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Sheet Vinyl Defects

Sheet Vinyl Defects
Causes, Responsibility & Solutions

Complaints about sheet vinyl floors are common. Many of them, unfortunately, can be traced to improper installation. Some installers simply don't get the right training for any number of reasons. Couple that with very specific installation methods and you can see why problems happen.

Common Complaints

The five most common customer complaints are:

  • Seam Failure
  • Wrong Adhesive
  • Improper Use of Flooring
  • Sub Floor Preparation
  • Wrong Patching
  • Wrong Trowelable Underlayment Material

Each of those complaints is an installer problem, not yours! If you are suffering from one of those problems, you need to dig in your heels and fight for what is right.

Other Problems

Sunlight, asphalt drives, clay soils, rubber floor mat bottoms, oil from cars, solvents, etc. can all cause discoloration problems with sheet vinyl. Moving heavy objects can tear the clear wear layer. Sheet vinyl is a tender product. You have to be careful with it.

Improper use of adhesives, installing vinyl over old adhesives, lumber shrinkage, poor nailing, the wrong type of nail or staple, etc can also create massive defects. Keep in mind that the glossy surface of sheet vinyl makes it easy to see defects.

Different Grades of Sheet Vinyl

Did you know that the clear wear layer on top of the sheet vinyl is not the same thickness for each brand or style? Generally speaking, the most expensive sheet vinyl products have the thickest wear layer. This is what you walk on so this is where you should pay attention.

Probably the best sheet vinyl products are those that are made for commercial applications. If you have lots of traffic or rough conditions at your home, you may want to consider a commercial vinyl floor. They are expensive, but most of them wear like iron if you maintain them.

Constant Care

Do you want your sheet vinyl to look good for years? The best way is to keep it squeaky clean. This means daily or every other day dust mopping or vacuuming. I would also wet mop it at least once a week. Sand, dirt, dust, grit, etc. create a sandpaper effect when you walk on sheet vinyl. This can really take away a glossy finish in short order.

Removing your shoes before walking across sheet vinyl is also a good idea if you are so inclined. But, watch out! Those of you who wear panty hose or nylons can cause problems. In certain situations, these foot / leg coverings can cause stains. Can you believe that? I didn't realize that fact until I did the research for this column!

Factory Approved Products

Before your new floor is installed, make sure the underlayment, adhesive, nailing patterns, subfloor, seam sealer, etc. are all factory approved. This will take some work on your part. If you work with a reputable flooring company - usually they cost more - you should not have to worry. Get competitive bids and ask for their certification papers!

Sheet Vinyl Installation and Defect Publications

You can't believe how technically challenging it is to install sheet vinyl products the right way. Each sheet vinyl product has its own separate set of instructions. You simply can't use the same adhesives, techniques, underlayment, etc. with all sheet vinyls. If you want the job done right, you need to make sure the installer is following the directions.

Where Do You Find The Instructions?

While doing research for this column and bulletin I called the major sheet vinyl manufacturers. My calls were only returned by one company - Armstrong World Industries, Inc. They were very helpful and provided me with some unbelievable books and booklets.

The most incredible book I looked at was titled:

Armstrong F-5061 Guaranteed Installation Systems
2006

This book covers every installation detail you could imagine for installing many of Armstrong's products. It covers all of the materials, tools, adhesives, underlayments, etc. It tells you what is and is not acceptable.

If you want your sheet vinyl installed correctly, I suggest you ask for this book or at least get copies of the pages that pertain to your situation and the sheet vinyl you intend to use. It is also available online from Armstrong at http://www.armstrong.com/commflooringna/article15949.html.

Other Publications

Armstrong also sent along copies of other great booklets. You might want to scan several of these as well. They will probably be available from Armstrong or a local distributor. Some are available online at http://www.armstrong.com/commflooringna/request_lit.jsp. It is worth hunting these down! Here are the titles:

  • Residential Complaint Guide
  • Installation, Maintenance, Accessory Products.....
  • Maintenance Recommendations & Procedures for Commercial Resilient Flooring

Call Armstrong at: 800-233-3823!

Companion Articles:   Common Sheet Vinyl Problems, Sheet Vinyl Woes

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