26 March 2020
Over the years – we will be the first to admit that there are massive improvements being made in recent years – one of the mistakes that commercial building planners made in construction of cooking spaces for commercial operations was failing to take into account the requirements and thus cost of flooring in the commercial kitchen. They often started with the structural elements (where walls are going, where services need to be placed, lighting and where appliances should be fitted), but forgot the need to ensure compliance with code for the flooring, or remembered at the last moment and chose a solution such as vinyl tiling – which can provide non-slip benefits and even look good – but which has been shown to wear out faster than other alternatives.
In this post, we’ve decided to cover this topic, as it’s been a while since we chatted to you about floors and what you need to consider, especially when designing a kitchen for food premises. We will take a look at the standards required by law for commercial and industrial kitchens and give you an overview of your options.
The Basics of a Commercial Kitchen
It’s no surprise that the best commercial kitchens are designed to have components that help staff move around safely, more efficiently, and ultimately produce better food. When staff know where things are and have confidence in the equipment, then there can be no excuses for the production of the food and what comes out. As long as spaces are designed logically and equipment compartmentalized into the most logical areas (Eg ensuring ranges, fryers, grill, and ovens are located together and that food prep areas are similarly clustered) then staff can move about with purpose.
But herein lies the operative term – move about. Kitchens are notoriously hot, wet and potentially dangerous places. Chef’s move about with hot items in front of and behind others; line cooks slice and dice with razor sharp knives and cleaning teams are using suds and oils making things like glass slippery. Each of these core functions needs to have the peace of mind to know that when they are moving around, they are not going to slip.
Pointing the Spotlight at Flooring
Installing the right kind of commercial kitchen flooring is vital in the efficient production of food on the premises. Whilst never forgotten completely, the truth is, it is often down-weighted as a priority and addressed towards the end of a build to ensure compliance. Truth is though, if considered early the money spent on your flooring surface could be less than you think, and definitely save you money into the medium and long term – not only in maintenance costs, but with insurance, from slips or falls.
Based on the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code Standard 3.2.3, restaurant kitchen flooring which includes the surfaces of “… kitchens, storerooms, coolrooms and to external areas where food is handled …”, shall be “… designed and constructed in a way that is appropriate for the activities conducted on the food premises, and must be “… able to be effectively cleaned, impervious to grease, food particles and water and do not provide harbourage for pests.”
The above however, does not hold true to your premises if either of the following are applicable:
- floors of temporary food premises, including ground surfaces, that are unlikely to pose any risk of contamination of food handled at the food premises; and
- floors of food premises that are unlikely to pose any risk of contamination of food handled at the food premises provided the food business has obtained the approval in writing of the appropriate enforcement agency for their use.
So what are the most ideal kitchen flooring materials for a commercial kitchen?
Because of the high level of occupational health and safety required in a commercial kitchen, there is an overarching requirement to install floor types that are suited for the purpose. In order to meet regulatory obligations, the following are your best options for commercial floor surfaces.
Non-slip epoxy flooring. This type of floor uses epoxy coating mixed with a specific aggregate that creates the slip resistance properties. The aggregate used can be silica sand, glass spheres, aluminium oxide, colored quartz, or polypropylene spheres and the amount of non-slip tailored to meet your requirements. For example if you use hot oils a lot, then a higher slip rating is a good idea.
MMA flooring. Also resin-based, methyl methacrylate (MMA) systems are highly popular options due to their fast bonding capability. Curing time ranges from one to two hours so it is ideal for use in scenarios where downtime is undesirable or not possible.
It is a great solution for the correction of poor drainage falls as it can be used to improve water drainage.
Non-slip stainless steel. This is a potentially cost-effective, low maintenance but highly durable flooring solutions today. Its design usually comes with tear-shaped patterns that help avoid slips and accidents. The pattern also helps prevent liquid and microorganisms to seep through, thus allowing the staff to clean the floor easily.
Despite a number of advantages, it is not always possible to use this solution as it needs to be made to size, is hard underfoot which is not ideal for staff who are on their feet all day and will damage anything dropped onto it such as knives or crockery. It also requires the floor to correctly levelled so that water drains to where it is meant to.
There are also other flooring solutions that you can opt for. Remember that you need to consider the number of people working on the space as well as the load carried by the floor (heavy appliances and equipment) in order to see if your choice can handle the traffic and the weight over time.
What’s next now that you’ve included flooring in your commercial kitchen fit-out?
In all cases, it is important to consult with an accredited supplier and installer to know how much it costs to install the flooring in your kitchen. Whilst there is no requirement for licneced professionals to install the floors, there are inherent advantages in using a team who have knowledge of regulatory requirements set by your state as well as by the Australian Standards and who will guarantee the work.
As always, if you are looking at changing your kitchen flooring, you can always speak to one of our specialists at Remedial.CONTACT US
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