October 14, 2018

Sealing infrastructure for a sustainable future

Sustainable infrastructure refers to the design, build and operation of assets to reduce negative impacts on social, economic and ecological processes. This is applicable to new and aging infrastructure to meet the demands of growing populations and to withstand the test of time. Applying coatings to infrastructure such as bridges, walkways, roads, and water and wastewater assets is one way to ensure sustainability as it prevents deterioration and corrosion which, if left unattended, can lead to structural damage, reduced durability and requires additional resources to repair or rebuild.

When thinking about infrastructure from a sustainability point of view, the design should take into consideration the construction materials’ capability to maintain integrity when exposed to the expected environmental conditions.

Protecting the future of infrastructure

Elements such as traffic, chemicals, age, weather, movement and drainage can cause an asset to deteriorate and corrode, reducing its durability and longevity. This can occur if the bare concrete is left unprotected or a protective coating has not been installed correctly. Although this may not trigger immediate problems, deterioration and corrosion eventually leads to structural damage which can endanger lives, damage other nearby structures, and be costly to repair or rebuild.

Protecting structures with an appropriate coating increases its strength and resistance to environmental factors, and reduces permeability. Key to effectively combating the deterioration of structures is assessing the service environment and selecting a product with the right properties to protect the asset.

Hychem understands the varying conditions that assets are subject to and that there is no one-stop solution for every project. It offers a range of protective coatings for the flooring, water and wastewater, and infrastructure sectors, ensuring there is a product or system that can meet the specific needs and requirements of each job.

With over 30 years’ experience in these sectors, Hychem’s large portfolio of tried and tested products ensures it is able to confidently advise clients on the best solution for every application, and environmental and service conditions.

Ensuring the most sustainable outcome

Colin Murphy, Product Manager at Hychem, said once the most appropriate coating has been selected based on a project’s specifications and requirements, there is another crucial factor that will affect sustainability.

“Selecting the right coating is one thing, but if that coating isn’t applied correctly from the beginning by experienced professionals, the risk of failure and defects drastically increases,” Mr Murphy said.

Coating failure and defects may not be visible right away but can manifest over time in different ways, including bubbling, peeling, cracking, and eventually failure. Adhesion failure occurs when the surface is not properly prepared, there is condensation present, or the coating is not compatible with any existing coatings on the substrate.

“The most common reason for coating failure is ill-prepared surfaces and inadequate application conditions. For example, if there is too much humidity in the air, the coating will not bond properly to the substrate,” Mr Murphy said.

“The surface should be cleaned to ensure there is no existing contamination from chemicals or other matter which could interrupt the curing process. The surface may also need additional preparation such as grinding to create a rough surface which is necessary for proper adhesion. Any pre-existing cracks or defects should also be repaired prior to installation.

“Depending on the clients needs and the service environment, different primers or top coats can also be used to enhance the durability and longevity of the asset.”

Selecting an experienced applicator that understands the various environmental factors and proper installation methods is key to a long-lasting, sustainable coating, and reducing maintenance and repair costs in the future.

Hychem has a strong and trusted network of trained applicators throughout Australia who are able to advise clients on what will work best for them and get the best value for their money.

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