Vinyl is here to stay, but some people are still concerned about how safe and stable this product is, says the Southern African Wood, Laminate and Flooring Association (SAWLFA). These concerns typically arise when recycled vs virgin vinyl is considered.

Through testing and research, SAWLFA has concluded that recycled vinyl is not always what it seems. The term “recycled” can imply sustainability, but in reality, many of the products that were tested were found to have very high levels of heavy metals and hazardous materials. Tests also showed that recycled vinyl waste was sourced from old tyres, power lines and even copper wire, which can have negative effects on health and safety.

Material that is 100% virgin is certified low in VOCs but also contain no phthalates. While virgin vinyl is more expensive than recycled vinyl, investing in this product will ensure that your floor will be recyclable.

SAWLFA now requires a certificate of compliance for glue down recycled vinyl and the association has identified and verified a testing institute Stellenbosch University. Products can be shipped via courier to be tested for phthalates and heavy metals. The cost per product for the tests is R2 862.54 including VAT.

10 most common reasons for click vinyl installation failures

The association’s continuous investment in vinyl flooring research and development also led SAWLFA to create a list of the most common reasons for click vinyl installation failures:
1.    Direct Sunlight/UV rays – The installed flooring must be protected from direct sunlight as the floor will expand more in these exposed areas.
2.    Incorrect expansion gaps – The right expansion gaps must be installed around all fixed objects (door frames, walls, door stops, security doors).
3.    Using glue or silicone on profiles – Profiles should not be glued down. Use a base track or a drill down profile. Profiles must not hamper expansion & contraction or floatation of the floor in any way.
4.    Using filler or silicone – These materials around door frames or under skirting restricts the natural expansion and contraction of the floor.
5.    Not letting the flooring acclimatise – The flooring product needs to acclimatise for 48 hours prior to installation.
6.    Not using a moisture barrier – Invest in a moisture barrier that has been recommended by your supplier.
7.    Incorrect sub-floor preparation – The sub-floor must be dry, level and smooth.
8.    Incorrect underlays – Make sure to ask the supplier about the correct underlays to be used.
9.    Expansion profiles – The floor must not exceed the recommended length and width that a floor can be laid. Always check manufacturer’s specifications.
10.     Not following installation guidelines – When in doubt, check installation specifications in each box.

For more information, contact SAWLFA on +27 (11) 455 2822 via www.sawlfa.co.za.