Useful tips to ensure proper installation of vinyl flooring
The installation of vinyl flooring can be tricky and requires expertise for adequate installation. Let’s look at 18 installation tips from Polyflor SA:
Daily demands and deadlines often result in it being difficult to visit sites as often as intended. Visiting sites is crucial for the success and smooth running of a project. Days are busy, but the project may end up taking longer if you do not make daily site visits to ensure everything is done according to plan.
Have you notified your building and flooring contractor of your visit, and have you considered their schedule and obligations? Empathy and consideration go a long way to achieving a mutually beneficial outcome. Everyone has experienced a last-minute request and it has an impact because schedules have to be juggled to allow for someone else’s lack of planning. Strong and positive relationships can be the fine line between success and failure in the flooring industry.
Is the site ready for the vinyl installation and free from other trades? Don’t improvise! It is your responsibility to ensure that your client understands the requirements for a successful vinyl flooring installation, hence the necessity for the site to be ready.
Are the site conditions favourable for the flooring contractors; is the lighting acceptable; are the timelines achievable? Often projects run over their timeline with flooring contractors ending up working under tough conditions and having to meet unrealistic deadlines. This ultimately affects the quality of the installation and may even lead to a re-do.
Identify any structural expansion joints. Structural movement affects a vinyl installation. It is important to ensure the correct expansion joint covers are used to avoid any after-the-fact comebacks.
Have saw cut joints been made and how deep are they? When laying the screed topping, saw cut joints may have been specified to prevent cracking whilst the screed is drying.
Is the screed level, smooth and contaminant, dirt and dust-free? Vinyl will show imperfections in the screed and this step in the process is critical to producing a quality finish.
What thickness self-leveller was applied and is it per your specification? The screed levelness is essential. There are very few contractors in the country that can deliver a Class 1 screed, so be sure to specify a self-leveller.
Is the screed soft or powdered and are there any visible cracks? The screed must comply with at least 25MPa strength. Ensure there are no hollow patches and check for any cracks which could result in delamination of the screed.
The moisture content of the screed must read at 40% depth. Vinyl and a wet substrate are archenemies. Rather use reputable moisture reading instruments such as a Protimeter or a Wagner meter which enable you to read at depths of 40% to ensure you have no moisture issues. Moisture will rise to the surface once you install vinyl because of the moisture pressure equalising within the screed.
Check surrounding areas for indication of excessive ground moisture i.e., vlei, slopes, clay, etc. Ground conditions in the area can affect the moisture seeping into the structure and cause long-term problems if not managed correctly before installation.
Be conscious of the temperature at the time of installation. The ambient temperature affects the adhesive curing period in the winter months. It is common to have installation issues at 12ºC and below so it is advisable to consult your adhesive and screed manufacturer to advise on best practices for their product.
What was the ventilation like over the drying period? Poor ventilation causes adhesives to take longer to flash off, self-leveller longer to dry, and causes a screed to powder. Excess ventilation is also not ideal as it could cause the screed to dry unevenly and settle differently, causing cracks and unevenness.
Is the correct material and adhesive on-site? Check colour, batch and roll numbers. Issues commonly experienced include colour variation in different batch numbers. Ensure you have received stock from the same batch number and insist on sequential roll numbers. It is also very important to note the manufacturer’s recommendation on the correct adhesive to use per product, as an adhesive failure could result in the flooring manufacturer voiding their product warranty.
How were these rolls stored? Has the material been rolled out and left to relax and acclimatise? Check the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding storage. Sheeting requires rolls to be stored upright whereas rubber stores flat. LVTs should not be stored in boxes more than 5 boxes high.
Is the Flooring Contractor’s installation team skilled in vinyl installations? Vinyl is a complex installation and demands a trained and professional team. However, there is a dire skills shortage in the flooring industry so be sure you have a skilled team managing your installation.
Have you requested a mock-up area on-site? Having a mock-up area to use as a reference and to guide the installation teams is always recommended and ensures your final installation mirrors the mock-up that was approved.
Is your manufacturer with you on-site to assist and guide the process? Your flooring manufacturer should understand the benefit of guiding you through the installation process and you have every right to insist on it. Their involvement will ensure a hassle-free process and a quality installation.