Main image courtesy of TAL

There are many reasons to choose luxury vinyl tiles (LVTs), resilient flooring and vinyl as a floor covering. With a wide variety of designs, colours and patterns to choose from, this type of flooring can also be used across a number of applications – from healthcare and sports facilities to commercial and residential developments. 

While much attention is given to the substrate preparation, management of high, or fluctuating moisture levels in the substrate as well as levelling thicknesses are important in the proper selection of levelling compounds. There is much to be said for choosing and using the right adhesive for the selected floor covering and applying it correctly. Follow these top tips to get it right.

Acclimation

An ambient temperature within the application area is very important and can affect curing times of the vinyl fixative. An inconsistent ambient temperature in the room before, during or after installation, and not acclimating the products, all affect the success of the installation. Similarly, a maximum subfloor temperature of 27ºC should not be exceeded. With the use of a technical adhesive the range may be extended to 35°C.

Top tip: Allow both the adhesive and the vinyl flooring to acclimatise in the installation area for 24 to 48 hours before installation, depending on manufacturer specifications.

Adhesive selection

In general, vinyl flooring requires an adhesive that gives high tensile and shear strength. Vinyl sheeting adhesives may require a longer open time than LVTs, to allow installers to place the floor covering before the adhesive hardens. 

Most acrylic-based or synthetic polymer-based adhesives need “flash-off” time, allowing the adhesive to become tacky before application of the LVTs. Too early installation of the LVTs can result in lifting and possible gapping between the tiles. It’s for this reason that the choice of using a dimensional stable adhesive would be recommended to eliminate excessive gapping and movement. This type of adhesive is also widely used for applications whereby underfloor heating systems are used.

Top tip: Check the adhesive with a touch test to see if it is sticky but not wet.

Alternatively, there are modified acrylic-based adhesives on the market which employs a “wet-lay” installation, where the LVT is bedded immediately into the wet adhesive. Once cured, the glue line is rigid, inhibiting lateral shear movement on the LVT planks once in service and thus reducing the possibility of “gapping” between the planks over time, due to the dimensional stability properties that a technical adhesive offers.

Image courtesy of Mapei SA

Application

Adhesives are applied with a serrated or V-notched trowel, or in some cases with a paint roller. The serrated / V-notched trowel size is important in these installations, as too much adhesive left on the substrate will slow down the curing times. Too little adhesive will not allow the necessary bond with the flooring.

Apply the vinyl flooring by firmly pushing it into the adhesive – working from the centre out to the edges, eliminating air pockets and ensuring good coverage between the vinyl and adhesive. Thereafter, it should be bedded down and rolled (except cushion flooring) with a 64kg three sectional flooring roller, before the adhesive dries.

Note: “Wet-lay” vinyl fixatives do not typically require rolling using a heavyweight flooring roller.

Top tip: The selection of the correct acrylic-based adhesive specifically developed for LVT in tiles and planks, it is characterised by a fast and strong initial grab and rapid set, as well as a rigid and cohesive final film, which gives the floor covering a very good dimensional stability.

Maintenance

The cleaning and maintenance of the floor, particularly with LVT floor coverings, is very important. Using the wrong cleaner can attack the adhesive due to the chemical make-up of these, causing the tiles to start lifting.

Adequate sealing of the interfaces between vinyl flooring and wall finishes is essential to minimise the risk of water/moisture ingress into the flooring installation.

Speak to the manufacturer of the floor covering or a reputable adhesive manufacturer for advice on a fit-for-purpose solution and the maintenance thereof.

Workmanship

LVTs, resilient and vinyl flooring installations need a lot of planning and correct preparation to be successful. For the best results, contract a trained and competent flooring applicator to undertake the installation.

Thanks and acknowledgement go to www.floorworx.co.za, Flooring Africa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZNf2so2J-0), www.iteproducts.co.za, www.mapei.co.za, www.polyflor.co.za and www.tal.co.za for the information included in this article.

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