Reinforced concrete is a highly durable and versatile material that has been used in structural concrete design for over a century. It is found in everything from large scale concrete structures such as power plants to foundation slabs for residential properties. Commercial warehouse designs, in particular, benefit from the extreme durability and compressive strength of steel-reinforced concrete floors.
Warehouse flooring is a critical aspect that is often overlooked. To ensure safe and efficient operations, the floor must be able to withstand heavy loads, corrosive chemicals, temperature fluctuations, and other harsh conditions, plus retain a smooth surface with a clean, professional appearance. Steel-reinforced concrete provides the perfect combination of resilience and surface regularity to ensure the safety and productivity of warehouse operations.
This guide will walk you through all the reasons reinforced concrete is great for commercial warehouse flooring.
Reinforced vs. Plain Concrete
Concrete is composed of fine and coarse aggregates and cement paste mixed with water and hardened over time. Once cured, it is highly durable and can last for decades, but it has some weaknesses that make it unstable for structural applications. When exposed to tensile stress, shear, vibration, impact, wind, moisture, and other harsh conditions, for example, concrete cracks and crumbles. This makes it unsuitable for long-term construction projects.
Reinforced concrete is plain concrete strengthened with steel, which allows both elements to share any stress applied to their surface. To reduce the amount of stress applied to the concrete, engineering experts enhance the tensile strength of concrete structures with steel bars and mesh. The reinforcing steel bars enhance the shear strength of the concrete, making it more durable. The exceptional durability of reinforced concrete makes it a very low maintenance material perfect for high-stress applications.
Causes of Wear and Tear on Warehouse Flooring
Commercial warehouse flooring is subject to a variety of conditions and items such as parcel lockers that can scratch, crack, stain, and depress the surface of the floor. These imperfections can cause damage to equipment and endanger workers on the floor. It is therefore important to keep an eye out for potential problems, including:
- Weathering and Moisture Damage
Since commercial warehouses are often exposed to the elements and may not be temperature controlled, the flooring can be easily damaged by exposure to wind, rain, ice, hail, snow, sun, and heat. Winter weather is particularly hard on materials, as moisture in holes and imperfections of the flooring surface can freeze and expand, creating deeper cracks that can be dangerous to personnel and damage equipment.
- Gouges and Scratches
Warehouse floors are often subject to abrasion and wear as workers drag heavy pallets and equipment or drive forklifts to move large loads. The constant movement can easily result in scratches and gouges in the surface of your flooring material. Once the surface has been compromised, imperfections will grow with ongoing exposure to traffic, weather, and other harsh conditions.
- Chemical Stains and Tire Marks
Stains and tire marks are common on many warehouse floors, especially those where pallet jacks and forklifts are used regularly. Old tires can skid and slip on your concrete flooring, making unsightly marks that are difficult to remove. Similarly, warehouses, where corrosive substances are common, suffer from floor damage due to spills. The markings left by tires and chemical damage can compromise the surface of your warehouse floor, resulting in a sticky or slippery surface.
- Bumps and Depressions
When the warehouse floor is established on a weak foundation, frequent exposure to extreme conditions result in bumps and depressions. Uneven flooring weakens the integrity and stability of both stationary and moving equipment. It can cause damage to the undercarriage of equipment and create a trip hazard. Low areas can trap water and ice, creating a slip hazard and increasing the chance of moisture damage.
One way to prevent wear and tear is to construct your warehouse floor structure using concrete with steel reinforcement. The strength and compression capacity of reinforced concrete helps to ensure safe load transfer and adequate support for the stresses common in warehouse settings.
4 Reasons to Use Reinforced Concrete
Poor commercial warehouse flooring reduces productivity and increases your overall operating costs, while endangering your employees. Below are just a few of the reasons you should be using reinforced concrete for your warehouse flooring.
1. Equipment Damage
When your commercial warehouse flooring is cracked or bumpy, you compromise the integrity of your equipment. Since your pallet jacks, forklifts, and other equipment is made to operate on smooth surfaces, the tires and components experience more wear. It is more difficult to safely move large loads over rough surfaces, making it more likely that equipment will tip over. Concrete with steel reinforcement reduces stresses to help your floor maintain a strong, smooth surface without irregularities there to harm your warehouse equipment.
2. Health and Safety Risks
Poor warehouse flooring is a large cause of health and safety risks in warehouse operations. Imperfections and bumps cause trip hazards, while depressions can collect water or other fluids that could be a slip risk. Vehicle operators must remain constantly vigilant when operating on uneven warehouse floors, resulting in a high level of mental fatigue and increased accident risk. Reinforced concrete can withstand intense impacts so that your personnel can safely navigate the floor on foot or machine.
3. Reduced Productivity
Uneven warehouse flooring forces personnel to detour around damaged areas. The time lost from detouring decreases productivity and efficiency. Using equipment on compromised flooring can also result in vehicle and product damage, increasing repair costs and downtime. The adoption of reinforced concrete flooring keeps surfaces smooth and reliable, so your operation can run efficiently.
4. Higher Cleaning and Upkeep Costs
Cracks and depressions in your warehouse floor are more likely to collect dirt, moisture, and other material that encourages mold and mildew growth. Uneven areas can also create space for rodents and other pests to enter the warehouse around foundation walls, creating potential health and safety issues. Routine cleaning and pest control become expensive and difficult, increasing your operating costs. The smooth, durable surface of reinforced concrete allows workers to sweep and mop the floor of the warehouse quickly and easily.
There are various flooring materials available for commercial warehouses, but reinforced concrete offers the most durable and longest-lasting option. With a smooth, clean surface and the ability to withstand the stresses of warehouse operations, reinforced concrete helps warehouse owners save time and money.
Contact Limitless Paving & Concrete today to learn more about ways that our reinforced concrete products can improve your warehouse operations.