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Problems with Flooring
The Final "Look"

 

Flatness #1 problem > The Importance of Flatness

 

Laying-Of-Floor-Coating

LVT-InstallSometimes the final "look" of a flooring is not as it appears in the promotional literature and advertising.

Why?

Here we have to realise that the flooring is perfectly laid in the imagery on a "perfectly" flat  and smooth surface.

It shows an "ideal result". 

-It has to for marketing purposes!

In "reality" an "ideal result" is not achieved- the problem not being with the floor covering but with the actual underlying surface that  through minute variance can cause a "domino" effect across the surface. 

It may look smooth and level but don't just go by a visual look or feel. Prove it the old-fashioned way by using straight edge rulers and levels over a certain distance.

Where bumps and ridges lie below the top layer -and it can be seen on the surface- we call this "telegraphing".

Most rubber products manufactured in the world today are made to within very high tolerances of less than 1% surface variance.

To blame the product for an uneven appearance is not acceptable- but often the first and easiest way to point the blame for the failure of an entire project.

That is where "expertise" in laying flooring- especially rubber is required. The way the flooring looks can almost certainly be co-related to the field experience over the years by an installer that specialises in this field. So an "experienced" installer helps.

Designers and architects need to understand this concept rather than being dismissive and saying we no longer will specify this or that product because of the way it looks after install. Naivety is rife with all due respect when this attitude is taken.

Things needed to be looked at in perspective rather than giving sweeping generalisations about the product and its performance.

So here's an interesting article to explain things in a more un-emotional and reasoned fashion!

 

ASTM F-710, Does the Subfloor Need to be THAT Flat?

Installation instructions, from most major flooring manufacturers, reference ASTM Standard F-710 for hard surface resilient flooring. The Standard simply defines the required flatness of a concrete subfloor. The subfloor, or ‘underfloor’ as I like to call it, “shall not deviate more than 3/16 of an inch in ten feet.” Photo 1 shows a ten straight edge being used to gauge the undulation of the floor. Photo 2 demonstrates the maximum allowable deviation- 3/16 of an inch within 10 lineal feet- with a mark on the shim shingle below the straight edge.

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Photo 1: 10-foot Straight-edge used to gauge flatness of floor.

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Photo 2: Plywood shim  replicates maximum acceptable 3/16” deviation in height.

ASTM Standard F710 is a straight forward rule however a quick audit of hard-surface flooring installations indicates that most installers do not provide provisions to accommodate this ASTM standard during installation. The result can be seen in Photos 3, 4 and 5.

Photo-3-existing-VCT-runoff-and-gaps

Photo 3: VCT run off and gaps at joints.

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Photo 4: Rubber floor tile run-off, gapping at seams.

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Photo 5: Flooring tile with severe runoff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to simulate the outcome of resilient flooring tiles installed over a flat subfloor that complies with ASTM F710, I set up, labeled and outlined in pencil, a group of four tiles over a flat subfloor surface as shown in photo 6.   To demonstrate what happens when there is a hump in the concrete sub floor, I placed a 3-and-one-half inch bump under the 2×2 foot floor tiles. Photo 7 shows that the joints are no longer tight and photo 8 reveals a deviation from a net fit where the uneven subfloor caused the tile pattern to pull away from square. When this happens across the span of a room, cutting tiles and increasing or skewing joint lines is necessary to counteract the runoff caused by an unprepared underfloor. This is often an eyesore and results in claims and complaints from customers to the company that makes the flooring.

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Photo 6: Set up of 4 tiles laid on a flat subfloor with tight joints and the perimeter traced.

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Photo 7: After simulating bump in subfloor, evident opening at joints.

Photo-8-extreme-movement-due-to-3-and-a-half-inch-hump

Photo 8: With 3-1/2” subfloor deviation, tile alignment shifts drastically.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo-9-LVT-good-install

Photo 9: LVT installation meets ASTM-710 Standard for flat subfloor.

As you can see in Photo 9, when the floor meets the Standard set by ASTM F710, the modular flooring is not defective as it visually provides an acceptable finished appearance -that the manufacturer had envisioned when designing, engineering and manufacturing the flooring- with tight joints and straight lines between flooring tiles.

Photo-10-gaps-and-runoff-from-subfloor-undulation

Photo 10: Result of severe underfloor humps.

Photo 10 discloses the immediate problems created when a floor does not comply with this Standard due to a severe hump in the underfloor. Close inspection of the photograph reveals modular components that veer to the left and to the right making it impossible to navigate the hump without gaps and misaligned corners. Even the best flooring installer cannot overcome severe undulation unless they even out the problem areas of the subfloor prior to laying the floor tiles.

The bottom line…installed floors that do not conform to ASTM Standard F 710 are not a manufacturing defect, they are the direct result of poor workmanship or failure to follow the flooring manufacturer’s printed installation instructions. It is important to know that the smaller the format of the modular flooring, the more difficult and challenging it will become to install the flooring with tight net joints in both directions and without runoff. Often in severe situations, a flooring installer may be tempted to make field cuts to modify the floor tiles, so that it is brought into what is perceived as alignment, but soon after cutting the challenge of installing with a net fit at the corners and joints is still impossible.

Laying-Of-Floor-Coating-full-imgReplacing a floor can be expensive…especially when the flooring manufacturer is not participating in the cost so take the time to resolve sub floor issues before flooring is installed or you’ll be left with a choice- rip up the just-installed floor in order to level the underfloor or live with an unattractive cut and paste job intended to conceal subfloor undulation that your flooring installer did not fix -it’s your call.

 

Other non-rubber floors and their issues......

There is no such thing as a maintenance free floor. Flooring is designed for foot traffic and is expected to carry many years of stress from people, animals, wheeled traffic, furniture, ageing. Carpet needs contant vacuuming and vinyl needs constant polishing.

On this page, we'd like to show the problems with using flooring other than rubber such as  timber, lino, vinyl, cork, carpet, and ceramic tiles.

VINYL PROBLEMS

Many vinyl floor tiles in the 1970's had an aspestos backing. A few years ago Melbourne University were renovating one of their buildings but first found their vinyl tiles had this deadly substance. This added a great cost to the renovations. It's very important that if you suspect you have old vinyl tiles (as opposed to rollform vinyl), then you need to get it checked out by a professional.

Some vinyl claims to be environmentally friendly as it's made from recycled PET bottles. But it still ends up as landfill at the end of its life. Many architects and designers are now steering away from vinyl and not even wanting to use them in hospitals. Some chemicals that have previously been used in vinyl are considered to be carcinogenic.

Vinyl usually needs a polish on top and can quickly looked scratched and not have as long a guarantee. Have you noticed the floor polisher at the supermarket? This is because they are there every day! Sure you can buy vinyl for as low as $30m2 but we believe you get what you pay for.

In early July 2012 we visited Treehouse Childcare Centre at Stocklands in Sydney. Dalsouple was installed there in small areas as feature circles in green and pink. After 3 years the rubber is not worn, but the vinyl next to it is very badly scratched and doesn't look like it will last very long.

Vinyl badly scratched next to green (Vert Pomme) Dalsouple rubber. The owners had placed mats over some of the main walk ways as the vinyl was more slippery than the rubber and they didn't want the children to fall.

Close up shot of Dalsouple Vert Pomme, 3 years old and perfect.

LINO PROBLEMS

This lino has been in a major museum in Melbourne for 5 years. The colours are no longer what they were, the floor is scratched terribly and the museum is going to have to replace it.

Brown lino flooring at a popular high end winery in the Yarra Valley, Victoria. The wines are amazing but the floor is looking very shabby. It looks like a stiletto heel may have ruined this and it's damaged right through.

This lino has been down for 4 years in an office in Melbourne. The colour was bright sunny yellow but you can see the floor has been polished but not cleaned properly. We went to see what this floor was like as the designer had chosen the lino over Dalsouple. Three months after it had been installed the secretary had created huge pock marks everywhere. Now after 4 years the flooring is quite damaged. This is the main entrance to their office as people step out of the lifts. Not a good look! This floor will not last 10 years! Some lino only has a guarantee of 5 years and yet some domestic customers we've recently spoken to have been quoted the same price as Dalsouple rubber (Dalsouple has a 10 year guarantee).

This lino is in a huge area of main city library in Australia and is only about 6 years old. As you can see, the floor is no longer brown, but now has black stripes! The facility manager is talking about replacing it which will be very costly as it's 100m2's.

CORK PROBLEMS

While in Tasmania at the end of October 2012, we visited a popular bar in the Salamanca area in Hobart. There were 4 different types of flooring, hardwood timber, stone, carpet and cork. The cork looked dirty and worn, the timber had pockmarks of stiletto heels all over it. It was hard to tell how old the cork floor was, but the decor was quite modern. I would have guessed 5 years. It would have been hard to clean plus not be very hygenic.

Google 'cork flooring in a bathroom?' and you will find the answer generally is no. Water will kill the floor and the humidity is not good with it, and so it's not suitable to use in your bathroom.

Cork flooring gives a mottled look and the colours are not solid.

TIMBER PROBLEMS

Timber flooring installed in a Telecommunications store in the CBD of Melbourne. Photo taken Jan 2012. This floor has only been down 4 years and already ruined with marks from stiletto heels. it's hard to see the grain of the timber now with all the dark holes pockmarked all over it. How long will the flooring last until it has to be replaced? Where will the flooring end up? Landfill? Recycled? What floor will they use to replace it?

Hardwood timber floor with scratches. If chairs are not protected with rubber stoppers, then even tough hardwood timber can be scratched. This means the floor would have to be sanded and revarnished. If the gouges are too deep then the floor is not going to look good at all. Floorboards are very noisy and many Body Corporates are now requiring quiter floorings in respect to other tenants.

CARPET PROBLEMS

This carpet is outside an architects' office in the CBD of Melbourne. I am not sure if they have had rain damage, but the stains have ruined the carpet. Coffee is the worst thing for carpet. We have a lot of feedback from designers that use it in their own office and it only lasts a few years. See study done by Suzanne Barnes, Rubber Flooring Value and Beauty for the long term.

The carpet in a major iconic office building in Sydney has been down 4 years. But it is now badly stained, looking tired and the owners are talking about replacing it. It is 1000's of m2 so the cost is huge. They should replace the major walk ways with rubber flooring!

Most carpets are problems for allergy sufferers. If carpeting is a must, the option is low-pile carpeting, which is less likely to attract dust, mites and other allergens. Carpet can be a problem if you have animals and is hard to keep free of animal hair.

CERAMIC TILES

Dalsouple was specified in Gris Anthracite (charcoal) for a railway station in a suburb in Melbourne. The architect had chosen Dalsouple as it's been used in many railway stations and airports in Europe and the UK. But the builder wanted to save money and chose Ceramic tiles as this photo shows. What you can't see very well in this photo is the poor installation of the tiles, with grout missing in some of the joins. This can cause moisture to get in between the tiles, the tiles to crack under human weight and other pressures. The tiles will not last ore than a few years. Then they will probably end up as landfill and another flooring will need to be found.

We get a lot of calls from domestic customers who do not want to use tiles in their ktichen or bathroom as they hate grout because of the problem with cleaning. Tiles are very cold underfoot and for cities such as Melbourne and Hobart, are not at all nice during winter! We don't recommend rubber tiles in the shower but are perfect in kitchens or bathrooms.

CONCRETE FLOORS

The latest 'green' craze is concrete floors. They are meant to be more energy efficient and retain heat in winter and cool in summer. We believe some polished concrete floors can be just as expensive as rubber. We have concerns that a concrete floor is very hard and not very comfortable to stand. Retired home owners or elderly do not want concrete floors for fear of falling over and breaking a hip. Some concrete floors are not very anti-slip. We had a call from MoVida restaurant  in Melbourne, where the staff and patrons were slipping on the polished concrete. Dalsouple rubber flooring in R10 slip rating (Pastille Alpha-10 cent coin pattern) were able to be installed over the top of the concrete.

Our recent visit to MONA showed us how hard concrete is on the legs. After walking around for 6 hours on concrete, we really felt it in our legs. When we entered the Cloaca room with Dalsouple 2.5mm rubber tiles on the floor we could feel the difference. We've had some customers recently insist on getting 3.5mm rubber tiles for their kitchen as they do a lot of cooking and want that extra comfort.

Some Dalsouple textures have an R10 slip rating, so businesses can be confident they are protecting against falls and covering themselves against litigation.

 

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