Lew Migliore, the Industry's Troubleshooter and President of LGM & Associates Technical Flooring Services. LGM specializes in the practice of consulting on and trouble shooting all flooring related complaints, problems, and performance issues having experts in every category as well as related educational services.
Commercial Sheet Vinyl Installation Issue
On two separate occasions within a three-week period we received phone calls regarding the same concern on a homogeneous commercial sheet vinyl product. The material was installed in the exact same type of facility at opposite ends of the country by two completely different flooring contractors. The facilities were brand new hospitals and the problem which created the complaint was not noticed until the vinyl flooring was cleaned and a high gloss shine applied to it.
The problem and complaint was for trowel marks showing through the face of the material. The end-user complained that this was the fault of the installer. This is not the case in either of these installations. The product’s installation instructions are vague and ambiguous. They say what size trowel to use, what type of adhesive and how to apply it. They also state that if trowel marks are an issue to apply the adhesive with a paint roller.
What they don’t say is that trowel marks on this product are inevitable unless you do some very specific things. The trowel marks are going to show through the face of the material when it is buffed to a high gloss regardless of what size trowel is used unless you know how to prevent them which they don’t specifically tell you. This problem is common with this type of sheet vinyl flooring material and this same product is causing many of the same complaints.
This vinyl material will conform to the ridges in the adhesive applied if installed the way they tell you or the way an installer normally would install it. Generally, the adhesive would be applied and allowed to develop tack and then the flooring would be placed into it. With this product you can’t do that without having ridges develop in the face. Once the ridges are seen in the material there is no way to get them out since they are forever set.
The installation instructions treat the trowel marks as a casual concern, telling the installers that “if trowel marks are a concern roll the adhesive on.” They don’t say that trowel marks are definitely going to be seen in the product unless you specifically adopt a particular method of applying the adhesive and installing the flooring material. To prevent this problem it is necessary to apply the adhesive with a 1/32-in. notched trowel and then roll the adhesive with a paint roller to take the ridges out.
It could also be applied using only the roller. Homogeneous sheet vinyl is a very dimensionally stable product and it does not require a mass of adhesive to affix it. The other method would be to ap ply the adhesive with the prescribed notched trowel, immediately place the vinyl into it and roll the material. Immediately after doing this, pull the vinyl back, let the adhesive “flash off” and then put the vinyl back down and roll it again. This is known as the contact method of installation and it will eliminate trowel marks from appearing in the vinyl’s face.
This method is also used for installing direct glue down carpet to ensure it will not come loose from the floor. The contact method will give you a better bond and securely anchor the flooring material in place. None of this information is supplied by the manufacturer. When this complaint is made everyone is being confused and frustrated by its appearance and no one seems to be able to come with an answer as to how it happened and what to do about it.
Once the problem exists, it is impossible to correct short of replacing the entire floor or dulling the sheen on the surface of the material, which none of the end-users want to do. Therefore, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to know this condition is going to exist and provide the specific instructions, such as those given to you here. Since this problem keeps cropping up the same every time, it is the manufacturer’s fault for not being specific in its installation instructions.
If there’s blame to be placed, it has to go to the mill. Until it changes its instructions to be more specific this problem is going to continue and the installers are going to be blamed—don’t let this happen to you. If you want to install homogeneous sheet vinyl material without trowel marks, and vinyl tile for that matter, follow the advice we’ve given you. Any questions on this subject, give us a call. Register for the LGM Carpet Seminar in Oct. 17 to 19, to be well informed and create profits for your business. There is no other educational program like it in the industry. If you are interested in attending, call 706/370-5888.
Edited by Admin 10/3/2005
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