by Thomas Ricciardelli
As a flooring company that works with life science companies, we typically ask a litany of questions before making a recommendation.
Do you require special slip resistance?
If your facility requires a greater level of slip resistance, you will want to steer clear of slick materials like epoxies. Seek out products that provide more secure footing like tiles that utilize a coin-top texture.
What are the VOC and particulate requirements of the room?
As a lab or clean room, it’s possible your facility might employ chemicals that may impact the material you select for flooring. For example, for solvents or acids, vinyl can be a good choice as it is resistant to many chemicals. Rubber is good for other chemicals, like chlorinated solvents. Always get a sample of the flooring you are considering and test it against the chemicals you have in your lab.
What chemicals should you test your lab floor for?
The Scientific Equipment & Furniture Association SEFA 8-M-2010 Recommended Practices For Metal Laboratory Grade Furniture, Casework, Shelving and Tables, refers to 49 chemicals to test for. That doesn’t mean you have to test your flooring for all 49. If you think it’s possible your floor could be exposed to a certain chemical now or down the road, test for it.
Do you require the floor to be portable for reconfigurations or future moves?
Expansions, downsizing or relocation to a new facility happen. There are flooring products available that utilize an interlocking system so flooring can be moved should your lab or clean room need to move to another location.
Does the underlying concrete pass moisture tests?
If beneath your existing flooring there is concrete, moisture could be an issue and will need to be checked first. Particularly, if the flooring you’re considering needs to be glued.
If new concrete, can you wait for the 90-day cure period?
If you can’t glue on concrete with moisture issues, it stands to reason that newly installed concrete floors must cure before you can glue down new flooring. Ninety days is the recommended amount of time.
If there is an existing floor, does it have asbestos either in the tile or adhesive?
Both the flooring and the adhesive of your old flooring should be tested for asbestos prior to gluing down new flooring or, honestly, before installing interlocking flooring.
If there is an existing floor, do you want to install without removing it?
Interlock flooring can be installed over existing flooring. Some facilities managers prefer flooring that requires an adhesive. In that scenario, removing the old flooring first is recommended. You can choose not to take on the expense of floor removal. It’s just not preferable.
Can your facility tolerate the dust generated from a sub-floor preparation?
When you remove old flooring, it will generate dust. Will that impact your equipment, electronics, and HVAC systems? That must be considered as it could impact your decision to go with a glue-down flooring or interlock.
There are other questions to ask before selecting. Things like operational considerations, maintenance requirements, aesthetics and cost. Taking all these things into account will help you make a wise and cost-effective choice.
Thomas Ricciardelli is the president of SelecTech, Inc.