No other part of a commercial kitchen stands up to rougher treatment than the floor.
Heavy foot traffic, spills and spatters, exposure to corrosive food substances, high weight loads, movement from mobile catering equipment, impacts from dropped utensils, extreme temperatures and frequent cleaning all put considerable and sustained demands on the floor.
What’s more, commercial kitchens are among the most highly regulated industrial environments and the consequences of non-compliance to occupational health and safety requirements can be dire. Food contamination is arguably the biggest threat of all in a commercial kitchen, which means that the flooring has to put up the strongest defence possible.
If you’re installing a new commercial kitchen – or need to replace your existing flooring – you’ll need to consider the following when making the critical choice of flooring material:
- Identify possible contaminants
- Do a risk assessment
- Evaluate the pros and cons of different flooring types
- Consider the cost of the floor (including installation, maintenance and life-cycle costing)
- HACCP compliance (commercial kitchens in Australia have to comply with the standards set by the international system for food safety management, HACCP)
The following checklist will help you make the right choice of flooring for your food processing, food production or restaurant kitchen.
- Hygiene requirements
Food safety – and therefore hygiene – is the main priority of any commercial kitchen. You need to choose a floor that provides the strongest defence against contamination and that means choosing one that has a totally seamless surface.
If a floor has grout lines or seams, liquids or food particles can get stuck in the tiny cracks and crevices and they provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, mould and germs. They are also virtually impossible to clean, especially if the contaminants are absorbed beneath the floor’s surface and can be a significant health hazard in a commercial kitchen.
Choose a floor that is totally seamless throughout with a continuous flow between floor and wall in order to resist the growth of bacteria and other pathogens.
- Slip-resistance and hygiene requirements
The safety of personnel is paramount. Spills, drips and spatters happen all the time in a commercial kitchen and the floor has to provide appropriate levels of resistance in order to protect staff and visitors from these potential slip, skid and fall hazards. Even the thinnest layer of a contaminant such as cooking oil, milk or even food particles like flour or breadcrumbs can prevent a shoe from making complete contact with the floor.
Obviously, the potential hazards depend on the type of food handling facility but in any event, there needs to be a balance between superior traction and the ability to maintain optimum cleanliness. If the floor is too highly profiled, you may not be able to clean it properly in order to meet strict hygiene standards. It simply has to be fit for purpose.
Choose a floor that suits your preferred cleaning regime and which offers superior slip-resistance.
Spills and spatters are common in a commercial kitchen. Substances of varying temperatures and composition, including boiling liquids and abrasive particles, can land on the floor. Oil and grease can spill from equipment plus heavy or sharp objects can be dropped onto the floor from a height. Add heavy foot traffic and aggressive cleaning products to this mix, and you have a really tough environment for your floor to handle.
Under this sort of rough treatment, some flooring materials may crack, blister, peel or perish – so if your commercial kitchen is dishing up some rough treatment, make sure your flooring is resistant to hot liquids, abrasives and harsh chemicals.
Choose a floor that performs at the highest level over the long term despite rough treatment.
- Thermal shock resistance
Thermal shock resistance is the ability to resist cracking despite fluctuations in extreme temperatures. From the intense heat of ovens and dishwashing stations to the sub-zero temperatures of walk-in freezers, thermal shock is a reality in a commercial kitchen.
Temperature fluctuations can also occur when floors in very cold areas, such as a cold room, are cleaned with very hot water or steam.
These temperature shifts can cause contractions and expansions in the coating as well as in the concrete substrate. In order to maintain its integrity and to remain fully bonded to the slab, the floor coating has to be able to withstand these sudden temperature shifts at the same rate as the substrate does.
Choose a flooring material that is thermal shock resistant.
- Tolerance to moisture
Liquid spills, cleaning routines and humidity from regular activities such as dishwashing, cooking etc aren’t the only sources of moisture impacting a commercial kitchen floor.
Although it’s less common, moisture vapour transmission (MVT) is another concern, and it arises as a result of moisture coming from the concrete slab or the soil beneath that substrate.
In both instances, moisture will be a problem if it causes the floor covering and/or the concrete substrate to deteriorate prematurely.
Choose a floor that can handle surface moisture as well as mitigate any threat from MVT.
Choosing a floor for your commercial kitchen is an important decision on many different levels. From health and safety, durability and longevity to comfort, aesthetics and installation, there are plenty of criteria to consider.
There is one flooring type which meets all these demanding requirements and which is rapidly becoming the preferred solution for commercial kitchens the world over. Epoxy flooring. It is suitable for a range of facilities involved in food preparation and production including restaurants, dairies, fresh produce processing facilities and hospital kitchens and it meets all the rigorous standards required for the food industry.
But this high-performance floor requires high quality installation in order to achieve the best results.
If it’s not installed properly, epoxy flooring won’t deliver the optimum standards, longevity and value that have earned it such a strong reputation. So, if you’re considering epoxy flooring for your commercial kitchen flooring in Perth, you can trust the professionals at Panther Protective to do the job to the highest standards possible.
With over 20 years of experience in commercial kitchen flooring, we are Perth’s most trusted concrete coating advisers and installers and you can find out more on our website www.pantherprotective.com.au.