The beverage production industry demands a lot from its facilities. A beverage plant has all the hygienic requirements of a food manufacturer, with the added stress of heavy water exposure, slippery floors, and adequate drainage.
Beverage plant floors must be strong, nonabsorbent, and slip resistant. They must be easy to clean, and above all they must be durable – no business has time to shut down a line every couple of years to patch or reseal the floor.
The floor in a beverage facility is subjected to heavy water exposure. Effluent discharged during production, spilled ingredients, and washdowns are all in a day’s work. Because concrete subfloors are porous, it is vital a beverage plant install a strong, water resistant floor covering.
Exposed concrete under warm, wet conditions can quickly become a microbial nightmare, endangering your product. Beer and spirits may be naturally sanitary, but cans and bottles can still become contaminated. And most beverages in ready-to-drink categories do not possess the germ-fighting qualities of their alcoholic counterparts.
When it comes to finding a hygienic, nonabsorbent floor covering, you have many options. In choosing the best one, it is important to understand how long the flooring will last under the conditions of your facility.
A cleanable water-resistant coating is a low-cost option. While it offers up-front savings, a coated floor typically costs more per year to own because of its brief lifespan. Vitrified tile, on the other hand, is more expensive to install but cheaper to maintain, as it never loses its durable characteristics.
Water resistance is literally baked into Argelith’s fully vitrified tile. During the vitrification process, the ceramic molecules are pressed closer and closer together. The finished tile is so dense, there is very little room for water molecules to penetrate. Argelith fully vitrified ceramic tile has an absorption rate of 0.1% or less.
Poured floors can be waterproofed using a moisture-repelling topcoat. Under the friction of shoes and wheels, this sealant wears away. Repeated exposure to heavy washdowns, chemical attack, and high temperatures can hasten the formation of tiny cracks and weak spots in the topcoat, so if you choose this option, be sure to include regular resealing in your budget and your schedule.
Ceramic is inherently hygienic. This inorganic mineral-based material is naturally unattractive to microorganisms. Its chemical resistant and thermal resistant properties mean it can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized using steam jets or a wide variety of cleaners. Ceramic also has no chemical fumes or VOCs to irritate sensitive people.
For the beverage industry, Argelith recommends using commercial-grade epoxy-based grout and mortar. Because the tiles themselves are impervious to liquids, the weakest point of a tile floor is the epoxy grout. Over time, it is possible for epoxy to develop pinholes and microcracks that allow water to seep below the tile. This is why a reputable contractor will set the tiles in a water-resistant mortar bed. It is true that eventually a tile floor will need to be regrouted, just as eventually a coated floor will need to be recoated. The difference is that the epoxy makes up only a small fraction of the surface of the tile floor, rather than the entire floor.
Argelith tiles are butt jointed, meaning instead of using spacers to create grout lines, the tiles are intended to be installed up against one another. These built-in spacers keep the grout lines to an even and consistent one-sixteenth of an inch wide. When properly installed, the level of the grout joint is even with the level of the tile, creating a virtually seamless surface.
Proper drainage is a must in wet facilities. Standing or puddling water is bad for equipment and dangerous for workers. The floor in your facility should be laid by a professional installer with experience in the beverage industry, who understands the importance of sloping the floor to drain.
Hexalith hexagon-shaped tiles are ideal for sloping floors. Their unique shape allows them to be laid to any slope, even in a funnel shape. The minimal grout lines, flush with the surface of the tile, discourage channeling to the drain.
When floors are wet, it is important they also have a slip resistant texture to keep employees safe. Argelith’s fully vitrified tiles are available in a variety of slip resistant profiles. The nonskid profile is pressed into the tile at the time it is manufactured. Think of it like a fingerprint – the deeper the ridges, the more slip resistant the tile.
The more slip resistance a floor has, the more difficult it is to clean. Argelith tiles have a unique baked finish that enhances cleanability while reducing friction. Argelith tiles are generally easy to clean – they can be hosed off throughout the day. Regular scrubbing with a floor cleaning machine and hot water will keep them looking sharp for years.
The floors in most beverage production plants must be able to withstand acid and alkaline attacks. The chemicals used to make brewed, distilled, or formulated beverages like beer, spirits, and soft drinks can cause chemical reactions on a molecular level with vulnerable building materials. Natural beverages like juice, tea, and coffee also have acidic properties that can eat through flooring.
Ceramic is naturally inert and does not react to acids, alkalis, or oils. Even under heavy and repeated chemical exposure, the tile does not lose any of its resistant properties or structural integrity. This feature and tile’s long lifespan are the primary reasons Argelith has been chosen by beverage giants Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch InBev, and why Argelith can be found in seven of the top 10 craft breweries in the United States.
Brewing and distilling processes involve high heat and steam. Fully vitrified tile heats and cools slowly and evenly, protecting the slab beneath from thermal shock. Other than the expansion and contraction that occurs with all materials, the ceramic itself is unaffected by fluctuating temperatures, never weakening or losing any of its durable properties.
Manufacturing beverages takes huge amounts of ingredients, processed in massive, heavy equipment. The finished product is then stored in heavy racks of barrels and kegs.
Argelith is prepared to handle the weight – our 18mm-thick Hexalith tile, properly installed, can support the weight of 30 African elephants per square inch. The hard, abrasion-resistant surface can also sustain forklift and pallet jack traffic without showing tracks or signs of wear.
In the craft brewery, craft distillery, and winery industries, customers want to peek behind the curtain. Patrons expect tours to be available at their local brewery, and many tap rooms are designed with viewing windows so visitors can see right into the brewery.
With their facility on display, brewers, winemakers, and distillers have become increasingly aware of the importance of aesthetics in their production area. A tile floor is not only beautiful when it is first laid; its durability and resistance to stains and wear mean it continues to look impressive even after the machinery standing on it begins to wear out.
Fully vitrified tile is a great flooring option for most beverage facilities. Contact us to discover whether industrial tile is the solution you have been searching for. It is durable in facilities that manufacture:
· Distilled spirits
· Whiskey mash
· Ready-to-drink cocktails
· Soft drinks
· Energy drinks
· Juice and juice drinks
· Dairy-based beverages
· Dairy-alternative beverages
"We get a lot of high heat, steam, chemical use, and a lot of organic solids (on the floor). We needed something super inert that can take a beating. This tile was ideal."
Co-Founder, Hopewell Brewery