Flooring in transport requires a few important skills

WHEN installing floorcoverings in marine environments, contractors are faced with some particular considerations, chief of which is the legal requirement to ensure all products used in such installations comply with the Marine Equipment Directive (MED).

The MED is an EU regulation that sets out performance and testing standards to be met by all products and equipment used on board ships. It stipulates that such products must comply with International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards, which ensures they meet appropriate fire safety standards for ships at sea, including low flame spread standards and low smoke toxicity.

IMO-certified flooring products display the IMO ‘wheelmark’ logo (it looks like a little ship’s helm) so flooring contractors need only look for this to ensure products are compliant.

Manufacturers of subfloor preparation products and adhesives for floorcoverings produce a range of levelling compounds and adhesives tested in accordance with IMO standards.

Apart from ensuring any products used in marine flooring installations carry the ‘wheelmark’, contractors’ choice of product should be determined by the specifics of a particular project.

For example, steel decking is a common subfloor-type in crew and passenger areas on-board ships, such as cruise liners. Steel will ‘flex’ under normal foot traffic and as the result of temperature fluctuations, so any levelling compound selected for a project with this type of subfloor should be able to cope with these demands. For these areas, levelling compounds are available that are reinforced with fibres, allowing the underlayment to accommodate any subfloor movement while providing a strong, stable base for the receipt of floorcoverings.

When choosing an adhesive for marine flooring installations, contractors may consider if areas of the installation will be exposed to water, extreme temperatures or temperature fluctuations. Water- resistant adhesives suitable for use with a wide range of floorcoverings that have been tested to IMO standards are available from leading manufacturers.

For areas where floorcoverings will be exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations, contractors should choose an adhesive that develops a strong enough bond to hold floorcoverings firmly in place as they expand and contract, which could otherwise lead to tenting and gaping over time.

Again, leading manufacturers produce MED-certified temperature-tolerant adhesives for these purposes.
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