Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Floorplan: 5 simple steps for your next flooring project

New or refurbishment resinous floor and wall system projects can appear overly complex in the early planning stage. Yet, there are key criteria that all manufacturers and their contractors evaluate to arrive at a system recommendation. By understanding and rating the relative importance of these criteria, you can help your resinous system team help you. This article highlights simple steps you can take to optimize your resinous floor and wall system applications.
Step 1: Rank the floor system qualities by how important they are to the project team and assign a weight to them.
Assemble a site team of users of the space that is to be constructed or renovated. Also involve a cross section of facility and maintenance personnel. By allowing each group to voice their concerns and key issues you promote broad buy-in and help ensure you’ve covered all your bases.
Have the team document all important functional and aesthetic requirements you would like the resinous system to have. See Figure 1 for a list of key criteria.
Additional criteria might include:
  • Cleanability
  • Slope to Drain
  • Repairability/Maintenance
  • Impact on Project Schedule
  • LEED Impact
  • Budget
  • Detailing corners, coves, etc.
  • Aesthetics of the System (gloss/low sheen; solid color; terrazzo; decorative flake; decorative quartz)
Once your list is complete, have each team member rank every system attribute on a scale of 1 to 10. Total each and rewrite your list in order of importance to the team. This might take a few repetitions but in the end you will have consensus.
Next, clearly establish how many square feet of resinous floor and wall finishes are going to be installed. For refurbishment projects, develop a realistic plan for how much space (how many square feet) you can allocate to the resinous contractor without interruption. Keep in mind access to critical corridors and spaces. This will help the contractor understand how many mobilizations will be required to complete your project.
Other relevant information you can supply includes: strong likes/dislikes with previous resinous systems at your site, how long you want the system to last, accessibility for the crew (how long does it take to get into the space and what is required), noise/vibration limitations, other work being performed concurrently both in the facility and as part of the construction process, and a venting plan.
Figure 1
Step 2: Establish a Budget
Take the results of Step 1 and schedule a meeting with your design team including the architect, resinous system supplier, and installer. At this point, the design team can provide samples and price ranges for options which meet your site team’s criteria. For example, an 1/8" thick double broadcast epoxy colored quartz system might be installed for $6.00 - $8.00 per square foot. An 1/8" thick methyl methacrylate flake floor might be installed for $15.00 - $18.00 per square foot.
The most basic impact on budget comes from how many square feet the contractor can address each day and the number of days required installing the system. For example, if the contractor is given a small space to work on with a system that requires a large number of steps, your installed cost per square foot will be high. Conversely, given the same set of circumstances, a large number of square feet with few installation steps will result in a low installed cost per square foot.
Step 3: Keep It Simple!
Your design team will most likely provide you with more than one resinous floor and wall system option that meets your site criteria. Don’t be afraid to ask the team why they are recommending a particular system or the downside to utilizing a less expensive option. Don’t be tempted to over-engineer your resinous flooring system. An excellent example of this relates to how you build thickness beneath the resinous flooring system. Added thickness could be necessitated by a need for slope-to-drain or to restore flatness after aggressive surface preparation. Rather than building thickness out of the resinous floor system resin, many manufacturers offer fast-setting, high strength cementitious mortar systems which can be half to a third of the cost of utilizing the flooring system resin. Just make sure these materials are produced and packaged by the flooring manufacturer and meet the strength requirements of the project.
Step 4: Look Ahead
Don’t make your resinous floor and wall system decision in a time vacuum. Think about long-term maintenance implications. In Figure 1, one of the selection criteria listed is ultraviolet (UV) resistance. The reason it is important is because many of the systems offered today discolor with exposure to light. UV resistance is a relevant consideration because if noncolorfast materials are selected, they will discolor as they age. A large percentage of resinous floor and wall systems are re-coated or completely redone because they have lost their aesthetics rather than lost their basic performance properties. If you think about what the system is going to look like five to seven years from now instead of what the shiny new sample looks like today, it may drive you and the site team toward color-stable technologies.
Another consideration for the future is how do you patch and repair the systems? There is no system that can’t be damaged over time. How disruptive and how involved are simple repairs and patches? What will they look like? Does the system have a strong odor? Can it be repaired while the facility is in operation or will it necessitate a shutdown of the entire cleanroom? Ask the design team these questions as well as cleaning recommendations and required equipment. Find out how long it takes for the materials to cure before normal operations can proceed.
Simply doing quarterly inspections and taking care of gouges, impact damage, etc. can save you a lot of money. This helps avoid always being in an emergency repair situation necessitated by having to patch damaged areas that started small but became large due to lack of attention. Ask the resinous system supplier and contractor if they will include an annual inspection in their quotation and who would be responsible for these inspections. See if there is a cost associated with these inspections. Also, set up a contact and speed of response procedure to report damage as it occurs.
Step 5: Check Out your Supplier/Contractor Team
Assuming a proper system is selected, the final step involves making sure you have the right supplier/contractor team lined up—before a contract is let. Most resinous floor and wall system architectural guide specifications call for certain submittal information. These items should be evaluated whether you are handling the resinous system contract directly or the project is being let as a subcontract by a general contractor or construction manager. Let’s take a close look at them one by one.
  1. Industry Experience: Is the contractor and manufacturer familiar with typical cleanroom conditions? Ask for a list of previous projects.
  2. Project Experience: Has the manufacturer/contractor team dealt with projects of similar size and complexity to yours? Ask for references.
  3. Stability: How long has your contractor/supplier been in business? Ask for their annual volume and an annual report. If problems develop during an installation, they can be very expensive to fix, making financial strength and stability an extremely important piece to investigate.
  4. Workforce: Make sure the installer’s team has experience with cleanrooms. Ask for the names of key personnel that are going to be on your project and make sure they are company employees.
  5. Safety: Ask for documentation of the installer’s safety program, certificate of insurance, and incident rate.


Any successful project starts with a clear identification of needs. Establish key resinous system attributes and understand what is most important to your site team. Enlist a design team consisting of your architect, resinous flooring supplier, and contractor to establish your budget taking into account near-term and long term requirements. Finally, before you award your contract, perform a detailed check on your supplier/resinous system team to make sure they meet your needs. Following these simple steps will greatly enhance the probability of a successful resinous floor and wall system project.

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