As resilient flooring installations become more popular and prevalent in today’s industry, it’s more crucial than ever to avoid common mistakes that could undermine the success and longevity of the installation. Many cases of failed resilient installations could be traced to improper preparation and insufficient jobsite acclimation. These problems could be avoided if the installation specifications and requirements are followed from the onset.

A recent example of a resilient flooring installation that suffered from a lack of attention to preparation and acclimation occurred at a residential apartment complex in Gilroy, California. A premium-grade, eco-friendly pressure sensitive resilient flooring adhesive was used to install 6”x48” luxury vinyl plank, or LVP, an increasingly popular choice of floor covering in today’s market. The LVP was installed over both concrete and gypcrete subfloors. Within months of the installation being completed, end peaking and lifting of the LVP end joints became evident.

A job-site inspection was conducted soon thereafter. Several apartment units across multiple buildings were experiencing the same issue of severe end peaking and lifting with the recently installed LVP, calling for a widespread inspection throughout the complex. Some of the end joints overlapped as much as 1/16”, a clear indication that the LVP had expanded post-installation. Planks were lifted in many units during the inspection, all of which proving very difficult to remove and demonstrating a proper and thorough application of adhesive.

Moreover, the sections of gypcrete subfloors examined beneath the pulled planks proved to be very soft and powdery. At this point, the inspection team learned that the gypcrete had not been primed prior to the installation of the LVP, despite the installation instructions of the pressure sensitive adhesive used for the job clearly stating the need for a latex primer on all gypcrete subfloors prior to the flooring installation. This was a critical lapse in subfloor preparation that had been emphasized as an essential step in the written instructions of the adhesive manufacturer. 

Foregoing the necessary elements of preparing the subfloor for the resilient floor covering is enough to undermine the integrity of the entire installation, but there was another issue discovered during the inspection. The inspectors were advised that especially cold weather had been experienced at the time of the installation and that the HVAC units were not operational during the project. As with the subfloor preparation phase, the adhesive manufacturer also offered written specifications regarding jobsite conditions and acclimation. The adhesive, floor covering, and jobsite area should all have been maintained within a specific temperature range and relative humidity for up to three days before, during, and after the installation. Failing to abide by these specifications is equally problematic to bypassing proper subfloor preparation.

The lesson gleaned from this failed installation, and of many other resilient installations, is to stringently abide by the specifications put forth by the adhesive and flooring manufacturers. Even if the ideal adhesive and floor covering are chosen for the job and adhered perfectly, dismissing the importance of jobsite preparation and acclimation could prove disastrous. In this instance, installers failed to follow information that was readily available in the public domain, resulting in the failure of a flooring system that could have been a success. With the rising popularity of luxury vinyl plank and other resilient floor coverings, contractors and installers should gather as much information as possible and ensure that all stages of the installation are conducted with the utmost attention to detail. The most common mistakes in resilient flooring installations today could also be the most easily avoided.