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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!

15 Jun

Conductive, Dissipative, or Anti-Static Flooring?

Conductive, Dissipative, or Anti-Static Flooring

You’re hard at work at your latest assignment. Your boss wants you to put together a complete plan for creating a large-scale electrostatic protection area (EPA) for a client who will be assembling various sensitive electronics and they want to avoid any risk of losing their investment due to electrostatic discharge (ESD).

You’ve selected the grounding cables, the workstations, the custom cut matting, containers and furniture, all designed to minimize or eliminate the slightest chance of ESD damage. But a curious thing happens when you research the proper flooring.

A simple Internet search for ESD flooring yields numerous options, more than you expect and you start to notice they all fall under 3 categories.  In an instant, you’re faced with a decision, just like the game show, “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Suddenly, Monty Hall (or Wayne Brady, the current host!) is staring at you, asking do you want to choose door number one, number two, or number three: conductive, dissipative, or anti-static? The clock is ticking… How do you decide?

Door #1

For starters, let’s eliminate one of your options. Much like the ‘ZONKS’ of the game show, ‘anti-static’ is a worthless term in your ESD vocabulary.  By strict definition, anti-static refers to a material that resists generating a charge.  At one time it did designate a level of resistance, but was so overused and misunderstood, the term was removed from the ANSI/ESD standards.

So likewise, eliminate the term ‘anti-static’ from your discussion.

Deciding between the other two doors requires a closer look at the specific needs of the area for which the flooring is intended.

We’ve talked in another article about Ohms (Ω) and how they are the unit of measurement for resistance to electrical current.

Door #2

Because of the size and scope of most areas where it is necessary, the most common form of ESD flooring is referred to as ‘Static Conductive.’ Conductive flooring is at the low end of the electrical resistance scale.

Conductive carpeting may even be laced with carbon lines or metallic yarn fibers to encourage the flow of electricity. Because of the low electrical resistance, electrons flow easily across and through the surface, and can be grounded safely and quickly. This carpeting or vinyl tile is laid down with a conductive adhesive and grounded through the use of conductive tape or copper strips that run to a common ground.

This type of flooring is also generally a little more cost-effective than a dissipative solution.

Door #3

On the higher end of the resistance scale falls ‘Static Dissipative’ flooring. The higher resistance of these materials keeps the electrical charge more under control as it slowly flows over the surface and into a ground. Dissipative flooring is much more common in shared office environments where everyday shoes are more common, as opposed to a location where every element, from furniture to footwear, is controlled.

In our example above, the client will be assembling sensitive electronics like circuit boards and such in a large-scale environment. In this instance, a vinyl tile, or a poured epoxy flooring with conductive properties would most likely be the best option.

In an office setting where a company has their own IT department that fixes and assembles computers within the same facility, a dissipative, static resilient tiled floor would be a better fit.

But the fact is, these are very simplified examples of the myriad of variables that you can encounter when selecting the proper ESD controlled flooring. Your best option is to talk to an expert.

We’d love to be the experts you can count on for your full service, seamless ESD solutions. For more information or advice on your specific ESD flooring needs – or any other ESD questions, contact us today.

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.

25 Feb

Building an Electrostatic Protected Area (EPA)

How to Build an Electrostatic Protected Area

Almost everyone’s familiar with the image of a white “cleanroom” or “bunny suit.” They show up in just about every depiction of people working in computer facilities in popular entertainment, and it’s a highly sought after specialty ‘armor’ in the video game Fallout 4.

What most people may not know is that the suits are designed not to protect the person inside, but the delicate circuitry they’re working on.  But not everyone who works with small, sensitive electronics needs to spend money for a full-on, disposable suit.

If you work with a lot of small electronics, a more affordable solution is to put together an electrostatic protected area (or EPA).  This doesn’t have to take up a lot of space and can actually be quite portable.  It just needs to be done properly.

Let’s start with the basics and work our way up to the safest and most expensive options.

Simple EPA

At a bare minimum, all personnel working within an EPA should have a personal grounding wrist strap.  These make sure any excess energy is grounded – forced away – from the electronic devices and circuit boards being handled.

Connected to that grounding strap is a dissipative mat. Dissipative means quite simply to disperse or disappear.  A properly designed and implemented dissipative mat does for the surface what the grounding wrist strap does for the person – protects sensitive electronics from electrical discharges.

Mats can be purchased pre-cut or in rolls, depending on what your needs are.

Attached to both of these is a common point cord, also referred to as a grounding cord.  These cords are fully insulated and take any electrostatic charges away from the person and the ESD mat to be grounded safely.

Often these simple options are packaged together as a field service or workstation kit that can be purchased as one unit to avoid forgetting any key elements.

Now that we’ve established the minimum requirements for an EPA, let’s look at additional options that can be easily implemented within your system to further insure the safety of the components and reduce the risk and excess cost of replacement.

From the Ground Up

For more permanent EPA installations, there are a variety of flooring options that can be integrated.  Everything from conductive and dissipative vinyl tiles to anti-static carpeting that can be utilized in the work area or just in the area surrounding your EPA system.  You can even add flooring with a high-end moisture barrier as well as anti-static protection.

Sole Protection

One of the most obvious ways we build up a potentially dangerous electrostatic discharge is just by walking.  Static charges build up naturally.  While a personal grounding wrist strap will help dissipate the charge, there are additional options for your feet.

Shoe covers with conductive strips are a quick, low cost addition to an existing EPA system and great for alleviating the risk of allowing visitors into the EPA area.

For employees whose duties mean they spend substantial time in the EPA area, you can add foot and heel grounders, toe grounders and sole grounders.

For even more protection, grounders can be upgraded to ESD shoes.  These come in a variety of styles for your business setting – even weatherproof boots and hiking models.

Additional Considerations

Adding isolation protocols and ESD protective containers can also complement your EPA system and reduce the chance of any accidental charges building up or discharging into your electronic components.

Of course grounding should be a consideration with any additions to your EPA system.  Whether it’s flooring or matting, grounding cords with a built in resistor add that much more protection to your area.  And the more working parts you have, the more grounding capability you require.

There are simple options to increase the grounding ability of any size EPA system, as well as monitors that can be added to the system – at the personal or system-wide level.

And if you really feel the need to cover yourself top to bottom, there are more workable clothing options as well.

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

17 Dec

Do You Need Static Control Flooring?

Do You Need Static Control Floors?

Does your business have a substantial investment in electronics or computers?

Have you ever experienced an unexplained failure? Perhaps one of your critical systems went down with no warning at a critical time (there’s never really a convenient time for that, is there?), or perhaps a component was working beautifully one minute and performing erratically the next.

One of the most nefarious—and hardest to detect— culprits behind failures of this kind is electrostatic discharge. By some estimates, it could be responsible for more than fifty percent of hardware failures, costing upwards of $5 billion each year.

So, if you have devices, people, and floors, then you face risks from the devastating effects of static electricity—specifically electrostatic discharge (ESD).

How Can Floors Protect Equipment from ESD Damage?

Since static control flooring provides an attractive “escape route” for static electricity that builds up in the most common of circumstances, it can be a relatively simple and inexpensive way to protect your valuable data & devices from getting zapped.

Aren’t specialized static control floors ugly?

If the thought of specialized protective flooring conjures up images of server rooms, data centers, or ugly hospital wards, then we’ve got good news!

Today, ESD floors come in an amazing array of materials, styles, and colors. Sure… we install rubber floors. We epoxy concrete.

But we also have attractive broadloom carpet that provides decent ESD protection for your sensitive electronics in beautiful designs—so beautiful, in fact, that no one would ever suspect that the carpet is actually serving a valuable purpose beyond that of ordinary carpet!

In addition to broadloom carpet, we also carry carpet tiles and vinyl tiles and sheet flooring. Each is suitable for different situations, and they are available in configurations that provide varying degrees of protection depending upon your specific situation.

Which Static Control Floor is Right for You?

Whether you run a manufacturing facility or a cubicle farm, a call center or a clean room, the fantastic assortment of options available today means that you can find a flooring solution that meets your needs. Obviously, there are a number of factors involved in making the right decision.

Some of the considerations you’ll need to include in your decision-making process include:

  • Durability: Will the floor be in a high-traffic area? The volume of foot traffic will certainly affect how long your floor will last, and therefore should be considered as part of the overall cost of ownership.
  • Maintenance: Since your floor contains components—from conductive carpet fibers to embedded veins of specialized materials—to give static electricity a place to go, you’ll want to weigh out the maintenance needs of the flooring.
  • Static Control Performance: ESD flooring comes in various levels of effectiveness (measured by its “conductivity”). How conductive or dissipative your floor needs to be depends upon the nature of your equipment, the installation environment, and the nature of the usage.
  • Other Factors: Does the floor need to help absorb sound to help control the noise in the environment? Do you need slip protection? What chemicals might be spilled on your floor?

As you can see, the flooring choices available to you can be a bit of a dizzying maze. But there’s good news: we’re here to help you navigate! Reach out today, and let our team of experts help you find the most effective solution at the right budget to match your situation perfectly!

14 Sep

Dissipative vs. Static Conductive Flooring: Which Works Best?

Dissipative vs. Static Conductive Flooring: Which Works Best?

Previously, we talked in greater detail about how ESD flooring works. But when it comes to choosing what type of static control flooring to use, the biggest question you need to answer is this:

Should I use static dissipative flooring or static conductive flooring?

Perhaps the most important factor you’ll need to consider in making this decision is safety.

Shouldn’t I Always Choose the Fastest Pathway to Ground?

At first glance, it might seem like a no-brainer: just put in the flooring that has the lowest resistance so that electrostatic discharge is carried most quickly and efficiency to ground. If that’s true, then static conductive flooring is an obvious choice.

But if the floor is too conductive, then we introduce another set of risks to personal safety.

This is where we start to get into safety standards developed by OSHA and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), among others.

Put simply, “static dissipative” flooring and “static conductive” flooring are two very specific classifications based upon levels of conductivity which is measured in terms of the materials’ resistance to electricity.

Resistance of ESD Flooring Options

Resistance, or impedance, is measurable, and is expressed in ohms. The ohm is a unit of measurement named after Georg Ohm, the German physicist who discovered Ohm’s law. In specifications documents, schematics, and other materials, the ohm is represented by the symbol Ω (the Greek letter omega).

Put simply, higher resistance = lower conductivity.

A substance with resistance measured at zero ohms (0 Ω) would highly conductive conductive (carbon, silver, and copper all have resistance measured in a fraction of an ohm). On the opposite end of the spectrum, a substance with 1 billion ohms (1 × 109 Ω) would have very low conductivity (rubber, which is so resistive that it’s used as an insulator, has a resistance in the 1.00×1013 Ω range, or 10,000,000,000,000 Ω, AKA ten trillion ohms).

In general terms defined by the ESD Association, “conductive” is describes any flooring with a resistance of up to 1 million ohms. “Dissipative” is used for anything greater than 1 million ohms and up to 1 billion ohms. 

ESD Flooring Type Resistance (Ω) Range (Low End) Resistance (Ω) Range (High End)
Static Conductive 1 × 106
Static Dissipative 1 × 106 1 × 109

Unfortunately, these categories are so broad that they aren’t entirely useful.

Thankfully, the ANSI 20.20 specification helps clarify things for us. It indicates that the maximum resistance of the flooring and the person (measured together) should be less than 3.5 × 10ohms.

The NPFA has also specified that flooring should have no less than 25,000 ohms resistance. Below this number, the conductivity of the floor is considered to be too high and therefore unsafe due to risk of electric shock and other hazards.

As you can see, neither the minimum resistance specified by the NFPA nor the maximum specified by ANSI 20.20 lines up perfectly with our terms for “static conductive” or “static dissipative” flooring.

So… we’re left with making a selection based upon the specific needs of your industry. What is the application of the flooring? Will it be used in a clean room? Will it be used in electronics manufacturing? What are the considerations around flammable materials?

Other factors will affect the decision as well. Will the humidity and temperature of the environment be maintained within specific parameters? Both will affect conductivity, not just in the floor, but in the environment as a whole. What other building materials will be used?

Additionally, when specifying the levels of conductivity in flooring, there is a diversity in testing and measurement that exists which will cause test results to vary widely depending upon the methodologies used. It’s important to understand how these measurements will affect the final outcome where conductivity is concerned.

The Bottom Line?

There are a number of factors involved in the decision when you’re selecting between static conductive or static dissipative flooring. Our ESD control experts will be more than happy to help walk you through the decision-making process and the range of options available to you — both from a performance standpoint and from an aesthetic one. Contact us today!

07 Sep

How Does ESD Flooring Work?

How Does ESD Flooring Work?

When it comes to controlling Electrostatic Discharge in a commercial setting, one of the most important areas to address is the flooring. The floor is one of the single biggest surfaces, and almost every piece of furniture, major equipment, and even people will come into contact with flooring surfaces on a regular basis.

How does this impact your choice of flooring?

Well, obviously certain materials in carpeting are known to generate static electricity when the carpet fibers rub up against other materials, like the rubber in the soles of workers’ shoes. Since we quite obviously don’t want the flooring to make the ESD problem worse, we can rule out carpet that contributes to the buildup of static electricity.

This means that we start to look at the materials in the other available choices to see how they impact static electricity buildup and discharge.

Flooring & Electrostatic Discharge Pathways

It’s been said that electricity always follows the path of least resistance, but this is not actually completely true. Electricity will follow all available pathways when “circuits” are created (intentionally or not). The flow of electricity will, however, prefer pathways that have a lower impedance (resistance to electricity).

ESD flooring serves to create a preferred pathway for the flow of electricity, allowing the build-up of static electricity in devices, personnel, and equipment to have an immediate pathway to grounding.

Depending upon the situation, ESD flooring choices include ESD carpeting, ESD conductive tiles, or ESD dissipative tiles.

In the case of conductive tiles or ESD carpeting, the flooring materials contain conductive elements (e.g. carbon lines or conductive yarn fibers) that transmit electrical current through the flooring materials. ESD carpeting options are made with a conductive backing that helps facilitate this, whereas ESD tile is laid using a specially made conductive adhesive to adhere it to the subfloor. Current is then transmitted to conductive tape or copper strips placed beneath the surface of the floor.

Static Grounding Terminal - ESD Carpet

A static grounding terminal attaches one of our ESD carpet installations to a grounding point

From there, grounding is achieved by connecting the conductive materials below the ESD flooring directly to a grounding point, or by placing a special grounding tile at regular intervals which is, in turn, connected to a grounding point.

The ESD conductive tiles and ESD carpets are manufactured and tested to have minimal resistance to electrical current, which increases the likelihood that any static charge will pass through the flooring and on to ground instead of damaging sensitive equipment or igniting flammable or explosive substances.

ESD dissipative floors work in a similar fashion, but are engineered to have a higher resistance than flooring classified as “conductive.” This causes electricity to flow to ground in a slower, more controlled manner.

Which flooring should you choose? We’ll talk about that further in our next blog post. In the meantime, contact one of our static control experts to help you create the solution that’s perfectly tailored to your situation!

View Ground Zero's ESD Flooring Options!!

 

26 Feb

Can ESD Wax be applied to bring back dissipative properties?

Q: Into our manufacturing area we have a dissipative floor installed, some areas has lost the dissipative properties, we are using ESD wax to correct those areas.

We are not having good results, we measure point to point and point to ground and these areas still measure insulative, my question is:
The ESD wax only works in floors with dissipative properties, or could it be applied on areas where the floor has lost the dissipation properties?”

A: Thanks for contacting us.  This is one of those questions that I like to pounce on, because it brings up many current misconceptions in the ESD flooring industry.  I’m going to answer your question about using chemicals to perhaps patch up certain areas in your flooring system, but I’m going to reach beyond that question and give a comparison of the ESD flooring system vs an otherwise non-ESD flooring system with an ESD sealer applied to it.  We supply both options here, by the way.  I hope you find what you need here and that this response helps guide you in your application.
Read More

05 Dec

The difference between Low Static and Static Dissipative

Q: What is the difference between Low static 3.5kv carpeting and static dissipative carpeting? When used on walls is 3.5kv carpeting ok in electronic equipment rooms?

A: When people refer to 3.5 kV carpeting I believe they are referring to the threshold voltage that people can feel as a nuisance static shock. We deal primarily with manufacture, test, assembly, and application environments where the end-user is protecting expensive electronic components, explosives, assemblies, etc. and the threshold for their needs is down to 100 volts and less.

I believe the 3.5 kV carpeting is considered to be somewhat antistatic (resists or has reduced tribocharging abilities) and is treated topically with some temporary chemical. These types of carpet do not satisfy our needs to provide long-term solutions for the commercial, industrial, and even consumer electronics industry.

I’d like to find out more about what you’re using the carpet for. Are you using it on the walls to deaden noise or create some special environment for audio design? If you need some kind of ESD protection, can you find out what your voltage threshold is- or what is the highest acceptable voltage that your environment can tolerate?

We offer ESD carpet in broadloom form and in tile form in both static conductive (typically around 2.5e04 or 25,000 ohms to 1e06 or 1 Meg Ohm) and static dissipative (1E06 – 1E09 ohm). As the resistance increases, the generated charge dissipates less rapidly to the point that a charge potential exists somewhere in the system and an ESD event occurs. This ESD event may occur without the end user knowing, but it may damage or destroy sensitive devices. Having a textile with a resistance in the static conductive range will discharge this charge potential more rapidly and work to prevent a charge from getting too high in the first place. Different textiles tribocharge at different rates and increase to different potentials, depending which textiles are making contact with and separating from them. Many carpets perform fairly well compared to other textiles in a humid environment. The humid environment may knock the created voltage down from 10’s of thousands of volts to thousands or hundreds of volts, but not low enough to prevent ESD Sensitive Devices from getting damaged or destroyed.

I hope I’ve touched on some of your questions but need to know more about your current application to help you better.