Posted on Wednesday 13th December, 2023

ESD Floor Finishes versus Anti-static Topicals: Which One is Ideal for You?

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Static dissipative floor finishes and anti-static topicals are both designed to address electrostatic concerns in environments where accumulation and discharge of static electricity can be problematic. While both product types can be used for static control on floors, they are intended for use in different applications.

Staticide dissipative floor finishes are acrylic polishes best used in electrostatic protected areas (EPAs) where there is a need to direct static charges to earth ground. They are formulated to draw and hold moisture from the air so that they are electrically conductive. These products are used similarly as floor polish (or wax) on linoleum or vinyl tile, but they are static dissipative and aid the prevention of static buildup.

When applied onto an insulative flooring material like industrial vinyl composite tile (VCT), the finish will act as a static control conduit to ground. This type of product changes the resistance of the floor surface from insulative to dissipative (not too conductive) with a surface resistance reading 1 x 10e9 ohms or less. It does not eliminate static but controls it by allowing a safe path to ground. Static charges may be reduced, but not eliminated until there is a direct path to ground. Grounding can be done with a copper wire touching the floor finish while connected to a grounding post.

Topical antistats are not additives or floor polish (although they can be used on a floor). These products are suited for a variety of applications to decay or eliminate electrical charges. When applied onto a substrate, the product will leave behind a residue once the carrier evaporates.

Topical antistats are not true coatings as the bond is different. With a coating, good adhesion is imperative through a mechanical bond. With a topical, the residual sticks to the surface like soap. A worker/employee can move the particles around with a finger. However, the antistat will not come off unless it is scrubbed deliberately with water. Friction and water together will dilute the antistat until it disappears.

This kind of product helps to eliminate static even without a connection to ground. The surface resistance is typically between 10e8 – 10e10 ohms. Surface resistance is a good indicator to determine how well the product has wetted the surface, but it is not an indicator of performance in the way a floor finish is assessed. The surface resistance measurement simply shows that the product is present. As long as the product is 10e10 ohms or less, the product will decay static in under two seconds and prevent static generation.

Static topicals can be used EVERYWHERE whether the surface is porous or non-porous. It is a versatile product with many applications, as it does not require a path to ground to be effective. Many topicals, such as Staticide are also humidity independent.

So which product is right for you?

The choice between the two products depends on the environment and your needs.

ESD flooring is prevalent in industries where electrostatic discharge can pose a risk to sensitive electronic components and devices. ESD floor finishes are ideal for electronics manufacturing, data centers, aerospace and defense, and automotive industries that have EPAs. They are not typically used in non-commercial environments.

Antistatic topicals help eliminate charges on materials such as freshly laid linoleum or vinyl tiled floors. Once building materials age, they are less likely to produce a static charge, so the treatment might be temporary. Static topicals are also helpful in reducing charges caused by seasonal changes. Yet, some materials like carpet will generate a charge despite the age or the season. When the risk is high, a topical antistat can be used as a safety precaution to prevent static discharge.

Consider the environment and your needs when choosing the right product or consult your ACL Staticide product specialist for additional guidance. While both ESD floor finishes and antistatic topicals aim to reduce static electricity in environments, ESD floor finishes are used in manufacturing EPAs, while antistatic topicals are surface treatments that can be utilized in a number of applications.

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