Do You Need Help With Your ESD Flooring Program? Start Here!

Posted on Thursday, January 21, 2016

Who you entrust with the development and installation of your ESD flooring program is one of the most important decisions you can make for your facility.


Electrostatic discharge (ESD) has the potential to cause both serious physical harm as well as extensive property damage. This is especially true if you work with sensitive electronics, where even a mild discharge can destroy equipment or cause latent product failures.

An effective ESD flooring strategy can eliminate this threat, but it needs to be a comprehensive, cutting-edge program that takes your specific needs into consideration.

What Causes Electrostatic Discharge?

Before we discuss the solution, let’s face the problem.

Even something as simple as walking across a carpet, or putting a jacket on, causes a buildup of electricity within our body (the development of this buildup is called tribocharging). The pent-up charge then waits for a way to escape. The opportunity generally comes when we touch something that completes the circuit, allowing the electricity to pass from us to the object.

We may not realize it, but this ESD event actually creates a tiny but incredibly hot flash of heat. This surge of electricity can cause catastrophic damage. To add to the threat, not all damage is immediately apparent. If your work involves the manufacturing of electrical components, for example, latent product failure can be a great source of stress both for you and your client base.

A Shocking Fact About ESD:

While walking around a carpeted room you can build a charge of 20-25,000 volts! Your average electrical outlet only offers 100, and it only takes 10 volts to damage sensitive electronics.

What Is ESD Flooring, and How Does It Work?

The benefit and beauty of ESD flooring is that it offers a path of least resistance for your pent up electricity, effectively grounding you and your team as you work. The potential ESD that you perpetually accumulate is offered a convenient (and harmless) path through conductive material included in the substrate, eventually ending in an earth ground.

Do You Need an ESD Flooring System, or Are There Other Solutions?

There are a number of popular products that reduce ESD, including:

  • Metal wristbands
  • Static-control clothing
  • Floor mats
  • Specialized footwear
  • Carpets
  • Tile
  • Casters
  • Topical antistatics
  • ...and more

If You’re Using a Topical Antistatic, Should You Be Concerned?

Before we discuss your best flooring option, we want to camp on an important topic for a moment. Topical antistatic floor finishes (including wax and wax derivatives) are frequently used, but they actually negatively impact your ESD program.

How? These finishes may be packaged as a product that assists with ESD control, but in reality they create an insulating barrier, affecting decay and voltage generation rates.

Pros and Cons of Resinous ESD Control Flooring

The ultimate protection comes in the form of a complete, ESD-inhibiting, resinous floor coating. As we weigh the pros and cons, let’s start with the only downsides to this option:

  • The initial investment is higher than that of the shorter-term solutions (floor mats, footwear, metal bands, etc.)
  • The installation process is more involved
  • Your operations can be impacted temporarily

Here are the positive aspects to consider:

  • Much more comprehensive protection is possible than more localized options can offer
  • Durable
  • Long-lasting
  • The surface is seamless and easily cleaned
  • Offers both conductive and dissipative qualities
  • Resists chemicals
  • A wide range of thicknesses are available
  • Color can be chosen to be meet your aesthetic needs
  • Low-odor

How Much Does Resinous ESD Flooring Cost, and What Does the Installation Process Include?

Offering a specific price is difficult, but for a very positive reason. This is a highly-customizable flooring solution, and can be tailored to meet your unique requirements.

As a general rule, however, the cost of installation ranges from $5.00 - $8.00 per sq/ft. This is typically a lower price-point than you will find quoted for ESD tiles and carpet, adding to the practicality of a resinous floor system.

The installation process most often requires 3-7 days, with the average being 3-4 days unless your facility is particularly large. This leads us to a question that is important to ask as you look for a flooring professional (we’ll add more suggested questions in a list below).

What kind of surface preparation is going to be included?

Here at Kaloutas's industrial flooring division, we consider surface preparation to be an absolutely crucial part of the installation process. After all, regardless of how premium the resinous system is, if the the floor is weak, damaged, or covered in an old coating beneath it, the entire system is going to be compromised. Maybe not right away, but certainly soon.

Our preparation often includes the following:

  • Patch cracks and fill voids with thickened epoxy
  • We shot blast/diamond grind the entire surface to remove any old, failing coating

The steps above not only eliminate contaminants, but allow the surface to “open up” and be receptive. Taking these initial steps will help your ESD floor coating to last longer and be more effective.

Our Favorite ESD Flooring System

Because there is such a huge variety of products on the market, we would like to share a few details about one of our favorite ESD coatings.

Protect 200 ESD is a urethane coating offered by Protective Industrial Polymers that can be applied over an epoxy primer or build coat. If you would like to see an example of a project we recently finished using this product, just take a look at this blog post.

Here are a few of the general benefits offered by Protect 200:

  • Low-VOC (extremely low-odor)
  • Wide range of colors are available
  • Resists staining and chemical spills
  • Abrasion/impact resistant
  • Dries in 16-24 hours, and completely cures within 7-14 days

Taking it a little deeper into its technical attributes, these are a few more reasons why this is such an effective ESD control coating:

  • Body Voltage Generation (BVG) is kept below 15 volts with conductive footwear
  • Meets ANSI/ESD S20.20 ESD Association Standard for the Development of an Electrostatic Discharge Control Program for protection of electrical and electronic parts, assemblies and equipment (excluding electrically initiated explosive devices)
  • Reduces a 5000 volt charge to 0 volts in less than 0.1 seconds
  • Unlike carbon fiber systems, ESD 200 maintains ESD properties throughout the thickness of the coating and is not dependent on humidity for proper conductivity
  • Meets ANSI/ESD S20.20 ESD Association Standard

As this product requires connection with an earth ground every 1000 feet, we use copper grounding tape. This offers an exceptional level of conductivity.

Will Your Floor Pass an ESD Audit?

As you determine exactly what you need from your ESD floor program, whether or not your finished system will pass an ESD audit is another important consideration.

Circling back to our urethane coating of choice from Protective Industrial Polymers, we know that their flooring will pass an ESD audit to standards such as ANSI 20.20 or NFPA 99. If you are required to achieve a unique standard dictated by your particular industry, we can design a system to meet your specifications. At the end of the day, the important thing is that your floor performs exactly as you need it to.

5 Questions to Ask Your Industrial Flooring Company

Asking the questions below can help you gauge just how knowledgeable, experienced, and invested your flooring provider really is. And remember, they need to be more than willing to explain their process and procedures in-depth. Their primary goal, after all, should be to ensure that you receive the system you need.

  • How much experience do they have installing ESD flooring?
  • Do they use carbon fiber in the system to achieve the conductivity?
  • Can they offer decorative options, such as flake or color quartz systems?
  • Do they test and certify the floor after installation?
  • Do they offer a warranty on the installation and on the readings?

Investing in a resinous ESD floor coating is a big decision, but one that offers peace of mind that you and your team will enjoy and appreciate every day. If you have any other industrial flooring questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. It would be our pleasure to talk more with you.

Kaloutas is New England's premier contractor for commercial & industrial painting, flooring, and related services. Established in 1987, Kaloutas has become a trusted resource for general contractors, facilities managers, and building owners from Connecticut to Maine. Our team prides itself on high quality workmanship, jobs done on time & budget, and tackling complex projects that other contractors don't have the experience or resources to handle. Contact us today for a painting or flooring estimate, or give us a call at 978-532-1414 to learn more.

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