WHO FITS IT - Mark Holden of 4m tells Building about the intricacies of laying down resin flooring in the Millennium Dome

Crewe-based flooring company 4m specialises in thin-section resin flooring for industrial and commercial premises. These are decorative and highly durable. In fact, according to Mark Holden, the firm’s managing director, they were designed for heavy duty engineering plants and are harder than stone. The firm also undertakes precision, thin-section levelling of floors for its own finishes and for clients.

4m supplied flooring for the £64m refurbishment of Bentley’s factory in Crewe

The company was founded in 1993 and is now owned by developer and contractor Seddon Group. Operating nationally, 4m has 39 staff and turned over £5.3m last year. The firm is currently working in the former Millennium Dome, now called the 02 arena, on a £1.5m contract.

Holden describes the O2 arena as one of the most technically challenging jobs the firm has done because it involves the entire skill set of the company. This includes condensation resistant screeds, sloping and flat resin floors and floors with integral copings. The finished floors will be in a range of different colours and feature decorative bands and stripes.

Holden says it is crucial that 4m gets involved early on, otherwise the quality of the finished floor can be compromised. “Some parts of the operation are very sensitive and you have to leave these until the conditions are right,” he explains. “The final finish has to be done in a clinical environment where there is no possibility of dust or dirt passing across the floor.”

The firm needs uninterrupted access to the area being worked on, good lighting and the temperature has to be right. “If you don’t understand how the product is applied it will end up being applied in bad conditions and you will get a poor floor finish.”

Crucial to this is getting the architect to understand the particular product being used and the process behind its application. Holden says 4m always specifies the product regardless of what the architect says, to ensure quality.

“Whatever the architect thinks of the product, it’s down to us to deliver it and the guarantees,” he says. “The responsibility is right on our shoulders.” He adds that the architect always gets the appearance and performance they want.

Close co-operation with the contractor is also important to get the right conditions and because the firm needs uninterrupted access to the area being worked on. This involves careful planning and flexibility. “We have to be flexible in all our work as we could potentially halt work on site,” he says.

If resin floors are so sensitive to the right conditions, surely value engineering is out of the question? Apparently not, 4m had to value engineer the O2 flooring to save money, but without changing the specification. It did this by reducing the thickness of the expensive levelling screed, which is sandwiched between the top resin layer, and the concrete screed. “It means the concrete has to be applied more accurately but it saves money overall and the architect gets what they wanted,” says Holden.

The firm is also busy on a range of other projects including a £2.4m contract for the flooring at Dublin airport. “It’s a very big job for us,” says Holden. The floor is insitu terrazzo which has coloured aggregates set into a resin which are then ground and polished. Holden says this has the advantage of being more durable. “Tiles normally need attention after five years, this would last 25 years before attention is needed.”

The world according to...

Mark Holden managing director, 4M

My dream specification is ...
One I have put together myself.

I swear by ...
Flowcrete’s products because they have everything in their locker room that I need, it’s a one-stop shop. They have the product range and the guarantees come from one company. They also have good backup and advice if there is a problem.

The best recent innovation is ...
Waterbased products. These are better for the environment
and health and they perform as well as the solvent-based alternatives. Any product that gives out noxious fumes should be outlawed.

My worst specification nightmare is ...
One that has never been tried and tested and is unfit for its purpose.

The worst piece of red tape is ...
Retentions. It should be outlawed. A high proportion of retention payments are lost forever.

The next big thing will be ...
Resin flooring for the Olympics. We have our eye on the Games because there are a lot of areas that will call out for resin flooring.