Ask Denver: The ins & outs of fitting LVTs

by Darren
Ask Denver

Flawless and beautiful LVT installation advice.

With more than 50 Years’ experience in the local and international flooring industry, Denver Coleman, Chairman of Polyflor SA, answers questions about Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) installations posed by installers, architects and readers. In this article, he identifies the crucial steps that need to be taken when installing LVTs.

“Please can you give flooring installers some advice that will make the job of installing LVTs easier and ensure a show-stopping end result for the client?” – Jaco van Eeden, Johannesburg

One of the important but often overlooked factors prior to installing LVTs is the issue of conditioning. Especially in a country like South Africa where we have big temperature variations from day to night, it is important to allow the product to acclimatise. To this end, we recommend that LVTs should be left in a secure area where they are to be installed, for a period of at least 24 hours prior to installation. For the same reason, the product should not be taken straight from the hot transport vehicle and immediately installed in temperature cool area. Ignoring this temperature difference will potentially create a problem with the stability of the product.

As with all vinyl floor installations, it is imperative to ensure that the screed is level and dry. Ensure that you do a moisture test and, if necessary, apply a moisture barrier. Most LVT installations either have a wood or a ceramic tile pattern. Since neither of these designs have a completely uneven finish, an uneven sub-floor will create an unrealistic look if not installed correctly.  In order to further achieve a natural, aesthetically appealing end result, mix the tiles from different boxes to blend the pattern variations and prevent a repeat design effect in a particular area.

Pre- or “dry cut” the tiles and fit the pieces before applying the adhesive. Remember to always place a tile with the factory edge against the factory edge of the field and not the cut edge. When installing plank designs, the set out should allow for the cuts at each end to be at least 150mm in order to prevent cuts that are tough to adhere to. Start by installing wooden plank tiles on the centre line from the wall. It is once again advisable to lay the planks in a random bond pattern to create a natural-looking effect, unless you are planning a herringbone or basket pattern.

When installing LVTs, check for direction arrows on the back of the tile. If there are, every alternate tile should be laid with the arrow facing 12 o’clock (north) and the alternate, in-between tile with arrow facing to the right (east or 3 o’clock). Maintain this pattern throughout the installation to avoid creating light and dark patches. A good tip is to dry-lay a patch in order to show the client what the final pattern will look like when complete.

Strictly adhere to the adhesive recommended by the product manufacturers. LVTs have specific requirements regarding adhesives and regular adhesives used for other sheet flooring products are not suitable for LVTs. Apply the adhesive in small areas so that the LVT can easily be applied before the adhesive grab has worn off.  Use chalk lines to mark off an area that will allow full planks or tiles to be installed within the adhesion period.

Once laid, LVTs should be rolled with a heavy (68kg) roller in both directions and this process should be repeated on every installed section. Trims or cuts should be hand rolled with a suitable hand roller in order to achieve the same adhesive transfer soon after installing. Areas that may be exposed to direct sunlight, such as through large sliding glass doors or large windows, should be protected from long periods or permanent exposure as the UV light may affect the pattern or print colours in time.

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