Addressing installation challenges when installing vinyl flooring

by Darren

When installing Vinyl, several factors have to be taken into consideration to ensure its success.

With more than 50 years’ experience in the local and international flooring industry, Denver Coleman, Chairman of Polyflor SA, answers questions posed by installers, architects and readers. In this issue, he discusses the installation challenges encountered when it comes to achieving a quality vinyl installation, what to look out for and how these can be resolved to meet the needs of the architect and the client.

“Vinyl flooring seems to be a very popular and practical flooring option. However, it seems to be difficult to get a good installation. How do we ensure that our clients get their expected outcome on a project?” Gerrit van Dyck, Architect

The vinyl industry is one of many where good-quality installations are becoming increasingly hard to find. As is the case in building and other contractor-based industries, installers and suppliers of vinyl flooring are facing a lack of skilled artisans, fast-tracked building timetables, modern product compositions and the temptation to take shortcuts in order to stay within the required time frame and pricing structure.

However, much of this can be resolved if everyone involved in the project fully understands what is required, and the reasons behind these requirements. Good planning, expert advice and detailed pre-installation discussions, along with technical support and training, lead to risk mitigation and reduce the likelihood of a failed installation.

Looking at installations that were done 20 years ago and have stood the test of time, it is clear that the construction pace was slower, installation conditions were better and more controlled, and the fitting was done by experienced installers using the correct tools and best methods of installation.

While we all understand that “time is money” in modern times and building projects are being fast-tracked to benefit costs, certain factors have to be taken into consideration and planning needs to be done to counter these challenges. Drying times for slabs and screeds are a perfect example of this. Power floating traps in moisture, insufficient time is given for slabs to dry properly and class 1 level screeds are a rarity, forcing flooring contractors into fitting a floor on a screed that is less than suitable.

With proper planning, understanding and some preventative measures, however, failures can be prevented.

The construction industry is a very competitive and price-sensitive market and contractors are having to price low to win projects. As the contractors try to make margins on their projects, they work at a rate faster than they should, with less care for the quality and more concern for the quantity of m² done each day.

A good contractor has been trained on fitting techniques, material storage as well as site and fitting planning.

A further problem with fast-track building is the concurrent working of many different trades. While the flooring contractor is trying to prepare his subfloor and fit his product there are electricians, glaziers and a multitude of other contractors working around him.

Many of these problems are not unique to vinyl flooring. Ensuring that a proper plan is in place, a willingness to work with other contractors on the job, while understanding all the challenges and working together to solve problems, would improve the performance and reputation of the flooring industry as a whole, and probably save costs and much frustration to all concerned.

If you have any flooring question relating to design, installation, problems or commentary you wish to share with Denver, please e-mail him at marketing@polyflor.co.za with ASK DENVER in the subject line, or phone Blythe at Polyflor on (011) 609 3500.

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