Maintaining a pristine and hygienic environment within the food and beverage industry requires a meticulous approach to cleaning practices. An often-overlooked aspect in this process is the compatibility of flooring materials with the pH levels of cleaning agents. In this article we’ll discuss the complexities of pH levels, and their interactions with various flooring materials such as epoxy and polyurethane cement coatings, provide a comparative analysis between the two, and discuss the impact of various cleaning agents.
The pH scale measures the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, ranging from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, while values below 7 are acidic, and values above 7 are alkaline. Flooring materials, especially in food and beverage manufacturing facilities, are subjected to a variety of cleaning agents with different pH levels. Understanding how these pH levels interact with specific flooring materials is essential for maintaining both the integrity of the floor and the hygiene standards of the facility.
Epoxy coatings, composed of epoxy resins and hardening agents, are widely utilised for their durability and excellent adhesion properties. However, they exhibit sensitivity to extreme pH levels. Exposure to highly alkaline cleaning agents may lead to the gradual breakdown of the epoxy surface, while strong acidic cleaners can erode its gloss and compromise overall effectiveness. Maintaining a pH-neutral or slightly alkaline cleaning environment is advisable for optimizing the durability of epoxy-coated floors.
Polyurethane coatings, known for their exceptional chemical resistance, are a popular choice for environments with aggressive cleaning protocols. While they generally tolerate a broader pH range compared to epoxy, caution is still warranted. Prolonged exposure to highly acidic or alkaline cleaning agents may impact the surface over time. Regular inspections and tailored cleaning protocols are key to preserving the longevity of polyurethane-coated floors.
Polyaspartic coatings, featuring a polyaspartic ester resin and isocyanate hardener, offer unique advantages, including rapid cure times and UV stability. In terms of pH resistance, polyaspartic coatings demonstrate excellent tolerance to high pH levels, making them suitable for environments where alkaline cleaners are employed. However, like epoxy and polyurethane, extended exposure to extreme pH conditions should be minimised to ensure optimal performance.
Cleaning agents play a pivotal role in maintaining the cleanliness of industrial floors, and their pH levels can significantly impact on flooring materials.
High pH Cleaners (Alkaline):
Alkaline cleaners, such as sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), ammonia-based cleaners, and bleach (sodium hypochlorite), are effective in breaking down grease and grime. Typically polyurethane and polyaspartic coatings are more resistant to alkaline cleaners than epoxy coatings, however caution is needed to avoid prolonged exposure on all coatings, as concentrated high pH cleaners may impact the flooring’s resistance over time.
Low pH Cleaners (Acidic):
Acidic cleaners, including vinegar (acetic acid), citric acid cleaners, and phosphoric acid cleaners, are adept at tackling mineral deposits and stains. Again, polyurethane cement and polyaspartic coatings exhibit better resistance to acidic cleaners compared to epoxy coatings, but routine use should still be approached with care.
Understanding the chemical composition of each coating type and their sensitivity to extreme pH levels is essential for making informed decisions in the selection of cleaning agents and maintaining the longevity of flooring systems in food and beverage manufacturing facilities.
In summary, each coating system—epoxy, polyurethane, and polyaspartic—has its distinct advantages and considerations. The choice between them should be based on the specific requirements of the facility, cleaning protocols, and the desired balance between durability and chemical resistance. Regular maintenance, informed material selection, and tailored cleaning practices are fundamental for maximising the performance and longevity of coated floors in the demanding environment of the food and beverage industry.
For further detailed, technical information regarding the ideal flooring for your area or the ideal cleaning chemical for your flooring, please reach out to our team.