We recently sat down with David Altman, Metroflor’s director of research and development, to discuss the company’s partnership with Magnetic Building Solutions (MBS) to develop LVT products using the MagneBuild magnetic underlayment system. Metroflor will license the technology under the name Attraxion Magnetic Attachment Technology on select SKUs in the company’s Déjà New 2.5mm, 20mil commercial LVT line. Additionally, Metroflor plans to roll out Attraxion technology in its Verçade Wall Fashion collection.

Q: Can you walk me through the prep for an installation of MagneBuild both on the floor and the wall?

A: Currently, Metroflor is only integrating the MagneBuild technology within our flooring products under the brand name Attraxion, but we intend to utilize the MagneBuild system with our Verçade Wall Fashion product line in the future.

Since the MagneBuild underlayment is a flexible and non-rigid material, the subfloor preparation for the most part is the same as preparing for a gluedown product. All substrates must be structurally sound, smooth, clean and free of dust, dirt and old adhesive residue. The substrate surface should be flat within 3⁄16 in. in a 10 ft. radius without any abrupt height variations such as expansion joints or underlayment seams. Grout joints need to be filled when installing over existing ceramic tile or stone floors to obtain a smooth surface. Surface cracks, grooves, depressions, control joints or other non-moving joints and other irregularities should be filled or smoothed with high-quality patching or underlayment compound to prevent telegraphing of imperfections.

Q: Do you need to acclimate the floor like usual before installation?

A: Yes. Like any other resilient flooring, our Déjà New planks and tiles featuring Attraxion Magnetic Attachment Technology along with the MagneBuild underlayment should only be installed in temperature-controlled environments. The material should be stored flat off of the floor in an acclimatized, weather-tight space, between 65° to 85°F (18° to 29°C). Do not double-stack pallets. Permanent HVAC must be in operation before, during and continually after the installation.

Products featuring Attraxion Magnetic Attachment Technology must be allowed to acclimate in the acclimatized environment in which it is to the installed for a minimum for 48 hours prior, ensuring that the temperature range previously stated is maintained at all times during and continuously thereafter. Keep away from heating and cooling ducts and direct sunlight.

Q: Is it possible to install MagneBuild over existing flooring, or will that need to be removed first?

A: There are many instances where it can be installed over existing hard surface flooring, as long as it is structurally sound, flat and smooth. Best practice as always would be to remove the existing flooring if in doubt.

Q: Is it easy to cut and transport the underlayment?

A: Yes, the MagneBuild underlayment comes in rolls of 3 ft. by 33.3 ft. (100 sq. ft.) and weighs 75 lbs. The material cuts easily with a sharp utility knife and is easy to maneuver across the floor without worrying about damage from tearing.

Q: Can you tape the product when butting two pieces against each other, or does that cause any problems with the magnetism?

A: It is only necessary to tape the MBS underlayment at the seams if it is to be used for moisture mitigation purposes. However, some installers may prefer to tape the seams as a general practice for stability/integrity purposes. The MBS tape is engineered for this specific application as it is applied to the underneath and does not interfere with the magnetism.

Q: The announcement for this partnership notes that the MagneBuild system eliminates the need for adhesives and locking systems. However, even for adhesive-free systems like floating LVT, the perimeter usually still needs to be adhered. Is that the case with MagneBuild, too?

A: The only floating LVT floors that are sometimes perimeter glued are loose-lay products. The installation of Déjà New planks and tiles featuring Attraxion Magnetic Attachment Technology used in conjunction with the MagneBuild underlayment eliminates the need for perimeter adhesion. The underlayment is very strong and dimensionally stable. The magnetic bond between the two surfaces provides very good shear strength and is quite strong, minimizing the lateral movement of the system.

Q: The announcement also states that MagneBuild doesn’t require a moisture barrier. Does that mean MagneBuild acts itself as a moisture barrier? Can the product be installed in high-moisture conditions?

A: The MagneBuild underlayment is impervious to moisture and may be used for moisture mitigation purposes up to 100% RH, but taping of the seams is mandatory [for that purpose].

Q: Since MagneBuild doesn’t require a locking system, what keeps it from moving during the normal expansion and contraction of a floor? In commercial environments, what keeps it from moving under heavy traffic or loads?

A: The shear strength of the magnetic bond. Heavy foot traffic and general rolling loads should not cause the planks or tiles to shift. Should significant “torque” be involved from a rolling load, it may be possible for a plank or tile to slip, but the nature of this “removable/replaceable” installation system will make it very easy to put a shifted plank or tile back in place.

Q: Can spills or chemicals penetrate the floor and weaken the magnetic bond?

A: I cannot speak to specific “chemicals” relative to their effect on the magnetic bond. But we commonly test the surface of our products and how well they can withstand exposure to a variety of chemicals and substances that floors are often exposed to. We publish this information on our website for any product that we offer.

However, relative to liquids like water, it’s quite interesting because the magnetic bond prevents moisture from settling in the space between the underlayment and the underside of the LVT. In fact, if you were to install a piece of LVT plank over a droplet of water, the magnetic force would cause that droplet of water to dissipate to the perimeter of the plank or tile. It in essence repels water.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

To learn more about magnetic underlayment, click here!

A: Metroflor is very excited to be one of the first pioneers to manufacture a product that’s compatible with the MagneBuild underlayment system. We have inventory in Calhoun, Ga., in a 10-SKU design line that’s a subset of our Déjà New LVT collection. Déjà New featuring Attraxion Magnetic Attachment Technology is a 2.5mm product featuring a 20mil wear layer. It’s well-suited for a wide variety of commercial applications and can be shipped anywhere in the USA in a matter of days.

Please visit www.metroflorusa.com or contact your local Metroflor distributor if you’re interested in learning more about this wonderful new product. To find out more about Magnetic Building Solutions, visit www.magneticbuildingsolutions.com.