Split image showing a completed ShadowFX static-dissipative (ESD) carpet installation in a manufacturing facility on the left. On the right is a completed installation of Eclipse EC (electrically conductive) rubber in a lab.
StaticWorx ShadowFX static-dissipative carpet in an electronics manufacturing facility and StaticWorx Eclipse EC (electrically conductive) rubber in a lab.

Static-Dissipative and Conductive Flooring, How They Differ & Why It Matters

9 min read, 3 min video

Flooring is a crucial element in any industrial and commercial setting. Flooring that controls electrostatic discharge (ESD) is critical in facilities where static electricity is a concern. In these environments, conductive and static dissipative flooring can be used to protect sensitive electronic equipment from damage caused by random ESD events.

Conductive and static dissipative flooring both dissipate, or transport, static charges to ground. Used (in most cases) in conjunction with static-protective footwear, both also prevent static generation. So, what exactly is the difference? Let’s take a closer look.

Conductive Flooring

Conductive flooring is designed to prevent the buildup of static electricity by providing a pathway for electrical charges to dissipate to ground. This is achieved by embedding elements with conductivity (low electrical resistance) into the flooring material. Examples include carbon, graphite or copper. Conductive elements allow electrical charges to flow freely from their surface, through the thickness of the flooring material, to an earth ground.

Conductive flooring is often used in electronics manufacturing and handling facilities to protect the equipment and prevent manufacturing losses as well as failure in the field. It is also used in areas where there is a high risk of explosive or flammable materials, such as chemical plants, munitions factories, and oil refineries. In these settings, the buildup of static electricity can ignite a fire or explosion, putting workers and equipment at risk.

To be categorized as conductive, a material must measure under 1.0 x 10E6 ohms using an ohm meter, following procedures outlined in either ASTM F150 or ANSI/ESD STM7.1. For safety reasons, most electronics facilities shy away from using flooring materials that measure < 2.5 x 10E4. 

Static-Dissipative Flooring

Like conductive flooring, static-dissipative flooring is designed to control the buildup of static electricity and dissipate charges to ground. Static-dissipative flooring transports charges at a slightly slower rate than conductive floors, with a more controlled release, while also releasing charges to an earth ground. This slower transport of electrical current is achieved by using elements with a higher electrical resistance than used in conductive flooring or by embedding a lower ratio of conductive particles in the flooring material.

Static-dissipative flooring is often used in end-user facilities that rely on sensitive electronic equipment for their core mission. These include computer rooms, labs, cleanrooms, PSAPs, communications facilities, server rooms, financial institutions, networked government offices and many more. In these settings, the buildup of static electricity can damage the equipment or cause malfunctions, leading to costly repairs, lost or missed calls, garbled signals, data loss or disruption, and facility downtime.

To be categorized as static dissipative, a material must measure between 1.0 x 10E6 and < 1.0 x 10E9 using an ohm meter, following procedures outlined in ASTM F150 or ANSI/ESD STM7.1.

Key Differences

The key difference between conductive and static dissipative flooring is the rate at which each floor allows electrical charges to flow through the material to ground. Conductive flooring allows the charge to flow more freely and quickly. Static-dissipative flooring also draws charges through the material, but more slowly, in a more controlled manner.

Another way to express the same thing is to refer to their electrical resistance. Electrical resistance is the opposite of conductivity. Conductivity measures how quickly charges flow through a material. Resistance measures the rate at which the material slows charges moving from one point to another or from the material to ground. Conductive flooring has a lower resistance, while static dissipative flooring has a higher resistance.

Label at the top reads "Conductive floors versus static-dissipative floors: Does it matter?" Below is an illustration representing the difference between conductive and dissipative with four funnels. With the one labeled "Too conductive", the bottom of the funnel is the largest allowing a faster and larger flow. With the next one, labeled "Conductive", the bottom of the funnel is larger than the next one (labeled "Dissipative") allowing a fast and large flow from it. Finally, the one labeled "Too dissipative" has a very narrow opening, meaning the flow is slower and much more controlled.

Which is Right For You?

The choice between conductive and static-dissipative flooring will depend on the specific requirements of your environment and application. When working with flammable or explosive materials, conductive flooring is the required option to ensure rapid discharge and safety. If you are working in an end-user facility that relies on sensitive electronic systems, you don’t need the floor to be too conductive. Static-dissipative flooring, carpet specifically, may be a more suitable option since it measures in the range recommended by organizations like FAA, ATIS and other organizations that set communications industry standards.

Is the Floor Antistatic? Hint: Conductive is Not the Same as Antistatic

Conductivity – or static dissipation – is not the only property to consider when purchasing a floor to protect your electronic equipment or prevent explosions. You must also consider whether or not the floor is antistatic. That is, can the floor prevent charge generation in the first place? Conductivity and charge generation are not the same thing. A floor can be conductive, even highly conductive, and still generate static.

Some floors, ESD vinyl and epoxy in particular, do not prevent static unless they are used in conjunction with special ESD footwear. This means, every person walking through the facility must wear ESD-protective heel straps, toe straps, sole straps or ESD shoes. Otherwise the floor will not protect equipment from damage as effectively as other options such as SD carpet and EC rubber.

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Before selecting an ESD floor, users and specifiers should ask questions about the application, the environment and objectives of facilities managers and owners. Questions include:

  • What are the industry standards for this application?
  • What are the stakes and risks if an ESD event occurs?
  • Will everyone in your facility wear ESD footwear?
  • What happens if ESD footwear compliance is an issue?
  • Do you have the resources to enforce a mandate requiring ESD footwear?

These questions, and not just electrical resistance (if the floor is conductive or static dissipative), should enter into the decision about which ESD flooring to use. 

When selecting ESD flooring, it is important to work with a qualified flooring expert, who can help you determine the right solution. Electrical standards vary across industries and applications. An ESD flooring expert can help you understand the electrical standards for your industry and application. They’ll assess any risks and requirements, including floor prep and usage requirements – e.g., will you be using harsh chemicals? Rolling heavy loads or using fork lifts? And they’ll evaluate ergonomic concerns such as slip resistance or sound attenuation. Taking all of this into consideration, an ESD flooring expert will recommend the ESD flooring option that will best meet your needs and objectives.


Static Dissipative Flooring – What It Is & Why You Need It


Static-dissipative vs Conductive Flooring


Conductive vs Dissipative Flooring: Does It Matter?


Static Dissipative Flooring – What It Is & Why You Need It


Static-dissipative vs Conductive Flooring


Conductive vs Dissipative Flooring: Does It Matter?

About StaticWorx, Inc

All StaticWorx posts are written by our technical team and based on industry standards and specifications, test data, independent lab reports and other verifiable data. We provide ESD training and offer CEU credits to architects. If you’re interested in an ESD training session or architects’ ESD workshop, give us a call: 617-923-2000.

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Background graphic is a still from the StaticWorx GroundSafe ESD Flooring – Your Trusted Partner explainer animation. In the foreground at the bottom are two boxes. The top is a bright blue with the StaticWorx logo and "GroundSafe ESD Flooring" underneath in white. The second is a dark blue-gray and includes the text in white: “GroundWorx ESD Flooring – Your Trusted Partner”
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StaticWorx high-performance static-control floors protect electronic components, explosives, and high-speed computers from damage caused by static electricity. ESD flooring is part of a system. Choices should always be based on objective, researched evidence. When you partner with us, we look at all possible items that may need to integrate with the floor, and, focusing on your goals and objectives, help you find the right floor for your application.