The author takes a look at some of the problems installers face while installing resilient flooring

Recently, I have received a lot of questions concerning the problems being experienced by professional installers on the job. These problems afford the opportunity for others to learn the tips and tricks that can help remedy these situations. Here are some of the more common problems that installers are facing today.

“I have had a lot of difficulty with my heat weld sticking in the area that I first start. How can I overcome this?”

The problem is that the material on the floor is too cold, and the point where the weld rod is first placed has not had time to heat. Try preheating the first 3 to 4 inches of the start area, and you will find that the rod will have a much better time fusing to the material.

“How can I get the seam sealer to flow in a smoother, more consistent bead?”

The best way is to keep the seam sealer bottle full. The more air in the bottle, the more you have to compress the bottle to force the sealer out. If the bottle is full, less compression is required, and the seam sealer will flow much more smoothly.

“What causes the vinyl surface to turn yellow from a floor mat that has been placed on it?”

There are a lot of things that will turn the surface of a vinyl floor yellow. Rubber products, such as rubber-backed mats, rubber furniture rests, and even tires, can be responsible for the surface yellowing of vinyl floors. I believe that the sulfur content in the rubber compound is the culprit responsible for the problem. And unfortunately, once the yellow discoloration appears, there is no way of removing it.

“Why has the flooring industry moved away from gypsum-based patching compounds?”

With the fast-track construction approach being practiced today, there is a lot more moisture being retained in the structure. Gypsum has a tendency to soften and expand when subjected to excessive moisture.

“What will cause the underlayment joints to show through the sheet vinyl?”

There are a number of reasons for underlayment joint show-through:
  • Improper nailing of the underlayment
  • Improper fasteners (nails, staples, or screws)
  • The fasteners are too long
  • The subfloor is not structurally sound
  • Too much moisture in the subfloor
  • Failure to acclimate the underlayment
  • Improper patching technique
  • The patching compound is too soft (low compressive strength)
  • Over mixing (watering) of the patching compound
  • Mixing the patching compound on the underlayment

    “Why are the manufacturers of cementitious patching compounds recommending the use of a power mixer to mix their patch?”

    Using a power mixer ensures a good, thorough mix of the powder and water, with a lot fewer lumps and a more easily trowelable product. Remember to measure the correct ratio of water and powder, always placing the powder into the water, then power mix with a mixer paddle on an electric drill. You will notice that the mix will be thinner and smoother than if you had hand mixed it.

    “Is it necessary to get the seam sealer down into the seam?”

    Yes. When completing a seam, it is imperative that the sealer be placed down into the seam. In most cases, the fusing obtained from the sealer is on the edges of the material, not the surface. Some materials have a surface coat the does not lend itself to the fusing process. Seam sealer does not have the tensile strength to hold the shrinkage of the material together.

    “I have had a problem with seams that turn yellow after they have been seam sealed. Can you tell me what has caused this to happen?”

    I can think of three possibilities:
  • Contamination of the seam sealer before it dried
  • Adhesive contamination of the seam
  • Cleaning the seam with paint thinner prior to the sealing of the seam

    “Is there an industry standard for moisture testing?”

    In the fall of 1998, the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) adopted the standards for testing moisture vapor emissions in a concrete slab. The test is ASTM #F-1869-98, and is held as the standard for the flooring industry.

    “What is the best way to handle an expansion joint in a concrete slab?”

    Flooring manufacturers recommend that you “honor” a concrete expansion joint. By this, they mean the joint needs to be allowed to move with temperature changes. A concrete slab will move approximately 1/8 inch per 100 linear feet per five degrees Fahrenheit. The joint needs to either be covered with an expansion cover or be filled with elastomeric joint filler and left exposed.