Truly, madly, deeply hard floor slabs?

The special needs of warehouse concrete floors

Ever been involved in building a warehouse? You can probably skip over some of this preliminary stuff, you know it already.

Warehouse floors are under daily threat. What with trucks, forklifts, and plain old deadweight loads on pallet racks, a warehouse floor needs to be extremely robust.

And flat! Smoothness, even levels, and minimalist joints are all important to making sure the floor won’t have any impact on vehicle activity.

Pouring and Finishing the Floor

So when a warehouse floor slab is placed, there are a few steps which wouldn’t be found, say, in a car park or retail scenario. Depending on the project, once the concrete is poured the procedure might look like this:

  1. Laser screed.
  2. In some instances, excess water may be squeegeed off.
  3. Ride on trowel machine with pans for a few passes.
  4. If fibre reinforced – protruding fibres removed after each pass.
  5. Medium speed trowel – a few passes.
  6. High speed trowel for a few passes to bring up the sheen by tightening the surface pores.

This makes for a dense slab with tough upper layer.

Surface Hardeners

Oh, we left something out of that list. At some point in that schedule, a surface hardener will probably be used. These are intended to add extra hardness to the upper surface of the slab. There are a few commonly used methods.

  • Chlorinated rubber has been popular for its cheapness, but is now increasingly being rejected for its high VOC content, environmental impact, and safety concerns.
  • Dry shake hardeners can be distributed onto the surface by hand or mechanical means. These are a mix of cement and admixture. Their main drawback is that they only create a shallow crust of hardened concrete. This increases the risk of cracking and delamination later in the life of the slab.
  • Lithium silicates can be applied in liquid form. These have the advantage of being very cheap, but again do not penetrate deeply.
EXPLAINER: Silicate vs Silica
Silicates are whole-molecule chemicals with minimal reactivity. Their penetration into concrete relies solely on the porosity of the concrete, and usually does not exceed 15mm.
Silica is a reactive element. In the context of concrete treatments, it can be introduced as a water-borne colloid, or half-molecule, which then reacts with the calcium in the concrete, being drawn very deeply into the slab. More about this shortly.

Some of the pain points experienced by contractors with these methods include

  • May be non-compliant with green building requirements. (e.g. chlorinated rubber)
  • May be hazardous or even carcinogenic due to concrete dust or titanium oxide. (e.g. some dry shake mixes)
  • Typically provide poor slab finish.
  • Inconsistent application is a common issue.
  • Ineffective durability due to shallow treatment.

Let’s Talk About Hydrogel Treatment.

You saw that coming a mile off, didn’t you?!
OK here it is in a nutshell.
1) Nanoparticle silica colloid, with the appropriate catalyst, induces a hydrogel formation within concrete.
2) This closes the porosities, immobilizes the moisture, and protects the reinforcing.
What this means for you and your warehouse floor:

  • A truly, madly, deeply hard floor slab. (well, maybe not madly, but you get the idea)
  • Restores moisture to the surface where it may have been decimated by trowelling – helping complete the curing process.
  • Enhanced curing regardless of trowelled condition, with minimal shrinkage cracking.
  • Provides ideal substrate conditions for buffing or polishing, depending on the screed quality.
  • Long-term durability and concrete dust reduction.

Hydrogel treatments are at the core of MARKHAM’s warehouse floor solutions, and the SLAB-TECT® system. We supply and apply, which makes things very easy for you as client.

And There’s More … Much More.

MARKHAM’s full service includes supply, application and quality control documentation. This underpins our performance-based warranties. Yes, you read that right. If we’ve handled the process throughout with our quality control system, we can offer a performance-based warranty, not just a like-for-like product replacement.

Check your suppliers’ quality control processes and warranties! What are they really offering?

Handling the process end-to-end also means you won’t be caught sandwiched between supplier and applicator in the event of any mishap along the way.

Our trained applicators give you the confidence of high quality, consistent results across all projects. This is a very key point, considering the array of environmental conditions and temperatures in which we work. Different locations may need different approaches.

Quality control documents can be passed straight on to the head contractor, reducing administrative time and costs for you.
And our systems are environmentally friendly! Key products are envirolabelled with ECNZ, recognized by GBCA and NZGBC. If you’re working on a green build, you know our part is sorted.

What’s not to love? Building a warehouse – get in touch!

If you’re often involved in warehouse construction, or other places where the exposed floor finish is critical,
check out our SLAB-TECT® system.

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