Epoxy opinion - the Five Rs of resin flooring

Isn’t it nice when you’re given a handy rule of thumb or simple memory aid that you can call upon to make the right decision? 

You know what I’m talking about. In spelling, we all get taught from an early age the one about “i” before “e” except after “c”, and anyone who’s completed a first aid course could probably rattle off a nifty mnemonic that helped them remember what to do in an emergency.

Considering how effective these are, I’ve come up with a similar kind of formula for resin flooring. I call it the Five Rs – right specification, right flooring system, right preparation, right contractor training and right process management – and together these five elements are the key to resin flooring success.

Now, I know there’ll be many out there saying something like: “Preparation is 90% of a successful project.” Others might come at it from the product side, swearing by the latest and greatest technology as the answer to every flooring question. After 15 years in the resin flooring industry, I can say it isn’t that simple. To guarantee success on a resin flooring project, you need all Five Rs to fall into place and I’ll run through why below.

Right Specification

Many projects are doomed right from the beginning because the specification doesn’t achieve what it should. Specifically, it often falls into the trap of trying to find a single product “X” or equivalent. This approach only encourages suppliers to exaggerate the selection criteria and/or capabilities of their products to exclude others. Also, the fact that existing specifications are frequently cut and pasted for other projects only provides further incentive for some competitive stretching of the truth.

In contrast, I believe the aim of a good specification isn’t singling out THE perfect product, but rather it should simply paint a bigger picture for everyone involved – the service conditions, performance requirements and expectations on the floor from the start of the project through to the end.

Focusing on the context rather than the detail establishes guidelines that allow the project to stay on the right track. If you only specify a product and fail to spell out what you’re trying to achieve, you can get into big trouble if and when something changes along the way. In most cases, those involved are forced to cross their fingers and press ahead with the original product because there’s no clarity about what could or should be used instead.

Right Flooring System

With the specification defining the project destination, so to speak, the right floor basically boils down to whatever flooring system is best equipped to take you there.

It’s worth noting here that a major goal of setting up a body like the Resin Flooring Network was to provide a clear framework that tied various flooring systems to benchmarks in preparation, installation, performance, longevity etc. Having a universal, independent resource would make it easier to see if “best fit” decisions made at this point were indeed the right systems, or simply manufacturers trying to push through their preferred choice.

Once the right type of system is defined, the manufacturer should then become heavily involved because they are accountable for drilling down into the product selection, installation process, maintenance program and warranty statement. Also, there may be specific criteria noted in the specification that requires more technical input.

If everything goes according to plan, the project can be quoted at this point with all parties on the same page with regards to expectations, products and installation process.

An example of the wrong flooring system being chosen in a commercial kitchen.

Right Preparation

In many cases, preparation at the quoting stage is typically assumed as standard for the specified flooring system unless site inspections can be conducted beforehand. With the unpredictability of field work and the fact that more than one type of preparation is often possible, “right preparation” boils down to the all-important task of checking the proposed preparation actually lines up with the products and site conditions.

Right Contractor Training

The right contractor training, I believe, is focused on teaching the “why”, not just the “how”, for the flooring system being used. As with a specification, it’s all about adaptability. If something unexpected is thrown up, a contractor that knows more than just the basic application method will be more capable of making the right adjustments and getting a good result.

An important point to make here is the difference between proper training for the various flooring systems and product familiarity. As every product is slightly different, there’s still a place for product familiarity being taught by the manufacturers. However, that kind of learning should be done in addition to independent training that brings all contractors up to a minimum standard of competency. Although our industry isn’t spoilt for choice in this department, it’s another major goal of the Resin Flooring Network to change that.

Right Process Management

At a “nuts and bolts” level, the right process management is following a clear process from initial approvals through to final handover, and having an effective way of recording it. The way I see it, if you spend so much time and effort putting plans in place for a successful project, it only makes sense that you prove it was executed correctly.

Recording everything that happened before, during and after each step with proper documentation and plenty of photos, as well as client signatures at critical hold points, does two vital things: firstly, it reduces the likelihood of messy disputes, and, secondly, it gives the specifier, contractor and floor owner a record of what was done, which can be invaluable for future reference in a number of ways.

So there you have it! If you ever come up against a project that has you overwhelmed, anxious or plain lost, remember the Five Rs for a road map to success.

Take care and keep smiling,