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From self-leveling to shower kits, suppliers helping dealers succeed

By Matthew Spieler

Volume 26/Number 22; March 18/25, 2013

Every flooring type requires a solid foundation on which to be installed. It doesn’t matter how well the product is made, whether it’s ideal for the application, or if the installation is flawless, without the appropriate subfloor the entire process can be compromised, leaving the end user unsatisfied. A smooth, level subfloor allows flooring material to lay flat and helps prevent buckling, popping of the seams, potential moisture problems and even telegraphing.

Luckily, today’s suppliers of subfloor preparation materials continue to invest in quick and simple, yet effective solutions for residential and commercial jobs. During Surfaces, many of these companies showcased their latest self-leveling products as well as backerboards for bathroom installations.

A number of suppliers also highlighted pre-fabricated shower installation kits with the reasoning that most individuals who are interested in shower kits usually redo the entire bathroom. By being able to offer the consumer this expanded service, retailers can differentiate themselves and earn extra profits as well as customer loyalty.

Ryan Brausa, product manager of Custom Building Products shows the company’s shower installation system.

Custom Building Products

Ryan Brausa, product manager, said the company’s shower installation systems are twice as strong as other pre-fabricated substrates. Custom’s ShowerSlope pan, for example, is “so sturdy it can hold a truck without compressing. In fact, it’s the strongest mortar-replacement showerslope available.”

Installation of the whole system is painless. “Without tile it takes about 20 minutes, and completing the total shower takes only 48 hours. Plus, there is no limit to the size of tile you can use because of the pan’s strength.”

In addition to ShowerSlope, which features a patent-pending drain flange, Custom offers the ShowerNiche for holding soaps and shampoos, which comes in three sizes; HardCurb, specifically designed for anchoring heavy glass shower enclosure hardware; ShowerSeat, which includes a 10 x 20 Ladies Leg Ledge as well as a tile drain with an infinitely adjustable strainer to adjust to any tile thickness and a 100% silicone or polyurethane sealant; and RedGard fabric membrane, which is completely water and vapor proof.

Custom also unveiled Fusion Pro grout, which Brausa said is the world’s first single-component grout that combines the best of cement and epoxy grouts. “This has been in the making for three years. It is a single-component sanded grout that requires no mixing and is infused with silicone. It provides unsurpassed stain resistance and does not require sealing.”

The patent-pending product also features Microban antimicrobial protection and provides superior color consistency, he said. It is available in 24 standard colors.

James Hardie

Jay Tinen, tradeshow manager, said the No. 1 brand in cement boards was made even better with the new HardieBacker ProGrid. “It is the strongest, lightest, easiest to cut cement board out there. And it has the highest psi strength compared to the competition.”

Available in ¼- and ½-inch thicknesses, ProGrid uses a new, durable proprietary cement formulation, which gives it numerous features and benefits, including three times less water penetration and two times the tile adhesion strength, making it 8% lighter. In addition, the product has the patented ProGrid recessed fastener pattern and a single score-and-snap feature for quick cutting and easy installation. Both versions of ProGrid come with a lifetime transferable warranty.

While the ProGrid is already simple to score and snap, James Hardie displayed the new Snapper Shear from PacTool International. “It was designed to cut HardieBacker up to ½-inch thick and is great for indoor use because it doesn’t create any airborne dust,” Tinen said. The 6.5 amp-driven Snapper Shear features a 360-degree swivel head for easy cutting without having to run around the board. Also, its blade can cut through up to 20,000 feet of HardieBacker before having to be replaced.

Laticrete

While the major focus of Laticrete’s booth was the 10th anniversary of its SpectraLOCK grout, which included 10 iPad Minis giveaways during the three-day show, some new items were added to its Hydro Ban preformed shower systems, specifically a curb overlay and curb, along with a pre-sloped ramp and pre-sloped extension. All four offerings wear the “Made in America” stamp.

Laticrete also restyled the self-leveling products from its DryTek division, a company it purchased about two years ago. DryTek, a leader and innovator in floor leveling systems, came out with a revamped line by “taking advantage of Laticrete’s and DryTek’s vast amount of expertise in this field.”

HPS Schönox

The 120-year-old manufacturer of self-leveling products came to Surfaces with a number of introductions designed to expand the ability to install more diverse floor coverings over challenging subfloors, noted Enos Farnsworth, president. “We have a series of products that will save time and money while also providing better flooring installations. These are proven technologies that are already used with great success in 20 countries.”

Schönox EPA is a new epoxy-based moisture vapor barrier that will help installers address concrete subfloors with moisture levels at up to 100% relative humidity, he said. “This will allow our customers to install floors quicker over challenging substrates and without shot blasting.”

Schönox AP and APF are two self-leveling compounds that can be poured over critical substrates, including wood subfloors, and allow floors to be installed without the use of underlayment panels and boards. Both products are made from synthetic gypsum created by the by-product of the process for purifying emissions from power plants, Farnsworth explained. Besides contributing to green building credits, AP and APF are fortified using a special conversion method. “Synthetic gypsum is far superior to traditional gypsum-based products.”

Finally, there is Roll and Go, an acrylic adhesive for use with LVT that is applied from a standing position. “The product comes as an integrated kit containing everything that is needed [for installation],” Farnsworth said. “The process can begin 15 minutes after application. Tiles are bound immediately, and can be walked on and bear loads right away.”

USG

USG’s Willie Phares, left, demonstrates the company’s new Floor Patch Fast-Finish to Michael Monstwil, co-owner of M&M Floor Covering in New Castle, Pa.

The company’s Durock line, which has been a fixture in the construction industry for many years, was enhanced with a line of self-leveling products, according to Philip Ciesiulka, director of business development. The three new self-levelers are EcoCap, UltraCap and Speed.

EcoCap utilizes a new proprietary geopolymer technology that offers “a significant reduction in several environmental impacts,” he said, including a 50% carbon footprint reduction and 45% embodied energy when compared to competitive products. The fast-drying product allows foot traffic within two hours.

UltraCap has compressive strengths at a minimum 5,000 psi, Ciesiulka noted, and is ideal for interior use over concrete, while Speed’s drying formulation allows for floor coverings to be installed in as little as four hours for moisture-insensitive tiles and 16 hours for other flooring. The line is rounded out with the Durock Quick-Top low-prep self-leveling underlayment and Floor Patch Fast Finish, which “delivers a smooth application and high yield.”

USG also used Surfaces to release a version of its Tile & Flooring mobile app for Android as well as an updated version for the iPhone and iPad. The original app offered users product information, installation videos and a material estimator. The improved app has added performance, speed and reduced size, updated product images and includes information on all new products. It also allows users to share photos of projects through USG’s Facebook and Twitter pages.