Several factors must be considered when choosing canteen flooring, such as who will use the space, what they will use it for and the challenges these raise, says Kevin Potter.
04 February 2019 | Kevin Potter
In office canteens staff will mainly use the space to relax and eat lunch, so the floor is exposed to spilt food or drink - highlighting two properties that should be specified for the flooring: slip resistance and chemical resistance.
In any area where food or drink is consumed there is a high chance of spillages and these spillages being cleaned with water. This poses a slip risk, which can lead to injury and even litigation if the facility is seen to be at fault. Therefore, it is important to install a floor with a slip-resistance profile.
Pass the pendulum test
In many countries the slip resistance of floors is measured using the pendulum test. This test is most often performed in situ on a level, finished floor in wet and dry conditions. The test is designed to mimic when a pedestrian's heel strikes a wet floor, as this is commonly when someone is likely to slip.
The test will give a Pendulum Test Value (PTV), which will provide an accurate indication of how much slip resistance the floor will provide. The higher the number on the PVT scale, the more slip resistance the floor will provide.
For office canteens, it is advisable that the floor scores between 30-40 PVT. However, it is important to ascertain what PVT the governing regulations stipulate must be met to guarantee legal compliance.
In the UK, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) expects a minimum of 36 PTV for a wet and horizontal floor - bearing in mind that a splash of spilt coffee will wet the floor enough to meet this criteria.
The R ratio
Some manufacturers of flooring solutions also use the 'R' slip resistance ratio defined in the German DIN 51130 standard, which is commonly adhered to in many countries.
This is determined using 'sensory' (subjective) methods in the laboratory. During this test, a person must wear special shoes and move backwards and forwards on a floor that has been coated with oil. The surface of the floor is gradually inclined until the moving person starts to feel unsafe on the slippery surface.
The angle of inclination determines the basis for calculating the R slip resistance ratio. A safe level of slip resistance in a canteen is equivalent to the R10 slip resistance ratio.
Epoxy resin floors and textured polyurethane systems fulfil these requirements well, and can also be specified to include coloured sand grains or flakes for decorative purposes.
Find the ideal slip resistance
Areas likely to experience spillages or more intense and regular cleaning need the slip resistance to be over 70 PTV or R12 on the anti-slip ratio. To achieve these high levels of slip resistance, epoxy floors with a highly textured surface can be specified.
When floors may be exposed to hard chemicals, impacts or temperatures, choose an antibacterial polyurethane concrete coating with natural quartz for your floors as this is resistant to slips and chemicals.
When to use a drainage system
Areas with high levels of surface water expected benefit from drainage systems - and their position will determine the direction and level of the floor's pitch.
Making sure that the flooring is chosen and applied in the correct manner reduces the chance of surface water. Stagnant surface water poses an increased slip risk, but can also harbour germs, which is a serious health concern if not quickly drained away.
Seamless resin floors have no joints for bacteria to hide in, so bacteria is washed away before it has time to multiply. Taking it one step further, coving can be specified to abolish the joint between the floor and the wall, reducing hiding places for germs and bacteria.
Kevin Potter is managing director at Flowcrete UK