WHAT ARE THE BEST FINISHES TO USE ON LABORATORY WALLS?
Key requirements for laboratory wall finishes:
Paints offer the cheapest solution. Emulsion paint can mark easily and absorb liquid. So while it can be painted and repainted, it does not offer a very hygienic wall surface between re-coats.
Eggshell or acrylic paints leave a plasticky feel which can be wiped clean and will not readily absorb liquids. However it is easy to scratch, scrape and dent with only minor impacts and abrasion exposing the plaster finish below. The plaster finish will absorb liquids and harbour dirt. So the surface will need to be repainted to avoid microbe growth. Disinfectants and scrubbing may cause damage to the paint surface affecting appearance and hygiene performance.
Gloss paints are not traditionally used on whole walls. Part of the reason for this is that they were solvent based and were high in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) as a result. If full walls were painted the rooms would have to be extremely well ventilated for the fumes to not cause any issues while the paint was drying. Nowadays, gloss paints are water-based and low VOC in line with European legislation. A gloss coated wall will be wipeable and resist liquids. Although marginally more robust than acrylics, gloss paint is still easily chipped or scratched. It's surface finish will be effected by disinfectants and scrubbing. One further problem is that although a gloss painted surface can be repainted, in order for it to have a good key the existing gloss surface must be sanded. Otherwise the new gloss paint will not take to the surface and can crazy, crack or flake.
Ceramic tiles have long been the traditional first choice for a hygienic wall finish particularly where there is a likelihood of hot liquids spilling on the wall. Glazed ceramic tiles have a good resistance to thermal shock and are easy to clean. Generally there surface appearance is not damaged by use of disinfectants, detergents or scrubbing. The main drawback with tiles is that the grout is slightly absorbent and is harder to clean - over time the grout joints hold dirt and support microbe growth.
PVCu HYGIENIC WALL CLADDING
PVC or PVCu solid sheets are approximately 2.5mm in thickness and 2.5m by 1.5m that can be adhered to the walls of the lab. These PVC sheets are hygienic, usually incorporating anti-microbial treatments to the panels and are generally classified as EU Food Safe and temperature resistant up to about 60°C. They are a common choice in labs, medical rooms, surgical rooms, commercial kitchens, food processing and similar environments. They also have exceptional impact resistance. Even when impacts and abrasions are forceful enough to scratch or dent the PVC panel, the damage is rarely more than superficial and only tends to be a millimeter deep at most.
However these panels have two main drawbacks. Firstly, the panels need to be jointed, either by a welded joint or a plastic trim. It is these joints that are difficult to clean and dirt can often build-up over time and become a breeding ground for bacteria and other microbes. Hygienic PVC or PVCu panelling systems also tend to be an expensive option.
RESIN WALL COATINGS & SYSTEMS
Resins, depending upon the system can offer an economical alternative to PVCu sheet materials such as whiterock and polarex. Different systems include epoxy and polyurethane based resins, solvented and water-based resins, and added reinforcement. Common to all of them is a seamless finish that doesn't doesn't have joints, does not support microbial growth, good durability and chemical resistance.
Resuseal Wall a durable seamless finish ideal for labs and clean rooms. It is a fast curing water-based epoxy. It comes in either a satin or gloss finish available in the colours shown below. It is resistant to light (i.e. discolouration from UV), light chemical attack and medium duty abrasion. It does not support fungal or bacterial growth.
PumacoatV Coloured & Clear a two-part epoxy resin coloured wall coating, also available in clear. It is low odour, low VOC, water disspersed epoxy. It can be applied to blockwork, plaster, brickwork, concrete and cementitious renders to provide a tough hardwearing protective coating. It is seamless and easy to clean. It comes in a variety of colours and has a silk finish.
Resupen WB a seamless water-based polyurethane resin ideal fro labs, clean rooms, healthcare and pharmaceutical facilities. It comes in either a satin or matt finish. It is hygienic, being easy to clean and doesn't support fungal or bacterial growth. It has good abrasion and impact resistance, good chemical resistance and is resistant to hot water.
Resutile WB a hardwearing seamless solvent-based polyurethane resin offering maximum chemical resistance. It is ideal for laboratories, chemical plants and pharmaceutical facilities. It is UV stable, does not support microbial growth and is extremely easy to clean. It has good abrasion and impact resistant, and has some flexibility. It is also resistant to thermal shock, hot water and high temperatures up to 150ºC. Please not that the area will need to be well vented during the application process and could taint any food products.
Ecuclad is a resin system incorporating reinforced fibre mesh in mid layers. There are different mesh grid sizes, standard, medium duty and heavy duty. They adhere well to most common wall substrates when bed on to an initial coat of stericide. All grades have high impact and tear resistance. The top coat is usually Resuseal WB, Resustile or Resupen WB. It is hygienic, non-taint, hardwearing
RESIN WALL FINISHES COLOUR CHART: