Behind the Seams

The performance of poured-in-place, seamless flooring systems has improved significantly in the last 10 years. More advanced chemistry, more sophisticated preparation techniques and better-trained personnel have made these systems well-suited for many areas in an educational facility.

In school renovations, monolithic flooring systems can enhance slip-resistance, reduce maintenance costs and improve sanitation. For schools and universities renovating under tight schedules, this type of flooring can be a wise choice. You can install it directly over existing floors, and avoid the time and expense of tearing out the old flooring.

Consider the area Seamless epoxy or polyurethane floors may make good sense for many areas of a school facility. Some examples include:

-Locker rooms and showers. These areas need flooring that is easy to clean, sanitary and slip-resistant. Floors installed in these areas also must tolerate constant exposure to water and, in the case of showers, must be waterproof as well.

Bacteria will build up in a tiled floor. Seamless systems, which do not have grout, tend to be easier to clean. Some seamless flooring manufacturers offer flooring with an antimicrobial additive; this ingredient protects the floor from fungal staining, odor and inferior hygiene.

Seamless floors have varying degrees of slip resistance to meet the specific needs of the facility. However, selecting a mixture that is too coarse may result in a surface that is more difficult to clean. Choosing a mixture that is too fine may result in a floor that is too slippery when wet.

Most flooring manufacturers offer a seamless waterproof membrane that can be installed under an epoxy floor to make certain that it is waterproof.

-Restrooms. Restrooms are an area where seamless flooring is highly desirable. Resistance to urine and cleaning chemicals, as well as a completely impervious surface, is critical in restrooms to control odors. If you also use epoxy or polyurethane wall-coating systems, you can create a totally seamless environment. Once again, eliminating the seams created by grout in tile systems goes a long way towards improving cleanability and sanitation.

-Kitchens and cafeterias. Seamless epoxy flooring in kitchens and cafeterias can provide improved impact resistance, slip resistance and cleanability. Special formulations of epoxy or urethane concrete mortars can withstand high heat encountered under fryers and soup kettles.

A seamless system also allows you to vary the level of slip resistance-smooth under equipment to very coarse in aisles, where slipping is expected to be a problem. If the kitchen or cafeteria is on an upper level, you can install a waterproof membrane beneath the seamless flooring.

-Lobbies and hallways. Epoxy terrazzo is one of the most durable and decorative flooring options for lobbies and hallways. It may be expensive initially, but over the long haul can be cost-efficient. It is among the easiest of all floors to maintain. With epoxy terrazzo, you can select from a range of colors and marble-chip combinations; you can even insert a school logo into the flooring.

-Multipurpose-room flooring. Gymnasium flooring traditionally has been maple, but some facilities are finding that seamless gymnasium flooring can be a viable alternative. It can allow these areas to house more diverse activities, such as roller skating, dances, meetings and food service.

-Walkways. Some schools have elevated walkways, balconies or plazas, which should be waterproofed with a seamless flooring and roofing system. A number of systems are available to provide a deck surface that is waterproof and protects the plywood or concrete substrate.

Similar systems also are used to waterproof mechanical equipment rooms. In urban areas where space is limited, schools may be able to convert a rooftop into a play area with a seamless deck system that protects classrooms below from the elements.

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