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ON THE PANEL


F. Ball offers expert advice on the correct subfloor preparation process and adhesive selection when installing carpet tiles over raised access panels.


Consisting of horizontal panels, typically made of metal, cementitious materials or chipboard, supported by adjustable ‘legs’, raised access flooring provides an elevated structural floor above a solid substrate, such as concrete, allowing space beneath for electrical wiring and other services found in modern commercial environments. However, installing floorcoverings over this kind of subfloor requires a few special considerations to ensure the long-term performance of the installation. Carpet tiles are similarly practical in office environments; when installed using a carpet tile tackifier, individual tiles can be easily lifted and replaced when they become stained or worn – in walkways or areas occupied by chairs with castor wheels, for example.


RAISED ACCESS PANELS When installing floorcoverings over raised access flooring, contractors should begin by checking the height of the elevated floor is consistent, that there is no movement at any of the joints and panels are level, ensuring no safety hazards and a suitable base for the application of subfloor preparation products.


When installed, raised access panels have small joints between them, which allow for individual panels to be lifted. If a levelling compound is applied directly over the top of raised access panels, these gaps may shadow through and result in imperfections in the finished result. Therefore, they must be filled before a levelling compound is applied and floorcoverings are installed to ensure the performance of the installation throughout its lifetime.


TWO IN ONE Priming is also important when working over raised access panels. Nowadays, cement-based primers, such as F. Ball’s Stopgap Fill and Prime, are available that are designed specifically for use over raised access panels, which fill the gaps at the joints between the panels whilst priming the subfloor at the same time. These cement-based primers have a thixotropic consistency, meaning that they flow freely when stirred but set to a gel-like consistency on standing. This enables the joints to be filled to minimise movement of the substrate. These primers are also suitable for use over raised access panels and substrates with well-bonded, adhesive residues prior to the application of a levelling compound.


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Once the primer has cured, a levelling compound should then be applied to create a smooth base for the receipt of new floorcoverings. In these situations, contractors should select a flexible levelling compound, such as F. Ball’s Stopgap 700 Superflex. Flexible levelling compounds contain tiny fibres that help the product deal with subfloor movement, preventing cracks and maintaining the levelling compound’s integrity, rendering small movements in flexible subfloors harmless.


CARPET TILE TACKIFIERS Once an applied levelling compound has cured, contractors can proceed to install carpet tiles – Stopgap 700 Superflex will be ready to receive floorcoverings in as little as three hours when applied at a thickness of 3mm.


Installing carpet tiles using a carpet tile tackifier, such as F. Ball’s Styccobond F41, ensures that carpet tiles are held firmly in place when subject to lateral movements, such as everyday foot traffic and equipment being wheeled around, while allowing them to be easily lifted vertically if they need to be replaced at a later date. The adhesive is solvent free and, as testament to its ultra-low VOC emissions, certified EMICODE EC1 Plus.


To use a carpet tile tackifier, contractors simply apply the adhesive evenly across the entire subfloor, using a roller or a brush, and allow it to dry to a clear, tacky film. The adhesive will then remain permanently tacky, enabling individual tiles to be removed.


CHECK COMPATIBILITY It’s important to check the compatibility of particular floorcoverings and adhesives. For this purpose, F. Ball produces its industry-leading recommended adhesives guide (RAG), which lists adhesives recommended for use with over 6,000 floorcoverings produced by over 200 international manufacturers. It’s available as a free app or a printed booklet, and an interactive version can be found on the F. Ball website. Contractors can also contact F. Ball’s technical service department, from 8.30am – 5.00pm, Monday to Friday for advice on adhesive compatibility. Otherwise, they should consult manufacturer’s instructions.


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