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Troubleshooting begins at the front side of the installation rather than after. Too many times I receive a phone call after the installation and many times it's too late, so instead of troubleshooting, it's to the point of how much do you think it would cost to do it right now that replacement is the issue. Many of the jobs being bid today have no installer involvement with the bidding process. Receiving input from your installer is one of the first steps in trouble shooting as they can give you a lot of insight to the installation portion. Many times an estimator or retailer may not want to hear what an installer will have to say because the price of the bid may escalate, but these factors need to be considered if the installation is to be successful. Communication on the bidding portion can reduce a lot of headaches and loss of income throughout the entire process of installation. This article comes at an opportune time, as the World Floor Covering Association is going through the transition of new floor coverings and there are areas of the installation that we have had to troubleshoot for a proper installation. The floor preparation is extensive and requires that we utilize all different types of products to create a showcase. A team effort to troubleshoot all the areas of concern makes for a smooth installation.

Photo 1 shows a before area that received vinyl-backed resilient squares. Glue direct carpet was removed and that's when all those hidden areas that require floor prep started to show. Construction joints, trench joints, slab cracking, concrete curling, uneven surface, and gypsum based patching compound were some of the issues that needed to be addressed before proceeding with the installation. This particular vinyl-backed product is 2.0 mm thick (approximately 1/16-inch) so a flat, smooth, and properly prepared substrate is critical.

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Photo 2 - A riding shot blaster was used to remove the existing carpet adhesive, gypsum based patching compounds, and any curing compounds. The shot blaster uses shot (very small BB's); to blast the top surface of the concrete; it also prepared the surface of the concrete to receive a self-leveling topping. Moisture testing was conducted prior to the topping and throughout the entire building.



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Photo 3 - Jeff Mason from an engineered cement and adhesive company, using a diamond grinder with a dust containment system around the perimeter walls where the ride on shot blaster could not reach. The grinder also did a great job in flattening areas of the joints where high spots were visible.



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Photo 4 shows the primer being applied to the concrete substrate prior to the self-leveling topping. Each manufacturer has specifications on using their products; make sure to follow each individual manufacturer's recommend procedures.



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Photo 5 shows the application of the self-leveling topping; make sure that you address containment issues with the self leveling topping as it can flow under walls due to its viscosity. We used a self-stick adhesive 3/8-inch weather stripping as a dam around the doorways and areas to the warehouse.



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Photo 6 shows the self-leveling topping after 24 hours. The floor was flat enough that other than finishing off the doorways, no other preparation of the surface was necessary.



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Photo 7 shows the installed flooring. Following the manufacturer's installation guidelines is critical to this type of installation. Open time of the adhesive is one of the most overlooked aspects of this type of flooring. This particular vinyl-backed product needs to be installed into the adhesive in a semi-wet state. The adhesive must not skin over therefore, do not spread more adhesive than can be worked with to achieve a semi-wet placement. Take precautions to keep the flooring from moving; blue painter's tape can temporarily hold the tiles in place if needed; make sure to remove tape as soon as the floor is rolled. Placing two four-by-four or four-by-five sheets of 1/4-inch underlayment on the installed vinyl tiles work well as a kneeling surface, leap frog the two pieces as the work progresses. Temperature, humidity, and substrate porosity are important and open time will vary with these conditions. Once in place, the floor needs to be rolled using a 100-pound roller in both directions.

Ever wonder what type of flooring to install in a high-impact area such as a weight room, or aerobic room? Well, wonder no more with rubber flooring. This type of flooring is used in multi-functional and sports floors, and many of the rubber flooring products in the market are durable enough for skating arenas and golf course applications. Rubber floors have been available for years in the athletic industry but are making a strong presence in commercial and residential applications, as is the installation here at the World Floor Covering Association.

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The tiles installed at the World Floor Covering Association are 24-inch-by-24-inch, 9.5mm (approximately 3/8-inch) thick, and each tile weighs 13 pounds, definitely a heavy duty flooring. Make sure that you follow the manufacturer's requirements for subfloor preparation prior to installation. Strike lines on the substrate and then dry fit the tiles; follow the manufacturer's recommended guidelines for layout as some have directional markers on the back side of their tiles. To cut the tiles, a table saw is recommended as this will give the cleanest cuts and prevent Carpel Tunnel Syndrome of the wrists (Photo 8).



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Photo 9 - Jim Schnasa from Phoenix, Arizona, installing the tiles; since we are not installing the tiles in a wet area; the adhesive that was used is an acrylic adhesive. For wet areas a two-part urethane is recommended with this manufacturer. The trowel notch for this floor is very important, the manufacturer recommends that a 1/8-inch-by-1/8-inch-by-3/32-inch U-notch trowel be used; this equates to approximately 85 square feet or 9.44 yards per gallon, which is a considerable amount, so keep this in mind when bidding. Open time is important with this product; so follow the manufacturers recommendations, as is movement once installed; work off the tiles if possible; if needed, the underlayment boards mentioned previously work also.



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Now that the flooring has been installed, the next phase is the wall base. For this installation, a resilient base with a routed wood profile is being used. This product worked out well for our installation due to the fact that the walls required a base that was more than four inches in height. This particular base is 4-1/2 inches in height and 3/8-inch thick so it worked well for our needs, and the millwork gives a real wood appearance. This type of wall base comes in eight-foot lengths and does not install with conventional rubber base installation techniques. A compound miter saw, radial arm saw or table saw with 60 teeth or greater is recommended for cutting the base. We used a 10-inch compound miter saw (Photo 10) that worked very well.



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(Photo 11) - other tools that you will need are a sliding "T" bevel (middle), a protractor (top) to determine angle of sliding "T" bevel, or a protractor that measures both inside and outside corners that has angle marks built in (bottom). These will be needed to determine the exact angle of the inside and outside corners. When installing up to the corners (outside), place a length of base up against the wall and mark the top of the base at the corner bend.



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Photo 12 - for outside corners, line up the protractor to the corner and set the protractor to the angle of the corner. Once you have established the angle, determine what the angle is, if the angle shows 90 degrees, divide the 90 by 2 and that will determine the angle of each cut, in this case each cut would be 45 degrees. Whatever the angle, just divide in half and that will be the angle that will be used for the two cuts that meet for outside corners. This cut will be made with the blade at a tilt (refer back to Photo 10).We had several outside corners at 96 degrees and had to make 48-degree cuts. There is an adjustment on the miter saw, usually on the back where the stop is, that allows you to adjust past 45 degrees, use the angle finder to determine the angle of the blade if the saw does not show markings past 45 degrees. For inside corners it will not be necessary to divide the angle in half, here you will cut the two inside corners to the angle that is set on the protractor.



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Photo 13 - Notice the gap towards the bottom of the combination square and the rough finish of joint topping. We have established the horizontal corner angle but now we have to deal with the vertical angle, as the rough work of sheet rock and joint topping will affect the fit (Photo 13A). For a quick way to mark the vertical angle, while the base is against the wall, mark the backside of the base. This mark will be the angle that you will need to cut to match the corners.



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Another method is to use the protractor on the wall and floor, determine what the angle is and then make the adjustments on the miter saw (Photo 14).



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For the sheet rock and joint topping, a small rasp plane (right) (Photo 15), works well to smooth out the rough spots.



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For areas that the corner bead is the problem, a small block plane (left), may need to be used to plane down the back side of the wall base (Photo 16), as trying to form the corner bead can lead to the bead cracking along the edge and breaking out the drywall topping. Patching the corners may be necessary in some instances if the corner is not sufficient to support the wall base. To fit the corners, a contact adhesive is used to bond the corners for a tight fit, make sure to ventilate when using contact adhesives. The contact is used for outside, inside and can be used on end joints also, apply a film to both surfaces that will be joined.



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After the contact is dry, apply the proper amount of cove base adhesive (80 percent for this manufacturer), keeping approximately a 1/4-inch gap with no adhesive at the top of the base to minimize the adhesive from squeezing out the top. Photo 17 shows the finished corner. Roll base to wall with a hand roller for proper transfer.



Photo 18 shows a portion of an office that has both inside and outside corners. This type of installation, and the tools required are typical to that of a wood base installation. The differences involved with this type of wall base to that of the traditional four-inch wall base that comes in four-foot lengths or coils, are very important to understand. This type of wall base requires an exact fit at all corners, this is where the money, time and craftsmanship come into play, more time and craftsmanship equate to more money needed to provide this level of professionalism. It can also make the flooring installation stand out and look like an award winner versus a wall base that was used just to cover the edges at the wall interface, and that's the beautiful part of it.