Tips & Tricks for the Master Installers
To understand this, we need to take a look at the structure of laminate. The core of laminate is HDF (High density Fibreboard), which implies that a laminate board will move in ALL directions. Since HDF is a hygroscopic product, it will react to any change in the relative humidity (RH), leading the floor to absorb moisture and expand in the summer and give off moisture and shrink in the winter. The result may be fluctuations in length of as much as 1 mm. In addition, not all rooms have the same ‘climate’. A room on the south-facing side of a house compared to one on the north-facing side, an ironing room/storage room, master bedroom compared to a guest room or stairs… whatever the climate of the room, the floor will adapt. Since floors are joined to one another along the length of the doorway, tension and cracking can occur when one floor surface moves more than the other. Laminate has the advantage that floors can be separated afterwards and a transition profile can be installed, provided that no dilation has occurred, but the moral is always that prevention is better than a cure.back to top
The dimensional stability of QS vinyl floors is outstanding and the options are ever increasing, helping to further satisfy the preferences and requirements of both designers and customers.
With vinyl floors, a good start is half the job, so ensuring correct acclimatisation and carrying out installation at temperatures of between 18°C and 30°C are essential.
For dilation joints, the following apply:
- Glue down vinyl: no dilation joint is needed, enabling super-tight installation.
- Click vinyl: no dilation joint is needed, even with large areas or between different rooms.
- Dilation joint between obstacles and walls: a minimum of 2 mm, ideally 4.5 mm.*
*As a master installer, you know as well as anyone that dead straight walls are a rarity and that working with such precision is no mean feat. As such, we recommended a dilation joint that is equal to the thickness of the vinyl floor that you are using.
For Quick-Step click vinyl, this is precisely 4.5 mm. An error we hear about all too often with Click vinyl is ‘cutting corners’. In other words, the dilation joints are properly installed but they are then filled with silicone or similar products. It’s important to remember that a floating floor needs to installed in such a way that it continues to float. For larger office spaces or shop floors with varying loads, you should, as a master installed, consider the benefits of a dilation joint to help secure the floating installation and avoid potential problems in the future.back to top
The Quick-Step Hydroseal technology makes it possible to install laminate in humid areas (such as kitchens and bathrooms). In popular speech it is soon said that these ranges are 'water-resistant', but only the surface is water-resistant. That is why it is important to take the following things into account when placing the order:
- It is still laminate, which means that the core is made up of HDF (high density fibreboard). HDF is and remains hygroscopic and must therefore always be installed in a floating position.
- The pre-load on the click joint is essential to guaranteeing the water-resistant surface and correct installation is important in retaining this and securing the water resistance.
- It is important to respect an expansion joint of 8 mm along the walls and to build in expansion joints for larger areas. Toilet pots, wash-basin columns, shower base, etc. are exceptions as these always need to be caulked (use Quick-Step Hydrokit for this).
- In humid rooms, the seepage of moisture under the skirting board needs to be avoided and silicone is often used, which has the drawback of fixing the floor in place. This can be avoided by using a Quick-Step PE foam strip that can be inserted into the expansion joint. A thin strip of silicone (use Quick-Step Hydrokit) can then be applied against the PE foam strip to provide the perfect seal and ensure lasting flexibility to guarantee the floating installation. A thin strip of silicone may also be applied against the bottom of the skirting board, if necessary.
For our vinyl floors, the answer is simple - none. Vinyl is so easy to cut with a concave knife that it would be a real pity to make extra cuts and loose time. Using a saw also generates extra heat, which adds additional wear to the saw blade. If you’re cutting parquet floors, we recommend a saw blade with fewer, coarser teeth, identifiable by its ‘WOOD’ marking. These types of saw blade help to increase the cutting speed, as well as convey the saw dust away. We recommend using a fine-tooth multi-material saw blade to cut through laminate. These saw blades have between 48 and 80 teeth, typically with a ‘W’ shape (‘4TF’ or ‘WS/FA’), and are generally used for hard materials such as plexiglas or composite parquet. The most important element is use of a sharp(ened) saw blade. Why? A sharp blade gives a better cutting speed, a cleaner cut and ensures safer working. A crucial point when sawing skirting boards is to never use a saw blade to cut parquet or laminate that you have already used to cut everything else!back to top
Thanks to the introduction of new technologies and techniques, laminate, parquet and vinyl become better, more stable and more resistant all the time. Exposure to moisture is, nevertheless, still a possibility. To properly outline the problem, we first need to make a distinction between moisture from above and moisture from the ground.
Let’s start by looking at moisture from above:
- Laminate and parquet are hygroscopic products, which means that they are able to absorb moisture if, for example, they are cleaned too wet. Over time, this can lead to the laminate or parquet swelling or deforming. What’s the solution? To minimise the risk of swelling and deformation, Quick-Step offers the Hydroseal and Protect+ technology for laminate and parquet floors respectively. Correct installation on a flat, stable base and taking care not to damage the click connections are also important. Imperfections lead to gaps and seams through which moisture is able to penetrate.
- LVT is a thermoplastic product and does not react to moisture. There is, however, the risk of moisture penetrating from above along the click connections or along the edges of walls and obstacles.
- Moisture or dryness from above can also have another important cause — relative humidity. This is a difficult factor to control owing in part to the difference in relative humidity between summer and winter. As such, it’s important to try to prevent extreme fluctuations in relative humidity inside your home. The ideal range is between 45% and 65%. If the relative humidity is higher, the laminate or parquet floor will absorb moisture to try to stabilise itself and will shed the moisture if the relative humidity is too low. Relative humidity has virtually no impact on LVT.
We’ll now look at the problem of moisture from the ground.
- Moisture from the ground is usually encountered when renovation work is being carried out. Older homes were usually built without any form of damp proofing in the structure. What’s the solution?Installing a moisture barrier under floor, but this is not generally a lasting guarantee. In situations like this, the first thing to do is identify the cause and implement constructive solutions to rectify it.
- In our sector, however, we typically come across residual moisture in the structure. This might be screed (cement-based, anhydrite, concrete, etc.) or existing flooring (tiles, cast floor, plank floor, OSB, etc.).
What’s the solution? It is important to respect the standard values in all product categories.
- Cement: without underfloor heating: 2.5%CM / with underfloor heating: 1.5%CM
- Anhydrite: without underfloor heating: 0.5%CM / with underfloor heating: 0.3%CM CM values are measured by means of carbide measurement. This is a destructive measurement that involves sawing. As such, many opt for impedance measurement (e.g. Tramex). This is non-destructive, but remains indicative.
With laminate and parquet, the floor attempts to stabilise itself with the ground, which can result in swelling and deformation. What’s the solution? Since we’re dealing with residual moisture, an underlay with moisture barrier or dual-component moisture barrier can suppress a limited amount of moisture. If you want to be absolutely certain, installing plinths at a later stage is an option to ensure longer evacuation of the residual moisture.
LVT does not experience problems with moisture, but residual moisture in the structure or moisture that has seeped underneath may cause some difficulties. The reason is very simple — moisture turns into damp under the influence of the sun. This eventually finds its way into the click connection and in bright sunlight, the accumulated damp can push the floor upwards. With glue installation, the moisture can also break the glue.
Moisture is, therefore, not something to be neglected. It is essential to take control of it and ensure that the right measures and precautions are taken.back to top
The perfect installation begins with the right choice of flooring. If you are asked to install a floor that is not suitable in a particular situation, that is asking for problems. The floor guide helps you to identify which questions you have to ask to make sure you do not make a wrong product recommendation (must checks). If the choice of product matches the wishes and needs of the customer, you are faced with a new challenge. Which orientation should you choose? What is the best way to deal with difficulties and obstacles? What should you think about in advance, so as not to be surprised later? The standard installation instructions that are provided with our floors are a very good place to start, but as a Master Installer you can make the difference!
- The underlay: once the preparatory work on the basic floor has been completed, the underlay can be installed. This should NOT be placed at right angles to the final floor, this has no added value. A built-in vapour barrier should always be at the top to avoid accidental perforations. - Installation orientation & obstacles: thanks to Uniclic/Uniclic it is possible to change the laying direction during installation. Left-right or right-left, as well as in front-behind or behind-in front. Nevertheless you can greatly influence the ease of installation by starting on the hardest side or with the obstacle. For example, with radiator pipes you can fit the planks in such a way that they fit into a head and/or long seam. Sometimes we see that a certain laying pattern must be respected, resulting in a concrete pillar that can’t be fitted in towards the end. Cutting and sticking with silicone does not help anyone in this case. As a Master Installer you can of course mill a groove and glue a spring in, but that requires skills and extra time.
- Parallel to the wall & several rooms: we are rarely presented with a nice tight wall and then it is still possible that the laying direction does not parallel with this wall. From an aesthetic point of view, the boards run in the long direction towards the light, because the number of seams is reduced and the room looks wider. In the end, however, this has no effect on the strength of the floor and the customer has the final say. Usually several rooms and the corridor are finished with the same floor and then the laying direction can be determined by other factors rather than a wall of the room. When the doors are open, we want the seams to neatly fit into each other and in that case, using of a guideline is not a luxury. This long line can also be your starting line in some cases. Once three to four full rows are placed along that line, we can align the whole section a little more before placing expansion blocks. From here, then, even 2 installers can each continue to work in a different direction. Tip: always place a few reference points on the walls. These remain visible during the entire installation, which is not the case with markings on the underlay.
- Finishing: another topic that should not be neglected is the final finish of the floor. This may seem premature but is of crucial importance during the start-up phase. Will there be skirting boards? What is the thickness? Where will expansion joints and profiles be planned? Which type? What about adapter profiles, transition profiles? Just imagine that after the installation, the planned expansions are too tight, or even worse too wide! Or that the clips that you wanted to use for mounting the skirting boards were not positioned.
By paying attention to all these matters, you will certainly make the difference as a Master Installer!back to top