- Taking Care of Timber Floor
Timber flooring, from traditional parquet blocks through to modern laminated systems, can contribute to creating attractive and visually stimulating room interiors, thanks to the very wide choice of wood species available with their characteristic colours, grain patterns and irregularities.
Specifiers and contractors should, however, always remain aware of the product or system’s vulnerability as an organic material: susceptible to both their physical treatment and ambient conditions. This then demands respect for the manufacturer’s recommendations, as well as the careful choice of appropriate adhesives and other products for the installation.
Although moisture levels in the substrate are crucial to the long term performance of all floorcoverings, wood products are particularly sensitive; with this susceptibility extending to the temperature and humidity of the air.
Despite a building having an effective DPM installed as part of its construction, there is still the possibility that RH readings for the substrate could exceed the maximum relative humidity recommended by different timber flooring suppliers.
In these cases it will be necessary to utilise a well proven moisture vapour suppressant. Where, however the original damp proofing has failed or never existed, a high quality surface Damp Proof Membrane must be installed prior to work proceeding. This may need to extend to tanking of the walls to prevent lateral ingress.
Flatness of the substrate is another very important factor, particularly with bonded flooring systems, while it may also be necessary to smooth the irregularities in the surface using a moisture tolerant underlayment prior to installing the DPM.
Even when the substrate is apparently dry and sound, it remains potentially disastrous to attempt the installation of a high quality wood floor where the interior atmosphere is too cold or gives too high a RH reading. In addition it is good practice to allow timber flooring to ‘condition’ or acclimatise in the room where it is to be laid, before work commences; and to remember that any unprotected timber, such as sawn end grain, is likely to expand in the event of moisture ingress.
When it comes to the specification of the adhesive, customers should seek a product which not only has a proven track record, but which offers user-friendly installation characteristics. TREMCO SF520, for instance, is an advanced polymer adhesive which can be used to install almost all types of wood flooring, and is even compatible with underfloor heating.
Contractors want to work quickly with a single component adhesive that provides sufficient open time to allow the flooring to be properly firmed into place - and possibly even weighted down – but to cure properly within a few hours. EC1 and BREEAM compliance are also increasingly sought after attributes.
- Soft Floorcovering Installation Considerations
A survey of UK property owners published in May revealed that dated or worn carpets are their biggest cause of embarrassment; considered worse than faults such as cracked plasterwork or peeling paint. Small surprise then that we are witnessing significant growth in the sales of soft floorcoverings; together with the products used for their installation.
Though vinyl and wood surfaces undoubtedly remain popular for buildings subject to heavy pedestrian traffic, there is a view that carpets and carpet tiles offer a far more comfortable surface underfoot; and also contribute to good acoustic characteristics, cutting down on reverberation.
Therefore, we are seeing facilities managers or building owners across the sectors - including hotels, leisure, retail and hospitality: both replacing old worn-out carpets, and overlaying hard surfaces with the many grades and styles of product available in the marketplace.
It is of course, essential for any new carpet to be correctly installed if it is to match a customer’s aesthetic expectations, and to fulfil its full potential in terms of lifetime cost or duration. The substrate must obviously be smooth and sound while, where a bonded installation is required, the choice of adhesive will be critical.
As a major manufacturer in the field, tremco illbruck offers a comprehensive selection of smoothing compounds and adhesives, including its SF110 product which is widely used in education and residential work, as well as the sectors mentioned above. It is a water-based product, offering long open time as well as good bond strength, and is ideal for laying felt, hessian, rubber, gel and latex backed carpets.
Floorcoverings remain a key feature to most interior décors and represent a significant investment for the building owner. It is in the best interests of the customer and their specialist flooring contractor to utilise adhesives and other materials which ensure their enduring success in use.
- Fast Track Installations in an Environmentally Friendly Manner
The slow recovery in output from house builders, coupled with the continuing demographic pressures of a rising UK population, has made the need to refurbish existing stock more crucial than ever; especially across the affordable housing sector.
Councils and housing associations, together with their specialist contracting partners, are seeking to maximise occupancy rates by tackling void turnaround as quickly as possible, and by upgrading occupied stock – normally with tenants still in occupation. The latter situation therefore means that fast track flooring solutions have become an absolute essential to minimise disruption for residents.
Where areas like kitchens and corridors have to be re-laid within a single day, contractors can utilise TREMCO’s SX500 two-component Rapid Drying Smoothing Compound as part of an integrated approach, which can further feature the company’s ES600 Moisture Vapour Suppressant and allied adhesives.
Importantly, SX500 is moisture-tolerant while the smoothing compound’s EC1 compliant, OPC free formulation and 40% recycled content make it ideal for environmentally considerate projects. In use, the 22 kg bags of dry powder are mixed with the 4.4 kg of activating liquid - using a slow paddle to achieve a consistent colour - then spread with a trowel and spiked roller. The surface can be walked on after just half an hour and floorcoverings installed in 90 minutes.
This incredibly rapid process can be viewed in a three-minute video on either YouTube or the tremco illbruck website illustrating how SX500 Rapid Drying Smoothing Compound’s relevance to locations such as shops, hospitals, schools and other time sensitive projects, as well as housing.
Planned and responsive maintenance, together with Decent Homes Plus type programmes continue to account for a very large proportion of RSLs’ budgets, while the private RMI sector is equally buoyant. Across all such work, contractors have to be able to rely on manufacturers who can offer them high performance, user-friendly products which have been formulated to respect environmental issues; and that combine to create compatible system solutions. TREMCO’s SX500 is such a product.
- Selecting the Right Smoothing Compound
As one of the world’s most respected manufacturers of construction systems and particularly flooring products, tremco illbruck is routinely involved with projects to create all types of structure from hospitals and hotels to schools and sports venues. Indeed its smoothing compounds such as SX500 and SX300 NA often prove critical to the way surfaces perform in terms of how finishes go down and their longevity; as well as trueness and even safety.
Speed is often crucial and one of the latest additions to tremco illbruck’s comprehensive and fully-compatible range of flooring products is SX500 Rapid Drying Smoothing Compound, which offers strong environmental credentials as well as fast-track working characteristics. The two-component smoothing compound – often specified in combination with ES600 Moisture Vapour Suppressant - can usually be walked on after just 30 minutes and floor coverings can be laid after approximately 90 minutes.
Where substrates are very uneven, however, tremco illbruck would recommend SX300 NA as it can be applied beneath the moisture vapour suppressant. Offering low odour and protein free, SX300 NA has been specifically developed to be moisture resistant. It can be trowelled from a thickness of 6 mm down to 2mm, or mixed with an equal volume of granite chippings to fill a depth of 30 mm.
Where, therefore, consultants or contractors are facing challenging conditions and targeting quick installation times as well as a high performance, lasting legacy, they need look no further than SX500 or SX300 NA and the team of well proven flooring products they are a part of.
- Considering the Condition of the Substrate
When planning flooring projects, the substrate must be one of the first considerations as it is vital to the success of the forthcoming project; if the substrate is not properly prepared, then the installation will probably fail.
Competent contractors generally turn to the advice of major manufacturers on whom they routinely rely for system performance and they regularly invite companies’ technical representatives to get involved with an initial inspection.
As well as determining the extent and nature of any cracking, in case they reveal more serious structural problems, it is also necessary to decide if these should be routed out and treated. The survey may also involve the use of an Elcometer 106 which measures the strength of a substrate, and will help identify variations in its soundness.
These inspections must further pay attention to areas like up stands and details such as gullies, drainage outlets and pipe penetrations. All are potential problem areas.
'Previously owned' properties are very likely as well to have been subject to contamination of various types, including chemical spillages.
The contractor has several recourses here including the use of mechanical means to remove solid material such as mortar spots or old adhesive. Liquid contamination can either be removed using solvents or, for tougher stains, emulsifiers may be required to 'draw out' the pollutant.
Damp remains a real danger which will seriously threaten the success of any flooring installation: requiring the taking of hygrometer readings at intervals across the work area.
There is a strong possibility that properties dating from before the 1970s may have been built without a proper damp proof membrane (DPM) or one that has since failed. Where serious doubt about the existence of an adequate DPM persists, or where hygrometer readings - expressed in terms of relative humidity - are above 75% RH, then the installation of a well proven, fluid applied system is definitely indicated.
In some circumstances, where the substrate is very uneven, it may be necessary to utilise a moisture tolerant smoothing compound prior to installing the DPM with a further coat of the compound being laid to ensure the adhesive and floor covering achieve the desired even finish.
At all stages of the inspection, specification and installation it is essential for the flooring specialist to remain mindful of the building's eventual function or occupancy in relation to the products and methodology chosen. It may, for instance, be appropriate to choose products offering very low odour or that are EC1 compliant to respect locations like hospitals or food production facilities. In all situations, however, correct preparation remains essential to success.