Worldwide, the paint and coatings industry is an important part of everyday living. Paint industry statistics confirm that no domestic or commercial arena remains unaffected, with applications ranging from household and decorative paints, to coatings used in various industries.

There have been significant changes in the paint and coatings industry in recent years. These include company consolidations and acquisitions, stricter market demands for environmentally friendly products and the increasingly sophisticated nature of consumer demands for specialized coatings.

Some new trends in the marketplace include replacing traditional two- or three-coat systems with one-coat systems that speed up application, thereby reducing costs and the use of zero “VOC” systems, that are friendly to the environment and safer for the applicator.

Warren Environmental Inc. has been in the forefront of these changes since the early 1990s, when the company was founded. Imagine an epoxy lining that is odorless, environmentally safe, non-DOT regulated, fire-resistant, algae- and mold-resistant — such a product was the challenge and brainchild of Danny Warren of Warren Environmental Inc.

With 30 years of experience in the application of industrial coatings as president of A&W Maintenance Inc., Warren was well versed in the causes and effects of coating failures and the need for a coating that would provide superior bond strength, acid resistance and durability. Epoxy seemed to be the answer, but was difficult to apply without the use of thinners that degraded the epoxy and created volatile fumes when working in confined spaces. 

In the early 1990s, Warren patented his solvent-free application equipment for the spray application of epoxy. Warren Environmental Inc., headed by his wife Jane Warren, has gone on to create a product line of specialty epoxies for use in water, wastewater and other industries that require corrosion-resistant linings, structural enhancement and repair of deteriorated substrates.

Applications have since expanded to full floor application, epoxy grouting and bedding material for brick or tile floors, sewer linings and restoration linings for fire mains, subway tunnels and full facility coatings. The product has been applied to thousands of square feet of block walls in commercial kitchens, creating a ceramic-like, pinhole-free surface.

Warren Environmental Inc. is based in Middleborough, Mass. The company headquarters, offices and state-of-the-art blending facility are housed in a new 14,200-sq ft building owned by the Warren family, with plenty of room for future expansion. The location is easily accessible from major highways for shipping and receiving.

Warren Environmental specializes in the development of epoxy formulations that are environmentally friendly and can be applied under adverse conditions, such as extreme temperatures, deteriorating substrates, moisture and corrosive environments, company officials say. The current product line includes 100 percent solids, high-build epoxies that can be applied to deteriorated piping and infrastructure in water and wastewater distribution systems to rehabilitate and improve longevity and mechanical properties. Other products include flexible materials that may be used for repair of expansion joints and large multi-million gallon holding tanks that are prone to expansion and contraction, hand-applied epoxies that are used for smaller repairs, specialty grouts, fire-resistant linings and products approved for use in potable water environments.

The company has focused on advanced coatings that are  regulatory-compliant in the industry (no organic solvents or leachable compounds) and that may be applied within the strict windows that these industries face of limited downtime, rapid cure and one-coat high-build requirements of up to 500 mils (1/2 in.) in a single coat.

“One-coat application is a great advantage to our customers,” says company founder Dan Warren. “One-coat application saves labor time, and the time a structure is out of commission. We know that the length of time an industrial customer has to shut down severely impacts their production capabilities. Our one-coat, high-build systems help to address the problem of downtime costs.”

Environmentally conscious clients won’t find a sounder product, as this one has a volatile organic compound (VOC) rating of zero, Warren says. There is virtually no odor to affect workers within the application field, resulting in less downtime for application. The solvent-free application and zero VOC product provides unparalleled safety in confined space environments.

“We are extremely proud of the quality of our products,” says Warren. “Our company has recently received a grant from the state of Massachusetts, which we will use to upgrade our facility to an ISO 9000 certified plant. ISO 9000 is a highly recognized certification that ensures exceptional quality control measures are taken in the production of our products.”

There are many companies attempting to duplicate Warren’s product, but few can meet the high-quality specifications of Warren Environmental epoxy. “There’s nothing else like our product on the market,” says Warren. “When the materials are side by side, our product has no competition.” This statement is backed by numerous outside test reports, such as testing performed by the Naval Research Laboratory and The University of South Carolina, he adds.

Warren Environmental epoxies have also been the focus of many university studies including the University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C., the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, University of Miami, Miami, Fla., Alabama Tech, Birmingham, Ala., University of Houston, Houston, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa., and the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Mass. These studies attest to the superior strengths and corrosion resistance of Warren Environmental epoxies when used to repair concrete and steel infrastructure in a damp environment, Warren says.

As the contracting arm of Warren Environmental, A&W Maintenance Inc. has been rehabilitating infrastructure with the Warren Environmental System of specialty epoxies since 1993.

“This unique combination of manufacturer and applicator has the advantage over other coatings suppliers and applicators for several reasons,” Warren says. “A&W Maintenance applies only the Warren system, and its employees are trained on only Warren equipment. Each employee has an integral knowledge of each Warren product and its correct usage and application. Unlike other contractors, 100 percent of the daily work performed by the A&W crew is epoxy application, and they are experts at it. The manufacturing personnel are constantly interfacing with the application crews regarding variables in field conditions that can make or break a successful coating application. To this end, many of Warren’s specialty application products are designed to address specific field conditions.

“This close working relationship between the two companies has resulted in an outstanding record for both application and product performance, and a 100 percent customer call back on future projects,” Warren adds. Engineers who have become frustrated with the finger pointing that often occurs between manufacturer and applicator when a failure occurs are especially relieved to know that Warren Environmental will warranty both the quality of the product and its application.”

Keys to Warren Environmental’s and A&W’s successes are their willingness to take on challenging projects, their focus on both product and project quality and the professionalism and safety awareness of their crews.  
The success of the Warren Environmental Inc. system and its patented application process has been the focus of articles in industry trade magazines. Some featured projects were the restoration of 1,000 ft of 14-ft diameter tunnel in New York; structural epoxy application in the Los Angeles subway at depths in excess of 1,000 ft; rehabilitation of a 100-year-old, 1 million gal water tank with structural epoxy; complete restoration of a wastewater treatment plant in Newport, R.I.; epoxy restoration of the U.S.’ second oldest standing stone structure, the Oliver Smiths Mill Works in Middleboro, Mass.; restoration of a 100-year-old brick tunnel in Boston; and the restoration of a structurally fatigued sanitary sewer tunnel in Miami-Dade County, Fla.
The town of Bethlehem, N.Y., was faced with few options regarding a water tower that was failing due to corrosion. Initial plans included tearing the tower down or fixing the tank with spot welding and replacement plates, but both scenarios required at least eight weeks of downtime at an estimated cost of a $1 million, with water having to be hauled in from remote sites. Warren Environmental offered another solution. A&W Maintenance emptied the tower, sandblasted and coated the interior, sandblasted the exterior and coated it with a blue-tinted finish (by request), permanently restoring the tower to full usage for a fraction of the cost in six days.

In 1994, sewer manholes in the county of DeKalb, Ga., were leaking into the ground and raw sewage was seeping into local ponds and waterways. A&W Maintenance accepted the task of lining the manholes and waterproofing them with the Warren epoxy system efficiently, stopping all leakage of raw sewage into the groundwater. DeKalb County is so pleased with the Warren Environmental product that from 1994 through 2007, A&W Maintenance has been awarded the county’s annual contract for manhole rehabilitation, Warren says.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) was plagued with water infiltration into its subway tunnel stations and escape shafts. Over the years, many products were tried and had failed. The Warren Environmental system was applied in many locations within the system with great success, and without any odor, which pleased the authority immensely.  A combination of Warren NSF approved gel grout and Warren S301 structural epoxy was used to waterproof four 30-ft wide by 250-ft deep work shafts in the D.C. area. The Warren system has been specified for many future WMTA projects.

Warren Environmental has a small, hand-picked network of approved applicators chosen for their background in contracting and reputation in their area. Approved applicators go through specialty training, working alongside A&W crews on the job, as well as training at Warren Environmental’s new mixing and blending facility in Middleborough, Mass. Here, employees of A&W and approved applicators of the Warren System are trained in the proper use of our specialty epoxy systems and application equipment. 

“Our applicators in the United States include Suncoast Infrastructure in Jackson, Miss., C.K. Masonry in Nashville Tenn., Utility Maintenance Contractors in Wichita, Kan. and Bradbury Industries in Texas,” Warren says.

Recently, Warren Environmental has expanded its applicator network to include Flex Seal, a Fernco Co. that has the exclusive rights to market the product in the United Kingdom under the name of UltraCoat.  

This article was edited by Trenchless Technology International from material supplied by Warren Environmental Inc.

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