Is There a Topcoat That Can Withstand Excess Water and Harsh Cleaning Solutions Without Being Stripped Away?

June 30, 2009
Welcome to MRO Q&A, a Food Processing series addressing maintenance, repair and operational issues in food plants. We’ve assembled a panel of plant operations experts to answer any question you have on plant-floor issues. To pose a question, check out our Plant Maintenance Resoure Center

Q. I work for a company that uses a lot of water during the manufacturing process. We are FDA regulated and are required to do intensive cleaning. Our floors are MMA with a clear topcoat. Is there a topcoat that can withstand excess water and harsh cleaning solutions without being stripped away?

A. Methyl methacrylate (MMA) flooring is quite common in wet food environments. Its combination of chemical resistance (especially to organic acids and oxidizing agents) and thermal shock resistance make it a great choice for processing areas that undergo constant cleaning and sanitizing, as well as frequent and/or dramatic temperature changes (i.e., hot washdown of a cold floor).

It would be very unusual for an MMA floor to be installed with a topcoat other than an MMA material. Depending on the age of the floor, this is fairly easy to verify. If the floor (and/or topcoat) is relatively new, it should have a matte or dull finish (unlike epoxy or urethane floors, which are generally glossy). If your floor is in fact an MMA, then I assume you are asking this question for one of two reasons.

  •  You’re unfamiliar with the floor material and are being thorough to ensure it’s not damaged during operation of your process.
  •  You’re beginning to see some deterioration or failure of the floor material (specifically the topcoat).

If your concern is proactive and you’re sure the floor is an MMA, then you have nothing to worry about. If installed properly, the MMA will last many years without being affected by chemicals, temperature or physical abuse in your operation. In some cases, the clear topcoat may show slight staining from prolonged exposure to nitric acid (often used in stainless steel and clean-in-place systems). This staining is cosmetic only and will not impact the durability of the coating.

If on the other hand, if you are beginning to see some signs of failure (peeling, delaminating, flaking), this could be related to several issues but usually will be an application issue. If the existing clear topcoat is an epoxy or urethane that was applied over an older MMA floor, then it may fail due to insufficient surface preparation. This would leave the coating poorly bonded to the MMA (substrate). As a result, the clear coat may fail under the stress of your cleaning regimen. In this case the floor can be recoated but only after the existing topcoat is completely removed.

After removal and preparation, I recommend the application of a clear MMA topcoat. The new MMA will chemically bond very well to the old MMA material provided the base layer is clean and dry. As always you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparation.

Answered by Michael Jewell, vice president-marketing, Stonhard (

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