Connecting to Collections Care Online Community

archival storage floors – what is your floor made of?

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    • #131716
      Charlene Martin

      I am submitting recommendations to my employer for what the new archive storage room (we will rent it for 10yrs) should be like. As you may know, vinyl composition tiles and carpet floors are not considered archival, since they both off-gas and carpet retains moisture.

      The National Archives and Record Administration and the National Park Service say that archival storage floors should be stripped of carpet and vinyl/linoleum tiles to the bare concrete. Then the concrete should be cured with an acrylic compound that is sealed with 2 coats of water-based epoxy.

      My employer is wondering if there is a middle-ground approach to the NARA and Park Service standards, since we are only renting the space and have modest financial resources. Maybe I could just have the carpenters seal the vinyl tiles with the water-based epoxy sealer?

      Thank you for your help with this!

    • #133789
      John Schaub

      Charlene, I too am looking for floor finish options for a project I am currently working on. Hopefully someone will respond with some helpful information. If I find something other than the epoxy option I will let you know. Best, John

    • #133905

      Dear Charlene,
      I consulted with several of our C2CC storage experts. The chief concerns about vinyl flooring would offgassing of adhesives and plasticizers. We made two assumptions, which you are welcome to correct if we’re wrong: first, that the vinyl is not brand-new, and second, that it’s not crumbling and a tripping hazard. We all agree that the vinyl flooring, as long as it is not brand-new, is likely not going to be your biggest concern in setting up a 10-year archival storage facility. The adhesives will have given up most of their solvents long ago. We do not feel that there is a need for, nor would there be much success in, sealing the vinyl flooring with a coating.

      Here are a few suggestions for you to explore with the facilities manager:
      1. keep the temperatures as low as is feasible for your climate (below room temperature) to slow deterioration of your permanent collections; however, keep it above 45F to prevent migration of plasticizers both in the flooring and in any AV collections you might have.
      2. keep the relative humidity moderate, below 60% to prevent mold growth, and above 30% to prevent desiccation and warping of any photographs and other sensitive objects.
      3. if there is a strong chemical odor in the facility, consider doing an ambient Oddy test or installing Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) detectors, and if the levels are high, then investigate the cause. These VOCs could be caused by the flooring, but also could be caused by paint, carpet, and unsealed wood furniture or cabinetry. Remedying those causes would entail different approaches. If all else fails, you could request VOC filtration on the HVAC system but this can be costly.

      Good luck with your project!

      This reply was compiled from contributions by Marc Williams of the American Conservation Consortium (, Priscilla Anderson, Patricia Selinger, Ramona Duncan-Huse, and Douglas Sanders.

    • #133906

      Sharlane Gubkin sent this reply:

      I spoke to Steve Alden from General Polymers Group. He said it is possible to apply the 3505S to successfully seal the vinyl. The floor would first need to be de-waxed, sanded and ground, and cleaned. Then apply Epoxy primer 3579. When dry, seal with the 3505S (Special epoxy floor coating developed and used by the NARA) Please contact Steve Alden at 1-800-543-7964 ext. 3405 to order and/or get more information about the products and their application. He will send the MSDS for the products and I can forward them to the list…

    • #133907

      From Steve Alden:
      Here is the information on the 3505S Epoxy Coating. As we discussed, this coating may be applied to vinyl tile after cleaning/de-waxing and sanding.

      Please contact me with additional questions.
      Steve Alden
      Technical Service
      General Polymers Brand The Sherwin Williams Company
      Phone: 800-543-7694 ext. 3405

      • #133916

        Here is the promised information.

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    • #133913

      Here is some additional information on coatings:
      Looking at the MSDS reveals toxicity for humans related to VOCs. Since what we’re trying to do is reduce VOC’s in collections, it doesn’t make sense to use a high-VOC marine epoxy coating.

      For coating concrete, one suggestion is a low-VOC/odorless, low health risk, water-based product called Acrisoy. However, it likely would not stick to vinyl so it’s not applicable to your situation.

    • #133914
      Marc Williams

      Let me go back to the original post. “Vinyl tile and carpet off-gas and carpet retains moisture and are not suitable for storage” (not a literal quote). Both do off-gas when they are new, but this decreases substantially as they age. Also, “retaining” moisture is another way of saying that carpet acts as a moisture buffer – it absorbs moisture on high RH days and gives it off on low RH days. In general, this is a VERY good trait, as it slows down RH changes in the air. What is not mentioned is the environmental control system that is in place. How tight are the specs on the system? If they are fairly good, then carpeting (older) can improve on the system controls. Even with loose specs, carpeting can help if the normal RH is not too high, for example in the northern tier of the USA.

      I believe that for the duration of a short-term lease (yes, 10 years is short term in museum circles), I would not worry about the floor. You probably will have many more pollutants and vapors given off by other things in the room or building. So, as a general answer without specifics, as they say, forget about it!!

    • #134649
      Virginia Whelan

      Has anyone done Oddy testing on the Lapidolith or Acrisoy mentioned above? I am also investigating Sherwin Williams Armorseal 8100 water-based epoxy floor coating. Any information or experiential insights into these products would be most helpful.

      I am looking for a sealant coating for a concrete floor (new) in a museum, preferably tinted.


    • #134652
      Anisha Gupta

      Hi Virginia,

      Though I could not find any Oddy test results for Lapidolith or Acrisoy, this is where it might be:

      I recommend reaching out to the contributors of this Wiki page to see if they can direct you to someone who can help. I’m sorry I don’t have more information.

    • #134656
      Rachael Arenstein

      As AIC’s e-Editor overseeing the wiki site I am grateful that Anisha thought to share the link to our pages with Oddy Testing results. All the information we have is on the site and we depend on contributions from colleagues worldwide so if the data is not there, then nothing has been submitted to date. I would like to encourage individual or institution performing Oddy tests to make a contribution to the site by sharing test results. You do not need to know how MediaWiki (unless you want to learn!).

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