We ask a lot of our flooring in the life sciences and healthcare industries. Whether it serves
research, development or production,
there are numerous factors that must
be considered. For example, moisture
migrating from the concrete substrate
can be a major issue for flooring systems.
North American commercial property
owners annually spend an estimated $2.4
billion on remediation of structures and
floor coverings because of moisture-related flooring treatment failures.
Additionally, $1.2 billion is spent on
topical moisture treatments to address
moisture issues that occurred before the
floor covering was installed.
These incidents add significant
cost to any project in terms of delays,
unplanned expenses associated with
flooring replacement or delays and losses
from business disruptions. Failure of
a flooring system to mitigate moisture
issues, resist caustic cleaning chemicals,
eliminate cracks or seams that catch and
hold contaminants can bring operations
to a halt throughout entire facilities. High
emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds
(VOCs) can compromise the health,
comfort and productivity of employees.
Even minor wear and tear may raise
questions among inspectors.
The weight of so many factors make
flooring specification a challenge.
However, pharmaceutical manufacturers
can assert greater control over designing
these environments—from installment
through maintenance—with solutions
that manage the risks of moisture and
particle contamination, maintain hygienic
conditions, prevent signs of wear and tear
and keep operations flowing.
FIGHT MOISTURE PROBLEMS WITH
As mentioned above, moisture
migrating from the concrete substrate
causes major problems to flooring
systems. New construction with non-breathable concrete flooring systems can
cause bubbling and blistering, which
can result in a facility shutdown. This
bubbling occurs when moisture vapor
migrates from the concrete substrate.
Traditionally, once concrete is poured in a
new facility it must cure completely before
a floor system can be installed. This could
take up to 28 days before the floor can be
installed. However, as the slab ages, more
moisture may migrate to the surface.
When non-breathable flooring systems
are applied over it the moisture is trapped,
causing signs of failure such as bubbling
To avoid this issue, moisture-tolerant
flooring technologies can be installed over
green concrete (concrete that is just 7 to
10 days old). By design, these systems are
fluid-applied in chemically appropriate
layers and cured in place. Depending
on the levels of ambient moisture
several mitigation avenues are open to
the designer. In cases where moisture
is measured at six percent mass (part
by weight) a moisture-tolerant epoxy
primer will provide adequate protection.
In instances of higher moisture levels a
polyurethane-based cement should be
applied to the slab. In essence, this feature
prevents the negative impact of moisture
by allowing it to pass through breathable
barriers. This prevents bubbling and
blistering, cutting long-term repair or
replacement costs, avoiding stoppages—
and, as a bonus, enables the manufacturer
to accelerate installation.
More than 200 country-specific
regulatory agencies throughout the world
oversee the production, labeling and
distribution of medicines and medical
devices. With such a range of regulations
applied to the industry, risk mitigation
and emphasis on safety are driving the
high cost of research, development and
production of pharmaceuticals. With
so much on the line for life sciences
companies, designing a hygienic, efficient
facility is of the utmost importance.
For floors, raising the standard for
hygiene starts with eliminating seams
where pathogens and contaminants
accumulate. Because resinous floors are
seamless, there are no cracks or crevices to
catch microorganisms and contaminants.
They also require less maintenance, as
they do not need to be stripped or waxed,
resulting in cost savings over time. The
seamless factor can even be extended to
encompass walls and ceilings.
Sika, for instance, offers hygienic
envelope systems that wrap floors,
walls and ceilings into one seamless,
non-porous, chemical-resistant barrier.
The “cove” detail at the wall-to-floor
transition offers a completely seamless
interface with a “negative” edge that
will not collect dust or impurities.
This envelope capability allows greater
efficiency in maintaining hygiene levels in
cleanrooms and other areas that require
FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER
Pharmaceutical facility inspections are
all about first impressions. Title 21 of the
Federal Regulations Subpart C Section
211.42, which addresses the design and
construction of pharmaceutical facilities,
requires smooth, hard, easily cleanable
surfaces for walls, ceilings and floors.
When the FDA or OSHA checks a facility,
a stain on the floor may motivate an
inspector to dig deeper and look more
carefully for other issues.
Since appearance can be an indicator
of facility cleanliness, a pharmaceutical
facility requires floors that can withstand
stress and aggressive use without
becoming unsightly. Developers must
consider the toll that harsh cleaning
chemicals, heavy equipment and foot
traffic take on the floor’s appearance
and functionality, and specify materials
Choosing a resin-rich flooring system
allows pharmaceutical companies to
anticipate and control issues stemming
from stained, damaged or flawed floors.
The resins used in these products feature
high crosslink densities, which allow for
excellent chemical and stain resistance
as well as a durable smooth surface
that does not dull easily from wear and
tear. Also, resin-based flooring can
be textured for added safety and slip
Last but not least, companies must work
with the flooring manufacturers to design
a system to their preferred aesthetics.
A wide range of color options and
combinations—as well as the addition of
decorative aggregates—empower designers
to best reflect their companies’ brands and
create welcoming environments where
needed in lobbies, waiting areas, offices
and multi-use spaces.
Greater control over facilities starts from the floor up