Post 371 – by Gautam Shah
Floor paints constitute a distinctive category of Architectural coatings. Floor paints are broadly of three classes: Clear coatings, Pigmented or coloured paints and Technical coats. Technical coats could be under coats, super coats or singular coats. Floor paints or coatings can also be differentiated in terms of their placements: such as for top of the roof, under coating for the roof, exterior and interior surfaces of wood or masonry materials, and technical coats for floors of water storage (tanks, moats) and channels (aqueducts and canals).
Floor paints are used to improve the appearance, increase abrasion resistance, reduce moisture penetration and impart spillage proof qualities. Floor paints, nominally do not include coatings or applications with substantial mass such as various types of plasters or depositions. Some screed applications have dual classifications of floor plaster as well as a thin coating system. Floor paints are thin surface coatings, applied on variety of substrates and with equally varied methods.
Ancient floor coatings were applications of oil mixed with wax, bitumen and creosote. These were used for treating floor decks and seats of seagoing vessels, sea coast wood structures, wood floor boards around wells, and underside boards of roofs over purlins prior to covering with metal sheets or ceramic tiles, all to prevent the rot. Oil-wax was used, for floorings and stage floor boards, to keep intact the visual appearance of the wood. Bitumen and creosote darkened the surface and often remained tacky (due to addition of tallow or fish-oil), but wax-oil coatings, with higher content of wax were non tacky. Wax was hot-melt in bodied oil (double boiled linseed oil or polymerized oil) or oils modified with Pine-rosin. These formulations were nearly like Varnishes used for coating furniture or covering the paintings. The surface had gloss and smoothness. The Varnish coatings lasted a year or one wet season, and required re-application.
Ancient Floor coatings were mainly applied on wood surfaces, but occasionally dull floors of stones were given a coat to achieve a shiny surface. Dull stone floors of sandstone or lime stones were coated for festive occasions like coronation, marriage and religious functions. These were temporary applications, and no one was bothered about its durability or issues of re-application.
The floor coating system saw renewed interest when large size merchant and cruise ships, railway coaches and passenger bus vehicles arrived on the scene during the Industrial age period. These utilities did not have masonry or wood floors. It was necessary to create decks of colourful ambiance, and of wear resistant, non-skidding, sound dampening and maintainable material. The first options then available were linoleum carpets and alkyd-based enamel paints. Both created floors with fewer joints, but paint was a re-applicable surface.
Road and surface signage and functional graphics became a necessity, with the increase in road and rail traffic. There was no space in many urban areas to place vertical signage. The floor signs painted on roads and pavements were warnings in the movement spaces, passengers’ zebra crossing marks, edges of surface drops, road segmentation, danger zones, curvature limits. These were initially by contrast colour paving. Similarly barefoot walk-passages in temples, mosques needed a lighter colour treatment to keep them cooler. The only option, than available was to use lime whitewash or alkyd based white oil paints.
In post world war period plastic (or Latex, as known in USA) paints became available. The ‘latex’ paints were water-based emulsion medium. The field of marine coatings was offering many new technologies for water and UV light resistant, hard wearing systems. Rubber-based systems (chlorinated rubber coatings) became synonymous with road marking paints.
Other fields of Indoor floor paints were emerging. Stage show floors, Dance floors, TV programme production sets, TV News room floors, sports arenas, required colourful joint-less extensive surfaces. Food plants, Pharmaceutical units, Hospitals operation theatres and critical care areas, needed not only a joint-less surface, but one that was dust and scratch proof and bio-friendly material. These were first provided by Polyurethane systems and later by Epoxy systems. Electronic assembly plants, computer rooms, electronic exchanges and data server and router areas, needed static proof floor coatings. Fire-prone industrial areas needed a spark erosion flooring systems.
Outdoor Floor paint field also has flourished well. Sports facilities, stadiums, exercise areas, malls, food plazas need many different types of a joint-less floor of non skidding and spillage proof surfaces. The colour and texture requirements of these usages can never be found in any natural or manufactured materials. Thin coating systems of floor paints not only satisfy such unique needs but also offer pattern laying facility.
Technological innovations include use of Florescent pigments, night glow compounds, high luminescence whitening agents, texturizing additives, wrinkle finishes, two or multi-tone effects.
The ability of a floor-painted surface to virtually do everything expected of a floor system, has forced changes on substrate technology. There was a time natural floor materials like stone or ceramic tiles were ground to smooth level and then coated. Any joint gaps or remaining surface level irregularities were filled in. But now cast on site surfaces of many materials are preferred. The material options include Ironite (cement+sand mixed with iron turnings), Magnesium Oxy-chloride Flooring, Cement Concrete floors (Tri-mix suction system), etc.
Colour “fashion experts” who predict colour trends are rarely concerned with the colour or the tonal affectations in the interior spaces. This is so, because there are very few options available, floor surfaces are over-occupied by furniture and the range of colours (more close to shades of natural materials) do not allow the gimmickry of setting the primary versus complementary, etc. The trend predictors deal with the colours, individually, but are rarely bothered about the the effects of reflections from just not only, interior but exterior surfaces. Floor is in one such entity where the varying illumination conditions through SC (sky-components and quality of electric illumination devices) is highly variable and nearly unpredictable.