Page 6 - Flooring Specialist Winter 2023
P. 6

LVT Installation from the Perspective

                           of the Backseat Driver

                               By Jeffrey B. Johnson, MAPEI’s FCIS Business Marketing Manager

              ave you ever been in the passenger seat driving with a   change after a single cycle of heating and cooling to see what
              person who thinks they are absolutely in control and   happens after the product relaxes. This does not address
        Hknows exactly how to get where you are going, but you   what will happen to the flooring in the real world where
        still break out in a cold sweat and are pushing your left foot   the surface temperature of the floor can range from 60–90
        through the floorboard because the driver is pulling up to a   degrees Fahrenheit depending on where it is placed.
        stoplight a little faster than you feel comfortable?
                                                            Take a practical example here: LVT installed on a radiant
        Sometimes that is exactly how I feel about LVT installations,   heated floor where the operating temperature could be
        and I just want to say, “Whoa, can we slow down just a little   85-90 degrees Fahrenheit depending on consumer comfort
        bit before we wind up in a wreck?” With all the claims being   levels. If the flooring were installed when the heating system
        made about LVT and LVT installation materials, it feels like   was turned off and the substrate temperature was 55-60
        being that passenger while the driver is telling you, “It’s ok,   degrees, and then the heating system was turned on–the
        I got this; don’t worry!” Meanwhile the wheels are breaking   flooring will experience a 20 to 25-degree temperature
        loose from the pavement and the back end of the car is   increase and will expand.
        careening toward an unforgiving guardrail.
                                                            If the LVT was placed tight and pretty at the beginning, this
        So, what causes me to have these uneasy feelings when   expansion is going to result in peaking at the seams. Take
        thinking about resilient floor installation, especially LVT? The   another example where the flooring material was stored in
        main things that make me break out into that cold sweat   a warehouse over the summer with no climate control with
        would be:                                           ambient temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
                                                            That flooring gets installed in new construction in the
          •  We forget that resilient flooring, and especially LVT, is   summer where the HVAC system is not running and the
            essentially plastic materials and as such has a known   substrate temperature is above 85 degrees. The structure
            coefficient of expansion and is prone to dimensional   gets completed and the HVAC is turned on, dropping the
            changes with changes in temperature;            ambient and substrate temperatures to livable conditions of
          •  The sometimes dubious claims that adhesive     about 72 degrees. All of the LVT that was installed while it
            manufacturers make about adhesives designed for LVT   was hot and fully expanded is now going to shrink, resulting
            that can withstand elevated levels of humidity and can   is gaps all over the place. What everyone needs to remember
            do just about anything, including making you lunch;  is resilient flooring is just as susceptible to changes in
          •  Since installers think the flooring is stable and the   temperature as wood flooring is to changes in humidity.
            adhesive can fix anything, they do not take the time or   The next thing that gives me white knuckles as we barrel
            effort to truly evaluate the subfloor on which they are   down this road of LVT/P installation are the claims adhesive
            going to install this miracle flooring product;  manufacturers make on moisture resistance. It is very
          •  The contractor is always under the gun to get the job   common these days for LVT adhesives to be authorized for
            done faster, and the road is flashing by in such a blur   use on concrete substrates with RH levels up to 99%. These
            they forget to make that turn in time and wind up in the   LVT adhesives are generally pressure sensitive types (PSA)
            ditch.                                          and do work quite well at elevated RH levels, but you need
                                                            to make sure the adhesive has lost all its moisture, doesn’t
        How do we deal with all of this? Let me take the role of   transfer to the touch, and has no white color left in any
        backseat driver and spend a little time talking about each of   ridges.
        these points so we can all be better drivers.
                                                            Moisture resistance comes from the fact that we allow
        Dimensional stability of resilient floor and particularly LVP   these PSA adhesives to completely dry or coalesce to a
        is usually pretty good but no matter what you read on the   cured polymer film and are not still in their wet latex form.
        specification sheet for the flooring product itself, you need to   Problems can occur using these high moisture-tolerant PSA
        take that information in context to how it is presented.   adhesives if you do not give them enough time to dry out
                                                            and place flooring materials into them while there is still
        Many flooring manufacturers will provide you with some   some whiteness left in the adhesive. Since the adhesive didn’t
        minimum shrinkage data on their specification sheets but to   completely dry out and you’ve capped it with a non-porous
        put that in context, the data is presented as a dimensional   flooring material over a high-moisture environment that
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   6       Flooring Specialist        Winter 2023
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