Surface Protection Analysis of Disposable Or Reusable Products for Cost Savings and Efficiency

Daisy Ratnasari

Times are tough for builders and remodelers right now, so preventing expensive damage to carpets, doors, floors and other interior finishes is critical in lowering building costs and reducing completion times. Construction managers can choose from two types of surface protection products; a) disposable protection such as films and papers which can only be used once; or b) reusable protection made from reinforced plastic or cotton textiles. So what should a contractor choose?

Paper products such as rosin paper, Kraft papers and corrugated cardboard can be used for extremely short periods of time on surfaces such as floors and counter tops but are not recommended for longer use. Although these disposable protection products are inexpensive and widely available, they lose effectiveness when applied long-term. When the cost of installation is considered, including taping the seams together and product upkeep due to water penetration or tearing from foot traffic, these paper products are not recommended beyond a day or two of use.

For some short term applications, inexpensive, disposable films are the most economical choice. Low cost, easy-to-install carpet film works most effectively to protect carpets for up to 45 days. The rolls are reverse wound for easy installation and can protect carpets for up to 45 days. Films are also the best choice for vertical protection of stainless steel elevator doors and some plumbing fixtures. When films do not provide enough protection, thicker, disposable adhesive products are necessary. Protecta-foam is thick, disposable, adhesive foam that is easy to install and remove, and can save builders thousands of dollars in costly repairs. It protects cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, counter tops and other vulnerable surfaces.

Wood floors and stairs are two surfaces where thick, long lasting protection makes the most financial sense. The high cost of wood materials and installation coupled with the costs of repairs make them worth the added cost of long lasting protection. While construction managers may be tempted to choose less expensive, disposable protection, the cost savings may not add up when comparing the superior effectiveness of reusable products to protect expensive flooring. They are typically thicker and more durable and have the added convenience of being on hand when needed for a new job.

There are several products on the market to protect wood floors with thicknesses from 30 to 50 mm thick. Clean and Safe™ is a reusable floor protection made from recycled materials. Its skid resistant backing holds it in place on wood floors. For wood stairs, Multi-purpose runner makes sense as it has an adhesive bottom to hold the protection in place and is guaranteed not to leave a sticky residue upon removal. Both these products are available from several distributors throuought the U.S.

A few products on the market combine the low cost of disposable protection with the advantages of thicker, reusable protection. Compressed cardboard door protection such as DoorGuard™, edge protectors and window sill protection are inexpensive and can be reused many times. These products are made from recycled cardboard and can be recycled themselves, making them a great choice for the green building industry.

Recently introduced surface protection products to the market include fire resistant, heavy duty, plastic floor protection such as Coverguard®. With a large portion of the commercial building industry focused on hospital construction, an increased need for fire resistant products was necessary. Bainbridge, the manufacturer of Coverguard® saw the opportunity for their boat deck production in the construction industry and now sells it’s flooring protection through local distributors. Fire resistant plastic sheeting used for dust control is also necessary on hospital remodels. Although fire resistant products are safer on all construction sites, the products are substantially more expensive and thus not cost effective unless absolutely necessary.

How does a construction manager know which products are the most cost effective? The best advice is to contact a local surface protection expert to discuss your particular project including how long the protection will be required and how many workers will be on site. Product specialists work closely with construction managers and remodelers to help them choose products with the best value.

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