F Ball - Rubber and lineoleum

TO ensure that a long-lasting, aesthetically-pleasing floor finish is achieved when installing rubber and linoleum floorcoverings, proper subfloor preparation is necessary, along with the selection of an appropriate adhesive for the particular floorcovering and environment.

As with all flooring installations, contractors should first ensure that subfloors are suitably sound, clean and dry. A moisture measurement test should be undertaken to determine the relative humidity (RH) levels of the subfloor. If RH levels are 75% or above (65% where wood floorcoverings will be installed), the application of a waterproof surface membrane will be required to suppress excess moisture within the subfloor and prevent floor failure.

Nowadays, waterproof surface membranes are available that will isolate excess subfloor moisture where RH values are up to 98%, with a single coat application, and fully cure in as little as three hours. Quicker, two-coat systems enable a barrier against residual construction moisture where RH values are up to 95% to be created in less than two hours.

With a few exceptions, it is almost always essential to prime the subfloor before proceeding to the next stage of installing floorcoverings. Priming promotes adhesion between non-absorbent subfloors and subsequently applied levelling compounds or adhesives. When used over absorbent surfaces, priming promotes adhesion as well as stopping the unacceptably rapid drying of adhesives or levelling compounds.

A levelling compound should then be used to create a smooth and level surface for the receipt of new floorcoverings. Thin resilient floorcoverings are more susceptible to letting imperfections in the subfloor show through.

Adhesive selection
An adhesive should then be selected that is compatible with the floorcoverings and the environment in which they are being installed. Every flooring project presents unique challenges. The properties of rubber and linoleum necessitate the use of specialist adhesives, which will ensure that a strong, long-lasting bond is achieved between the floorcovering and subfloor. Adhesives with high initial grab also make the installation process easier. Ongoing research and development has led to the creation of rubber and linoleum adhesives with a range of other specialist properties.

Rubber floorcoverings
Rubber floorcoverings are widely used and a popular choice for schools, sports settings and even ships. This is because they are durable, easy to clean and maintain and offer good grip during wet conditions. The strong initial tack and high bond strength of specialist rubber floorcovering adhesives make them ideal for securing a wide range of rubber sheet and tile floorcoverings. Such adhesives have a high film strength to provide good dimensional stability and prevent the rubber floorcovering from moving when subject to heavy traffic.

Linoleum floorcoverings
When working with linoleum floorcoverings, F. Ball recommends the use of an adhesive that provides high initial grab and has been specially designed to adhere linoleum.

To be able to adhere hessian-backed linoleum floorcoverings, an adhesive must be able to ‘wet out’ the backing (i.e. transfer enough adhesive to create a good bond and deliver the instant grab that reduces the sliding of the linoleum when being installed). Specialist non-flammable, acrylic emulsion adhesives for linoleum floorcoverings include F Ball’s Styccobond F54, which is solvent-free, protected against bio-degradation and suitable for use over normal underfloor heating systems.

Outdoor installations
Rubber floorcoverings are a popular choice for outside flooring installations because they are durable and will not be damaged by water. Where areas will be subject to high levels of moisture or surface water, contractors should select a polyurethane or epoxy based adhesive. Polyurethane and epoxy adhesives also form a strong enough bond to withstand the high traffic levels that outdoor areas may be subjected.

F Ball recommends that contractors always check the compatibility of particular floorcoverings and adhesives. To do this, you can consult the floorcovering manufacturer’s guidelines. Alternatively, F Ball produces a recommended adhesives guide (RAG), which lists adhesives recommended for use with floorcoverings produced by over 200 manufacturers. The guide is available as a free app or a printed booklet. An interactive version can also be found on the F Ball website.