Flooring is something that we can easily take for granted, especially when in a public space. We scuff them, drop things on them and wear them down from years of footfall. When it comes to future-proofing car parks, which have to tolerate all of this as well as enduring the constant traffic of hundreds of vehicles on a daily basis, it’s imperative that the materials chosen are up to the challenge.
For multi-storey car parks each level can have its own specific requirements for the flooring, from basement levels which are more prone to rising moisture conditions, to top level exposed decks that may be exposed to harsh weather on a daily basis. For each of these levels, different flooring materials can be specified to suit the various conditions.
Three flooring systems that are well suited to this environment are PUMA, PU and PU Concrete – but where should each system be used?
The top level of multi-storey car parks must withstand all weather conditions, from hours of intense UV rays to freezing temperatures, snow and ice.
PUMA or polyurethane methacrylate is a hybrid system that reacts like MMA but performs like a PU. With a quick installation time of 2-3 hours, PUMA is ideal to use on exposed car parks decks, which are constantly at the mercy of the elements. Interestingly, this system can be applied in warm conditions and each coat becomes rain-proof in less than 1 hour, so unpredictable weather conditions will not hinder the application as is often the case with other chemistries. Furthermore, each coat fuses and bonds to the previous coat, eliminating inter-coat adhesion failure, which is common in some exposed deck systems.
Ever changing weather conditions creates cyclic thermal movement, which could reduce less capable flooring systems to failure, but PUMA is extremely adept at dealing with such thermal cycling. In fact, this system has a remarkably consistent flexibility and elasticity through a wide temperature range, meaning it doesn’t become brittle at low temperatures or soften at high temperatures under strong, direct sunlight.
In contrast to exposed decks, intermediate levels need to tolerate less exposure to weather conditions, but must be robust enough to withstand the constant abrasion and shear stresses of moving vehicles. When full of vehicles, an intermediate car park deck will flex significantly compared to when empty, so flexibility of the system is very important. If there was no flexibility in the flooring system these varying conditions are likely to cause cracks over time, resulting in potentially dangerous floor failure.
Polyurethane or PU flooring is well known for its long lifespan, excellent abrasion and impact resistance, its ability to be decorative and UV stable with long term gloss retention depending on the client’s specification. As well as all of these properties, it is the flexibility of PU systems that make it especially suitable for intermediate car park decks.
PU can be specified with an aliphatic sealer, making the deck-coating colour stable with excellent gloss retention and extremely tough. Colour stability is a key consideration for car park decks to avoid discoloration as well as retaining the high gloss finish for many, which can make the car park feel like a safer and more pleasant environment.
The lowest car park basement levels (ground resting) seem to have an eco-system all of their own. With very little or no exposure to sunlight these spaces are not subjected to the same flexing or thermal cycling as intermediate and exposed decks. Because of contact with the ground, these levels are much more likely to experience rising moisture, which can lead to severe difficulties for the flooring.
Dampness in concrete screeds can quickly lead to floor failure. Because the lowest basement is often below the level of the water table, this has a very high risk of failure, and so a flooring system with rising moisture tolerance must be specified.
PU Concrete has a long proven track record for dissipating rising moisture, making it ideal for use on basement levels. The monolithic nature of this system allows the moisture to be dissipated in the matrix of the product, preventing moisture failure. The finish of this and all the above mentioned car park systems have excellent chemical resistance, which is important for all deck coatings, as the likelihood of being exposed to spills of diesel, oil and other mechanical fluids is extremely high.
To note, this system has particularly complicated chemistry, with a unique hydro cure mechanism. The optimisation of the formula comes from years of experience, so use of a product from a reputable manufacturer and application by experienced professionals are both musts to avoid improper application and the risk of cure failure.
Suitability to Car Parks
Whilst the differences between PU, PU Concrete and PUMA mean that they suit different areas of a car park, the shared properties between the three systems make them extremely safe to use in this environment.
Slip resistance should be specified for all systems, which is a key health and safety consideration that should be carefully deliberated for all public spaces. With the possibility of water, oil, brake fluids or other substances being on the floor, a textured resin surface is critical to reduce the chance of injury or, in extreme cases litigation. In a similar vein, chemical resistance and fire resistance are extremely beneficial properties for these deck-coating systems, due to the daily exposure to combustible solutions.
If you would like any further information on the systems mentioned in this post, please leave a comment below and we will get back to you.