The prison environment presents a unique set of challenges when choosing a flooring solution as it has to meet a strict set of requirements, including being tough, hygienic and easy to clean. Epoxy flooring is one solution that meets all these requirements.
Durability is the number one consideration for a prison floor. Correctional services facilities are highly intensive environments and put a lot of stress on the floor surface, often causing it to lift or become damaged. As a result, the subsequent flaked or cracked floor can become a dangerous security risk.
Head of flooring at Hychem, Chris Bauer, said prisons cannot afford to disregard durability when assessing flooring systems.
“Polymer resins such as epoxy have become a popular choice for use in prison environments due to their high resistance to impact and abrasion damage. Unlike other flooring such as vinyl, which can be easily punctured and lifted, or tiles which can be easily cracked, polymer resins aren’t easily compromised and therefore can’t be utilised as weapons, eliminating that safety risk,” Mr Bauer said.
“Epoxy resin flooring creates a seamless, impenetrable barrier that cannot be picked at, and won’t puncture, peel, lift or crack.
“Epoxies, such as Hychem’s SL20 is ideal for such environments where durability is required as it creates an impervious surface which is abrasion and impact resistant.”
The applied thickness of the resin contributes to the durability and longevity of the product, especially in areas of high foot traffic and where chemicals are used to clean the floor.
Mr Bauer said if the resin is applied too thinly it will fail quickly.
“Epoxy in prison environments needs to be applied at a thickness of at least 2mm. If it is applied too thin it will quickly peel and crack, providing inmates with an opportunity to pick at it and potentially use it as a weapon, resulting in additional costs for repair or replacement.
“SL20 can be applied at a thickness of 2-4mm, ensuring it can provide the level of durability and longevity required of prisons.”
Hygiene is an important consideration for prisons and as a result the flooring solution needs to be smooth, seamless and non-porous to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Flooring such as vinyl or tiles have seams, grout lines and tile edges which can harbour bacteria if it gets underneath the flooring where it is able to breed and spread. This also creates a problem when cleaning as harsh chemicals or high volumes of water can seep through the seams and damage the integrity of the floor.
Mr Bauer said that epoxy creates a smooth seamless surface, eliminating seams and reducing the risk of bacteria growing, spreading and causing hygiene issues.
“Being 100 per cent seamless, SL20 is impervious to liquids and less likely to harbour dangerous bacteria. This is especially crucial in prisons where bacteria and germs can spread quickly,” Mr Bauer said.
Easy to clean
Prison floors are also exposed to greater contimants than regular flooring, including blood and other bodily fluids. Prison staff as well as other inmates, need to be confident that floors are cleaned thoroughly so there is no risk of infections spreading. In order to assure this, harsh chemicals are used to clean on a regular basis. This increases the potential to cause damage to the floor which can result in undermined integrity.
Mr Bauer said the benefit of an epoxy like SL20 is that it provides a smooth seamless finish and has been designed to be chemically resistant to a variety of corrosive chemicals, including those used in harsh cleaning products.
“A seamless, smooth surface is an advantage in these types of applications as they are quick and easy to clean. Any mess sits on the surface, and there is no risk of dirt and bacteria harbouring in cracks or seams.”
While not a key requirement, the aesthetics of the flooring solution are often considered when choosing a product. Colour and texture can affect the look and feel of any room or facility. In prison flooring, this can be used as an opportunity to create a relaxing or calming environment which may help alleviate tensions that could lead to violence. While these carefully chosen aesthetics alone will not overtly change behaviour, it is believed that colours can have an influence.
In a facility such as a prison where there are many confined spaces and walk ways, it is important to find an option that complements the architectural design while also being functional.
Mr Bauer said there are a number of options available depending on the look the architect wants to achieve.
“If the architect wants a solid colour, SL20 is ideal as there are a large variety of colours to choose from and we can colour match to meet the exact needs of the client.
“If a solid colour isn’t practical, the HyFlake system offers the same benefits and high durability of SL20 but with the addition of a speckled finish that effectively hides dirt or grease on the surface. There are a large variety of differing colours and pattern options to choose from, depending on the look the clients wants,” Mr Bauer said.
Trusting in the solution
When there are health and safety factors to consider when choosing a flooring solution for a prison, confidence in the durability and longevity of the flooring is crucial.
Mr Bauer said Hychem understands these concerns and is confident the SL20 and HyFlake systems fulfill the high quality standards needed in a prison facility.
“We’ve installed Hychem SL20 and HyFlake systems in numerous prison facilities across Australia so we understand the strict standards required. Our clients have been happy with the performance of both of these products in such harsh and demanding environments,” Mr Bauer said.