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Resilient Flooring and Healthcare

By Gary Scheidker, Director of Technical Services, Taylor Adhesives

These unique requirements are each important and can make a significant difference in the immediate and long-term success of the floor. Since these projects can take a while to start and complete, you need to either lock in cost or add a price increase clause to cover any unforeseen material or labor cost overruns.

Flooring, wall covering, substrate preparation and adhesive selection:

Selecting the right flooring and adhesive for the application is a critical first step in any project but even more so for healthcare applications. Nursing homes and assisted care facilities have their own set of challenges since flooring replacements will generally be more frequent. A private medical office will have less stress on the flooring assembly than an urgent care or walk-in clinic. Similarly, a major hospital with an emergency trauma center, operating rooms, and patient rooms will put the most stress on floor covering assembly. Operating rooms will typically require either homogeneous or heterogeneous heat welded vinyl with flash cove to provide a sanitary environment. Some applications may also require wall panels that are heat welded at all the seams and at the flash cove as part of a monolithic envelope to provide a sanitary environment.

I recently ran into a situation where an LVP product was specified for wall covering in a nursing home. The issue with this was the LVP did not have a vertical burn rating. You need to research every component of the installation so you can avoid delays and liability. Before you select your floor covering, wall covering, substrate prep and adhesives, you need to know what type of abuse the floor will be subjected to. You should also guide your customer and their architect or designer in the right direction if they select an inappropriate product. Remember you are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the floor since you are the flooring professional.

New Construction:

It is important that you know what you are getting into before you start the project. Concrete curing compounds, admixtures, sealers, bond breakers and deicers can all create problems for resilient flooring. Some of these products may require additional substrate preparation to remove or control them.  Monitoring the ambient temperature and humidity during acclimation all the way up to occupancy is critical. I recommend using a system like Floorcloud® to make certain the space is under HVAC control at service temperature and humidity. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for acclimation. Moisture testing per ASTM F2170 or ASTM F1869 and pH testing per ASTM F710 is essential. Unfortunately, proper moisture testing requires the space to be under HVAC control for a minimum of 72 hours prior to starting the testing process. You will need to include a clause in your contract for moisture mitigation if needed. Many architects are now including moisture mitigation as part of their specification, which is great for our industry. Check to see what arrangements the general contractor has made for secure space to store product and equipment on site. You may need to supply a storage container and even a forklift on some projects.    

Remodel:

Working in an occupied facility will present a unique set of problems. I recommend including SDS and TDS documents for every component that will be used in the installation in your submittal. This includes flooring, underlayment, patch, leveling products, adhesives, and seam sealers. Know the age and history of the building and substrate. Moisture testing per ASTM F2170 or ASTM F1869 and pH testing per ASTM F710 is important. You should also consider the age of the slab as part of the evaluation.  Remember an older slab with high moisture readings indicates moisture intrusion from an external source. This type of moisture intrusion indicates the absence of a functioning under-slab vapor retarder. Test for lead and asbestos if the building age is from the period where they could have been used in paint or floor covering. The space will need to be sealed to prevent dust and construction odors from entering occupied areas. You will need to remove the existing flooring and prepare the substrate with as little noise and dust as possible so planning is critical. The general contractor should make space to store product and equipment and you may need to supply a storage container and forklift on certain projects.

Qualified labor:

Remember not all installers have equal skill levels. Having a pool of qualified floor mechanics available will be essential for a successful on time completion. Finding enough qualified mechanics to complete the project in the allotted amount of time can be a challenge in certain markets. Some projects may even require mechanics that can pass a background check. This is not always as easy as it sounds. If you are a union shop in an area with a good training and apprentice program the availability of qualified labor is generally good. If you are not a union shop, you may want to contact one of the independent training organizations like International CFI, INSTALL, IUPAT, AFT, NAFCT, or UNITE to find qualified resilient flooring mechanics in your area.

Environment:

Every area has its own unique set of challenges. Large healthcare projects can take a long time to complete. This means that the project may start in the spring and continue through winter or longer. Each season will bring on new challenges, which in some areas can be significant. You need to consider this when you bid a project especially regarding a commitment to a completion date.  

Liquidated damages:

This is where the completion date comes into play. If you miss the agreed upon completion date, the liquidated damages can be significant. When you make a commitment to a date to have a floor ready to be turned over for occupancy, you need to make certain that it is attainable. Your project manager needs to monitor the progress of the project to make certain the project is moving along as planned. Additional personnel or equipment may be needed if the project starts to run behind schedule.

Maintenance:

Your responsibility for the floor does not end when the floor is completed. Improper maintenance can create issues with even the best flooring installations. It is important that you provide the facilities management department with the proper care and maintenance of the flooring product being installed. This should include proper cleaning methods, cleaners, and finishes. You need to know the specific maintenance requirements for the type of facility you are working in. These requirements can vary from state-to-state or even county-to-county. Some of these aggressive cleaning methods may stress the flooring in unforeseen ways. For instance, assisted care and nursing homes may be required to clean the common areas twice a day using hot water extraction units. This cleaning method will soften the floor every time it is used, causing the flooring to contour to any substrate irregularities and telegraphing them through the flooring. Extreme care to substrate preparation and back rolling adhesives will go a long way to avoiding an issue from this cleaning method. Planning ahead can save you headaches in the future.

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Keeping a new wood floor like new

When life gets messy, you need a floor that’s simple to clean

What to do

  • Clean regularly with a broom or dust mop or even vacuum using the bare floor setting to remove dust and dirt.
  • Clean the floors periodically with a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by a wood flooring professional.
  • Wipe up spills immediately with a dry or slightly damp cloth.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations.

What not to do

  • Use wet mops or steam mops, which can dull the finish and even damage the wood.
  • Use vinyl or tile cleaning products on wood floors. Self-polishing acrylic waxes cause wood to become slippery and appear dull quickly.
  • Use wood furniture polish, which can make the floor dangerously slippery, and damage the finish.
  • Over-wax a wood floor. If a wax floor dulls, try buffing instead.

Individual maintenance schedules will vary depending on use, wear and tear, and lifestyle, but here are some additional tips for keeping your floors beautiful:

  • Use throw rugs at doorways to help prevent debris from being tracked in and scratching the floor.
  • Put stick-on felt protectors under the legs of furniture to prevent scuffing and scratching.
  • Avoid walking on your wood floors with sports cleats and high heels.
  • When moving heavy furniture, pick it up instead of sliding it across the floor.

Thank you Libby White Johnston, Publisher & VP of Media
National Wood Flooring Association I Hardwood Floors Magazine

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Installation care and maintenance issues, which lead to flooring failures

By Gary Schiedker
Director of Technical Services, Taylor and Meridian Adhesives

Proper flooring care and maintenance is much more than just proper cleaning. It includes maintaining the space at acceptable temperature and humidity levels for the floor covering and protecting the floor covering from potential damage. Insufficient or improper maintenance can affect resilient flooring, hardwood flooring, and even carpet. These are a few of the most common causes of flooring failure that could have been easily avoided with proper care. 

Temperature and humidity fluctuations

Every resilient or wood flooring installation should start with proper acclimation. It is critical that the space continues to be maintained at proper service temperature after installation. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause failures with most resilient flooring and all hardwood flooring products. Even carpet can relax from high humidity and possibly require a re-stretch. It is important that you include climate control as part of the maintenance instructions that you provide to your customer. The space should be maintained under HVAC control year-round including off hours. It is not acceptable to shut off or turn down the HVAC during nights, weekends, or holidays.  For commercial applications, you may want to recommend an environmental monitoring system like Floorcloud® to make certain the space is properly maintained.

Direct sunlight

Many flooring products require protection from direct sunlight. In the case of resilient flooring, direct sunlight exposure can cause it to expand when it is heated and then shrink as it cools. In the case of LVT and LVP, the most common results are peaked or gapped joints. As the flooring is heated, it expands creating pressure on the neighboring tile or planks. Then as it cools, it may shrink leaving gaps at the joints. With sheet goods, the heat can cause the flooring to expand thereby creating bubbles that may never recover. Hardwood can change color from direct sunlight, which will become obvious when furniture or rugs are moved. I have even seen “checking” in the finish of hardwood that only occurred where it was exposed to unbuffered sunlight. It is important that you include the recommendation of window treatments such as curtains, blinds, shutters, or tint to provide protection from direct sunlight in windows. These are exposure considerations in your recommended maintenance instructions.  

Caster chair and other furnishings

Caster chairs in offices can damage resilient flooring, hardwood flooring, and carpet if proper protection is not used. The use of chair pads are essential in office settings where caster chairs are used. Failure to protect the flooring from caster chairs in commercial applications can cause the new floor covering to prematurely wear or ugly out. Using the right chair pad for your application is essential for good results. You should be specific when making recommendations regarding chair pads to your customer. The use of felt or other soft protectors on chair or furniture legs are also important and should be included in your recommended maintenance instructions. The use of walk off mats should always be recommended at doorways that open to exterior, dirty, or wet areas. These steps will keep the floor looking good for a long time.

Improper cleaning products

I cannot believe how many flooring failures I have seen that could have been easily avoided by simply following the instructions on the label of the cleaner. In many cases, the maintenance people use the wrong cleaner or simply use a high concentration. Some of these cleaners are citrus based and have a pleasant sent. Unfortunately, the citrus cleaners are acidic and can attack the adhesive and floor covering. I have seen citrus cleaners attack the latex that attaches the secondary back to the primary back of the carpet. They have also caused finishes to dull and leave oily residues on the surface. We had one case where a chain of veterinarian clinics was having problems at a couple locations and no issues at the others. They had the same flooring and used the same disinfecting cleaner in all their locations. It turned out that high concentrations of the cleaner were attacking the flooring assembly. This disinfectant was so strong at full strength that it ate the epoxy floor in our testing area. We placed the jug on the shelf and it leaked over the weekend. When we came back on Monday, the epoxy had flaked off the slab in the spill area.  I highly recommend that you recommend the right cleaning products and method for the floor you are installing.

Excessive amounts of water

We see too many crazy things when we go to inspect a floor. I had a situation with VCT at an elementary school that was obviously moisture related. This was a new slab with a good quality under-slab vapor retarder installed. The flooring contractor performed both In-Situ RH tests per ASTM F2170 and Calcium Chloride tests per ASTM F1869. We were at a loss as to the source of the moisture until we found a maintenance man using a garden hose to clean the floor. I had another one at a high-end resort with hardwood floors. Part of the floor was over plywood on pier and beam and part was over on-grade concrete slab. I saw the maid throw a pail of water on the floor and swab it like the deck of a ship. I drove five hours to look at a solid wood floor that was cupping. When I arrived, I noticed a mop and a bucket with a jug of oil soap next to it in the kitchen. It turned out the homeowner wet moped the floor weekly with oil soap diluted in water. We asked her to change her cleaning method and the cupping subsided.   

Hot water extraction machines

We typically think of carpet cleaning when it comes to hot water extraction units which are also called steam-cleaning machines. This cleaning method can leave both the carpet and the cushion wet, which will cause it to attract soil and crush from traffic. If this method is used it is necessary to allow the carpet and cushion to dry prior to traffic. Excessive amounts of cleaner will also attract soil and cause the carpet to crush in traffic areas even when dry. For hard surface, some state and local agencies require nursing homes, assisted care facilities and day care centers to clean the common areas up to two times a day. In many cases, these facilities use walk behind hot water extraction units to clean the floors. This hot water will soften the resilient flooring, which allows it to contour to any irregularities on the substrate and telegraph them. You should consider this when selecting an adhesive and recommending the flooring.

Floor finishes

It may sound crazy but have been on multiple complaints where the property owner had a maintenance company apply a sacrificial finish to the floor. This is not an issue unless the gloss level of the coating is different from the factory finish. In every case, the property owner complained that the floor was different from what they selected. It is important that you educate your customer on acceptable applied finishes and how they can affect the gloss level of the floor.   

Conclusion

I recommend that you prepare a recommended maintenance guide for your customers to follow that will help them know how to maintain their new floors. This may require separate guides for carpet, resilient and hardwood since their care can vary greatly. This will help you avoid claims while keeping your customer happy.

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The Language of Flooring Installation, Part 3

By Seth Gladden
Director of Marketing, Meridian Adhesives Group Flooring Division and Taylor Adhesives

SET: Understanding the types of adhesive “set” can make the difference between a perfect installation, or one that results in unnecessary challenges. The type of adhesive desired, as well as the set you want to achieve will be dependent on flooring types and installations. For example, in a healthcare environment where heavy rolling loads are common, it is important to avoid a soft-set adhesive. However, when installing modular carpet tile, a soft-set adhesive would be a better choice to allow for a releasable installation. The following definitions will help ensure your next project is on the path to success.

  • Wet-Set: With a wet-set adhesive, flooring material must be installed while the adhesive is still wet to ensure a proper bond. This term is most commonly used with broadloom carpet, rubber, hardwood or ceramic tile flooring, however some other products, including resilient (modular and sheet) and esd (conductive) will allow for a wet-set adhesive. A wet-set installation usually means a permanent bond, as these will not release from the substrate or flooring product and will give you much higher sheer and peel strength.
  • Semi-Wet Set: Typically the term semi-wet-set is used in reference to resilient flooring adhesives, and means that the adhesive begins to skin over prior to flooring installation. It is important to note that there needs to be wet adhesive underneath, allowing transfer to the flooring, resulting in a more aggressive bond than a traditional dry-set application.
  • Dry-Set: To properly achieve a dry-set installation, the adhesive must be allowed to flash-off or become dry to the touch (with no transfer) prior to any flooring material being installed. This type of set is commonly used with resilient and modular carpet flooring installations that require pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA).
  • Soft-Set: A soft-set flooring adhesive stays in a soft, pressure-sensitive state which allows for easier, lifetime modular flooring reposition/replacement installations. This type of adhesive is typically used in a “dry-set” installation, however, even though these two terms seem similar, they are not always interchangeable.
  • Firm-Set: The adhesive will achieve a partial or hybrid transition, starting with the benefits of a PSA and leading to many of the benefits of a hard-set adhesive.
  • Hard-Set: The adhesive will fully crosslink or set-up, resulting in a product that will not indent or disperse, even when exposed to heavy rolling loads. Often, these are able to not only withstand high moisture, but can also protect flooring from moisture damage. Always check the product documentation to verify moisture tolerance vs barrier (see Part I).

TRAFFIC: Knowing the needs of the customer helps in choosing the right adhesive for a flooring installation and achieve the ultimate goal of getting them into their space as soon as possible. A solid understanding of the meaning behind traffic times is critical for a successful installation and will help set clear expectations, minimize callbacks and increase customer satisfaction. If traffic is allowed on the flooring prior to the published times listed on the adhesive, it can lead to flooring failure (slippage, movement, indentation and adhesive displacement) and client frustration due to callbacks, delays, aesthetics and safety. If the client needs to access a space faster than the adhesive allows, contact the adhesive manufacturers technical department and ask for a job-specific warranty exception, or consider choosing a different product.

  • Light Traffic: The light traffic designation dictates when an area can be opened back up for common foot traffic in low to moderately accessed areas (this does not include hallways or other high-traffic areas). Often light traffic is allowed much sooner than other types of traffic, and for good reason. If an adhesive has not been allowed the proper time to fully cure or crosslink, the wrong types of traffic could allow slippage, movement, indentation, adhesive displacement, telegraphing, peaking, gapping and other issues.
  • Heavy Traffic: This is when an area can be opened back up for all types of foot traffic, as well as normal activity use (including rolling desk chairs, mail carts, light office equipment, vacuuming, etc.). Think of heavy traffic as most anything that happens in residential, multi-family, main-street (moderate) commercial, corporate, education and hospitality markets. If you ever have a question about something specific, always contact the adhesive and flooring manufacturer to make sure you are using the right products.
  • Heavy Rolling Loads: An area can be exposed to extreme levels of use including Hilrom (hospital) beds, gondola shelving (retail), medical equipment (mobile x-ray units, etc.). NOTE: It is extremely important to ensure that the adhesive and flooring products used can handle heavy rolling loads before using it in an area that requires these types of traffic. Heavy rolling loads are typically seen in what is considered heavy commercial markets including healthcare, long-term care and retail.

SOUND: As one of the five senses, sound is an extremely important aspect when it comes to the flooring industry. Often, our daily quality of life revolves heavily around sound, or lack thereof. Everything from being able to concentrate at work, school, getting enough sleep or just relaxing revolve around the acoustic atmosphere we are exposed to. If everything goes right, our interior environment is designed to block or minimize the sounds present around us on a daily basis. This holds especially true in the multi-family and hospitality markets as having shared walls, and floors, can make or break the experience of the inhabitants. Understanding the below terms is important for anyone that works in these markets in order to achieve the specified or desired sound ratings.

  • STC (Sound Transmission Class): This is the rating (or measurement) determining how well a product (as part of a floor/ceiling assembly) resists (or blocks) the transmission of airborne sounds. These include speaking, music, television, dog barking and other commonly heard sounds. The higher the number, the better it will block unwanted noise. The Uniform Building Code (UBC) requires a minimum STC of 50 for dwelling units (including hotels), although many clients have higher standards.
  • IIC (Impact Insulation Class): Sometimes referred to as Impact Isolation Class, this is a rating (or measurement) determining how well a product (as part of a floor/ceiling assembly) resists (or blocks) the transmission of structure-borne (impact) sounds. These are typically defined as footsteps, furniture movement, etc. The higher the number, the better it will block unwanted noise. The Uniform Building Code (UBC) requires hotels/motels and multi-family units/buildings to meet a minimum number of 50 (or 45 if tested in the field).
  • ∆ (delta) IIC: This is a rating (measurement) that determines how much a specific product effects the IIC of a specific assembly. The higher the number, the better the end result, leading to quieter floors. For flooring adhesives, an IIC number includes the entire assembly (ex. 6” concrete overlaid with adhesive and flooring, with a suspended gypsum ceiling). The difference with the delta IIC is that it factors out all parts of the assembly expect one (for our purposes, the flooring adhesive itself). This can often be a better gauge of the success of your assembly without having to test each parameter (due to the cost of proper testing).

Clearly there are a lot of industry terms related to flooring adhesives and we still have quite a few to explain in Part IV. Remember anytime you have a flooring adhesive question, reach out to the manufacturer or an industry partner like CFI, INSTALL, IUPAT, or NWFA as they are always eager to help.

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Focus on Resilient: Common Mistakes Made When Installing Sheet Vinyl

By Gary Scheidker
Technical Services Director, Taylor Adhesives

Substrate preparation is the foundation of your sheet vinyl installation, and one of the most important steps in the installation process. It does not matter what type of sheet vinyl you are installing. The result will depend on a good foundation.

  1. I have seen many floors where sheet goods were installed directly over OSB without an additional underlayment or skim coat to smooth the substrate. In these cases, I recommend installing ¼” birch plywood underlayment, and filling the joints and nail holes, to provide a smooth base for your sheet goods. If the additional thickness of the plywood will be a problem, a skim coat of high-quality Portland-based patch can provide a suitable substrate when properly applied.
  2. When installing over concrete substrates, the substrate must be clean, flat, and smooth per ASTM F710. It may require diamond grinding to remove crowns and the filling of low areas. Selecting the appropriate Portland-based patch or self-leveler is critical. You need to select a product that will withstand the substrate moisture and pH ranges. It is also critical the powder manufacturer’s instructions for water ratios and mixing are followed.
  3. Installing sheet vinyl directly over old adhesive residue is always a bad idea. If you are installing vinyl-backed sheet goods, the plasticizers in the backing can attack non-plasticizer-resistant adhesives such as clear, thin spread, latex, and cutback. It is always best to remove these old adhesives since the new adhesive is only as good as what it is stuck to.

Moisture and pH testing must be performed when installing resilient flooring over concrete and gypcrete substrates.

  1. Most flooring and adhesive manufacturers only recognize ASTM F1869 or ASTM F2170 when moisture-testing concrete substrates.
  2. Testing is only valid if the space is fully enclosed and under HVAC control for a minimum of 72 hours prior to placing the tests. 
  3. When you test a concrete substrate, you must also consider the age of the slab.
  4. High RH or MVER readings in an older slab indicate moisture intrusion from an external source. Moisture intrusion from below indicates the under-slab vapor retarder may be missing or has been compromised.
  5. You should also consider the grade of the slab since below-grade slabs can potentially be subject to a hydrostatic head.
  6. Gypcrete substrates can generally be moisture-tested using a pin meter with a gypsum setting. Most gypcrete manufacturers require the substrate to be at 5% or below prior to installing resilient flooring.
  7. Excessive moisture and high or low pH can attack the flooring and the adhesive.
  8. Before starting any installation, please know the moisture and pH limitations of all the products you are installing including patch, underlayment, adhesives and flooring.

I have seen too many failures that could have been prevented with proper acclimation. This step is critical for resilient flooring products since they are typically thermal reactive. Many installers erroneously think flooring can be acclimated anywhere in the building it is being installed in, and only requires one day.

  1. Acclimation must be performed in the room where the flooring is being installed, and the space must be under HVAC control at service temperature.
  2. The service temperature is the temperature which the space will be maintained when occupied.
  3. The acclimation is complete when the flooring reaches equilibrium with the room temperature.
  4. The acclimation period can take longer depending on the difference in temperature from the storage environment to the service temperature.
  5. Yes, the laws of physics even apply to new construction. 

Using the wrong adhesive has caused many issues over the years.

  1. Selecting the right adhesive for your flooring, and the application it is going into, is vital.
  2. Different types of vinyl sheet goods require different adhesives. Fiberglass-backed sheet goods typically call for a releasable pressure-sensitive adhesive. Felt-backed sheet goods typically call for a latex multi-purpose, epoxy, or moisture-cured adhesive, depending on site conditions and usage. Felt-backed sheet goods do not require plasticizer-resistant adhesives. Depending on site conditions and use, Homogeneous sheet goods require plasticizer-resistant adhesives such as acrylic, epoxy, or moisture-cured.
  3. If the sheet vinyl has a vinyl backing/bonding surface, the adhesive must be plasticizer-resistant.          

Since vinyl seams are never invisible, seam placement should be considered before starting the installation. Many installers place seams where they are most convenient instead of in inconspicuous locations. I have seen fill seams a few inches away from doorway seams because they were shorter than placing them along the wall on the opposite side of the room. Obviously, every installation is unique, and seam placement will vary from floor to floor.

  1. You should avoid placing seams in areas that will make them stand out.
  2. Cross-lighting can make a seam stand out and should be avoided if possible.
  3. Avoid placing seams next to each other.

Improper seam sealers and welding have also been an issue. Different sheet vinyl products require different seam sealers. You need to follow the flooring manufacturer’s installation guidelines for the proper way to seal the seams with their products.

  1. Most homogeneous sheet goods require a chemical weld or heat welding to seal the seams. This is particularly important in healthcare applications to prevent bacterial growth from developing under the flooring.
  • Fiberglass sheet goods are dimensionally stable and are typically used in residential and multifamily applications. Seam sealers for these products are generally intended to prevent moisture intrusion at the seams and do not require a chemical weld to prevent the seam from opening.
  • Heterogeneous sheet goods will typically have felt or mineral backings. Unfortunately, the vinyl face of these products can shrink over time, causing the seams to open. The proper seam sealer will chemically weld the seam, preventing the seam from opening.

I can’t tell you how often I have seen issues that could have been easily avoided by simply using kneeboards. Kneeboards are essential any time you are installing resilient flooring with a wet set or semi-wet set adhesive.

  1. Working on top of sheet vinyl installed with a wet set adhesive can cause the adhesive to displace and leave indentations or even loose bonds.
  2. Anyone installing vinyl with a reactive adhesive like epoxy, or a moisture-cured adhesive must work on top of kneeboards.
  3. Some latex and acrylic adhesives will also require a wet set or semi-wet installation method.
  4. We used to use tempered Masonite, although birch plywood, Luan or Styrofoam board will all work.
  5. The kneeboard must be large enough to cover anywhere your knees, toes, or feet will put pressure on the flooring.
  6. I recommend having enough kneeboards to be able to move around the floor without displacing adhesive.
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The Language of Flooring Installation, Part 2

By Seth Gladden
Director of Marketing, Meridian Adhesives Group Flooring Division and Taylor Adhesives

SUBSTRATE… According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a “substrate” is “the base on which an organism lives” or “a substance acted upon…”. However, with its Latin prefix sub- (below) substrate refers to a layer under something else. In flooring, that layer can be concrete, wood (plywood, OSB, etc.), existing flooring materials (well-bonded vinyl products, terrazzo tile, etc.) or other surfaces that adhesives are used to bond flooring material.

Used in this context, it might be better to refer to a substrate as a foundation, since what you put on top of an adhesive is only as good as the foundation (substrate) it is bonded to. This is why substrate preparation (proper or improper) has such a massive impact on the outcome of any flooring installation. This foundational step must be given the respect and care it deserves and makes understanding the terminology behind it that much more important. For more information on proper substrate preparation, check out TAYLOR TIME LIVE – S1 E2 – “Prep for Success”. Below are some of the most frequently referenced terms regarding substrates.

  • Porous = In reference to flooring (usually concrete), porous means the substrate will absorb products (adhesives, coatings, etc.) into its surface pores (capillaries, etc.). This is a key factor for topical concrete moisture-blocking products and can also affect coverage rates and/or performance for many flooring adhesives. A simple, sixty-second waterdrop test (ASTM F3191) can be performed to check the porosity of concrete and can save you from spending extra time and money. Be cautious when dealing with porosity however as some products and manufacturers require different concrete surface profiles (see CSP below) to attain porosity.
  • Non-Porous = When dealing with flooring, a non-porous substrate does not allow absorption of products/adhesives. Although many flooring adhesives and applications allow a non-porous substrate, always check the product documentation to ensure you are using the right trowel size to avoid unwanted telegraphing, product slippage, adhesive bleed-up through joints or other related issues. It is vital to note that most concrete coatings, especially moisture-barrier products, require a porous substrate (see above).
  • Concrete Surface Profile (CSP) = A concrete surface profile (CSP), is a measurement of the surface roughness as defined by the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) on a scale from 1-10 (1 being very smooth and 10 being very rough). This is determined by measuring the surface profile depth, or in other words, the distance from the top of the peaks to the bottom of the valleys in a concrete surface (when viewed as a cross-section). Often referred to as its texture, the CSP scale of 1-10 ranges from approximately 1/32” (CSP 1) to 1/4” (CSP 10) variance. Many manufacturers of topical moisture-barrier products require a certain CSP in order to achieve both a porous substrate as well as a mechanical bond.
  • ASTM F710 = Considered the gold standard in flooring substrate preparation, this ASTM was created to outline the proper way to prepare a concrete substrate to receive resilient flooring. However, this ASTM is often used by flooring adhesive manufacturers as a reference guide for all kinds of flooring substrate preparation. Some of the biggest factors called out specifically for all kinds of flooring products are the following.
    • Flat: ASTM F710 calls out that a substrate must be flat prior to an adhesive being applied and a floor covering material being installed. While this is an important part of substrate preparation, flat is often confused with level. These should not be confused as flooring adhesive manufacturers do not require a level substrate to achieve a proper bond. A flat substrate however is extremely important as it will help prevent unwanted telegraphing, hollow spots, or unsightly undulations in the finished floor.
    • Free of contaminants: This is an extremely important part of ASTM F710, especially when it comes to flooring adhesives. Due to the chemistry of most adhesives, unknown contaminants can interact with them in ways that result in flooring failures. Contaminants can come in many forms and from many sources, so knowing the history of the concrete and ensuring you have a slab free of contaminants can save you a lot of time, money and callbacks.
    • Structurally sound: This sounds easy, because let’s face it, concrete is one of the most common, and robust building materials on the planet. However, there are a lot of things that can happen to concrete that will adversely affect it. Most often, this will be more of a concern with older concrete and should be something that you pay special attention to when doing renovations or remodels, however even brand new concrete can suffer from not being structurally sound. Everything from stress fractures, cracking, crazing, spalling, pH loss, rebar corrosion, and excessive efflorescence can all signal that a concrete slab has begun to lose its structural integrity. Remember, thinking of a substrate as a foundation will help you understand the importance that this qualification plays in the success of a flooring installation.

TIME… You can’t make more of it, but you can use what you have wisely. When it comes to flooring adhesives, knowing the meaning behind the different times can help you correctly plan your jobsite and optimize it for both you and your client. It is important to note that not all flooring adhesive manufacturers use the same “time” terminology for the same things. Some terms are often used interchangeably, but they may carry different meanings, so always check the documentation, or contact that company technical support if clarification is needed.

  • Open Time = Commonly used in reference to wet-set adhesives, this is the time from adhesive being spread until you can begin installing flooring material.
  • Flash Time = Typically used in reference to dry-set adhesives, this is the time needed for an adhesive to dry-to-the-touch (no transfer to fingers) prior to flooring materials being installed.
  • Working Time = The amount of time that flooring material can effectively be installed and still meet warranted performance levels. This starts after “open time” or “flash time” depending on the adhesive.
  • Dry-Time = This is one that can be a source of confusion as some manufacturers use it to describe “flash time” and some use it to describe “cure time”. Technically, this term should refer to the amount of time it takes an adhesive to fully dry, meaning all the way through (not just the top layer), however this is sometimes hard to quantify given substrate and atmospheric conditions. This is why at TAYLOR, we do not reference “dry time” and instead rely on the other terms found here.
  • Cure Time = This is the amount of time that it takes an adhesive to be fully cured and meet the intended performance characteristics. This does not mean that the adhesive is done fully crosslinking (see Part III, next edition) as this can take much longer (days or even weeks), however it does mean that the product will perform according to all the warranted levels.
  • Pot Life = Commonly used in reference to 2-part epoxy systems, this is the amount of time a product has from when it is mixed until it sets up in the pail. Once the epoxy is out of the pail (on the substrate) it may remain viable a little longer than in the container. This is due to the heat generated by the exothermic chemical reaction when the components are combined, and when confined in the pail the heat has nowhere to escape.

As you can see, there is a lot of meaning behind each of these commonly used terms. In fact, there is far more that could be explored and understood in each of these categories, so I encourage you to continue doing your own research. Understanding exactly what you are working with will help you stay ahead of the competition, save you time and money, and achieve a better result.

Find out more …

For more information and great advice on a range of adhesives issues, visit www.TaylorAdhesives.com/TaylorTime or our YouTube channel.

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The Language of Flooring Installation, Part 1

By Seth Gladden
Director of Marketing, Meridian Adhesives Group Flooring Division and Taylor Adhesives

For several articles going forward, we’ll examine many common yet sometimes misunderstood terms. Getting them wrong can cause installers heartache, heartburn, and money. That’s because it’s not enough to speak the language of flooring installation. You’ve got to know what it means, too.

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite topic: moisture. Test your knowledge against these eight terms. If you ace all eight, that’s great! If you miss a few, this has been a worthwhile review!

  1. RH = Relative Humidity – This is not to be confused with atmospheric relative humidity, although that does play an important part as well (temperature, humidity, air pollutants, dew point, barometric pressure, sunlight, airflow). In the flooring industry, RH testing refers to the process of drilling and placing a test probe in a concrete slab. It measures how much moisture is present in relationship with how much moisture could be present, or in other words, a percentage of saturation. The higher the number, the closer to standing water you get. It is important to remember that this depends on atmospheric conditions and that RH is only a snapshot in time and can change with time and seasons. Remember high-school chemistry? Whether you are a fan of it or not, one of the easiest ways to think of RH is that it is like potential energy (stored), whereas MVER is like kinetic energy (moving).
  • MVER = Moisture Vapor Emissions Rate – also known as the Calcium Chloride test (CaCl)- a measurement of how much moisture vapor emits from a concrete slab (ASTM F1869). The higher the MVER number, the more moisture is emitting from the slab, which can lead to flooring failures, mold, mildew, and a host of other problems. An MVER of 8 lbs means that eight pounds of water vapor is emitting from every 1000 square feet every 24 hours. Water weighs in at just over eight pounds per gallon, meaning that almost a gallon of water comes out of that 1000 square foot daily.
  • pH = A measurement of the acidity, or alkalinity of a substance. As it relates to flooring, this applies primarily to concrete slabs. Newly placed concrete holds a pH of 12-13 on the inside and often 10-11 on the surface. If concrete drops below this healthy internal pH level, the rebar will begin to corrode and the concrete will lose strength and durability, exhibit spalling/cracking, and can lead to complete structural failure. However, higher levels of pH can attack adhesives and even floor covering materials. Be sure the products chosen can withstand or even block unwanted alkalinity. NOTE: pH is measured on a logarithmic scale, meaning that for every number the pH increases, it is ten times more alkaline (ex. pH of 12 is ten times more alkaline than a pH of 11).
  • Waterproof Bond = This means that once fully cured, an adhesive will achieve a bond that cannot be broken down or re-emulsified by water alone. However, this does not mean the adhesive provides any protection against moisture. Always check for moisture barrier products vs. moisture tolerant products. Water is a great carrier and can bring high alkalinity (pH) to the surface along with it, so if an adhesive that forms a waterproof bond does re-emulsify, it is typically indicative of a high pH environment.
  • Water-Resistant Bond = This is referring to an adhesive that once fully cured, will be resistant to its listed levels of water vapor. However, if exposed to higher levels of water vapor or standing water, these products can lose their tack and lead to a loss of proper bond, likely resulting in a flooring failure.
  • ASTM E1745 = This is the “Standard Specification for Plastic Water Vapor Retarders Used in Contact with Soil or Granular Fill under Concrete Slabs,” or as most in the flooring world know it, the requirement of having an intact, sub-slab moisture vapor retarder. Even though it’s considered standard practice in new construction to install sub-slab vapor retarders, older concrete slabs may not have one, especially for 20+ years. Even if an older slab has one, it is likely not intact due to disintegration and time, making it vital to verify if one is present and in good condition. Typically, this requires drilling a core sample and can still give inconclusive results. It is essential to know that most products designed to go over concrete, including patch/level products, adhesives, coatings and primers require an intact, sub-slab vapor retarder be present in order for their warranty to be valid.
  • Hydrostatic Pressure = According to Dictionary.com, this is defined as “the pressure exerted by a fluid at equilibrium at a given point within the fluid, due to the force of gravity. Hydrostatic pressure increases proportionately to depth measured from the surface because of the increasing weight of fluid exerting downward force from above”. Despite how scary hydrostatic pressure sounds (and can be), it is actually a very rare problem, although many moisture issues are mistakenly given this label. Essentially, it is pressure in the capillaries and pores of the concrete, being driven through the concrete slab by some external force. The most common culprits leading to hydrostatic pressure are improper drainage or a high-water table. Often, leaky, or broken water pipes are lumped into hydrostatic pressure, however, they are technically considered hydraulic pressure but result in similar issues.
  • Moisture Barrier vs Moisture Tolerant Adhesives = This is one of the most widely misunderstood concepts regarding flooring adhesives today. When adhesive manufacturers assign RH, pH, and MVER data points (numbers) to their products, the adhesive can withstand or “tolerate” those levels. However, just because an adhesive can tolerate high moisture (ex. 99% RH, 12 lbs MVER, 12 pH) does not mean the adhesive will offer any moisture protection for the floor covering material being installed. If you are looking for a product that can withstand and block moisture, you need to look for moisture barrier adhesives.

Find out more …

Moisture leads to more flooring-related claims every year than any other source. Check out “The Billion Dollar Question” (TAYLOR TIME LIVE – S1 E1) for straight talk from the experts. And for more information and great advice on a range of adhesives issues, visit www.TaylorAdhesives.com/TaylorTime or our YouTube channel.

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Steps to a Greener Future

TAYLOR is an avid supporter of promoting sustainable products and manufacturing processes and has led the flooring adhesives industry with a long list of sustainability firsts:

  • Green Label® Plus
  • Greenguard®
  • FloorScore®
  • Cradle to Cradle®
  • Mindful Materials listing

So, it came as no surprise when we invited a leader in sustainability to join host Seth Gladden on the April 2023 TAYLOR TIME LIVE episode to teach viewers on the importance of a green knowledge base when it comes to selling flooring adhesives such as Taylor’s Signature Line® or Essentials Line.

Our expert guest was Kimberly A. Lombardozzi, Sustainability Manager, with W.R. Meadows, Inc. On TAYLOR TIME LIVE, she advised retailers, contractors, and distributors on how to sell more adhesives … in other words, to have a greener future in more ways than one!

There is a growing awareness among consumers about the environmental and social impact of the products they use, and many are willing to pay a premium for products that are sustainably produced. According to a 2021 survey by Accenture, 60% of consumers globally said they will prioritize purchasing from companies that are eco-friendly or sustainable.

Consumers also look for transparency in the production process, such as ethical sourcing of materials, fair labor practices, and reduction of waste and carbon footprint. Certification programs like Fair Trade, Organic, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) also help consumers identify sustainable products.

Overall, consumer preference for sustainable flooring products is driven by a desire to make responsible choices that have a positive impact on the environment and society, and to support companies that share these values.

According to Lombardozzi, steps to a greener future are understanding the importance of indoor air quality, being familiar with the certifications and declarations associated with sustainable flooring products, and what to look for in green flooring products.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a prominent concern regarding flooring and are in practically every manufactured thing. Kim pointed out that we spend 93% of our time indoors on average, so it’s wise to be aware of that. Surprising to most is that indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air, with the off gassing of formaldehyde and isocyanates from many products in the home among the biggest offenders. Isocyanates are the #1 contributor to work-related asthma. Greenguard, Certified Green, CRI Green Label Plus, and FloorScore are essential certifications to look for regarding VOC emissions.

Flooring sales associates should be familiar with Health Product Declarations (HPDs), which bring transparency to the ingredients in a product, and Red Listed ingredients which are chemical compounds hazardous to humans. They should also be aware of sustainability in terms of Material Health, Material Reutilization, Renewable Energy, Water Stewardship, and Social Fairness. 

“It really behooves us to use the best products in our indoor space. We only have one set of lungs,” observed Lombardozzi. “The burden on the body gets pretty high.”

Watch “Steps to a Greener Future” on the Taylor YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/live/9QzdD10ejAk?feature=share


Seth Gladden is the host of TAYLOR TIME LIVE and is Marketing Director for the Meridian Industrial Flooring Division, including Taylor Adhesives

More about Kim Lombardozzi: LEED IDC and Construction Accredited, Fitwel Ambassador, Founder: KAL Sustainability Marketing, USGBC Board Member, Health Product Declaration Advisory Group, Design for Freedom Roundtable, Mindful Materials Outreach

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Would you like fries with that?

We make the world’s best flooring adhesives at Taylor, so naturally, we and our customers would like to sell more of them. One way to do that is with the assumptive close.

The art of the assumptive close was born the day after McDonalds restaurants opened April 15, 1955. “Would you like fries with that?” was probably first asked for the first time and has been alive and well ever sense. So, it begs the question, why not use this technique with flooring adhesives, like Taylor’s Resolute®, Pinnacle®, Ironwood® or a host of others?

Seth Gladden and Shelley Ackerman of Taylor Adhesives asked and answered that on the TAYLOR TIME LIVE episode entitled “Would you like fries with that?” (March 21, 2023). Shelley coined the name of the show, because as she pointed out, “It’s called an effective, assumptive close.”

The assumptive close is a sales technique where the salesperson assumes that the prospect has already made the decision to buy, and then proceeds to close the sale by asking for the details of the purchase. It works by taking advantage of the principle of commitment and consistency, which suggests that once a person has made a decision, they are more likely to follow through with that decision in the future.

For example, let’s say a salesperson is selling a car to a potential buyer. Instead of asking the buyer if they are interested in purchasing the car, the salesperson would assume that the buyer has already decided to buy and would ask them questions like “What color would you like?” or “How would you like to finance the car?” This approach assumes that the buyer has already made the decision to purchase the car, and it can be an effective way to close a sale.

It could as easily be “Would you like any adhesives with that?” when a flooring purchase is in the making.

“It’s about changing the mentality to sell more flooring adhesives,” observed Gladden. “It should be asked every time. If you’re selling a floor that needs to be glued down, you’re going to need the glue to put it down–it’s that simple.”

“You should ask the customer ‘What adhesives are we going with on this job?’ or ‘Is this the right adhesive for this project?’ and ‘Is the space ready for this project?’” advised Ackerman.

As a sales associate, your knowledge of adhesives and your assumptive close positions you as a subject matter expert, concerned with solving problems and making trustworthy relationships.

Adhesives have different attributes that are required for installation confidence. Selling the right one with the flooring order can also result in:

  • Eliminating callbacks
  • Contributing to LEEDS
  • Adding credibility and peace of mind

Distributors also need to train their reps to ask about adhesives. Product shipped with orders of glue down flooring need to aim for a 100% attachment rate, because they go hand-in-hand with the flooring. And don’t forget trowels to spread the adhesive, etc. These are additional sales dollars many will leave on the table, simply by not asking the assumptive close.

A word of caution: It is important to note that the assumptive close should only be used when the salesperson is confident that the prospect is genuinely interested in the product and is close to making a decision. If the salesperson uses this technique too early in the sales process or with a prospect who is not ready to buy, it can come across as pushy or aggressive and can ultimately harm the sales relationship.


Watch “Would you like fries with that?” on the Taylor YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/live/BsdfUJfucyQ?feature=share

Seth Gladden is the host of TAYLOR TIME LIVE and is Marketing Director for the Meridian Industrial Flooring Division, including Taylor Adhesives

Shelley Ackerman is Director of OEM Sales + Commercial Groups–Taylor Adhesives

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A New Perspective on Adhesives

Even though we make the world’s best flooring adhesives, they won’t just sell themselves. It takes building trusted relationships with customers.

During the February 2023 TAYLOR TIME LIVE, host Seth Gladden, marketing director of the Meridian Adhesive Group Industrial Flooring Division and Taylor Adhesives, interviewed Shelley Ackerman, OEM Accounts + Commercial for Taylor, about her career-long perspective on adhesives and tips for selling more products, like Taylor Aspen®, Versatile®, or Elevate®.

“It’s really important for a specifier and designer to partner with a trusted flooring contractor or distributor salesperson to educate them and teach them about adhesives.” Her advice is to make friends with your adhesive salespeople, as well. “They can tell you more than you ever wanted to know,” says Ackerman.

Here are some reasons why building relationships with flooring customers is important:

  1. Customer loyalty: When customers feel that they have a personal connection with a business, they are more likely to remain loyal and continue to do business with them.
  2. Increased customer lifetime value: Building relationships with customers can lead to increased customer lifetime value, which is the total revenue a customer will generate over the course of their relationship with a business.
  3. Positive word-of-mouth marketing: Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend a business to others, which can lead to new customers and increased revenue.
  4. Feedback and improvement: Building relationships with flooring customers can provide businesses with valuable feedback about their products or services, which can help them improve and grow.
  5. Competitive advantage: Businesses that prioritize building relationships with their flooring customers are more likely to stand out from their competitors and gain a competitive advantage.

“As a flooring salesperson, you need to know the about the compatibility. Is this adhesive recommended for sheet products? Is it plank products? Is it carpet products? And not all adhesives are created equally. There are some that can do all things. But then again, it depends on the type of product and the space that you’re using it,” observed Ackerman.

As flooring professionals, we owe it to ourselves to continue learning, she observed.

“Walk a jobsite when you go to call on a designer or specifier, so that you’re both working on the same project together.”

“Knowing your partnerships, knowing what your design intents are, knowing the type of products and installations that you’re going for, and then just partnering with the right people is key. I think the partnership becomes important for a successful installation,” said Ackerman.

Product knowledge provides a shared understanding between you and your customer. When salespeople have a deep understanding of their products, they can answer questions, address concerns, and provide valuable insights that can help customers make informed purchasing decisions.

Additionally, having strong product knowledge can help build trust and credibility with flooring customers. If a salesperson can demonstrate their expertise and knowledge, customers are more likely to view them as a trusted advisor and feel more confident in making a purchase.

Moreover, having a thorough understanding of the adhesive product allows salespeople to tailor their sales pitch to the specific needs and wants of the customer. By highlighting the product’s most relevant features and benefits, the salesperson can create a personalized and compelling pitch that resonates with the customer.

Overall, product knowledge is a critical component of sales success with flooring adhesives. It helps salespeople build trust, credibility, and rapport with customers while allowing them to effectively communicate the value of their products and services.


Watch “A New Perspective on Adhesives” on the Taylor YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/live/FEf8gznlDdg?feature=share

Seth Gladden is the host of TAYLOR TIME LIVE and is Marketing Director for the Meridian Industrial Flooring Division, including Taylor Adhesives

Shelley Ackerman is Director of OEM Sales + Commercial Groups–Taylor Adhesives