FAQ: Is ESD epoxy appropriate for a small server room?

We need to caution about the limitations of static-dissipative or conductive epoxy coating in a data center/server room application.

ESD coatings eliminate static by providing a path to ground. Conductivity is achieved by adding conductive fibers or carbon and graphite particulate. The fibers and particulate create an electrical bridge through a material that, otherwise, is an insulating static generator.

Image - labeled "Generation 2” with “Available in many colors” underneath - is a cross-section illustration showing how generation 2 ESD epoxy flooring works. The illustration shows feet on a flooring surface, labeled “topcoat”. The layer underneath is labeled “buried conductive ground plane”. The next layer is labeled “insulative primer/base coat” and a copper strip runs from the primer to ground (labeled “connect to AC or building ground”). The next layer is labeled “concrete subfloor”. The illustration shows the charge running from the person, across the surface of the floor, along the copper strip to ground. A zoomed in cross section shows the ground plane in detail and is labeled “Ground plane cross section: carbon fibers”. Text above the illustration reads “Electrically conductive fibers distributed throughout the topcoat allow charges to bleed from the surface to the buried conductive ground plane”

Conductivity is only one of the two critical static control properties provided by a coating.

Most epoxy is not a low charge-generating material. ESD epoxy coatings will eliminate static only if they are used in conjunction with special static-preventive footwear. If people walk on the floor with regular footwear (dress shoes, sneakers, hiking boots etc.), the coating will neither prevent the generation of static nor remove a static charge after it is generated.

To bridge the electrical gap between the human body and the floor, every person walking on the floor would need to wear special ESD footwear at all times. Walking on any ESD coating in street shoes would be the same as walking across a sheet of plastic. The result being the generation of thousands of volts and an increased likelihood of an ESD event.

ESD Shoes

In data centers, we recommend the following conductive materials:

  1. Conductive rubber;
  2. Conductive epoxy—but only if ESD footwear is mandated and rigorously enforced;
  3. Conductive vinyl tile—but only if ESD footwear is mandated and rigorously enforced;
  4. Static-dissipative carpet tile.

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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.