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Tip of the month:


The preparation of semi-flexible substrates was the focus of Stephen Boulton’s last bi–monthly advice article. In this issue, F. Ball and Co. Ltd.’s Technical Service Manager offers guidance on overcoming a relatively common problem, preparing contaminated subfloors.

example, industrial spaces, like a factory or garage, often have diesel/oil spills. Similarly, kitchens are likely to have absorbed grease over time. Poorly applied or old flaking paint, or residue from a previous flooring installation, can also be problematic in newer buildings. In addition, dampness may be present.

At F. Ball we know that the key to achieving an aesthetically pleasing, and durable, finish to a new floor is surface preparation. Careful product selection and installation practices are vital to the success of any contract. However, making a subfloor acceptable to receive a specified floorcovering can be challenging in both old and newer buildings, when a floor is contaminated.

Risks from contamination Older buildings are at a higher risk of having a contaminated floor. For

If left untreated, any contamination can threaten the integrity of an entire installation.

In particular,

contamination can prevent an adhesive from initially adhering, or subsequently holding the floorcovering onto the subfloor. Oil and grease also pose a risk of damaging the floorcovering itself.

Suitable preparation To suitably prepare a contaminated subfloor, contractors should begin by testing the surface to determine the depth and type of contamination present. This will ensure that removal, and subsequent adhesion can be

achieved. British Standards BS 5325 and 8203, in addition to subfloor preparation guides produced by manufacturers, should be referred to as a guide to correct subfloor preparation and installation of subfloor preparation products.

In the majority of cases, mechanical methods such as dust free/grit blasting, scabbling and grinding are recommended for removing contamination. However, on large sites, where the level of contamination is particularly high, traditional methods of rectifying or removing contamination can be more expensive than starting from scratch.

A simple solution To overcome this challenge, there is a simple and effective solution: installing an impermeable loose lay membrane sheet, such as Stopgap Isolator Membrane. This creates a barrier separating the source of contamination from the floorcovering, and allows a new resilient floorcovering

to be bonded to its upper surface.

Stopgap Isolator Membrane has recently been updated, and now consists of three layers. A top layer that incorporates fibreglass for dimensional stability, an impervious middle layer made of PVC, and a layer of nodules to create an air gap and allow any moisture in the subfloor to escape via the edge of the installation. This updated design has increased flexibility for an easier installation, and the white surface makes it easier to mark out.

To achieve the best, durable floor finish, subfloor preparation products should be selected carefully, according to each job. Thoroughly assessing a contaminated floor at the point of specification minimises the risk of future problems and associated, costly remedial work.


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