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Training can eradicate costly mistakes

Rob Eckersley, director of The Solid Wood Flooring Company
I THINK It’s fair to say we’ve all rolled our eyes and groaned when we’re told to attend training for one reason or another. We may have even snoozed through or skipped it all together. Where’s the harm? After all, it’s flooring, we know how to fit it; we’ve done it for years.

The reality of avoiding training or thinking you know better is, at best, you’ll lose the opportunity to learn new methods – ones that could save you time and more importantly, money. At worst, you could completely ruin an install of a product, writing off the product, massively increasing costs, delaying a project, potentially be fined and lose the job for your business. It’s a crowded but small world in our industry and one bad fitout can seriously harm a company’s image.

Unfortunately, we’ve all heard or had experiences where contractors, for one reason or another, didn’t take the time to watch the videos or read the guides provided.

Failing to understand a product or appreciate that there’s various construction types with differing fitting methods and requirements can lead you into serious trouble and make you look incompetent.
A critical feature of LVT in its many forms, is the subfloor must be in good condition and level; in most cases it should be SR1, though our Impervia range can be used on SR2 subfloors depending on the condition. Therefore, from the outset, if you don’t understand the subfloor requirements and proceed to fit onto an unsuitable subfloor, you’re going to have problems, possibly immediately during fitting or not long after once the floor is in use. These issues can range from hollow sounds to the product breaking down owing to excessive movement, which will result in your client calling you back on site to investigate and put things right – at your cost.

Another issue that comes up is a carefree attitude to fitting herringbone. There are various installers around who go blindly into such installations and proceed to apply a one-size-fits-all method of installation. LVT or SPC herringbone has an entirely different fitting method than wooden ones. Installing either option using the wrong method is doomed to fail.

The good news is that LVT is easy to fit once you understand the product you’re dealing with. Our Impervia is certainly simplified as we use the Valinge 5G-i push fit system on all our products. This means there’s one layout method for planks and another for herringbone, but they both follow the same principles. To make things as convenient as possible, we put all the fitting information on our website via videos or written guides so teams can quickly and easily access them, even on site.

Beyond the pitfalls of issues on site, not understanding a product can lead to issues at the specification level too. Whether you’re the original specifier or sourcing a value engineered option during a costings analysis; understanding the product is vital; especially in such a saturated market as LVT. Many manufacturers or vendors will obviously tout the benefits of their product, but there’s a big difference in quality, ethical and environmental practices, ease of install and life-time performance.

For example, glue-down LVT, on the face of it, is a great flooring choice. It’s one of the cheapest LVT floors on the market as an initial cost and looks fine. However, there’s a lot of hidden costs such as subfloor preparation, adhesive costs, and skilled labour costs. There’s also an environmental cost as these are generally made cheaply with high VOCs with notable off-gassing, especially combined with the chemical adhesives required to bond it to the subfloor. Comparing that with our Impervia as an example, you have an all-in-one product, no adhesive requirement, a simple DIY level install and zero VOCs. While the upfront cost of purchasing the product is slightly higher, overall, it’s much less and longer-lasting.

While training might be seen as boring or even beneath us, it’s important we all take the time to understand the product we’re working with. For what is really a small investment in time can lead to massive savings in costs; thereby increasing profits, save time; which no one can make more of and impress our clients, leading to more job opportunities. Training doesn’t have to be boring; chat with the manufacturer, watch/read their content – it can only ever lead to your benefit.

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