Do's and Don'ts
How to avoid problems, failures and costly mistakes

Star Uretech has been a manufacturer and supplier of decorative surfacing resins for over 15 years and as such we have accumulated a lot of knowledge and experience in this market sector. From the introduction of two and three component, yellowing binders to the new breed of advanced single component moisture tolerant systems both resin bound and bonded systems have continued to develop over time. Whilst there was a general decline in the use of decorative surface resins in 2007 the market has continued to recover and decorative resin surfaces are now more common place than ever before.

When a good quality aliphatic resin system is installed on a suitable substrate by a skilled applicator it can last for many years and look fantastic. However if a low quality aromatic resin is used, a screed is laid on an unsuitable substrate or the applicator is unskilled and fails to apply the screed to the correct specification the resulting problems can be disastrous and very expensive to correct.

At Star Uretech we have always taken pride in our ethical approach to business and our desire to provide both products and customer service that go beyond expectation. It is with this ethos that we promote the right solutions, specifications and a better working practice. We encourage anyone considering a decorative resin surface to take five simple steps prior to any commitment:

1) Does the selected installer have a website?
If so, does it have a contact address and company registration number? A good installer will have no problems providing contact data, proof of a history of installations and testimonials.

2) Ask the installer which resin they use and ask for training records.
If there is any doubt contact the resin manufacturer to confirm the suitability of the resin and installer’s credentials.

3) Ask for the resins technical data sheet.
All manufacturers provide these and reading this document will help you understand if the selected resin is suitable for the planned application.

4) Confirm the resin is Aliphatic (non-yellowing).
Cheaper Aromatic resins discolour and are more prone to reflective cracking whilst epoxy resins have a long history of problematic installations.

5) Consider a resin bonded drive.
Simply installing a resin bound surface onto concrete or asphalt does NOT provide a SUDs compliant surface.
6) Is the aggregate being used supplied by an approved decorative aggregate supplier?
Decorative aggregates used as part of a resin bound or bonded surface must be specially washed, dried and approved for use with a resin system.

Please 'Click Here' to see the range of decorative aggregates available from our only approved aggregate supplier, Long Rake Spar.

The most common problems.

Many resin bound surfaces fail for the simple reason that they have been incorrectly specified. The costs and potential profits are significantly greater for a bound surface than that of a bonded surface and this often results in customers being sold a bound system when a bonded system would be the more sensible option. As a resin surfacing manufacturer, at Star Uretech we obviously want to sell our products. However the simple truth is that in some cases a resin surface is not the best option.

It is common knowledge that bituminous blacktop/tarmac type surfaces are prone to movement with changes in ambient temperature. As a bound surface adheres itself to the blacktop it is unable to move in the same manner and this can result in reflective cracking of the bound screed. A bound surface application receiving vehicular traffic will be load bearing and subject to lateral forces. As such the surface will require a suitable foundation and the ability to withstand deflection without cracking. A wall would never be built on a bituminous blacktop/tarmac foundation and where load bearing properties are essential a concrete foundation is usually the correct option.

Insufficient or low quality resin:
Due to the high cost of bound surfacing resin there is a desire by both the manufacturers and applicators to use as little resin as possible. Some applications have used as little as 2% binder with the majority of applications using 5% binder.  Star Uretech only sell a 6.5% binder kit which ensures maximum performance.

Application depth:
The screed application depth plays an important role in the overall capabilities of a bound surface. As with the volume of resin being used, application depth is also cost driven with most applications being laid at the minimum specified depth or even less. The absolute minimum depth should be 3 x the largest aggregate particle (i.e. 3mm to 6mm aggregate should be laid at an absolute minimum depth of 18mm) (3x6mm). Rather than applying at a depth that errs on the side of caution, many bound surfaces are applied with the stated ‘minimum depth’ being the average depth, resulting in screed lay on raised areas falling below the minimum required. In some cases application depths fall as low as just a few millimetres.

Due to the nature of most resin bound systems water can have very detrimental effects on the resin and ultimately on the strength and appearance of the finished screed. When stored correctly dried aggregate remains dry and fit for purpose but aggregate left outside can easily absorb moisture even when covered. Trace amounts of moisture found in the aggregates used in the screed or in the solvents used to clean equipment can vastly reduce the performance of the finished application and often results in stone loss, surface whitening and blooming. Unfortunately it is not always immediately apparent when moisture has been allowed to effect the finished surface application.

As with all types of decorative surfacing, there are both good and bad installers. Whilst the majority of installers are highly skilled and provide an excellent service this is sadly not always the case. Along with the popularity of resin bound surfaces, the number of new installers has increased over the last few years and in turn this has resulted in increased competition, lower prices and increased efforts to cut costs. The majority of our customers have continued to maintain the highest of standards. However cost cutting by using low cost and low performance resins, reducing the amount of resin used and generally cutting corners in preparation, application and ongoing customer support has become an all too common a problem.

Despite being a small proportion of the overall costs the selection of aggregates used in bound surfacing is essential. The crush resistance of some aggregates marketed especially for use with decorative surfacing is inadequate and using these aggregates can result in particle breakdown which is then trafficked across the screed and continues to damage the surface. Dusty aggregates, damp aggregates and oversized aggregates are often used to in an effort to reduce system costs. However in most cases this results in a full system failure. Star Uretech only promote the use of specialist decorative aggregates such as those supplied by Long Rake Spar.

It is important to highlight the fact that when a resin surface is installed to an acceptable specification, by a skilled applicator it can not only be aesthetically exceptional but it can also outlast surrounding (non-resin) surfaces. Star Uretech have supplied resin to projects completed over 10 years ago and they still look fantastic and are performing beyond expectation.

Despite these facts, Star Uretech still sees a worrying trend of jobs failing due to poor specification, application on unsuitable surfaces, insufficient resin, low screed depth, unskilled application and excess moisture being allowed access to uncured material.

It is for these reasons that Star Uretech makes the following guarantees:

1) Star Uretech will always specify the correct material for any given project and if a resin surface is not completely suitable we will advise against such an application.

2) Star Uretech will only sell kits of bound surfacing resin that are pre-measured to ensure a minimum 6% resin to aggregate mix ratio.

3) Star Uretech will offer free training courses to all installers and only approve installers that have completed the training.

4) Star Uretech will continue to inform all contractors, architects and their potential customers of both the pro’s and con’s of resin bound and bonded surfacing.

We love to talk and we are always happy to help so please contact us.
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