FLOORING installations in nursing and care homes require special considerations to help support elderly residents and minimise the risk of any hazards to which they’ll naturally be more susceptible. With older people more prone to trips, slips and falls, making flooring safe and secure is a priority. Similarly, the need to maintain stringent hygiene standards is equally important.
Typically, care settings employ a mixture of carpets and vinyl floorcoverings to meet different needs of its residents.
To ensure finished installations are able to withstand expected levels of daily wear, maintain their aesthetic appearance and safeguard the health and safety of users, contractors should follow best practice in subfloor preparation and floorcovering installation and choose the most suitable products at each stage of the process.
The first procedure in any flooring installation should be to ensure the subfloor is suitably sound and smooth and dry, including undertaking a moisture test to determine subfloor relative humidity (RH) levels, using a calibrated digital hygrometer.
Where subfloor RH levels are above 75% (65% if a wood floorcovering will be installed), a moisture management solution, such as a waterproof surface membrane, will be required to supress excess subfloor moisture levels and prevent floor failure.
The application of a levelling compound to create a perfectly smooth base for floorcoverings is usually the next step in the process after priming the subfloor.
Levelling compounds are protein-free, such as F Ball and Co’s Stopgap 1200 Pro, are often specified for areas where infection control is a priority, including hospitals and nursing homes, because they reportedly ensure there’s no breeding ground for bacteria.
The company continues: ‘Stopgap 1200 Pro is also low odour, meaning work can take place while nearby areas remain in use. It’s fast-setting, fast-drying and ready to receive most floorcoverings from as little as four hours after application, ideal when working to tight deadlines and minimising the time accommodation or facilities remain out of use. Further time can also be saved in refurbishments where old adhesive residues are present as the levelling compound can be applied directly over them, avoiding the need to remove them or prime beforehand.’
When it comes to adhesive selection, contractors should consider the specifics of a flooring installation. For example, in areas subject to high levels of humidity or surface water, an adhesive with water-resistant properties is essential. An adhesive that isn’t water-resistant may break down and soften if it comes into contact with water, potentially causing resilient floorcoverings to bubble or de-bond.
Extreme temperatures and temperature fluctuations, in heavily glazed areas, for example, can cause LVTs to expand and contract significantly, which can lead to ‘tenting’ and gapping at the edges of floorcoverings over time. For this reason, specialist high temperature adhesives, reportedly such as F Ball’s Styccobond F49 Hybrid PS, are recommended for LVTs in these areas.
Says the company: ‘The adhesive offers high initial grab, a particular advantage when installing vinyl tiles or planks, and develops the ultra-high bond strength required to hold vinyl floorcoverings firmly in place when exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations (as low as -20 degC and up to +60 degC).
The incredibly strong bond formed by the adhesive is also water-resistant, making it ideal for use in areas subject to repeated wet cleaning.’
The company continues: ‘Plasticiser resistance makes adhesives suitable for installing vertical PVC flooring accessories and has enabled F Ball to make Styccobond F49 an alternative to contact adhesives for securing PVC skirting, coving, and capping, a popular choice in care settings because they allow for easy cleaning of floors and prevent the build-up of dirt at the edges of the room.
Unlike contact adhesives, Styccobond F49 only needs to be applied to one surface to achieve a good bond. It also allows skirting/coving to be repositioned during the initial early stages of drying if alignment isn’t correct.’
Carpet installed over large areas can be prone to rucking – large ‘wrinkles’ caused by heavy objects, such as food trollies, being routinely wheeled across them – which can present a trip hazard. To prevent this, it’s recommended to secure carpets with an adhesive that will develop a strong enough bond to hold floorcoverings firmly in place over the lifetime of the installation.
It’s always recommended flooring contractors check the compatibility of a particular adhesive with a chosen floorcovering. To do this, flooring contractors can consult floorcovering manufacturers’ guideline. Alternatively, F Ball produces its recommended adhesives guide (RAG), which contains over 6,000 adhesive recommendations for floorcoverings from over 200 international manufacturers, for this purpose.
The latest guide is available as a printed booklet and features more recommendations than ever before, each the result of stringent testing and endorsed by the individual floorcovering manufacturer. A continuously updated version of the RAG is also available as a free app and on the F Ball website.