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21 Jul

Can New Flooring Be Installed Over Old?

Can New Flooring be installed over Old Flooring?

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.

Yes.

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.

No.

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.

Maybe.

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.

For a free consultation – or any other questions you may have, please contact us.  We would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider!

07 Jul

Is Bare Concrete Really the Best “Anti-Static” Flooring?

Is Concrete Really Anti-Static?

There used to be an old wives’ tale that standing on bare concrete for too long caused varicose and spider veins.  In the 60’s, that idea was largely supplanted by the hippie movement that believed standing shoeless on bare concrete allowed the body to become more grounded.

Unfortunately, it seems that the once-held hippie belief has permeated into the world of electrostatic discharge (ESD) prevention.  But nothing could be further from the truth. Because while bare, unsealed concrete floors that are allowed to ‘breathe’ have anti-static tendencies, they are definitely NOT grounded.

Nothing to Cling To

While the lower expense of a bare concrete floor makes it appear like a desirable remedy, there are several reasons it is not classified as a true ESD flooring solution.

First there’s that word – tendencies. Bare concrete floors tend to be anti-static, but they are not reliably so. That’s because anti-static characteristics are not inherent in concrete like they are in a carbon-filled material or a poured ESD epoxy.

To further complicate the issue, the measure of how anti-static concrete is, is dependent on many variables – the most significant of which is its permeability to moisture. If you’ve explored our website at all, that should immediately raise a red flag.  In an earlier post, we talked about why moisture is the #1 enemy to your ESD flooring.

A Shift in Standards

If that doesn’t scare you away, we discussed in this post about how anti-static is not an adequate measure for ESD flooring. To summarize, the term “anti-static” refers to a material that resists generating a charge. And bare, sealed concrete does do that – most of the time. But over the past 30 years or so, ANSI and the ESD Association made the effort to remove the term from their professional industry standards because it was so overused and misunderstood.

Those standards are discussed in this post.

And for good measure, we discuss in another post the dangers of cutting corners to save money when building your ESD Protection Area (EPA). Some up front expenses are definitely worth the long-term benefits.

Fully Charged

So, let’s assume that the concrete floor you’ve just installed is as anti-static as it can get. You can walk across it to any other part of the room and there will be no static buildup, aka triboelectric effect.

But what happens when the CEO comes down to inspect the area, and as he’s walked from his office to the EPA area, he’s built up a static charge. It’s on his body, on his clothes; we know that even the slightest movement in a conductive area builds a charge that can damage sensitive electronics.

When he hits that concrete floor, the charge doesn’t just disappear. It stays with him. Because while concrete has the tendency to avoid building up a static charge, it does nothing to dissipate an existing charge. And this is the biggest problem with the use of concrete as an ESD floor. It cannot act as a ground.

The CEO touches a circuit board, it gets the electrostatic discharge, ruining it – and he blames you. And then you have to install a true ESD floor anyways. Why not just do it right the first time?

We would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider.  Contact us today for more information.

27 Apr

Why Moisture is the #1 Enemy to Your ESD Flooring

#1 Enemy of ESD Flooring

It’s hard to walk down a sidewalk these days without seeing a crack in the pavement. Some of these have obvious reasons, like strong tree roots pushing them up, while others seem to appear out of nowhere.

When concrete is initially poured on a flat surface, to create a floor or sidewalk, it is left for a day or more, depending on the location, to cure. Curing is the process by which the concrete is protected from evaporation until it hardens.

The wetter and cooler concrete is while it’s curing, the stronger and less permeable it is.

I know what you’re thinking… Wait. Why does this matter to ESD flooring? The short answer is more than you know.

A Concrete Problem

Because of the unique nature of the concrete curing, moisture is captured within the concrete. Again, this helps the concrete stay stronger and last longer. But it has an unfortunate side effect.

You see, concrete cracks when the moisture inside it evaporates faster than it can draw replacement moisture from the ground under it.

You may have noticed that a bare concrete floor is unusually cooler than its surroundings.  There’s even the old wives tale about walking on bare concrete causing arthritis flare-ups.

But concrete doesn’t just capture moisture during curing. After hardening, it also transmits the moisture and the temperature of the ground below it.

All of this leads to the number one reason electrostatic discharge (ESD) preventative flooring fails: moisture permeation.

Flooring Failure

When too much moisture moves through the concrete, it results in a high alkalinity in the concrete.  The higher pH levels react to the bonding agent, causing the adhesive in many instances to fail. And if that failure isn’t discovered, could even lead to mold between the concrete and the flooring.

A properly constructed system built recently should include a vapor barrier – a plastic shield that lessens the moisture transference of the concrete flooring. But older buildings may not include this and preventative measures should be taken.

The best and most economical solution is to install resilient flooring to the concrete base before laying down the adhesive backed ESD flooring. Resilient flooring is an organic floor surfacing material in sheet or tile form: rubbervinyl, cork, or linoleum are all viable options.

You can also apply a resin-based moisture barrier coating before laying down your ESD flooring tiles.

A more efficient method is to simply pour a static conductive water-based epoxy floor covering. This eliminates the need for an additional layer of ESD flooring as the epoxy itself provides the protection.

What you can’t do is nothing. Moisture-related floor covering failures are responsible for over $1 billion annually in damages.

Contact us today for more information; we would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider.

20 Apr

How Do You Care for Your ESD Floor?

How to Care for Your ESD Floors

So you’ve finally got your brand spanking new Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) preventative flooring installed. It looks great, it works great. But how do you keep it that way?

You’re smart enough to know that just like this is a specialized floor, it requires specialized care. Not just any cleaning products will work. You certainly don’t want to void the warranty, or even worse, compromise the ESD properties of the floor. That could drastically escalate costs – replacement of the damaged electronics, replacing the floor itself – having to apologize to your clients and replace the electronics they trusted you to provide.

You can’t find anything in the installation instructions. You hear the boss’ voice around the corner, you know he’s going to ask these questions. You don’t have the answers. You look down and you’re not wearing any pants!

Well, we can’t do anything about your pants, but we do have some answers to avoid that other nightmarish scenario.

For starters, take a break – for the first 5 days following a new installation, don’t wash or machine scrub the floor. This allows the adhesive to properly bond with the concrete base, as well as to prevent excess moisture – the #1 enemy of ESD flooring – to interfere with the adhesive.

The First Steps

Once the first week has passed, do an initial maintenance cleanup. Sweep or dust mop the surface to clear it of all sand, grit, debris, or dirt. Then mix a neutral pH detergent with a small bit of water in a mop bucket.

Dip the mop in the solution and fully wring it out. It is important to ONLY use a damp mop. Do not flood the floor with cleaning solution. Use as little liquid as possible to clean the surface.

If needed, scrub the floor using a rotary scrubber with scrubbing pad or automatic scrubber with scrubbing pads. Again, using as little water as possible!

Use the wrung out mop or a wet vac to wipe up any excess cleaning solution. Carefully rinse the surface with cool, clear water, but not too much, and again vacuum or damp mop up the water and let it dry.

Never use standard floor wax or standard floor finish!  Doing so will destroy the floor’s ability to prevent ESD. A high gloss appearance can be achieved with a high speed buffing machine with an untreated polishing pad.

Daily Care & Cleaning – Two Options

For your day to day cleaning and upkeep, there are two standard approaches for ESD flooring. Both are viable, but for obvious reasons, we prefer the first method.

Safety First!

Always be aware that a wet floor is more slippery, and therefore more dangerous to personnel. Try to coordinate cleaning of the floor to the end of the workday when fewer people are around, put up appropriate signs, and always exercise caution to prevent workplace injuries.

The first step in either case is to sweep or dust/dry mop the surface.

Dry Maintenance Method (Option 1)

By limiting the amount of liquid your floor is exposed to, you stand they best chance of avoiding the #1 enemy of ESD flooring – moisture. The Dry Maintenance Method is a simple, single step process.

Spray clean or burnish floor using a 1200 – 1500 rpm rotary buffing machine with appropriate pads (usually white) and a spray buff solution containing water, alcohol and a pH neutral detergent.

If heavy cleaning is necessary use a more concentrated pH neutral detergent and a brown pad.

Wet Maintenance Method (Option 2)

Similar to our initial cleanup procedures following installation, the wet maintenance method uses a damp mop and a cleaning solution that includes a neutral pH detergent.

If the floor is exposed to grease or oil, a pH neutral, citrus-based degreasing detergent may be used.

Scrub with rotary scrubber with scrubbing pad or automatic scrubber with scrubbing pads. Again, do not flood the floor with solution, water or any liquid.

Wipe up the solution with a damp mop or wet vac.

Carefully rinse with clean cool water, wipe it up, then let the floor dry (generally overnight).

Two final notes:

Several times we’ve mentioned using a pH neutral detergent. While there are many options, we highly recommend the industry standard – ZeroStat products. They can be purchased through our site or any reputable supplier of ESD preventative products.

Earlier, we recommended not using a standard floor wax. While there are professional ESD waxes available from ZeroStat that maintain the ESD preventative properties of your flooring, even those waxes generally cut five to ten tears off the life of your ESD floor and should be used with caution.

We would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider.  Contact us today for more information.