A timely question: is it feasible to repurpose previously installed floor panels in a raised access floor system that has been newly installed? The answer is that it is possible, and there is a chance that it could be very helpful if the goal is to reduce the embedded carbon footprint of a building. It is common knowledge that recycling manufactured materials is one of the most important aspects of environmental friendliness and is frequently pushed as an essential component of a circular economy*.
When it comes to reusing access floor panels, however, you do need to exercise caution because a raised access floor is a structural elevated platform that must withstand particular loading requirements for a significant amount of time. Because of this, it is important to keep in mind that a raised access floor is a structure. The very last thing you want is for any floor panels that are above a plenum to sag, and this is especially true in areas that are highly visible or have a lot of foot traffic. You also do not want to create a trip hazard by having a carpet that does not adhere to a panel that has been used and has become warped or rippled. Therefore, if you are thinking about reusing panels in a raised access floor, we (strongly) recommend that you get them inspected and tested by a professional before proceeding with the plan.
Examining the Condition of Some Old Floor Panels
The construction of old floor panels can vary greatly from one another. In addition, the life of some panels will have been longer and more difficult than that of others. If you want to reuse any panels, we are able to provide you with expert guidance regarding the integrity and suitability of those panels.
Among the questions that we will ask are the following:
- How long have they been in use
- What was their load volume, and what was their history of wear and tear
- How much and what kind of traffic did each of them have to deal with
- What kind of effects have all of these factors had on the strength, integrity, and performance of the individual panels
- What different activities will take place on this floor in the future
- How exactly will the panels be cleaned of adhesive residues, and will the chemicals that will be used during the cleaning process be safe for the environment
Then, as part of our evaluation, we will carry out a visual inspection of the steel raised floor panels, and at our testing facility, which is ISO-accredited, we will conduct stringent performance tests on samples to determine whether or not they are suitable for their continued use. Because we will need to move furniture around so that we can test a large area, this process can be quite disruptive if the building is still being used by people while it is being done. If we discover that the floor panels can be reused in a suitable manner, then we will let you know as soon as possible. However, due to the lack of traceability and the uncertainty surrounding the demolition of the systems, we do not offer warranties on any of the flooring systems that have been reused. In addition, the old panels will require thorough cleaning in order to remove the old carpet glue, and they may also require repainting. Regrettably, although we are capable of performing basic cleaning, we have not yet discovered a method of deep cleaning that is efficient, user-friendly, and reduces the amount of air pollution produced. In addition, these panels may in the future require a greater amount of maintenance, which, of course, will add to the total cost of ownership over their lifetime as well as their future carbon footprint.
The good news is that as part of our “Take Back Scheme,” if we test an older Kingspan raised flooring system and determine that it is not suitable for reuse, we will gladly take it back and recycle the steel and chipboard cores. This is the case even if we don’t think the system is fit for reuse.
It is important to keep in mind that we provide an eco-friendly selection of floor panels that are comprised of up to 80% recycled material in the event that you are considering the reuse of floor panels. Furthermore, our brand-new access flooring systems come with an automatic warranty that covers the entire system for 25 years, and when they reach the end of their useful lives, we are able to recycle them once more. Our new panels continue to provide the majority of our clients with the best of all possible worlds; not only do they help our clients achieve their environmental goals, but they also provide a contemporary and uncluttered aesthetic.