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Fast-track smoothing compounds

Many recent developments in smoothing compounds have been driven by the desire to
speed up the subfloor preparation process. John Green discusses the latest innovation.

MANY recent developments in smoothing compounds have been driven by the desire to speed up the subfloor preparation process, to help flooring contractors under ever-increasing pressure to work to shorter timescales, without compromising on finished results. Here I’ll go through some of the latest innovations.

The fastest-drying smoothing compound on the market is walk-on hard from just 30 minutes and is ready to receive floorcoverings in as little as 45 minutes after application. It’s suitable for use over a wide range of subfloor types, including sand/cement screeds, concrete and waterproof surface membranes.

In common with most other smoothing compounds, however, it requires the subfloor to be free of contaminants, including old adhesive residues, prior to application.

F Ball is currently promoting the availability of such products through its loyalty programme. Until the end of March, Ball Rewards members can claim 10% cashback on purchases of Stopgap Fast-Track 30, as well as double cashback (5%) on purchases of F Ball’s adhesives for resilient floorcoverings. This is in addition to the regular 2.5% cashback on purchases of all other F Ball products that cardholders are eligible
to claim.

Adhesive residues
Another innovation that has sped up subfloor preparation is the formulation of smoothing compounds that can be applied directly over old adhesive residues, removing the need to spend valuable time mechanically removing them.

Such products are formulated to minimise the stresses inflicted on adhesive residues as the smoothing compound sets, meaning it is able to maintain its integrity when applied to subfloors where these are still present.

In most cases, there’s no need to apply a primer beforehand, saving further time and expense. The best of these smoothing compounds are usually walk-on hard about one hour after application and are ready to receive new floorcoverings from around four hours later. They also have the benefit of allowing contractors to use the same product in situations where newly installed subfloors and areas with old adhesive residues present are next to each other.

New formulations
The latest advancements in technology have now enabled F. Ball to create a new fast-track, water-mix smoothing compound that can be applied over old adhesive residues, Stopgap 1500. Such products have previously only been available in bag and bottle formulations.
The new smoothing compound is suitable for preparing a wide range of sound internal subfloors prior to the installation of new floorcovering and can be applied over bitumen, carpet tile tackifiers and ceramic tile adhesives.

Just as with market-leading bag and bottle versions, the product is walk-on hard in as little as 60 minutes after application and ready to receive floorcoverings from just four hours. As a water-mix smoothing compound, no bottle is required, contributing to a reduction in plastic waste produced by the flooring industry.

Prior preparation
Before a smoothing compound is applied, contractors should begin any flooring installation by ensuring the subfloor is suitably sound, smooth and dry enough for the receipt of new floorcoverings. This may necessitate repairs to the subfloor or the removal of surface contaminants, including old adhesive residues, unless one of the specialist smoothing compounds described above is being used.

F Ball recommends a moisture test is then conducted to determine subfloor moisture levels. Where a moisture test indicates the relative humidity (RH) level within the subfloor is above 75% (65% if wood floorcoverings are to be installed), a suitable waterproof surface membrane will be required to prevent floor failure.

After these steps have been undertaken, the application of an appropriate smoothing compound is the final stage in the subfloor preparation process before new floorcoverings can be installed.
John Green is technical services officer, F Ball and Co

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