Subfloor preparation for a variety of floor coverings

by Ofentse Sefolo
Subfloor preparation for a variety of floor coverings

The same level of attention that goes into specifying a floor covering should also be given to the preparation of the substrate. Not only does a level surface provide aesthetic benefits, it is also a cost saving when installing various types of flooring onto an underlayment system.

Many mistakenly believe that a level substrate is only crucial when vinyl sheeting is installed. A range of other flooring surfaces, from large format tiles and stick-down carpets to wall-to-wall carpeting, also require a smooth and level surface for the best results.

Tile adhesive products aren’t designed to build up a surface, save for in isolated areas and then only to a limited height. A more economical approach would be to install an underlayment instead of using a tile adhesive for levelling, especially when a specialist adhesive is needed. After only three hours, a rapid-setting underlayment is trafficable and the floor will be ready to receive floor covering after 24 hours, making it the ideal solution for deadline-driven projects.

Subfloor preparation for large format tiles and carpets
Lipping of large format tiles can be reduced by installing these onto a smooth level surface. As with vinyl sheeting, it is also essential to have a smooth and level surface when installing stick-down carpets as they are glued directly onto the subfloor or screed. The same multi-level system is therefore recommended for this type of floor covering. For larger voids in the surface, a patching and repair compound can be applied to fill holes prior to installing floor coverings, underlayments or screeds.

Imperfections in a subfloor can impact the look and durability of a wall-to-wall carpet, which is why a level surface is also important in this case. Floor variations such as raised areas and hollows will lead to bumps or unattractive sagging in the carpeting, which become wear spots and reduce the lifespan of the carpet.

Moisture remains an important issue. Most types of floor coverings, and the underlayments themselves, are sensitive to moisture vapour and require a damp-proof membrane, or alternatively a moisture or vapour barrier to be installed. Costly repairs can be avoided in future by preventing the passing of water vapour and moisture through the concrete slab into the underlayment and / or floor covering.

For more information contact TAL on Tel: +27 (11) 206 9700 or via www.tal.co.za.

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