What flooring will prevent static in a data center - rubber or vinyl?
We are charged with recommending anti-static resilient flooring for a government client. This space is part of a data center that stores classified government information. Between vinyl and rubber - what is the difference and which flooring is more suitable for our application? Patrice AIA, LEED AP
Both rubber and vinyl flooring can be manufactured with static dissipative or conductive properties. Used in conjunction with special static control footwear, either material would perform the same for your application. However, special footwear is not usually worn by personnel working in server rooms and data centers. Static control vinyl flooring - conductive or static dissipative - can not prevent static build-up on people who wear everyday footwear. It will only prevent static in situations where special footwear is used. Without special footwear, all static control vinyl tile and sheet floors are actually significant static generators. If regular footwear is worn, you should either use EC rubber or static dissipative carpet tile. Both of these options will prevent static regardless of the types of shoes people will be wearing.
EC rubber prevents static on people wearing any type of shoe soles. It prevents static regardless of the humidity or temperature in the room. Unlike SDT or ESD solid vinyl tile, rubber contains no plasticizers and it never requires any type of floor polish or wax. Maintenance considerations are important because it's highly unlikely that your client will want to maintain their floor with antistatic floor polish.
Independent labs and testing organizations have published data showing that EC rubber will not allow static charges over 200 volts no matter what type of footwear is worn. In comparison, recent testing on an free-floating static dissipative vinyl interlocking ESD floor measured charges over 4000 volts at 20% relative humidity. In the same conditions, EC rubber only generated 100 volts. As you evaluate your options, keep in mind that most performance specifications on ESD flooring brochures present data that was obtained using tests with special static-free footwear. Unless you plan to require special footwear, data obtained with static control footwear has no bearing on your application.