Against a dark blue background, the podcast title 'Static Bursts' appears in white at the top of the image, with an orange and white stopwatch icon between the two words. A lightning spark appears at the right hand side of the image with a cascade of sparks radiating out across the rest of the image. The podcast title Episode 21: Installing ESD Flooring: Avoiding Pitfalls (Part 2) is overlaid in white and a dark blue semi-opaque square covering the middle of the image. The company name and logo Staticworx appears in orange (first half) and white (second half) at the bottom.

Static Bursts #21: Installing ESD Flooring

Avoiding Pitfalls (Part 2)

The cost of flooring materials is only part of the total cost of ownership. To calculate the long-term cost of owning a floor, consider installation, maintenance, repairs, and downtime required for maintenance and repair. Aesthetics are another consideration. this podcast, Dave and Rick describe scenarios that occur when people base flooring decisions solely on the cost of the material. Dave also explains why it’s crucial to test an ESD floor immediately after it’s been installed.

The Gist: Installing ESD Flooring: Avoiding Pitfalls (Part 2)

  • When evaluating cost of flooring, consider total cost of ownership.
    • Installation
    • Maintenance
    • Repairs
    • Downtime to install, maintain or repair
  • If an operation can’t be interrupted, you need the floor to last.
    • Also consider how the flooring material adheres to the subfloor
    • How easy (or hard) will it be to pull tiles up to replace or gain access underneath
  • Can the floor be installed without adhesive?
    • TacTiles provide a glue-free installation and install faster than adhesives
  • Cost of ownership of epoxy (the least expensive option)
    • How important are aesthetics? Will you be giving tours of the facility?
      • Epoxy never looks as good as it does immediately after installation
      • After a few years, it may look dull and drab with lots of micro-abrasions
      • If aesthetics are important, vinyl or rubber may be a better choice
        • Vinyl and rubber have higher initial costs but can be brought back to original shine
  • Some floors – e.g. epoxies – are harder than others to repair
    • Repair may necessitate downtime
    • Repairs may show
  • Another mistake is failing to test the floor after it’s been installed
    • Testing ensures that the floor complies with standards and specifications
    • Person doing the work or independent lab can do tests
    • Require a signed certification that floor meets your specs and ESD standards
      • The only way to know you’ve gotten what you paid for

“…when I talk about cost of ownership, I’m…talking about maintenance. I’m talking about repairs. I’m also talking about appearance … you can easily forecast some of these things and not just look at the original check that you have to write for the material you’re going to buy.”

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Rick: Welcome to Static Bursts. Our podcast series will discuss the threat static electricity poses to your business, and how to address those risks.

Dave: I’m your host, Dave Long, founder and president of StaticWorx. We make static control flooring.

Rick: And I’m your co-host, Rick Frauton.

In our previous episode, we discussed some of the mistakes that are commonly made when selecting an ESD floor – such as failure to consider the type of footwear that will be worn in the space. Today, we continue the discussion as we focus on the total cost of ownership of an ESD floor over time. Dave reminds our listeners not to make the mistake of thinking only about the initial costs of flooring materials, but also to consider the costs related to installation, maintenance and repairs, as well as the cost of any downtime associated with these activities.

Dave: What am I talking about when I’m talking about cost of ownership? I’m not just talking about the original cost to put the floor in. People get so hung up on the original cost. Obviously there’s a price for that. But what’s the price for replacing a floor once an operation can’t be interrupted? In other words, has the specifier thought about what needs to be done to either replace that floor, take care of that floor or repair that floor in what could be a very chaotic environment?

So best example, an FAA flight tower. How do you replace flooring in a flight tower? Do you tell the airlines not to operate any planes for two or three hours? Probably not. Do you tell people to offload their responsibilities to a different flight tower? There’s a reason the flight tower is located where it is; obviously you’re not going to do that. So you’ve got to have a strategy in place where when you select the flooring that goes in that flight tower, that it’s going to last as long as possible, but also that if a tile needs to be repaired or replaced or if you need to gain access to cabling underneath that tile because maybe the subfloor is a raised access floor – you need to think about how is that floor attached to whatever the subfloor is, and how easy is it to pull a tile up, put another one in its place or gain access to the area below?

And there’s a number of strategies for that, starting with the idea that some of these floors can actually be installed without using any adhesive. It’s a chemical that you have to apply to a surface and allow it to dry for a certain amount of time. So one of the strategies that a lot of flight people find to be very attractive, is they call them TacTiles. What they really are is a four inch by four inch pieces of plastic with adhesive on them, and they actually lock carpet tiles together. And that way, if for some reason in the future you need to relay out the floor and replace the tile because maybe it becomes damaged, they’re very easy to take apart and put back together again. Whereas adhesive might be a more permanent installation method. But it also might be an installation method that takes us longer to deploy.

Rick: So the cost of installing with an adhesive is a significant factor for floors that require it. But there are alternatives to using adhesive and some types of ESD floors don’t need it, such as epoxy coatings. Epoxy floors may be less expensive than other flooring types in terms of the initial material cost, but does that tell the whole story?

Dave: Cost of Ownership with epoxies? Let’s think about an epoxy floor. It gets put down and allowed to dry in an empty room and it looks like glass. That’s the last time it’s ever going to look like glass. Epoxy floors are extremely durable. They’re easy to roll equipment over. But they’re also rather difficult to repair in short time spans. So when you’re looking at using a coating, one of the things you need to think about is what kind of activities will go on this floor that might cause it to become damaged. Because it might actually be the least expensive solution for a factory. But if you’re looking at the possibility of having to repair it, because maybe this factory, you give a lot of tours to customers and visitors, and you want it to always look the way it did when it was brand new, you might discover that, Yeah, the epoxy looked great for two years, but now here we are in year five, and it’s got all these micro abrasions in it and it doesn’t have any shine. And now it doesn’t look good.

I remember years ago, I went to a company in Sterling, Virginia, and I sat in the lobby, and when they moved into the building, they were currently occupying, they took a lot of pictures on move-in day, and their floor looked beautiful. It was a coating and it was very shiny. And they’d been in this building now, I guess maybe about seven years. But I went up to their conference room. The owner of the company said to me, I’m pretty sure we’re going to want another epoxy floor. And I said to him, Have you compared the pictures in your lobby from when that floor was brand new to what your floor looks like right now. And I took a little bit of a gamble. And I said, because they do not look anything like each other. As far as I can tell, your floor is now dull and drab, and you have no way to make it look nice again. So he looked at me and he said, you know, it’s funny, but I’ve heard that from other people. What would you suggest? I said, Well, first of all, I’m not telling you not to use a coating because we make coatings. What I’m telling you is that if you’re interested in having a floor that you can bring back to its original luster, you might want to think about either rubber or vinyl tile. Both those products require more maintenance than an epoxy floor, particularly the vinyl floor. But anytime during the lifecycle of that floor you have the ability to make it look brand new again. If that’s something that’s important to you, you may want to consider it.

They ended up actually going with vinyl tiles – less expensive than rubber, a little more expensive than the epoxy coating that we had offered them. But at the end, two years in, they actually sent me an email and said, we were a little bit reluctant with going with the vinyl. When we first put it in, we had a little bit of trouble getting our maintenance company to do things the way we wanted to. But now we’re extremely happy. Because whenever we damage a tile, we can just pick it up and put a new one in its place. The problem we had with epoxies was once we had a damaged area, we had to shut down that area to do a repair. And on top of that, the repairs always looked different than the adjacent area right next to it. So we feel like we made a good decision.

So when I talk about cost of ownership, I’m not just talking about maintenance, I’m talking about repairs. I’m also talking about appearance. If you just start to look at your own application, you can easily forecast some of these things and not just look at the original check that you have to write for the material you’re going to buy.

Rick: Dave, so far, you have warned against overlooking the type of footwear that will be on an ESD floor, and we now know that the total cost of ownership is not limited to the flooring material alone. What is another common mistake to avoid when investing in an ESD floor?

Dave: So the third one, not testing the floor after it’s installed. Two weeks ago, I got a phone call from a company that told me they put in 70,000 square feet of ESD flooring in their factory in Florida. They recently tested the floor and they found an area of about 1000 square feet that does not meet ANSI/ESD S20.20 standards. The floor is registering on their resistance meter over 1 billion ohms which is the same thing as one times 10 to the ninth (1 x 10E9). And that’s not acceptable if your measure is over 1 billion ohms.

So they wanted to know why I thought that floor may have failed. When we talked about their testing, one of the things that came out of the conversation is, they didn’t actually test the floor when it was brand new. That means that floor may never have been in compliance. That could possibly mean that during the entire life of that floor, any product that was handled in that area was made in an environment that’s not compliant with their ISO certification. So you need to test your floor when it’s brand new. Hopefully the people doing the work for you have the ability to do that for you. Doesn’t mean you don’t want to hire an independent party to come in afterward. But you should have proof of purchase and that means knowing exactly what you bought.

Along a similar line, one of the FAA locations contacted us because they were testing flooring in their flight tower, and they discovered that the flooring did not meet their specifications. Their specification calls for the flooring to have a minimum resistance of a million ohms. When they tested their floor, they were able to get readings, two orders of magnitude more conductive than a million ohms. That means that according to their spec, which has a minimum resistance of ten to the sixth (10E6), they were measuring resistance of a floor that was as low as 10 to the fourth (10E4). The reason the FAA has a standard and is concerned about conductivity to begin with, is because they’re worried about the potential for people to get electrocuted.

I’ve never heard of anyone getting electrocuted working on an ESD floor. But the FAA has a 600 page document that deals with grounding, lightning and surge suppression and minimum resistance values of the floor in order to protect their people. So in their case, whoever put the floor in either did not understand their specification, installed material that was non -compliant and did not realize it was non-compliant. But in any case, didn’t test the floor.

Our suggestion is always, after your ESD floor is installed, the company that put it in for you – and that could be the manufacturer who supplied the material – should be willing to have someone, even if it’s the installer, test the floor and provide you, in writing, certification that, based on your specification, the floor meets the standards and the tests using the test methods in your specification, and they should be willing to sign it. I suggest that when you have the floor tested, you should always have someone also do a walking body voltage test. I think that strategy will help avoid the possibility of the wrong floor getting installed in the first place. Because I can tell you if I showed you an ESD carpet, and then I showed you with the same carpet in the same color, but without ESD properties, you wouldn’t be able to know why one was different than the other unless you put an ohm meter on them to measure the difference.

Rick: So unless you test and certify your new ESD floor after it’s been installed, you don’t really know for sure whether it complies with the applicable standards for your industry. That means you would have no real proof of purchase and instead of offering ESD protection, your new floor could actually be posing a serious risk to your business.

Dave: Final word of advice here is require in writing certification, proving that the floor you bought actually meets the standards in the specification that you wrote. If you look at these three mistakes as something that are easily avoided, I think it will cover 95% of the possible problems you would have in the future.

We hope you learned something today. If you have questions about the podcast, give us a call at 617-923-2000. Even though we specialize in solving problems with flooring, if you have a question about static discharge, how to install a floor, how to test the floor, we’ll be glad to help you. Thanks for listening.

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Against a dark blue background, the podcast title 'Static Bursts' appears in white at the top of the image, with an orange and white stopwatch icon between the two words. A lightning spark appears at the right hand side of the image with a cascade of sparks radiating out across the rest of the image. The podcast title Episode 18: ESD Flooring Selection (Part 1) is overlaid in white and a dark blue semi-opaque square covering the middle of the image. The company name and logo Staticworx appears in orange (first half) and white (second half) at the bottom.

Static Bursts #18: ESD Flooring Selection (Part 1)

Most people looking to purchase an ESD floor are starting at ground zero, with little knowledge about the product. In this two part series, Dave and Rick discuss the key criteria for selecting an ESD floor. Part one covers the application (environment and work performed in the space); aesthetics; installation methods; and maintenance requirements.

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Against a dark blue background, the podcast title 'Static Bursts' appears in white at the top of the image, with an orange and white stopwatch icon between the two words. A lightning spark appears at the right hand side of the image with a cascade of sparks radiating out across the rest of the image. The podcast title Episode 19: ESD Flooring Selection (Part 2) is overlaid in white and a dark blue semi-opaque square covering the middle of the image. The company name and logo Staticworx appears in orange (first half) and white (second half) at the bottom.

Static Bursts #19: ESD Flooring Selection (Part 2)

When choosing an ESD floor, it’s important to consider all the variables related to your specific application. Will you roll heavy loads on the floor? Do you need noise attenuation, anti-fatigue characteristics, or reflectivity? How long do you plan to stay in the building? When evaluating options, remember that the cost per square foot is only one part of the total cost of owning the floor. Installation, labor, maintenance, operational downtime add up – in the short term as well as over time.

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Against a dark blue background, the podcast title 'Static Bursts' appears in white at the top of the image, with an orange and white stopwatch icon between the two words. A lightning spark appears at the right hand side of the image with a cascade of sparks radiating out across the rest of the image. The podcast title Episode 20: The Pitfalls of ESD Flooring Selection: How to Avoid Flooring Failure (Part 1) is overlaid in white and a dark blue semi-opaque square covering the middle of the image. The company name and logo Staticworx appears in orange (first half) and white (second half) at the bottom.

Static Bursts #20: The Pitfalls of ESD Flooring Selection: How to Avoid Flooring Failure (Part 1)

Three fundamental mistakes account for a majority of ESD flooring failures: selecting the wrong floor for the application: failure to consider total cost of ownership; failing to test the floor after it’s been installed. Avoiding these mistakes helps ensure success. This first of a two-part series on avoiding ESD flooring failures explains why it’s important to select a floor based on the specific application and details the primary considerations that should be taken into account: assessing the type of footwear people will wear in the space and considering goals and objectives, including how the space will be used.

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Learning Center Articles

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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.

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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.