Flooring for Equine Recovery and Treatment

horse lying on comfortstall rubber stable flooring

Flooring for Equine Recovery and Treatment - Your Guide

Firstly, to help answer the question about suitable flooring for equine recovery and treatment areas I have listed the 4 different functional rooms:

  • Medical Areas
  • Induction and Recovery Rooms
  • Surgery Rooms
  • Patient Areas

Medical Areas

These include the exam room, the diagnostic imaging and treatment areas, and the standing surgery room. A seamless floor covering is best in these areas having the following features:

  • Slip resistance.
  • Durability
  • Ease of cleaning—good sanitation is essential.
  • Attention to detail of joints and edges.

There are not many flooring systems on the market that have these features. For the sake of safety, the floor surface should compress and then return to its former shape. Some systems do not wear well that are used for equine facilities.

Poured Rubber:

There are hospitals that are looked up to that use a poured rubberized floor product over a pad which provides a cushioned, slip-resistant, durable surface.  This system on first sight seems to meet the needed criteria; however, two issues may arise that prove it not the best. If the pad layer is of an open-cell material and the top layer is punctured water can penetrate and create an unsanitary condition. Also, the floor proves difficult to seal around floor drains.

A variant to poured rubber:

Alternatively, a seamless polyurethane system can be poured over a base layer of rubber, which has the benefit of a cushioned, resilient surface and creates a stronger bond between the two layers. The lower layer does not allow penetration of moisture and is much easier to seal around drains and to join with other floor areas.  Advice should be sought from the manufacturer to achieve the correct level of slip resistance in the surface layer.

A high-performance product as described above is going to be expensive and therefore it is important to look at all the pros and cons before committing to the costs involved.

Affordability and other options:

If you are unable to afford a more expensive floor some of the concrete slabs could be left exposed and a thick rubber surface or rubber mats used where the horses stand. However, surfacing that is made from recycled rubber is porous and is not suitable for medical areas, but acceptable for some others.  Rubber mats specifically made for equine use have a sealed surface and are easier to keep clean.  It is essential to seal them to each other and to the lower layer to prevent the growth of bacteria.  A strict system of removal, disinfecting and drying of the mats and substrate must be observed after use if you prefer to avoid sealing them to the concrete.

Equine Induction and Recovery Rooms

A floor in these areas could be firmer than a top-quality medical area floor.  A right balance is needed so that the floor surface is not too firm or too cushiony.  A thick sealed rubber mat may be adequate; however, a polyurethane seamless floor over a dense rubber layer should be considered.

Surgery Rooms

In this area, the horse is not standing on the floor and therefore it does not have to be resilient. However, a weight of 1000kg will be experienced with the horse and surgery table. Obviously a high level of cleanliness and sanitation must be maintained and the best result is achieved by using a resin flooring system which includes epoxy resin and acrylic urethane.  The following characteristics are recommended:

  • Minimum thickness of 6mm.
  • The base of the wall should be covered to seal the joint.
  • A urethane layer on the top will resistant chemicals present.
  • Application on concrete slabs that emit more than 7kg of moisture per 100 sqm in 24 hours is suitable.

The floor system that meets these features is a cementitious urethane system.  They are becoming more used in equine areas, but cost more than epoxy floor systems.

Patient Areas

A seamless flooring system is recommended in any ICU and high-risk patient wards. This is particularly essential if any amount of water is used to clean to prevent the build-up of infection.

It may be the practice does not have an infectious patient, or not very often, in which case rubber paver tiles as found in traditional establishments are effective laid on a porous, compacted base. They can be used indoors and outdoors plus they look good.  A low-cost specification for a low-risk area could be a simple concrete slab as in the barn aisles.

In Conclusion: 

In summary, things to consider for your flooring for equine recovery and treatment:

  • Construct the concrete slab design in accordance with the industry’s recognised best practice.
  • Contact other equine hospitals and ask specialists for advice to ascertain their use of products that have proved successful.
  • Obtain samples of the flooring you are considering using.