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Pros and Cons of Different Types of ESD Flooring

Craftsman Concrete

Why is Static-Control Flooring Needed?

For certain industries such as electronics manufacturing and repair, static electricity can create big issues. As workers move around, the movement of their foot in their shoe produces static charges. Because rubber soled shoes prevent a direct path to ground for the worker, static charges stay in place on the worker until they come in contact with a conductive material. If the conductive material that receives this discharge is a sensitive electronic component, it can cause internal circuit failure or damage. Static-control floor is installed to eliminate this issue.

How do ESD floors work?

ESD flooring has a lower electrical resistance than standard flooring, allowing the floor to conduct the static build up on workers. These flooring materials are generally grounded, either to a structural piece of steel or a standard earth ground such as the 3rd pin on a 110v electrical outlet. Specialized footwear is worn by workers, to create a ground path around the rubber sole of their shoe.

There are two general functions for ESD flooring: to dissipate electrostatic discharge and to reduce the build-up of additional static electricity. Some types of floors, such as carpet, can contribute to additional static buildup, while other types such as epoxy or vinyl ESD floors do not.

Different types of ESD flooring

There are many different types of ESD flooring. In general, the more expensive options will provide better static control performance and durability.

ESD Epoxy and Polyurethane

These two types of commercial concrete coating are the industry standard for ESD flooring protection. These coatings are impregnated with copper and carbon, to create a monolithic, conductive surface. There are embedded copper strip conductive elements with redundant grounding points that offers extra protection for users. ESD epoxy and polyurethane offer high chemical resistance, a long service life, and extremely static electricity protection.

Pros: High durability
High electrostatic discharge performance

Cons: High upfront cost
Specialized installation process requires a commercial contractor

ESD Rubber Tiles

Another industry standard for protection, ESD rubber tiles have a similar appearance to VCT tile but do not require waxing. A common conductive copper rail runs beneath the tiles to provide redundant grounding. Further, if a seamless, monolithic floor is required, ESD rubber tiles can be heat welded.

Pros: High ESD flooring performance
Impact resistant 
Common conductive elements

Cons: Highest upfront cost
Specialized installation process requires a commercial contractor

ESD Floor Wax

ESD floor wax is a common budget solution used to convert non ESD flooring installations to ESD flooring. It is commonly installed over concrete and all types of tile. Some types of ESD flooring tile may also benefit from the addition of ESD floor wax. ESD floors wax is not a true conductive floor, and fits into a category of higher resistance, ‘dissipative’ floors. There is no embedded ground strip, and instead relies on the overall surface are of the material to dissipate static charge. Because of this, it offers the lowest performance in the class.

Pros: Easy to install 
Locally available from venders such as Uline
Can convert traditional flooring materials to ESD flooring

Cons: Low ESD performance 
Requires frequent maintenance

ESD Vinyl Tiles

ESD vinyl tiles are a mid level option that may provide the ideal balance between price and performance in certain circumstance. They have a low up front cost, and require less skill to install than other preferred static control flooring options. They, however, are not weldable and therefore are not a monolithic floor. This introduces a mechanism of failure that would be difficult to detect after being installed. This lack of redundancy can create issues for certain installations such as data centers

Pros: Low upfront cost 

ESD Carpet

ESD carpet is used in installations where additional high-frequency sound dampening is needed, such as broadcasting studios, air traffic control, and offices. These floors come in a variety of conductivity grades and can be grounded or ungrounded. Ungrounded systems may be used for comfort, such as to reduce the change of electrical discharge on doorknobs in the winter. Grounded systems offer similar performance to ESD epoxy or rubber tiles, but at a price that may exceed those other options.

Pros: Sound Dampening 
Familiar workplace aesthetic

Cons: High up front cost 
Shorter service life
Intollerant to heavy traffic and loads

Which type of ESD flooring is right for my project

For an accurate assessment, it’s important to consider many factors including: the level of ESD protection required, amount of traffic the flooring installation will be subjected to, and the required service life of the floor. At Craftsman Concrete Floors we specialize in installing ESD flooring. Give us a call for a free consultation.

An ESD Epoxy project during the installation process in Dallas, Texas.