In many food service design projects, the kitchen floor falls into the commodity category and, too often, gets installed in a rush. After all, you can’t install equipment until the floor’s put in, and there’s a schedule to keep. The irony is that if the floor’s installed poorly all that equipment might have to come out in order to fix it. That really gets expensive. It’s easy, too, to default to the same flooring materials every time, when new options might be god choices. Quarry tile, sometimes embedded or glazed with traction-enhancing grit, has been the proven, lower-cost flooring for commercial kitchens for years, with good reason.
Requirements of commercial kitchen floor in food processing plants
The Food Safety Modernization Act requires that the U.S. food processors be subject to stricter guidelines by increasing Federal inspections as it relates to sanitation in their facilities. One of the primary ways food processors can reduce potential risks associated with food borne illness and death is by focusing on their flooring material. Floors and drains consistently generate a high percentage of positive test results for bacteria and lead to cross-contamination throughout the facility. The following criteria are used for choosing a flooring material for a commercial kitchen in a restaurant or any other food processing factory –
- Substrate protection – A floor covering product should protect the integrity of the building’s concrete floor thus avoiding catastrophic expense and downtime required to replace it. Not only does untreated concrete substrate harbor mold bacteria, but it can also be a continuous source of repair and maintenance for facilities.
- Hygienic ambience – A seamless, non-porous floor promotes hygienic conditions. Bacteria can easily penetrate and grow in concrete and grout in quarry tiles because both concrete and grout are porous. A floor coating that allows proper sloping, makes drains seamless and provides coving/curbs is ideal for food processing plants.
- Highly durable – The floor covering material should be highly durable and provide high ROI. While assessing the ROI, projected maintenance costs and downtime costs should be considered along with the initial cost of installing a high performance flooring material.
- Chemical resistance and Thermal-Shock resistance – A commercial kitchen floor is subjected to various organic and inorganic acids. It is also subjected to cold and hot water in quick succession causing a thermal shock on the surface. The high performance flooring material should exhibit excellent chemical and thermal-shock resistance.
- Return to Service – The high performance flooring system should not only be easy to install but also completely cure in a short period. A short cure time is particularly critical in existing facilities that have to shut down to install a new floor or repair and existing one.
Polyurethane modified concrete (or Urethane modified concrete) is fast becoming a popular choice for many commercial kitchens or food processing plants because it is highly durable, offers quick return to service, and exhibits excellent chemical and thermal-shock resistance. You can specify the type and level of slip-resistant particles, and the color, if the appearance is an issue. Also, you can adjust the thickness of the coating, and the height of integral coving up the wall. These floors also can be installed in cold environments such as in walk-in coolers and freezers.