Whether your company has just invested in a new to them facility or is upgrading their current locations due to time or elevated ANSI/ESD standards, one of the largest expenses they will face is replacing the existing flooring.
Based on the existing installation, this can be a very time consuming task – days to strip off the old flooring, etch or acid burn off any leftover adhesive residue. Plus the very real possibility of damaging the concrete itself or a pre-existing moisture barrier.
Which leads to a popular question from facility and production managers – can new ESD flooring be installed over existing flooring?
And depending on who you talk to, the answer is: Yes. No. And, of course, Maybe.
If an existing floor is well-bonded, ANSI/ESD 20.20 compliant and in reasonably good condition, theoretically, the answer is yes.
Certain flooring options pose a lower risk and are considerably easier to install over an older floor. Vinyl, for example, generally can be installed over top existing vinyl. Generally.
Problems arise when the old floor has become hard and stiff. It may be harder to install over it, and if the initial bond doesn’t take, vinyl is unforgiving and may delaminate – requiring a complete stripping and reinstallation that is likely to cost more than the initial money saved, not to mention the time lost during the removal and reinstallation.
An additional choice to consider is installing carpet tiles over old vinyl. Carpet has become a popular choice to install over existing floors because the irregularities of the surface below the carpeting are virtually hidden behind its barely reflective surface.
Another option is Zero Stat Crete – a state of the art water-based epoxy coating – which can, after proper testing, be applied over an area that has had the previous vinyl or carpeting tile removed – often without needing to strip off any leftover adhesive.
Some experts caution that you should NEVER install a new floor covering over an old one. Along with the warnings above, the old flooring might hide structural defects, might not be properly bonded or might result in a plasticizer contamination of the new flooring, which could radically affect the quality and effectiveness of its ESD prevention.
Also, by not removing the old flooring, moisture concerns that need to be addressed may not be discovered.
Additionally, depending on the age of the old flooring, it might have been made with asbestos, a manufacturing material that causes severe respiratory problems and may lead to death.
Experts say that almost any floor can be installed over an old floor as long as the old floor is in good condition and well-bonded to the sub floor. BUT…
There are just too many variables to accurately consider or discuss every flooring replacement or recovering option in a single posting.
Even if your scenario is similar one of the ones we’ve elucidated above, there may be additional factors in your specific facility that are not taken into account in our hypothetical illustrations.
Which is why we always recommend speaking to a qualified flooring professional before making any final decisions. There is not usually a financial cost associated with their consultation and/or site visit, but the preventative savings far outweigh any nominal up front cost.