Flooring choices

Graham Lewis, Corporate Key Accounts Manager – Colorex, from Forbo Flooring Systems, takes a closer look at the selection criteria for vinyl floorings

Graham Lewis, Corporate Key Accounts Manager – Colorex, from Forbo Flooring Systems, takes a closer look at the selection criteria for vinyl floorings.

Vinyl features highly in the list of classic cleanroom floorcoverings. This is down to a number of factors that make it particularly suitable. Vinyl is extremely compact, hard wearing and watertight, making for a wholly hygienic flooring that is easy to clean and disinfect. This is an extremely important requirement, because in a cleanroom environment the floor is subjected to various types of contamination that need to be kept under control to avoid any serious problems further down the line. However, the performance of a vinyl floor covering product is determined to a great extent by its manufacturing process.

There are three product groups of homogeneous vinyl floorcoverings:

Calendered vinyl sheets

This group is manufactured through a calender process, forming a sheet with a specified thickness by pressing a base mass between two or more heated rolls. This produces a soft material that can be sensitive to stress, wear and indentation. In addition, the potentially rough and porous surface can allow for dirt retention, bacteria and mould, which can lead to severe hygiene problems.

Pressed vinyl sheets

This involves the manufacture of a sheet by compacting granules, strips or chips, using a band press with moderate pressure and heat in a continuous process. The moderate material consistency means the product is sensitive to stress, wear and abrasion, while the limited finishing possibilities result in lack of design choice and the possible deterioration of the surface appearance over time.

Pressed vinyl tiles

The manufacture of tiles from chips uses a high static pressure and heat to form a solid block. The tiles are then sliced from the block, in a multiple step process. This produces a dense, durable material with a closed pore and therefore hygienic surface, which resists soiling and is highly resistant to chemical damage.

As can be seen when selecting a vinyl product for a cleanroom environment, there are many considerations that can affect the overall performance. For this particular setting, it is important to consider the manufacturing processes and benefits that will ultimately result in a product that has minimum outgassing, is superbly hygienic and is easy to clean.

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