufait St.
Detroit, MI 48207

Stonhard Inc.
One Park Ave.
Maple Shade, NJ 08052

Surface Solutions Inc.
5689 W. 73rd St.
Indianapolis, IN 46278
866-858-4080; 317-388-8000

Tnemec Co. Inc.
P.O. Box 165770
Kansas City, MO 64116

West Coast Industrial Flooring
3765 Omec Circle
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742