Flooring contractors face increasing pressures to complete flooring installations to ever-shorter timescales without compromising on the finished result. Fortunately, certain processes and combinations of innovative new products can massively cut the time it takes to install floorcoverings.
More than ever before, we are asked for advice on the best course of action for installing floorcoverings where contractors are required to work under tight time constraints. This is frequently because the pace of modern construction has left them with a small window in which to install floorcoverings, or they are working in areas that can only remain off limits for short periods, such as in schools, hospitals or care homes.
In these situations, it’s useful to be aware of procedures and product innovations that can speed up each step in the floorcovering 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 the relative humidity (RH) level within the subfloor is above 75% (65% if wood floorcoverings are to be installed), a waterproof surface membrane 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 relative humidity values are up to 98%.
Even quicker, two-coat systems, such as Stopgap F78, can create a barrier against construction moisture where RH values are 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.
Levelling compounds, in particular, have seen significant reductions in drying times as a result of advancements in cement technology. Stopgap Fast-Track 30 is walk-on hard from 30 minutes and allows both textile and resilient floorcoverings to be installed from as little as 45 minutes after application. Self-levelling properties also make it easy to apply with minimal trowel work.
Another development that has sped up levelling compound application is the manufacture of levelling compounds that can be used over old adhesive residues, such as Stopgap 1200 Pro. Apart from not needing to spend valuable time mechanically removing old adhesive residues, there is no need to apply a primer beforehand, 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.
When working over larger areas, many levelling compounds, including Stopgap 1200 Pro, can be pump applied to save further time.
The contractor can then select a suitably fast-working adhesive to install specified floorcoverings. The choice of adhesive will often be determined foremost by what type of floorcoverings are being installed and where, but there are options for when timesaving is a priority.
Nowadays, acrylic and vinyl adhesives are available that build up a strong enough bond to allow for foot-traffic in less than an hour after the application of floorcoverings. Carpet tile tackifiers are available that, once applied, only take 30 minutes to form a permanently tacky film ready to receive floorcoverings.
Pressure sensitive vinyl adhesives , such as Styccobond F46, are ideal for installing vinyl planks and tiles because they form an instant grab upon contact, assisting with alignment, and dry to a permanently tacky film allowing contractors to quickly and easily create complex designs and patterns.
Innovations in adhesive technology have also enabled F. Ball to develop a hybrid temperature tolerant pressure sensitive adhesive for vinyl floorcoverings, Styccobond F49 Hybrid PS, which can also be used to install PVC vertical flooring accessories, such as skirting, capping and coving. This will save contractors time where vinyl floorcoverings are taken up the wall, as in wetrooms; the high initial tack provided by this adhesive makes it an alternative to traditional contact adhesives. The rapid-drying, rapid-curing adhesive can be used to secure floorcoverings in as little as 20 minutes depending on temperature, humidity and absorbency of the subfloor.