Contract Flooring Journal (CFJ) the latest news for flooring contractors

HomeHelp and adviceAdhesive-free flooring: A modern method of Installation

Adhesive-free flooring: A modern method of Installation

Ian discusses the importance of improving the circularity of floor coverings, and the crucial role installation plays in ensuring reuse.

THE need for the construction industry to move to a more circular economy to reduce embodied carbon has been well documented.

Embodied carbon from new-build and refurbishment makes up 20% of built environment emissions today and is projected to rise to over half by 2035 as operational emissions reduce, according to a UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) report.

Reusing, rather than recycling, materials keep them at their highest level of value. In fact, the World Economic Forum calculates that adopting a fully circular economy would achieve a 75% reduction in carbon emissions. But where does flooring fit into this picture?

Futureproofing flooring
Carpet Recycling UK (CRUK) recorded circa 484,000 tonnes of carpet and textile flooring waste disposed of in the UK in 2020. While 80% was diverted from landfill, only a small proportion of that was through reuse, with the vast majority going for energy from waste recovery, recycling, and incineration.

Many flooring manufacturers have made huge advancements in developing sustainable, recyclable floor coverings with low carbon footprints and offering material take-back schemes, but a vital part of the puzzle often gets missed.

The key to a truly circular flooring solution lies in its installation method. Traditional adhesive-based methods such as tackifiers, spray and contact adhesives aren’t designed to be reversible fixings. So, when a flooring covering is uplifted, it’s likely to be contaminated by not only adhesive residue but also some of the subfloor to which it was adhered.

The flooring isn’t suitable for reuse and can’t be easily recycled, rendering it a single-use material.

Plus, the subfloor asset is also contaminated, and must be made suitable before the next installation, adding remedial costs for landlords and tenants. And in the case of concrete subfloors, the use of further cementitious screeds to make the surface suitable means extra embodied carbon being pumped into the building.

Increasing specifications for adhesive-free
Adhesive-free flooring Installation addresses this issue by enabling floor coverings to be affixed securely throughout the life of the installation, yet cleanly and easily uplifted, ready to be reused elsewhere.

This reversible fixing mechanism gives flooring a second life, vastly improving flooring circularity and making flooring manufacturers’ take-back schemes easier to implement.
With the focus on designing for disassembly, architects and interior designers are increasingly specifying adhesive-free installation alongside their chosen floor covering. As well as the sustainability benefits, it enables easier repurposing and adaptation of spaces in the future.
Sustainability accreditations such as BREEAM and LEED recognise waste reduction and material reuse with additional credits, making adhesive-free an attractive option for architects and their clients.

Making specification even easier, IOBAC’s adhesive-free solutions have been proven in the installation of carpet tiles, 4mm LVT and woven vinyl tiles from 13 manufacturers, including Shaw Contract EMEA, Forbo, Tarkett, Desso, Bolon, ege carpets and Milliken.

And Shaw Contract EMEA have gone one step further by offering a 15-year warranty when their product is installed using IOBAC MagTabs, including the reinstallation of flooring in a second location. This is a huge step forward in facilitating flooring reuse.

Saving time, money and disruption
In addition to meeting client specifications for sustainability and design flexibility, adhesive-free installation offers additional efficiency benefits for contractors.

A simple, intuitive dry-laid method, minimal preparation material, and steps are required with no mess. Multiple trades can work around each other easily during installation and flooring can be trafficked immediately with no cure time needed. This means installs are completed as quickly as possible, with minimal disruption.

All VOCs associated with adhesives are eliminated for improved Indoor Air Quality for contractors and occupants.

Making Flooring Reuse Reality
As sustainable practices gain momentum in the flooring industry, specifications are evolving, with adhesive-free flooring installation increasingly becoming standard practice.

As an example, property developers Landsec published their Material Brief in 2021 stating a preference for non-chemically fixed methods and the avoidance of ‘adhesives to create composite materials that cannot be recycled’. While Google’s procurement guide for modular carpet states ‘with the exception of high-stress locations such as stairs, no carpet installation shall require full-coverage, wet-applied adhesive.’

The adoption of adhesive-free flooring installation positions contractors as forward-thinking professionals capable of responding to industry specifications for sustainable practices, helping them to win business and benefitting their bottom line.

Flooring contractors who embrace this modern method of installation are not only responding to client demands but are also future-proofing their practices, aligning themselves with the sustainable future of flooring.
Ian Spreadborough is co-founder and director at IOBAC UK Ltd

Please click to view more articles about

Stay Connected




Popular articles