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Tomorrow’s FM hears from Tracey Glew, Group Managing Director, of The Preparation Group on the perfect profiling techniques for your facility’s floors.

The correct preparation of a surface prior to installing flooring materials and systems such as screeds, resins, coatings, timber, vinyl and carpet is often overlooked, but it is essential for the successful application and durability of the finished floor – failure to get it right will have an adverse effect on its lifespan.

Surface preparation is the ‘unseen’ operation, it is the method or methods used to clean the surface and profile it, creating a sound base to specifically suit the chosen flooring system. If not carried out correctly, materials will de-bond, lift or wear.

When specifying a new floor, there is often an old surface that needs to be tackled first. Common problems encountered are redundant floor coverings, tiles and coatings, uneven joints, high spots, contaminants, sticky residues and friable substrates.

These can all be removed using specific surface preparation equipment and techniques.

There are surface preparation companies that offer a contracting service such as The Preparation Group and they will work closely with the material manufacturer or flooring contractor to ensure that the correct profile is achieved.

A vast array of techniques can be employed with each producing a different result. The first stage is to ascertain the size of the area, accessibility, available power and the type, thickness and composition of the material to be removed. The surface preparation contractor will provide a solution; a site visit may also be required.


It is important to note that all surface preparation machines are designed to work with a filtration unit or industrial vacuum to minimise dust contamination. ‘H’ type vacuums fitted with an ‘H’ grade filter and preferably a Longopac® type of bagging system are for dust critical projects and when dealing with hazardous substances such as asbestos.

The methods of surface preparation, removal and finishing are:

MULTI-STRIPPING This method is used to remove

material from the background surface or to clean it and is often selected when there are no other effective options.

Blades or picks are attached to the front of a Multi-stripping machine and their type, weight and position affects the removal of the designated surface. A flat blade would be selected to scrape off tiles, latex, adhesives and elastomeric systems, whilst a curved blade cuts material into manageable lengths as it strips, so is ideal to lift up carpet and sheet vinyl. Picks are employed to break up hard materials such as ceramics and terrazzo tiles.

There are 110v hand operated, walk- behind machines for clearing small areas and large ride-on three-phase electrical or propane powered machines for clearing large areas.

Having stripped the floor, additional techniques for surface preparation are often specified in order to provide a suitable background surface for application of the floor covering.

PLANING You would select planing to remove

materials in excess of 2mm in


thickness, when there are multiple layers and when a rippled profile is required. Applications include the removal of old screeds, asphalt, latex and adhesives and for reducing tamped surfaces and levels.

Machines range from small 110v single phase, to larger three-phase electrically powered petrol or diesel walk-behind models and ride on versions for large scale projects and heavy duty applications.

The profile or texture is created by the flails fitted to the drum, or picks in the case of ride on models, which are interchangeable. Generally, milling flails are for the removal of thermoplastic line markings, bitumous and rubber deposits, TCT flails for cleaning, texturing and roughening concrete and star flails

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