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Why Aerospace Facilities Need Specialized Flooring: Protecting Against Unique Environmental Challenges

Floors in aircraft hangars present a unique set of challenges that require specialized solutions. Unlike regular commercial or industrial flooring, aircraft hangar flooring must withstand a range of environmental factors that affect its durability and functionality.

Owners and managers of these facilities must protect the floors against various elements to maintain safety, cleanliness, and efficiency. Let’s examine why aerospace facilities need specialized flooring.


hanger surfaces

Unique environmental challenges of hangar floors

Aircraft hangar flooring must handle specific conditions not typically encountered in other settings. Here are the main environmental challenges that these floors face.

Reflectivity

Aircraft hangar flooring must be shiny and clean to match the pristine condition of the aircraft housed within. High-gloss, reflective floors are not only about aesthetics. They also enhance the visibility and lighting in the hangar, contributing to a safer working environment.

Seamless

Seamless flooring is crucial in aircraft hangars to eliminate control and construction joints that collect debris and pose a hazard. Cracks and seams in the floor trap debris, which might then transfer onto the runway, creating dangerous conditions for aircraft. Additionally, seamless flooring provides a smooth, flat surface that allows tugs to pull or push aircraft without obstructions, ensuring efficient aircraft movement within the hangar.

Aviation fuel

Aviation fuel, such as JP-1A, poses a significant risk, especially to uncoated concrete floors. If there is no protective coating, fuel soaks into the concrete, contaminating the soil beneath and damaging the flooring. In many hangars—especially smaller ones where refueling occurs—a chemical-resistant coating is essential to prevent fuel from penetrating the concrete.

Mechanical fluids

Mechanical fluids—including oils and hydraulic fluids—are a staple in aircraft maintenance. If these fluids come into contact with unsealed concrete, they contaminate the floor, making it slippery and hazardous. Uncoated concrete floors absorb these fluids, making them difficult to clean and maintain.


concrete

Types of specialized hangar flooring

Various flooring options are available for aircraft hangars, each with benefits and limitations.

Tile

Due to maintenance and safety challenges, tile flooring has become rare in aircraft hangars. Although tile floors provide an aesthetic surface, tiles are not as smooth as other options and are prone to tripping hazards. They are also challenging to clean.

Polished concrete

Polished concrete is a popular option, but it has significant drawbacks. It wears out quickly in high-traffic areas, and loses gloss and reflectivity over time. Polished concrete is also porous, making it susceptible to chemical damage and staining from fuels and mechanical fluids.

Stained concrete

Stained concrete provides an aesthetic appeal with various color options. However, it doesn’t address the primary functional needs of a hangar floor, such as resistance to chemicals and seamlessness. It also requires frequent maintenance to maintain its appearance, making it less suitable for high-traffic areas.

Ways to protect hangar floors

Specialized flooring systems address the unique environmental challenges of aircraft hangar floors.

Resonant flooring

A resonant flooring system with a thin-millage urethane top coat is an effective solution for hangars with concrete in good condition. This thin coating includes an aluminum oxide additive for enhanced wear resistance, and is non-yellowing, maintaining its appearance over time. However, if the concrete is in poor condition, the owners must replace the existing coating and apply a thicker system.

Urethane concrete

Urethane concrete is the best option for hangar floors. This mortar system goes under a urethane top coat, providing a robust base layer that fills imperfections and levels the floor. Its thickness—typically 1/8 to 1/4 inch—and high moisture resistance make it suitable for environments where moisture in the concrete is a concern.

Epoxy mortar

Epoxy mortar provides a durable, chemical-resistant surface. This flooring is ideal for floors that need substantial repair or reinforcement. Epoxy mortar withstands heavy machinery and equipment, making it suitable for busy, high-traffic hangars.

How these types of flooring compare

When comparing these flooring types, urethane concrete and epoxy systems stand out for their durability and protective qualities. Polished and stained concrete options offer aesthetic benefits but fall short in terms of longevity and resistance to hangar-specific challenges. Resonant flooring provides a good balance for well-maintained concrete surfaces, ensuring protection without extensive application processes.

Final thoughts

Aircraft hangar flooring requires specialized solutions to address the unique environmental challenges of these facilities. Reflectivity, seamlessness, chemical resistance, and mechanical fluid management are critical factors in selecting the right flooring system.

At Rio Flooring Systems, we offer a range of specialized flooring options to ensure your hangar floors remain safe, durable, and easy to maintain.

Contact us today to learn more about our products and how we help protect your aircraft hangar flooring.

 

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