5 reasons why sealants & adhesives can make or break a flooring project

by Ofentse Sefolo
5 reasons why sealants & adhesives can make or break a flooring project

There are many reasons why flooring installations fail. Poor planning, inadequate surface preparation or specifying products that haven’t been designed for South African conditions are some of the reasons. However, poor adhesive and sealant applications also contribute to a large number of failures in the industry. Here are five reasons why sealants and adhesives can make or break a flooring project:

1. They can prevent failures in flooring sections where there are temperature and moisture differences
As one can expect, different areas of a floor are often more exposed to direct sunlight than others. It is also possible that sections of the floor near taps or windows will be more prone to rainwater or moisture. As a specifier or construction professional, you need to be aware of the possibility of flooring planks peaking in response to these variations in temperature and moisture. Especially in LVT (luxury vinyl tile) installations, the correct sealants and adhesives can ensure that sections of your floor aren’t prone to lifting and peaking as a result of these elements.

2. They form part of the eco-system that leads to floor installation success
Adhesives play a vital role in the installation of flooring. Contributory factors to your sealant and adhesive application include complying with to the maximum substrate moisture content that the flooring manufacturer has specified (and using quality moisture reading equipment to determine correct readings); catering for environmental factors such as exposure to water; varying temperatures; investing in adhesives that are recommended by the flooring and sealant manufacturer; using the right tools for the job; and following all the practices that are recommended during the installation.

3. They can prevent hollow sounding, loose and cracking porcelain tiles
When installing vitrified tiles such as porcelain tiles, high-strength rapid-setting or quick-setting adhesives need to be used and a latex-additive must be incorporated in the adhesive and grout mix where building and thermal movement is anticipated, especially in external installations. If the correct adhesive and preparation are not part of the installation process, it could lead to hollow sounding, loose and cracked tiles. Incorrectly constructed intermediate tile panel movement joints is a major contributing factor to tile installation failures as building and thermal movements can cause compressive stress build-up in the tile installation, resulting in delaminated or damaged tiles. Be sure to seek out flexible adhesives and grout systems that cater for your specific project site as many times, it detracts from the entire tile installation if loose or cracking tiles are observed.

4. It forces you to consider all the varying elements involved in a flooring installation
Gathering the necessary information for a flooring installation is crucial, particularly for expansion joints. Important factors when considering sealants and adhesives include the correct surface preparation; surfaces and substrates; the non-bubbling element of the sealant; movement capability; guarantees and warrantees; certifications; TVOC (total volatile organic compounds); durability and weatherability; cleaning chemical resistance and UV resistance.

5. You can save yourself and the client time, money and effort
As a specifier, contractor or other built environment professional, clients look to you for guidance regarding flooring installations. It’s not their job to know the ins and outs of different adhesives and sealants, but it is your task to educate yourself and seek out the right advice in the industry. If a floor fails through inadequate installation, you could be held liable for retiling the floor. Not only can this eat into the time that you would have spent planning and executing other projects, it could also mean that you are responsible for the cost of the retiling. In order to save yourself and the client time, money and effort, look to the leading adhesive and sealant companies in the industry for quality products and sound advice. Remember there are specifically developed sealants and adhesives for different types of flooring applications – both internally and externally. This will ensure that your reputation stays intact if anything does go wrong with the flooring installation after the project has been signed off.

Specialised tip: Especially in LVT installations, sealants and adhesives (due to their movement capabilities) can ensure that certain sections of your floor aren’t prone to lifting and peaking as a result of variations in temperature and moisture.

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