Brewery Walls and Ceilings

Brewery floors deserve the most amount of planning and attention to detail but other aspects of brewery construction can help ensure sanitary and smooth operations. While ceilings may inadvertently experience moisture in the form of splash and steam, walls in breweries typically experience high amounts of washdown and splash from beer, water, and chemical solutions. Walls in brewery process areas should be designed and installed in anticipation of likely moisture infiltration in order to avoid costly downtime and repairs.

Wall designs vary from tilt-up concrete, cement blocks, metal siding, and stick frame construction. In a typical stick frame design, a base plate of treated wood or steel is bolted to a poured curb and the frame is erected from wood or steel studs. Choices are then made for which material to cover the framed wall, which can include:

  • Sheetrock: This is the least costly option but even with water resistant “green board” and robust paint, gypsum board is easily damaged and will quickly fail.
  • MDO board: This is plywood with a polyurethane skin, which acts as a smooth bonding agent for an epoxy paint. This material will certainly hold up better than sheetrock but the plywood will inevitably gather moisture and deteriorateIf using this option, seal the edges of the plywood with caulking to reduce moisture ingress.
  • Cement board: A material like that used as a tile base can be installed, coated with grout, and painted with epoxy paint. This is a fairly robust cleanable system that can be fairly easy to repaint and maintain.
  • Tile: As with brewery floors, tile makes the best and longest-serving wall covering for brewery operations. Chemical resistant glazed tile with epoxy grout applied over cement board works well and is very cleanable.

Brewery ceilings must be able to withstand water vapor from cleaning operations and the occasional splash event from a burst rupture disc or CIP or beer line. Unfortunately tile is not a practical or economically feasible alternative for ceilings. Acoustic ceiling tiles, bare wood, and sheetrock are not advised. In multi-story operations supporting tanks and equipment, the ceilings are normally poured concrete and act as the floors for the operations above them. Concrete ceilings should be completely sealed and coated with quality cleanable epoxy paint.

Ceilings are called upon quite often to support piping and electric racks, conduits, and lighting. As such, it is sometimes convenient in some breweries to use a material like MDO board, to which struts and fixtures can be easily fastened and which creates a smooth, relatively water-resistant, easily cleanable surface. Once again, seal the edges of the plywood to reduce water ingress.

Take some time to think through the construction of brewery walls and ceilings so that they are sealed, cleanable, and resistant to liquid infiltration; this will pay dividends in avoidable and costly repairs.

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