Sunday, December 20, 2009

What to do about oil spots on concrete floors?

Concrete that is un-coated acts like a sponge to fluids spilled on it. When the fluid is water based the moisture will eventually turn to a gas and evaporate. When the fluid is oil based we have a problem.

Oil based liquids will only evaporate if the surface is treated with heat or sunlight (still takes a long time, months or even years) Therefore, interior surfaces contaminated with oil will be be especially problematic if you are trying to coat them. The trapped oil will act like a "bond breaker" or a repellent to coatings. This could be oil-spots or entire areas.

There is one solution if you desire to cap the unsightly contaminated floor, Oil Stop Primer. Oil Stop Primer, a (2) part epoxy, is coal-tar based. Therefore, the oil in your concrete will not have the same effect as it would on a standard primer or coating. It will act favorably enough to complete the adhesion process.

Once the primer has cured the applicator will need to apply several top-coats of a polymer based coating to cover the primer's black color. The end-result is an attractive floor that no longer presents a danger to pedestrians.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Anti-skid tape, an instant solution to slippery conditions

Slippery docks, wet walkways, poorly lit stairs? Keep your exposure to accidents low by increasing traction fast.

The fastest and easiest way to make conditions safer and more productive is to apply a non-skid tape. These tapes have come a long way in the past few years. Advances in the materials used to manufacture and the adhesive backings have turned a once necessary evil into a real option.

A few facts about today's anti-skid/non-skid tapes:
  • Available in over 30 colors and skid resistance levels
  • Custom die-cut pieces or roll form
  • Exceeding OSHA, ADA and ASTM standards
  • Available "glow in the dark" technology
  • Temperature resistance from -40 thru 220 degrees fahrenheit
Lastly, you won't find good skid-tapes locally, make a Google search for Flex-Tred, it's the best.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Expansion Joints, filled and cured in (1) hour

Concrete slabs require joints. These joints, in most cases should be filled to prevent edge break-back and bacterial growths.

From: The Concrete Network: Concrete is not a ductile material—it doesn't stretch or bend without breaking. That's both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. Its hardness and high compressive strength is why we use so much of it in construction. But concrete does move—it shrinks, it expands, and different parts of a building move in different ways.

This is where joints come in. Joints allow one concrete element to move independently of other parts of the building or structure. Joints also let concrete shrink as it dries—preventing what's called internal restraint. Internal restraint is created when one part of a slab shrinks more than another, or shrinks in a different direction. Think how bad you feel when part of you wants to do one thing and another part wants to do something else! Concrete feels the same way.

Although many building elements are designed and built with joints, including walls and foundations, we'll limit this discussion to joints in concrete slabs. In slabs, there are three types of joints:

  • Isolation joints (also sometimes functioning as expansion joints)
  • Construction joints (which can also function as contraction joints)
  • Contraction joints (also sometimes called control joints)
The fastest (sets in one hour), cleanest (no mess, promise) and strongest solution is a (2) part urethane based cartridge filler. These cartridges require a specialized gun (not a caulk gun). Once loaded, you shoot the material into the joint. After one hour you level the joint with a razor scraper (optional) and it's done. These urethane fillers will flex enough to stay in place, yet are strong enough to resist fork-truck wheels pushing down on them. Lastly, they may be your only option for cooler and freezer floors as they are not affected by cold temperatures the way epoxy fillers are.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Living with problem floors.

I was walking with a customer a few months ago. This particular customer runs a small distribution center for a multinational snack manufacturer. The name of this company has been left out. However, it rhymes with Trito-Mays. You get the picture.

He had floor problems in his aisle ways. Two slabs intersected at an expansion joint. They had both been sinking creating a low spot. This low spot has been eating fork-truck tires and had begun to fall apart, creating a deeper void.

I asked him what he had been doing about it. He told me that his "handyman" patches it every other month and he keeps his fork-truck company in business with replacement tires. I asked him what these problems were costing him per month. He replied, "probably $1000.00 per quarter".

If problems are not addressed, they become part of the daily, weekly, and monthly budget.
A facility begins to work around the problem vs. spending a few dollars to repair it correctly.
After showing this client a sample of epoxy concrete patch he began to see the light and agreed to repair it correctly.

We visited him this week. He was thankful for the advice. His budget was thankful also.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Patching cooler room floors.

So you have a cooler or freezer and the concrete floor is damaged. Probably near the entrance or where (2) slabs intersect.

Repair products using water are out. A water based product is going to either freeze before it cures or will not hit it's peak strength before a fork-truck runs over it. Not good.

What to do:

  1. Use a water based product anyway (naughty boy!)
  2. Raise the temperature
  3. Forget it and keep buying fork-truck tires (money to burn?)
Well, even if you could raise the air temperature, the floor temperature would lag about (2) days behind as concrete slabs change temperature very slowly. I hate to break this to you all but fork-truck repair companies mark tires up approx. 60- 70% + installation.

Your best bet is an epoxy repair patch designed to be used in coolers or freezers. They are formulated for fast cure and high early strength. Remember, moisture in a cooler/freezer is your enemy, that goes for the patch you use too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Can you resurface a wet concrete floor? really?

There is a sector of the industrial marketplace that needs to resurface or repair concrete floors. However, these floors are in areas that are wet and can't be fully dried for a multitude of reasons. Mostly, they can't give up the area long enough for the drying to occur.

These folks include: Processed food plants, dairy plants, egg farms, meat/chicken processing and beverage plants.

In the past, they have:

  1. Done nothing
  2. Done nothing
  3. Done something that didn't work
Today, there are some options for these folks. Floor coating companies have developed water based epoxy products that have been mixed with portland type materials. When combined into a slurry they can be applied to wet and cool floors easily and with positive results. This breakthrough has saved many a food plant from audit infractions and the risk of being shut down.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The poop on polish...

There is a new floor treatment among us. It's called floor polishing. Yes, they really have found a way to polish concrete floors. Only, it's much more complex than polishing your car.

Why polish?

End-users (participants in industry) have levels of cleanliness that need to be met inside the plants that they operate in. Food and beverage plants have a higher level than let's say a paper-mill. Pharma-plants have an even higher obligation called CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices). Well, for years and years the standard answer to maintaining these floors was painting or better yet applying a seamless polymer floor. This type of treatment is still in demand and is installed by professionals and do-it-yourselfers today.

Another way to achieve a "clean floor" is to polish. Polishing is really a vague way of describing a very complex process. Polishing starts with an 850lb grinding machine(pictured) and the removal process. Coatings from years gone by need to be scraped or ground off the floor. Next, a trained operator will run a grinding machine over the floor with a very coarse and aggressive "diamond wheel". This initial treatment helps to level the substrate. Any high areas will take away from the finished product.

Once the concrete floor has been leveled, further grinding continues, contstantly changing the diamond wheels for a less aggressive pattern. This process is similar to sanding a piece of wood. Once the floor is smooth and beginning to develop a sheen, a densifier is added to increase the floor's strength and resistance to liquids, including gas and oil. This densifier is similar to the material sprayed on "green" concrete called hardener.

Lastly, a burnish is put on the floor. Burnishing consists of running a 1500 RPM buffer wheel over the floor. This really increases the sheen and adds that mirror like finish many people are trying to achieve. Further burnish will be needed later on to refresh the sheen.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marine deck coatings, what to use?

Boats used in salt water get abused. If you have ever taken a cruise you will notice that a portion of the crew is always working on the appearance of the boat. It is a non-stop function due to the abuse of the sun, salt-water and the wind.

It is a captain's and/or owner's responsibility to make sure that the boat is protected and that the walkways or decks are safe from slip/falls.

There are a few ways to accomplish this:
  • Coat the decks with an epoxy coating containing a non-skid additive
  • Coat the decks with deck paint and broadcast in a non-skid additive
  • Apply heavy duty non-skid tape
Commercial fishing vessels that process the catch on board or sort on deck need to maintain the deck surface as a matter of life or death. Fish netting/processing causes an excessive amount of slime/scum to build-up on the deck making it very hazardous for the mates. If you have watched the Deadliest Catch lately, you will get an appreciation for non-skid deck coatings. Those Bering Sea fishermen have to deal with ice build-up as well! Check out the blog from the show, it has some great stories.

Fast and strong Concrete Floor Repair, real or myth?

Customers demand fast and strong.
Today's spending mantra is: Wait to the last minute and then get it done fast!

Fast and strong used to be diametrically opposed to one another. Yesterday's epoxy resins sacrificed strength and adhesion ability for fast cure. However, fast setting urethane formulations have changed this dramatically.

We now have urethane resins that when mixed with sand (flour grain silica) will produce extremely strong, fast setting (traffic in one hour or less) structural repairs.

Where are these used?
  • Theme Parks
  • 24 Hour Distribution Centers
  • 24 Hour Food Centers
  • Airport Taxi and Tarmac
  • Prison and Correctional Facilities
What are they being used for?

  • pot-hole repairs
  • resurfacing
  • expansion/control joint rebuilding
  • stair tread restoration
  • slab leveling/bonding
How do they hold up? against:
  • UV Rays: Excellent, light stable
  • Weather: Very good, still flexible in extreme cold
  • Traffic: Excellent wear characteristics
  • Costly compared to epoxy based products
  • Fast setting is really fast, only useful on small repairs