Choosing suitable flooring for your walk-in refrigerator is not always an easy decision to make. Some flooring types are perfectly suited to this demanding setting while others do not have the durability and resilience you need. With that said, we thought we’d put our vast experience to good use by creating this comprehensive guide to your walk-in cooler flooring options.
Do you need a walk-in cooler floor?
It might surprise you to know that you may not necessarily need a walk-in cooler floor at all. It really depends on what you’ll be using your cooler for and where it’ll be installed. Some walk-in coolers will be shipped with flooring already installed, while in other cases, you might get by perfectly well without one. If you have a cooler without a built-in floor, you should be aware that you’ll require sealers, or ‘screeds’, to join the walls of the cooler to the floor to keep it airtight.
If your cooler will only be accessed by foot traffic and is going to be installed on a concrete floor that’s in contact with the ground, it may not be necessary to invest in specialist flooring. If you plan to install the cooler on wooden floors or floors that aren’t on grade, you’ll need a specialist walk-in floor to avoid the damage caused by condensation. Similarly, if you plan to use pallet jacks or carts to transport heavy items into and out of your cooler, you’ll require a hardwearing cooler floor.
What walk-in cooler floor types should you consider?
Generally speaking, a prefabricated insulated floor is well-suited to most applications. It will increase the energy efficiency of your cooler and help to keep your utility costs down. If the cooler is for a new building, you should install slab insulation and thermal breaks when pouring the concrete floor. That will prevent condensation from forming on top of and within the concrete.
When you order a custom-built walk-in cooler, manufacturers will typically offer two or three flooring options. The right choice for you will depend on how you intend to use the cooler, what you’ll store in it and how it’ll be accessed. Below are some of the most common walk-in cooler flooring options.
- Aluminium panel floors – The standard flooring supplied with walk-in coolers tends to be made from similar materials to the cooler’s walls. That’s typically aluminium panels with insulation foamed-in-place between them. These basic floors can withstand loads of around 500-800 pounds per square foot. That’s suitable for supporting foot traffic but nothing more.
- Plywood underlay – The next step up is a walk-in cooler floor that features a plywood underlay. This type of flooring can withstand weights of up to 1,000 pounds per square foot. That is suitable for supporting light four-wheeled carts such as hand carts and pan racks that are filled with evenly distributed loans.
- Reinforced floors – At the top end of the spectrum are heavy-duty floors with plywood underlays that are reinforced by tubular or metal grid supports throughout the foam insulation. These floors can withstand loads of up to 5,000 pounds per square foot. That makes them suitable for holding beer kegs and the transport of manually operated pallet jacks and heavily loaded hand carts.
Additional walk-in cooler flooring options
Some manufacturers also offer additional flooring options so you can create a customized solution that’s perfect for you. That includes:
- Floor overlays – Overlays are a low-cost way to increase the maximum weight your cooler’s flooring can support. Although they are an effective way to increase the durability and strength of your flooring, overlay floors are not usually NSF-listed for storing open food. That’s due to the openings that are created when the overlays are screwed to your original flooring. However, they are suitable for storing produce in its original, unopened packaging.
- Optional finishes – Smooth aluminium tends to be the standardized finish for walk-in cooler floors. However, some manufacturers may offer additional finishes such as galvanized stainless steel to increase the resistance to damage, or diamond tread plate to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
- Matching ramps – If your cooler needs to be accessed by a ramp, most manufacturers can produce ramps that match the load capacity and finish of your walk-in cooler flooring.
Professional walk-in cooler installation, maintenance and repair
At 512 Refrigeration Services, we offer professional installation, maintenance and repair of walk-in coolers, and we can help you figure out next steps if you’re considering a new cooler, reflooring, or any other maintenance or upgrade needs. Find out more about our commercial refrigeration services
in Austin, TX, including walk-in freezer repair
. You can also read our semi-annual maintenance checklist
to help you keep your walk-in cooler in the best possible condition.