Flooring installations in social housing settings often face pressure to be completed as quickly as possible. Fortunately, certain processes and combinations of innovative new products can dramatically cut the time this takes. Neil Sanders from F. Ball and Co. Ltd., offers solutions for installing floorcoverings in time-critical situations.
More than ever before, flooring contractors face pressures to complete flooring installations to ever-shorter timescales without compromising on finished results. This is frequently because the pace of modern construction leaves a small window in which to install floorcoverings, or areas can only remain off limits for short periods. In these situations, it is useful to be aware of procedures and product innovations that can speed up each step in the floor covering installation process – from making sure the floor is smooth enough to receive floorcoverings to finally securing floorcoverings using an adhesive.
The first step in any flooring installation should be to check that the subfloor is suitably sound, smooth and dry, including conducting a moisture test to determine subfloor moisture levels. Where a moisture test indicates that relative humidity (RH) levels within the subfloor are above 75% (65% if wood floor coverings are to be installed), a moisture management solution will be required to prevent floor failure.
For these situations, single coat waterproof surface membranes are available that will fully cure in as little as three hours to isolate residual construction moisture or rising damp where RH values are up to 98%.
Two-coat systems can create a barrier against residual construction moisture where there are RH values of up to 95% in less than two hours. The first coat requires 15-20 minutes curing time; the second requires a further 30 minutes to cure.
A levelling compound is recommended to create a perfectly smooth base for the receipt of floorcoverings. Levelling compounds, in particular, have seen significant reductions in drying times, the result of advancements in cement technology. Nowadays, the fastest setting levelling compound on the market is walk-on hard from 30 minutes and allows textile and resilient floor coverings to be installed from as little as 45 minutes after application. Self-levelling properties also make them easy to apply, with minimal trowel work.
Where flooring installations are part of a refurbishment and old adhesive residues, such as bitumen and carpet tile tackifiers, are present after the removal of old floorcoverings, contractors can save time by using a levelling compound that has been specially formulated for use over old adhesive residues. This eliminates the need for mechanical preparation. When used in these situations, it is not essential to prime the subfloor before the application of this levelling compound, saving further time. It also means contractors can use the same product in situations where newly installed subfloors and areas with old adhesive residues present are next to each other.
Once the levelling compound has cured, the contractor can then select a suitably fast-working adhesive to install appropriate floorcoverings. The choice of adhesive will often be determined foremost by what type of floor coverings are to be installed and where, but there are options for when timesaving
is a priority.
Innovations in adhesive technology have also enabled the development of hybrid temperature tolerant pressure sensitive vinyl floorcoverings, which can be used to install vertical flooring accessories, such as skirting, capping and coving, providing an alternative to contact adhesives. This will save contractors time where vinyl floor coverings are taken up the wall, such as in wetrooms.
When it is required to install flooring in social housing settings that remain open to tenants, contractors should be sure to select a low odour product to avoid any unpleasant smells that could cause irritation to residents.
Advances in adhesive technology mean that most adhesives are now formulated to be solvent-free and low odour. Contractors will find solvent-free, low odour adhesives that are also fast-drying, for use with a wide
variety of floorcoverings. These adhesives have been developed with a range of other specialist properties, including the ability to be applied over under floor heating systems, on vertical surfaces and in areas subject to extreme temperature fluctuations.
To prevent a substandard finish or even complete floor failure, contractors should always ensure that adhesives are compatible with the chosen floorcoverings. To do this, they can consult the floorcovering manufacturer’s instructions.
F. Ball offers a Recommended Adhesives Guide (RAG®) which lists adhesives recommended for use with over 6,000 floorcoverings, produced by over 200 manufacturers. A continually updated version of which is available on the website and as a free app.
Neil Sanders is technical director at F. Ball and Co. Ltd