Having the right commercial kitchen flooring is not only vital to ensure the health and safety of your employees and customers, it can also heavily impact your bottom line. Before choosing a solution, it’s important to know the options that are available to the UK market; the main three being resin flooring, ceramic tiles and commercial vinyl flooring.
Resin flooring is widely-used in many sectors – everything from food production to automotive factories. It offers excellent hygiene and anti-skid properties, is easy to clean and can handle considerable wear and tear. There are three main types of resin flooring; PMMA, polyurethane (PU) and epoxy.
Ceramic tiles offer stain resistance and durability, as well as unique aesthetics. However, they are also very hard underfoot, time-consuming to install and typically have inferior hygiene and slip resistance. Grout failure is a common problem and leads initially to the harbouring of bacteria followed by floor failure. Unglazed tiles cannot be used for industrial kitchen flooring at all, as the ceramic is porous and can absorb bacteria and germs.
Vinyl flooring is the cheapest option but will need replacing the soonest, as it cannot be repaired. It’s not an environmentally-friendly option either, with Volative Organic Chemicals (VOCs) used in its production and worn-out materials often ending up in landfills.
Below, we outline some essential considerations for choosing industrial commercial kitchen floors, examining the performance of these three options.
Ease of Cleaning & Anti Slip
Commercial kitchen flooring needs to offer excellent hygiene standards in accordance with UK regulations, which on a practical level means that it must be easy to clean. It also has to possess significant anti-slip properties, to minimise the risk of workplace accidents.
Resin flooring options offer the best hygiene and anti-slip properties, especially PMMA resin, such Trazcon®, which is 98% cleaner than standard PU floors and certified to the highest standards of both Food Conformity (EN1186) and Slip Resistance (BS7976-2:2002). PMMA resin flooring is a seamless and monolithic surface, covered with a non-porous resin screed, making it easy to clean and totally impervious to germs. Plus, anti-slip coatings can be easily applied and reapplied as required, so worker safety is never compromised.
Ceramic Tile Flooring
The hard surface of ceramic tiles doesn’t tend to attract dust, dirt or other allergens, and can be easily cleaned with a mop or a sponge. The grout, however, will harbour bacteria over time and can be extremely difficult to clean due to its lower profile finish. Stains can generally be removed with heavy-duty cleaners. The main issue with ceramic flooring is that they struggle to balance hygiene and anti-slip requirements. This is because the ridges in the flooring, used to provide additional grip, also impede the cleaning process, as dirt and germs can easily become trapped. Once a tile loses anti-skid properties unlike PMMA resin it cannot be renewed and will require removal and replacement.
Dirt and grit need to be cleaned to maintain the surface of vinyl flooring, though the wash down process is relatively easy. Stains can often be removed with approved vinyl floor cleaners but many vinyl flooring options will discolour after cleaning. This is due to dirt becoming trapped under a clear wax layer on the surface of the vinyl, causing it to become yellowed over time. Contact with rubber can also cause discolouration, with mats and rubber-soled shoes leaving permanent marks. Like tiles, vinyl flooring cannot have it’s anti-skid renewed and will require complete removal and replacement.
Industrial kitchens are busy places. Floors are regularly subjected to spillages of things like fats, oils, grease, detergents and acids. Combined with the heavy foot traffic, flooring has to offer extreme durability to handle these highly demanding environments.
PU and Epoxy resin flooring can chip and crack, when exposed to significant pressure, which means they can need replacing every five to ten years. Epoxy resin floors are also more sensitive to high temperatures than other resin types, making them less suitable for commercial kitchens. PMMA resin flooring such as Trazcon®, on the other hand, lasts considerably longer before any maintenance is required, offering excellent resistance to high temperatures and heavy traffic without lifting, fading, cracking or wearing.
Ceramic Tile Flooring
Ceramic tiling is extremely hard and tough by nature and can last for a considerable amount of time. Despite this, severe impacts can still cause cracking in tiles, which will compromise the hygiene of the flooring and can present a trip hazard, if not repaired quickly. Grout lines are the main weak points with tiled floors. Typically the grout will fail leading to water ingress. The water ingress only becomes evident when the floor fails and begins to delaminate. At that point, you are looking at costly time-consuming repairs.
The quality of the vinyl material and the way it was manufactured will play a part in how long a vinyl floor lasts. The condition of the substrate is also a major factor in the performance of vinyl flooring, as it is a relatively soft material, meaning even small grains of dirt or grit trapped beneath the floor can cause lumps in the surface and contribute to rips and tears.
Generally, vinyl floors will not stand up to heavy foot traffic and the tiniest tear will lead to significant floor failure over a short time period.
Ease of Installation & Repair
Last but certainly not least, it’s important to consider both the installation process and the ongoing maintenance and repair of your flooring solution as well.
Resin flooring options vary in their ease of installation and capacity for repair. PU flooring is generally the most difficult to work with, while Epoxy flooring takes the longest time to cure fully. PMMA resin is the only resin that can be repaired, the others all needing to be completely replaced when damage occurs. PMMA has an incredibly fast cure time of 1 hour, which allows floors to be both installed and repaired quickly, with minimal downtime.
Ceramic Tile Flooring
Installation of ceramic tile flooring requires the use of a variety of mortars, grouts and other tools, which can be a difficult and time-consuming process. It also generally means they need to be installed using specialist tiling contractors, who can increase the price of installation by up to 50%, making the solution much less competitive.
Vinyl flooring needs to be installed with the utmost care if it is to stand any chance of lasting. As already mentioned, even a small grain of dirt or uneven section of the floor can cause the soft vinyl to wear down faster and rip or tear. Repairs are impossible, as vinyl cannot be refinished, so entire floors have to be replaced when any section becomes too worn or is damaged.
Commercial kitchens demand flooring that can offer optimum performance in terms of hygiene, safety, durability and longevity. Resin flooring options outperform the other options across all these areas, with PMMA resin flooring emerging as the clear leader of the pack. Find out more about commercial PMMA flooring systems, in particular, our Trazcon® systems or contact FloorTech today to speak to one of our team of flooring experts.