How Do You Install an ESD Floor?

[12 min read]

ESD Flooring Is Easy To Install

Hire Locally or Consider Using Your In-House Facilities Team

THE GIST: How Do You Install an ESD Floor?

  • You do not need a specialty flooring installer to install ESD flooring. It’s not a black art. It’s easy.
  • Before agreeing to a firm price for the installation, ask questions: What is the condition of the subfloor? Is the concrete ready for use? Does the floor have a vapor barrier or need moisture mitigation?
  • Always test the subfloor for moisture: vapor problems can cause flooring failure and are not always visible.
  • For full instructions on grounding methods, see our post, How to Ground an ESD Floor
  • Avoid installation failures by testing for moisture vapor drive and/or contaminated concrete.

“Other than following simple grounding procedures and using conductive adhesives, there is no difference between installing conventional flooring and static-control flooring.”

Banner showing 4 completed ESD flooring installations and the text Staticworx ESD Flooring - Click to View Our Product Range and telephone number 617-923-2000.

GroundTrack InstallationBecause ESD floors are a specialty product, buyers are sometimes confused about installation procedures. Some believe they can save money or gain technical advantages by hiring a static-control flooring installer or contractor they found on the Internet. Mistakenly, they believe a static-control flooring specialist will know more than a conventional flooring contractor about installing a static-control floor. In fact, the opposite is typically the case.

As with any construction project, it generally makes sense to hire locally. Local contractors are reliable in part because they’re interested in obtaining all of their customer’s flooring business, not just in a one-shot deal involving a few thousand feet of conductive flooring.

Hire locallyMost general contractors would never hire an unknown installer, for a number of reasons:

First, every construction project requires multiple types of flooring, to cover areas ranging from cafeterias to bathrooms to lobbies and public spaces.

Second, there’s no reason to hire a sub-contractor they don’t know or have never worked with. Other than following simple grounding procedures and using conductive adhesives, there is no difference between installing conventional flooring and static-control flooring.

ESD flooring installation is not some kind of black art. ESD floors are no more difficult to install than ceramic flooring, regular carpet or conventional tile. In many cases, larger electronics companies utilize members of their own in-house facilities department for their static-control flooring installation. Grounding is simple; new carbon-free conductive adhesives are easy to spread; and clean-up is usually done with soap and water.

What Questions Should I Ask Before Installing an ESD Floor (or agreeing to a firm price for installation)?

Before installing an ESD floor or agreeing to a firm price from any flooring contractor, ask the following questions:
Cracks in subfloor
  • What is the condition of the subfloor? Will the floor need to be leveled or patched? Are there cracks that need to be filled?

  • Is the concrete ready for use? New (green) concrete takes a minimum of 90 days to cure. Because of its high moisture content, adhesives will not adhere to green concrete without installing the proper type of curing compound or base coat.

  • Does the floor need a moisture barrier or special moisture-mitigating curing compound? Along with assessing the subfloor, environmental conditions of the building site—conditions under and around the subfloor—should also be evaluated. Moisture varies according to fluctuating environmental conditions, topography and variations in subterranean activities related to water table, drainage, and aquifer.

    Moisture problems are not always visible or obvious: Certain dry environments—in places like Colorado, Arizona and California, for example—experience some of the worst vapor problems in North America.

    Moisture barriers and mitigation compounds can be expensive. However, installing a moisture barrier after the floor fails will far exceed the costs to have alleviated any moisture problems upfront.

  • Is there a vapor barrier? Most floors perform poorly or even fail when laid over a subfloor with vapor problems. As noted above, moisture varies according to fluctuating environmental conditions, topography and variations in subterranean activities related to water table, drainage, and aquifer.

    When evaluating flooring costs, the potential need for topical vapor barriers must be taken into account. According to experts in the resilient flooring industry, the moisture levels of a subfloor should be no higher than 75% RH per ASTM 2170 in sutu probe test method.

  • Perform ASTM F-2170 – Standard Test Method for Determining Relative Humidity in Concrete Floor Slabs Using In-Sutu Probes: This test shows the relative humidity of the concrete slab over time. The maximum relative humidity should be below 75%.

  • Perform ASTM-F-1869 – Standard Test Method for Measuring Moisture Vapor Rate of Concrete Subfloor Using Anhydrous Calcium Chloride: The maximum allowed transmission rate is 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

  • Perform ASTM-D4263 – Plastic Sheet Test: This is a visual test that may provide an indication of the presence of moisture.

DO test and evaluate every sub-floor properly—regardless of previous experience—before flooring is installed, and never ignore defects or marginal moisture vapor readings.

If the building will be purchased or leased, it’s a good idea to perform this testing prior to signing any real estate agreements.

How to Ground an ESD Floor

ESD Floors Provide A Safe Traceable Path to Ground

Grounding an ESD floor is easy. Conductive fibers or particles suspended in the adhesive create a conductive ground plane under the floor, electrically unifying all the tiles. The adhesive is linked to ground with copper connector straps placed at the perimeters of the room. The straps, usually about 24” long, can be attached to electrical outlets, conduit, building steel, or a dedicated grounding bar. Only one connection is necessary for every 1000 square feet of contiguous ESD flooring.

View How to Ground an ESD Floor for full instructions and illustrations of the grounding methods.

Access Flooring Appalachian Trail Carpet

ShadowFX Appalachian Trail carpet over raised access panels.

ESD flooring materials can be laid over raised-access panels made of bare metal, with the metal grounding the ESD floor. A floating floor can also be installed, glue-free, using a proprietary conductive underlayment like StaticWorx GroundbridgeTM. As with bare metal access panels, the GroundBridge acts as the electrical unifier between all tiles touching the underlayment.

GlueFree Carpet Install with TacTile
Installing a floating floor.

How To Avoid Installation Failures

Shot-Blasting

Shot blasting a concrete subfloor.

Often, ESD flooring failures are the direct result of problematic—yet correctable—site conditions, such as moisture vapor drive or contaminated concrete. In fact, moisture is the single biggest reason static-control flooring installations fail. Concrete and moisture problems are detected easily by pulling core samples and performing ASTM moisture tests.

ShadowFX Carpet Installation

ShadowFX carpet with GroundBridgeTM underlayment and Kovara moisture barrier.

These tests can be arranged by the flooring manufacturer and should be performed by a local, certified contractor. Often, contaminated slabs can be salvaged by double shot-blasting followed by the application of a cementitious leveling compound. Moisture problems can be alleviated by installing topical moisture barriers, moisture resistant sheet flooring like Staticworx Eclipse GF or by installing roll-type underlayments such as Kovara.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I install an ESD floor
using regular adhesive?

No. System resistance is always equal to or greater than the most resistant—least conductive—component in the chain. Like any electrical current, static electricity seeks the fastest pathway to ground. That pathway should be below the surface of the floor.

To direct static electricity downward to ground, as intended, the adhesive must be the most conductive (least resistant) element in the flooring system.

If the adhesive is not conductive, or if the adhesive underlayment is less conductive than the flooring material, electrical charges will either go nowhere or bypass the adhesive, preferring the easier route, across the top of the floor—to the chassis of energized equipment, for example, or grounded electrical consoles, or the frame of a large UPS (uninterruptible power supply) in a data center.

Conductive floor and less conductive adhesive

Can I use regular tile
with conductive adhesive?

No. Regular tile is insulative. It has no conductivity. Only flooring materials with a resistance measurement below 1 x 10E9 can be grounded. In other words, static electricity cannot flow through regular flooring material to reach the adhesive.

Standard non-ESD floors cannot be grounded

Do I have to use
grounding strips?
ESD flooring - grounding Yes. The copper strips tie all elements of the ESD flooring installation—tile and adhesive—to the same potential to ground through an electrical outlet.
Can I mix non-ESD tiles
with ESD tiles?
No. Again, only flooring materials with a resistance below 1 x 10E9 can be grounded. If regular tiles were mixed with ESD tiles, it would be impossible to know which tiles were grounded and which were not. While the floor may work in some spots, it won’t get rid of static in others.
Do I need a specialist
to install the floor?
No. Assuming the floor is properly grounded, any competent installer is capable of installing an ESD floor.
Installing an ESD Floor

Any Competent Installer Can Install an ESD Floor

Do I need to apply special
antistatic sprays after the
floor is installed?
WaxingNo. A floor should never get its electrical conductivity from topical sprays or floor finishes. Sprays and floor finishes wear off. Without religiously testing the floor—on a regular basis—there is no way to determine whether or when its electrical performance has deteriorated.

Related Content

Are you interesting in learning more about glue-free ESD flooring installations? Click below to find out more.

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StaticWorx high-performance static-control floors protect electronic components, explosives, and high-speed computers from damage caused by static electricity. ESD flooring is part of a system. Choices should always be based on objective, researched evidence. When you partner with us, we look at all possible items that may need to integrate with the floor, and, focusing on your goals and objectives, help you find the right floor for your application.

StaticWorx high-performance static-control floors protect electronic components, explosives, and high-speed computers from damage caused by static electricity. ESD flooring is part of a system. Choices should always be based on objective, researched evidence. When you partner with us, we look at all possible items that may need to integrate with the floor, and, focusing on your goals and objectives, help you find the right floor for your application.

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“I’m so glad we were able to find an attractive solution that didn’t leave us with some run-of-the-mill ugly disaster.”

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The FAA has updated its standard for facilities and electronic equipment. StaticWorx meets all requirements for ESD flooring.

Flooring Products

We accept these major credit cards.

The FAA has updated its standard for facilities and electronic equipment. StaticWorx meets all requirements for ESD flooring.

Share This

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Get in Touch

East Coast: 617-923-2000
Email: [email protected]

“I’m so glad we were able to find an attractive solution that didn’t leave us with some run-of-the-mill ugly disaster.”

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