What is Thermal Shock
All flooring material expands and contracts with changes in temperatures. When there is a significant temperature change between the resinous coating and the concrete substrate the material can disbond, delaminate, crack, bubble, or just generally deteriorate. In facilities where floors are steam cleaned or otherwise exposed to rapid, extreme temperature cycling, not just any industrial resinous floor coating will do.
Standard floor covering materials typically cannot withstand exposure to excessive swings in temperature, without exhibiting signs of severe damage. Thermal shock is most common in food and beverage manufacturing plants and agricultural facilities when refrigerated rooms are cleaned with hot water or steam. With thermal shock resistant flooring, these and other harsh environments are significantly less susceptible to the damage caused by dramatic changes in temperature. Fortunately there are resinous flooring options to deal with thermal shock.
Flexibilized high temperature epoxy floor coatings can be poured over a concrete subfloor to serve as a protective layer against thermal shock. Epoxy is the most common floor coating used in both commercial and industrial settings and typically have excellent adhesion properties and good abrasion resistance. When choosing to use an epoxy, make sure you hire an industrial coating expert who knows the difference between a traditional epoxy (which will delaminate in extreme temperatures) and an epoxy coating designed specifically for extreme temperatures.
Polyurethane floor coatings are not as permanent as epoxy floor coating options, but they do provide more elasticity. Similar to facilities with an epoxy floor, polyurethane coatings are a great option to provide both thermal shock resistance and antimicrobial characteristics, which are a must in medical for food-related facilities. Polyurethane floor coatings are fast-setting and can have a non-skid or decorative surface.
Urethane concrete systems are a highly recommended product because they have a similar thermal expansion to concrete. Urethane concrete is available in thicknesses ranging from 3/16” specifications, which are fully serviceable to constant temperatures of 150 degrees Fahrenheit and intermittent temperatures of 200 degrees Fahrenheit through to ⅜” specifications suitable for the most extreme environments with constant temperatures of 220 degrees Fahrenheit and occasional spillage up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. To learn more take a look at our case study here.
To learn about this and other topics check out my blog posts on “Importance of Ambient and Surface Temperature for Resinous Flooring” and “What resin flooring options are available for the food and beverage industry?.”