Epoxy Floor Vs. Urethane Mortar Floor for Food and Beverage Facilities

Urethane mortar floors (a/k/a cementitious urethane flooring or urethane cement flooring) excel over epoxy floor systems in food & beverage plants for many reasons; this USDA accepted flooring material reduces downtime, is durable in hostile environments with thermal shock, and withstands heavy impact and damaging chemical agents. For new construction, urethane concretes can be applied to 10 day old concrete, thus eliminating the typical 28 day wait for curing concrete. Use of polyurethane cement mortar systems has now surpassed once standard epoxy floor coatings and vinyl ester flooring systems such as Tufco flooring, in these special need environments. Products such as Ucrete, Flowcrete, PurCem, and CastorCrete are gaining substantial market share. Tufco flooring has even developed a urethane mortar floor system. These floors may be found in industrial kitchens at food & beverage processing industries such as meat/poultry, dairy, seafood, bakeries, breweries and all beverage processing. Poultry flooring and brewery flooring endure some of the most severe conditions for industrial flooring. Urethane mortar flooring can even withstand years of hard service in these areas.

Compared to epoxy floors, urethane flooring products have enhanced resistance to impact and abuse from dropped pots, steel parts and utensils in industrial kitchens and food plants. They handle repetitive scraping and scratching better than epoxy, acrylic and competitive systems. They are extremely beneficial in plant areas where steel wheels are used, such as bakeries. Urethane mortar floors are used as waterproof flooring, providing a “bathtub effect” in areas of the plant requiring a waterproof floor. They are non slip when wet, and provide a permanent non slip texture, due to the integral large, hard wearing aggregate, throughout the thickness of the floor system.

Cementitious urethane mortars have a similar modulus of elasticity and thermal coefficient of expansion to that of concrete. When applied over concrete, brick or tile, this prevents delamination when the flooring is stressed due to thermal conditions. These food grade floor materials withstand hot spills and repeated thermal cycling (hot washdowns, steam cleaning, etc.) without breaking down. In addition, moisture and cool temperature tolerance allows for installation on cold (above freezing), damp concrete surfaces, often found in operating food plants.

Cementitious overlays have very little odor, since there are no VOC’s. This means that there is no risk to open food products. Urethane concrete mortars can be applied next to fully operational food processing areas, eliminating the need to shut down an operation to resurface the floor. One pass installation with no primer coat required, means that many floor restoration projects can be completed over weekends, with no costly production downtime. Additionally, urethane cement flooring has excellent all around resistance to chemicals used in food & beverage plants.

The most durable urethane mortar floor systems are typically trowelled, and are applied at ¼ to 3/8 inch thickness, and provide a seamless matte finish. These trowel applied urethane mortars have physical properties that are twice that of concrete. Self-leveling “slurry” systems were originally developed for contractors that were not able to install the urethane mortar floors. These systems typically applied a 1/8 to 3/16 inch thickness. They provide a heavy duty surface in areas which require a high gloss, urethane or polyurethane concrete top coat, maximum cleanability, and high aesthetics. Applications consists of screeding, broadcasting with natural quartz aggregate, and top coating. They are available with a novolac epoxy topcoat, which allows for installation in chemical storage areas, with concentrated spillages. These systems may also be finished with colored quartz or vinyl chips.

The original system, Ucrete HF, is an FDA type USDA flooring, USDA approved, trowel applied urethane, and is the original system (has been around for more than 40 years). It has withstood the test of time in the harshest environments. The trowelled ¼ inch system offers the highest level of durability with a lifespan of greater than ten years. The only drawback of urethane mortars, is that they are slightly more expensive upfront, than epoxy; however they offer long term performance and the maximum return on investment.