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What’s key when installing LVT

Martin explains what the key aspects are when installing an LVT.

THE Creation LVT range from flooring specialist Gerflor, is a brand that provides designers with various designs.

As with most highly engineered products, the Gerflor LVT range must be installed by highly trained and competent flooring contractors who appreciate the ‘devil is in the detail’ when it comes to producing an outstanding result for the final customer.

Once the specification has been reviewed and confirmed and product design has been selected, the success of any project relies on the installer to make sure the product performance ‘on the floor’ meets the expectations of the client.

The installation skills and immense capabilities of design can only be harnessed by attending ongoing training programmes and with actual application of knowledge in the form of ‘hands on’ continual practice.

However, a few key points will make sure that whatever you do as an installer you will be getting the best from the product. Two crucial things need to be appreciated:

  1. PVC products including LVT are thermoplastic.
  2. Site conditions need to enable the product to be installed.

There’s insufficient time or space to fully cover these aspects, however we’ll focus on the first point. The comment that LVTs are thermoplastic is saying that temperature changes can affect the product performance and install. The simple rule is as the temperature increases, PVC expands, and as temperatures decrease, PVC shrinks.

So, the first point is to make sure the products are conditioned sufficiently to enable them to ‘relax’ to the condition and dimensions they’re expecting in service. In the case of LVTs being bonded then taking a box off a cold van, laying them with a cold adhesive in a heated room is a recipe for disaster. This is because the product will begin slowly to acclimatise to its new dimensions and doing this before the adhesive has gained any significant strength will cause peaking at joints. Similarly, although less likely in our not so warm climate, shrinkage may take place if LVTs are brought in from a warm van or stored in a heated conservatory and then laid in a cooler room. Allowing LVT to ‘relax’ before you install is paramount. So, the rule of thumb is to make sure you follow the manufacturers guidelines, whether it be a bonded LVT or a non-bonded system.

Assuming the product is conditioned properly, you still need to consider what its likely thermal variation in service will be. If it’s known significant temperature fluctuation may occur in any area, then it may be necessary to upgrade to a higher strength (normally referenced as higher temperature but normally meaning capable of strong adhesion over a wide temperature range) grade adhesive.

This may be only for the first few metres in front of a plate glass window or patio doors, or it may be throughout the entire floor in a glass atrium, domestic conservatory, or orangery etc. Think about the likely effect of external and internal temperature changes. It’s important to understand the same proviso should be considered for areas which might drop significatory in temperature. Use a High Temperature (HT) adhesive in these areas too.

With installations over under floor heating, there are British standards which dictate the maximum glue line temperature that’s acceptable for adhesives and products to perform. However, control of the UFH is often at the behest of the occupant. Discuss this with the customer and if there’s any concern the end-user may ‘abuse’ the UFH then always steer on the side of caution and use an HT adhesive.

When considering non bonded LVT systems, this understanding needs to be even further appreciated. Non bonded systems require for peripheral expansion gaps and also expansion gaps at any fixed features in a floor plan. Follow the guidance and leave the recommended gap, filling with an appropriate flexible sealant to enable the LVT to laterally move under the expected temperature ranges. There may be a wider gap suggested for areas with UFH and most likely maximum temperature.

The thermoplastic nature of PVC/vinyl is nothing new, but expectation of performance and areas of use has changed over the years. LVTs generally don’t have as high a thermal expansion ratio as a flexible PVC product, but the inherent strength of LVTs means if movement is to take place, then controlling it is far more important. So please don’t ignore the manufacturer’s advice, meaning you can provide a fit for purpose floor and very satisfied customer.

Luxury vinyl tiles are one of the fastest growing product categories in flooring. Environmentally friendly LVT offers improved indoor air quality performance, and are the solution for low maintenance applications and, where easy installation is a pre-requisite, together with being a ‘must have’ product when a reduction in lifecycle costs is an absolute requirement of the specification process.
01625 428922
Martin Cummins is technical services manager at Gerflor

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