The janitorial and floor care business has been using the same plastic systems for floor care for over 55 years. These systems use a polystyrene thermoplastic with bonds that are held together with a heavy metal and the finish is removed with an ammoniated solvent.
The good thing is that these finishing systems for VCT, terrazzo and other flooring are easy to use, inexpensive and when you strip it off the floor, you can just dump it down the drain.
There lies the problem — dumping billions of gallons of plastic, heavy metal and ammoniated solvents down the drain. Our water treatment systems are not designed to handle anything but natural human waste.
Where does the plastic, heavy metal and ammoniated solvent go once it leaves your bucket? Well, in many cases, it never even gets to the slop sink. It goes outside, into the street drain and directly into the ground water. We, as a country, have put billions of gallons of this waste water into the ground water and eventually, the ocean.
The need to change has been recognized for a long time. Who wouldn’t like to take over a multibillion dollar business with a new paradigm? But, why mess such a cash cow for every level of supplier from manufacturer to contractor?
In the mid-nineties, the VOC laws were changed from 450 to 350 grams per liter VOC. Most manufacturers either changed their plastic systems from oil based to water based systems. This is true in the gym floor and wood business. What this did was get the base manufacturers to go back to the drawing board and work on new and better technologies in the plastics business. Now, many areas are requiring 50 grams per liter VOC and several states are implementing drain taxes. This means if you put this waste water down the drain, you will help pay for getting out of the water stream.
Things have changed dramatically in the factory application of coatings. UV ink and UV applied coatings are now the standard. This technology was one of the first big attempts to convert the finish business in the field. Unfortunately, the base manufacturers used a 100% solids system that was designed for wood in a factory at a few microns on floors at 1.5 mil. — many times thicker than what the plastic system was designed. It was not properly field tested and continued to be promoted even though there were tragic flaws such as flow and leveling issues, removability, shrinkage and other problems.
The good news is that there have been big advances in other industries that will help us solve our problems. There are now finishes that self-crosslink without catalyst, water soluble UV component finishes and thermoplastics that do not fall apart when used as a component of other plastics.
We have created four new products using those three technologies. The main benefits are: all are below 30 grams per liter VOC, easy for the applicator, repairable, easy to remove with one of the new vibrating dry stripping machines, and the dust created is recyclable. Also, these have no scent and two use the water soluble UV as a component. All these systems are completed in a 6 hour shift and recoats with the UV buffable in as little as two hours. The base of these finishes reach full strength in 48 hours but the floor can be reopened within an hour after the final coat or within minutes after the burnishing process.
One of the real benefits of these finishes is that the maintenance and recoating is spread way out over time. Because the finish does not start breaking down and is cross-linked, it will stay on the floor for a much longer period before need intermediate or restoration care. The thermoplastic is a component of the system. So, it does not relax like tradition finish and can be burnished as long as there is finish on the floor. Also, there is no water so there is much less damage to surrounding items like displays.
As the base manufacturers realize the reality that mental interlinked floor finishes aregoing away, they will help us even more to create better and more sustainable finishes for flooring as we move forward in our industry to sustainable and environmentally sound practices.
We strive to create products that use the most advanced technology and superior chemistry possible.
Pete E. Rowan, C.P.M.R.
National Sales Manager – Pro Guard Coatings
One Industrial Way,
Denver PA 17517
P (717) 336-7900
F (717) 336-7320
Toll Free (1-800) 735-4399