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Building Products July 2017

FLOORS AND FLOOR COVERINGS JULY 2017 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 57 It is in everyone’s interest to cut refurbishment times to a minimum, but this must never be at the expense of safety or quality. Far from being simply aesthetic, the installation of suitable flooring is a crucial health and safety consideration. This is particularly true for areas requiring safety flooring, such as communal areas, corridors and stairways, or the homes of vulnerable tenants, where bathrooms and kitchens present greater risks. There may be practical obstacles preventing work being carried out such as lack of alternative housing for tenants, or tenants with mobility issues. Access to communal areas during maintenance is essential, and turnaround times must be kept to a minimum. These are areas where adhesive-free flooring products can make a massive impact. Adhesive-free flooring can be installed directly to a damp subfloor or a new concrete floor at up to 97% relative humidity. That means you do not need to wait for the substrate to dry out. This is meeting needs, particularly with new build projects, where the floor finish has been left until last, yet deadlines are tight. Installations are quicker and easier as no DPM is required, and the subfloor is allowed to breathe. Many refurbishment projects need to be quick and slick, yet it is fairly typical to encounter a range of floor-related problems. The existing floor covering might be expensive, messy or difficult to remove, involving specialist waste disposal and substantial remedial works to prepare the subfloor for new flooring. Flaking painted surfaces, for example, can be costly and problematic substrates to work with. Old vinyl tiles, fixed with adhesive, are also timeconsuming and labour-intensive to remove. Having completed works to the subfloor, it may then be too damp for the effective use of adhesives when fitting new flooring; or the surface may require the installation of a damp proof membrane before new flooring can be laid, both of which add time and cost. This is where adhesive-free flooring comes into its own. Some types can be laid successfully over less than perfect surfaces, and can be installed quickly, and also lifted and re-used if required. Where the existing floor covering is expected to be problematic or costly to remove, in some cases adhesive-free flooring can be laid over the top of existing materials such as vinyl and flaky paint. For access to a subfloor, the floor covering can be easily lifted – particularly handy if there is localised flooding or issues with the substrate. Any damage to the flooring itself can be easily rectified too, as you can cut the flooring, patch the damage, lay the new flooring and weld. Not that you would be any more likely to encounter damage – the very best can stand up to foot and wheeled traffic just like adhered floors with no rucks and no movement, even under rigorous testing conditions. Adhesive-free flooring is also suitable for installation over underfloor heating. So far the focus has been on installation, but those benefits are not at the expense of the performance. If slip-resistance is a high priority, there are adhesive-free safety flooring options available for areas with medium to high slip risk, for the lifetime of the flooring, if you choose carefully. These products have been proven to be up to the task over many years in busy healthcare, education and social housing environments. You can find products that offer similar guarantees to their traditional adhered safety flooring counterparts. There are also decorative, adhesive-free flooring options, designed to create maximum impact in areas with a low slip risk, ideal for areas where aesthetics and hygiene are top priorities. And even at the end of its life, there are benefits to adhesive-free flooring – it is 100% recyclable. Better still, if it is no longer needed but still in good condition, adhesive-free floors can be re-used in other installations – something we have seen done with great success, with flooring installed for major events being reused in local schools, or flooring reused in different areas of museums or galleries as and when needed. David Brailsford is New Product Introduction Manager at Altro


Building Products July 2017
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