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Installation: Adhesives aim to ease the task at hand

August 6/13, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 4

By Ken Ryan

The installation crisis—a shortage of installers and a lack of skilled workers—has created a backlog of business for many flooring dealers who worry that projects will not be completed satisfactorily or on a timely basis.

In today’s environment, products that can ease the burden for installers and save time and money for dealers are golden. Fortunately, many of today’s new adhesives add value to the installation process through quicker bonding techniques that ultimately make the job more cost efficient.

Following is a rundown of some of the latest adhesive offerings.

Ardex/Henry

The new Henry 647 PlumPro was engineered for today’s demanding world of fast-track installations and remodels. The fast-track, roll-apply vinyl adhesive is moisture resistant up to 95% RH and pressure sensitive in just minutes. Approved for use on all substrates, Henry 647 can be used with commercial and residential installation of LVT and LVP as well as fiberglass-encapsulated sheet vinyl. Using Henry 647, installers can install flooring minutes after application; flooring can be immediately opened to traffic and property owners can access the space as soon as installers clean up their tools. The product’s unique, purple color is easy to see and allows the installer to achieve even coverage during application.

DriTac

DriTac recently unveiled a solution-based, multi-tier adhesive and underlayment system for wood and resilient flooring installations. Called Total Sound Reduction System (SRS), this dual-force, silent-fuse technology consists of both sound and moisture reduction systems. The company said these types of system-based installation solutions offer proven technology and value with increased profits for distributors and retailers.

DriTac’s double-stick method consists of two layers of adhesive above and below a layer of underlayment. “When done properly and adhering to manufacturers’ specifications, this type of comprehensive application can often times offer the highest degree of overall value associated with sound control and moisture resistance,” said David Jackson, field technical services manager, DriTac Flooring Products.

Gerflor

The Gerflor Dry-Tex System is a one-step, full-spread adhesive solution with a moisture-mitigation system integrated into the backing of the flooring. Available on Gerflor’s resilient sports flooring, Taraflex, and new heterogeneous resilient sheet flooring Premium designs, the system comprises DTx, a textile backing that allows a proper bonding of the adhesive onto the flooring; and Gerpur, a proprietary, moisture-cured adhesive using breakthrough technology that reacts to humidity.

This one-step system resists up to 100% RH/25 lbs. and helps save time and money for installers by preventing delays and unexpected costs due to high moisture within concrete slabs. With Gerflor Dry-Tex System, there is no risk of shifting or curling floors under heavy rolling loads. Plus, no water trapping means reduced risk of mold growth.

Laticrete

Laticrete recently introduced Prime-N-Bond, a versatile primer designed to enhance the performance and mechanical bond of mortars to a variety of smooth or low-absorptive substrates to which adhesion may be difficult. Prime-N-Bond is low VOC and does not emit a strong odor, making it ideal for use in interior or occupied areas.

Prime-N-Bond is designed to allow for a faster preparation which can save contractors time and money on the job site, according to Jonathan Scott, senior product manager. “This product is a perfect example of how advanced building material technology has helped to drive the construction industry forward while helping installers do their jobs more effectively.”

Schönox

Schönox’s newest addition in adhesives is HPS 1100—a clear, thin-spread acrylic adhesive that offers benefits of the company’s most popular adhesives. Much like HPS 92, HPS 1100 does not require any sort of priming. HPS 1100 can also be roller applied, similar to Roll and Go, thus providing an easier application for the installer.

Because HPS 1100 can be roller applied without priming, the application is much more efficient. This process reduces time and costs by eliminating the priming step while extending the adhesive product to its fullest range. This labor-saving rolling technique requires a 100-lb roller in both directions—North-South and East-West for best results.

Sika

SikaBond-T100 is a new, low-VOC, all-in-one wood floor adhesive from Sika that doesn’t require moisture testing, can be used to glue down engineered and solid wood flooring and easily cleans off prefinished floors before and after use. SikaBond-T100 allows installers to save time on a job since moisture testing is not required. What’s more, the product is easy to clean and the low-VOC formula helps achieve a healthier environment.

Uzin

Uzin KE 2000 S is a premium, universal adhesive designed for the installation of various floor coverings on porous and nonporous substrates. It features high shear strength, resistance to plasticizers and is quick drying for fast installations. Uzin KE 2000 S is also low odor and easy to trowel, making it ideal for commercial and residential use.

KE 2000 S is a LEED v4-contributing product with low-emitting materials. Furthermore, its high coverage area equates to low cost per square foot, which saves money.

 

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Installation: Latest adhesives promote eco-friendly attributes

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Lindsay Baillie

Adhesive manufacturers are continuing to develop premium environmentally friendly products as a means to stay in lockstep with the flooring industry’s continuous push toward greener floors. Many of today’s green adhesives are FloorScore certified, solvent free and contain zero VOCs—all of which help contribute points to LEED. These qualities are all beneficial to the end user and environment as well as the installers who handle the products on a daily basis.

What’s more, many of these eco-friendly products provide installers with easy-to-install, quick-drying solutions to help shorten installation time while also addressing specific subfloor issues found on the job site.

Following is an overview of some of the latest green products hitting the market.

DriTac

DriTac offers a full line of wood and resilient flooring adhesives that have been certified by CRI’s Green Label Plus Program and also tout zero VOCs/zero solvents. This includes DriTac 7800 Supreme Green, a hybrid polymer adhesive that provides unlimited subfloor moisture control with no testing required and a lifetime warranty.

Supreme Green is a premium, single-component, environmentally friendly sound- and moisture-control wood flooring adhesive designed to suppress concrete subfloor cracks. The problem-solving solutions contain zero VOCs, zero solvents and has been independently tested and certified by CRI for indoor air quality. Manufactured in the USA, Supreme Green can be used for the successful installations of multi-ply engineered plank, solid wood plank, bamboo flooring and more.

Utilization of DriTac 7800 Supreme Green allows end users to turn what has traditionally been a two-to-three-day process into a time-efficient, one-day installation that saves the consumer money. DriTac 7800 Supreme Green is also easy to clean off the surface of hardwood flooring wet or dry and contains zero isocyanates. With its ability to isolate old cutback adhesive, Supreme Green offers five installation solutions in one pail.

Henry

Henry, an Ardex Americas brand, has launched its new fast-track, roll-applied vinyl adhesive, Henry 647 Plum Pro, which is formulated with GreenLine technology.

“Since the early 2000s, the Henry GreenLine adhesives have been designed to provide high performance with extremely low odor and VOC emissions,” said Steven Newbrough, environmental programs specialist, Ardex Americas. “Henry 647 can endure RH levels up to 95% and a pH of 11, making it suitable for use in extreme environments.”

The vinyl adhesive has a long lifespan and is backed by a 20-year SystemOne warranty. As a result, Henry 647 spreads the environmental impact over a longer period of time, causing it to be lower per year than some products on the market, the company said. This impact is further reduced by its coverage of up to 400 square feet, as fewer packages and pails are needed to complete a job. Henry 647 also joins a number of Henry adhesives with FloorScore certification. It has been tested in accordance with CDPH v1.2-2017 and meets the indoor air quality emissions criteria of LEED, CHPS, The Green Guide for Health Care and a number of other healthy building programs.

Laticrete

Latapoxy BioGreen 300, a high-strength, chemical-resistant epoxy adhesive made with biobased material, is designed to provide an alternative to conventional, nonrenewable, petroleum-derived products.

Equipped for the most demanding installations of tile and stone, Latapoxy BioGreen 300 exceeds both ANSI A118.3 and ISO 13007 R2 requirements for epoxy adhesives and can be used in interior and exterior areas such as walls and floors, as well as wet and dry areas. Additionally, the bio-based epoxy adhesive can be used to install a variety of ceramic tile, marble and natural stone flooring products, and it will bond to most sound, clean surfaces, the company stated. It also spreads easily and can be cleaned with water while fresh.

Latapoxy BioGreen 300 is a component of the Laticrete Lifetime System Warranty, thereby providing one source, one warranty from the substrate to the grout.

Uzin

Uzin, a UFloor brand, now offers Uzin KE 2000 S, a premium, universal adhesive designed for the installation of various floor coverings on both porous and non-porous substrates. Thanks to its high-solids formulation, Uzin KE 2000 S has an extremely high coverage rate—up to 630 square feet per three-gallon pail, depending on the flooring, trowel size and substrate condition. It has high shear strength, high moisture vapor resistance, excellent resistance to plasticizers and is quick drying, thereby allowing for fast installations.

This installer-friendly adhesive is low odor (less than 20 g/l VOC), easy to trowel and is ideal for use in occupied buildings such as healthcare and educational facilities. Uzin KE 2000 S is compliant with both the strict California Specification 01350 (VOC emissions) and SCAQMD Rule 1168, and it is a LEED v4 contributing product. Furthermore, Uzin KE 2000 S conforms to the requirements of the International Maritime Organization’s Ship Safety Division 0736 and meets the extremely stringent GEV-Emicode EU standard for very low emissions. Uzin KE 2000 S can be used in both commercial and residential applications and is suitable for use with all radiant heat systems.

Schönox

One of Schönox’s most popular green adhesives, Schönox Roll and Go, is a rollable acrylic adhesive for luxury vinyl tile floors. It is suitable for bonding LVT on smooth, sound, clean, dry substrates in interior areas. This rollable, acrylic adhesive will contribute up to five points in a LEED v4 project. Schönox Roll and Go contributes to low-emitting materials, Environmental Product Declaration and Material Ingredients, and it has been recognized as an EC 1Plus-regulated product yielding very low emissions. Schönox Roll and Go can be easily applied to substrates and features an open time of approximately 24 hours. Schönox Roll and Go offers an immediately loadable surface for LVT installation.

For more than 125 years, Schönox products have been manufactured in Germany under the strictest quality standards. The company is certified under the ISO 9001 and 14001 quality and environmental management standards. In addition, the company’s research and development division works daily to develop solutions that are innovative with regard to performance as well as environmental stewardship.

 

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Installation: ‘Blazer’ tool makes quick work of laying cove base

By Reginald Tucker

David Low, a floor covering installer with 25 years under his belt, had grown tired of pulling muscles, busting his knuckles and otherwise breaking his back when laying down wall base—particularly on large jobs. But he wasn’t quite ready to hang up his tools and knee pads altogether, so he decided to do something about it.

Using a little ingenuity—and a lot of imagination—Low crafted a crude dolly device that would not only hold rolls of cove base in place, but also allow an installer to easily transport the heavy rolls (usually about 70 lbs.) and unfurl the material while gluing it in place to the bottom of the wall.

Low looks back on the day the idea for his invention came to be. “I was doing a job for a lawyer’s office that had all these little rooms as well as big open office spaces. I said, ‘Man, there has got to be a better way.’ So I went to Home Depot and bought a Lazy Susan and three caster wheels. I had an idea in my head in terms of what I wanted to do, so I just fabricated a round circle to put the wall base on.”

The Base Blazer Pro can accommodate cove base rolls spanning 2-, 4- or 6-inches wide.

After experimenting with some different materials used to form the foundation of the base of the dolly, Low switched to a more durable plastic that would withstand the rigors of years of use on job sites without breaking the bank. “With the materials I’m using to make this product, it’s probably bulletproof. Heck, it can probably catch bullets. You could probably even drive a car over it.”

At first Low began making the Base Blazer using a CNC lathe. Later on, production shifted to a full-service machine shop in Graham, Wash., where his uncle—who has 35 years building all sorts of contraptions—lent his expertise. “I showed him what I wanted, then we started drawing the design using CAD,” Low explained. “Then I got some help from family members who helped me apply for the patent.”

Back saver, money maker

Just as knee pads lessened the pain and wear and tear for carpet installers when they were invented decades ago, Low’s creation—dubbed the Base Blazer Pro—aims to preserve the joints and muscles of floor layers who oftentimes have to install cove base in awkward positions.

“When you’re on your knees you have to throw the cove base, it can create what’s called ‘tennis elbow’ from the impact each time you toss your arm out,” Low explained. “Base Blazer Pro gives installers a tool they can push or pull around the room and still and work from at the same time. Using this product, installers can glue right up to an edge, pull it out a little bit and make their corners while it’s still on the dolly and just keep going.”

Aside easing the task at hand from a purely labor perspective, the Base Blazer Pro also allows installers to shave time off each installation—which, in turn, frees them up to take on more jobs and earn more money. “Installers see the possibilities with this tool,” Low said. “It basically transforms cove base as an accessory product into a profit center. And it’s going to help installers get home faster.”

Those who have utilized the product on the job site see the benefits. Low shared a story about how he loaned the Base Blazer Pro to one of his friends—another flooring installer—to see how he liked it. That friend, unfortunately, allowed another installer to borrow it. Problem is, he never gave it back. “That tells you a lot right there,” Low said. (Good news: Low ultimately gave his friend another one to use.)

Then there’s the case of Sam Penlesky, a professional flooring contractor and the owner of SJP Flooring, LLC, Tacoma, Wash. He said the Base Blazer Pro typically shaves off one-third the time it takes for him to lay the cove base. “Usually with roll base you have to use your hand to spin the coil, and over time your hands hurt. But with this tool you just put in on the base blazer and it does the work for you. I’ve had the Base Blazer Pro for a few years now, and I use it all the time.”

According to Low, this is the typical response of those who have used the product. “It’s like the first time you put on a pair of Pro Knees; you ask yourself, ‘Why didn’t I get one of these before?’ Once you have installed multiple rows of cove base with this tool, you’re not going to go back to the old-fashioned way of doing it. For the professional installer, it’s just another tool in their arsenal.”

The Base Blazer Pro retails for $179, not including shipping and handling.

For more information, visit BaseBlazer.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Installation: Self-levelers solve subfloor prep issues

April 30/May 7, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 23

By Lindsay Baillie

Retailers, installers and contractors know that what’s underneath a floor is just as critical to a consumer’s long-term happiness as the floor’s overall look and feel. For the consumer to get the most out of her floor over the life of the product, installers need to properly prep the substrate.

To assist installers with this crucial step, manufacturers are developing new self-levelers to help shorten prep time and create a better working environment for workers on the job site. Following are some of the recent entries to the market.

Ardex

Ardex K 22 F and Ardex K 60 are designed to accelerate even the tightest construction schedule. Ardex K 22 F is a high-flow, self-leveling underlayment that is reinforced with microfibers to increase product flexibility. This installation can be done as thin as 1⁄8 inch without the need for a liquid admixture or any sort of mesh fastened to a wooden subfloor. The product eliminates the need for putting down lathe. It is also fiber reinforced and low tension allowing it to go over challenging substrates with less floor preparation than the most common self-levelers.

Ardex K 60 Arditex—a rapid-setting, self-leveling latex underlayment—is mixed only with a latex additive and can be installed over a wide variety of substrates without the use of a primer. Ardex K 60 is a versatile product that eliminates the need for sourcing water. It also saves significant time by reducing the need for floor preparation.

Laticrete

The Laticrete SuperCap ready-mix delivery service is a new turnkey service that delivers blended self-leveling underlayment (SLU) through the company’s patented pump truck technology directly to the job site. According to the manufacturer, this service significantly saves both time and cost while providing a safer, cleaner work environment.

With the ability to blend and pump up to 30,000 pounds per hour—the equivalent of 600 small bags per hour—the SuperCap ready-mix delivery service benefits the entire project from design to completion by providing predictable results, according to Clint Schramm, director of marketing, Laticrete SuperCap. “Thanks to its computer-control system, a consistent, quality blend is ensured every time, shaving weeks off a project schedule while delivering a flat floor for subsequent trades to build out on within 24 hours.”

Schönox

Schönox will soon take the wraps off its latest cement-based, self-leveling compounds, S1500 and XM. Schönox S1500 is a cement self-leveling compound designed for a multitude of projects with a depth of ¼ inch to 1½ inches. Schönox S1500 is noted for its very low shrinkage and PSI of 4900.

Schönox XM offers a self-leveling, cementitious smoothing as a leveling compound with very low VOC, good working properties, standard preparation and cost-effective applications. This high-flow self-leveler is designed for layers from 1⁄6 inch up to ½ inch with a PSI of 4300.

Both of these new compounds feature high hardness and strength, underfloor heating and a Schönox quality smooth subfloor.

Sika

Sika recently launched two innovative self-leveler systems: Sika Level-425 and Sika Level-525. Sika Level-425, a low-dust solution, offers innovative dust reduction technology preventing excess dust from spreading around the job site during the mixing of the product. Sika Level-525, which is designed to work quickly, rapid cures in 90 minutes, offering installers the opportunity to cover the underlayment with a floor in the same day.

The new products round out Sika’s total system of moisture-mitigation products. “The Sika Secure System helps installers to find what they are looking for,” said Marlene Morin, marketing manager, interior finishing. “We offer solutions that can provide great flow, high compressive strength, fast drying time and varying thicknesses.”

Taylor

Sahara is one of Taylor’s most aggressive moisture vapor barrier (MVB) products on the market. The product, which is engineered to withstand the most extreme moisture installations, is designed to control concrete substrate vapor emissions. For glue-down applications, it is designed to be paired with the company’s all new Enhance bond promoter. Sahara can be applied directly to a clean and porous concrete substrate, meaning installers can eliminate expensive and time-consuming bead blasting or scarifying, also making it easier for the flooring contractor to comply with the new OSHA regulations on crystalline silica dust.

As a self-leveling, one-part trowel applied product, Sahara is ready to use straight out of the pail. It creates a smooth, solid surface for excellent flooring installations and is ready for next steps in approximately eight hours. Floating floors can be installed directly over Sahara and hardwood can be glued directly to it using the Taylor Signature Series line of wood flooring adhesives.

Uzin

Uzin Fast System features three products: Uzin PE 414, a turbo surface strengthener/ primer; Uzin PE 280, a fast primer; and Uzin NC 172, a bi-turbo self-leveling compound. This system allows flooring to be installed in as little as four to six hours from initial application, which makes it ideal for time-sensitive projects. The Fast System also reduces mixing time from three minutes to one minute and meets strict Emicode EC1 Plus environmental criteria.

Uzin PE 414 dries in 60-90 minutes, saving time and labor costs. As a single component, it requires no mixing and is ready to use. Both water and solvent free, Uzin PE 414 meets strict criteria for healthy indoor air quality. Uzin PE 280 dries in approximately 45 minutes and has superior bonding strength. Uzin NC 172 is ready for covering in as little as one hour and provides a flat, level surface.

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Guru USA looks to make a splash in North America

Europe-based waterproof membrane supplier seeks opportunity for expansion

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Mara Bollettieri

 

Guru USA knows a thing or two about waterproof membranes for ceramic tile flooring and wall installations. The Spain-based company brings more than 20 years of experience in the field of waterproofing membranes, shower drain systems and other accessories designed to advance installation performance and increase sales opportunities for its customers.

Derick Cooper, national sales and marketing manager of Guru USA, North America, stands behind its products as well as its focus on high-quality manufacturing. “We actually manufacture our own products. A lot of people in the waterproof membrane industry don’t. We are proud to be a company that’s supportive, approachable and collaborative with our customers.”

Already a household name in countries like Spain, Italy and France, to name a few, Guru USA wants to share its expertise with the North American market. The company’s goal, according to Cooper, is to penetrate new territories by reaching out to wholesale distributors, dealers and contractors. Another potential avenue to market is through private-label manufacturing agreements with other suppliers.

In many cases, Guru USA is willing to take that extra step to keep customers happy by offering a variety of colors, different packaging and sizes of waterproof membranes—all at a competitive price, according to Cooper. “We can sell to anybody because we make it, so that makes us different. We can customize our products.”

Guru’s Water-Stop waterproofing membrane, which touts both strength and flexibility, can be used with polymer-modified thinsets in steam showers and as a crack isolation membrane. How it works: The membrane is applied to both the walls and floors using thinset, and the tile is joined directly to the membrane. According to Cooper, these products surpass the ANSI 118.12 and the ANSI 118.10 specifications for crack isolation and load bearing, respectively.

Cooper identified a few standout products such as Guru’s Evolux Linear and square drains, which are made with marine-grade 316 stainless steel and known for its high-quality properties. The manufacturer’s innovative open set drain flashing system also allows the contractor to install the drain over remaining floor tile, which helps cut demolition costs.

“Our open set drain system is patented; it has an up-and-down movement, so it can adjust to any height over any shower floor,” Cooper explained.

Guru’s high-performance membranes not only exceed specifications, according to Cooper, but they are also priced competitively. This allows retailers to earn higher margins on their installation projects. “When I look at all the other membranes out there, our performance and quality is on the top level. But our pricing is not; it’s more on the mid-level. So that is something we bring to the table.”

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Mohawk accessory program aims to complete the package

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Reginald Tucker

 

To many retailers, Mohawk is regarded as a supplier of all manner of hard- and soft-surface products, including hardwood, laminate, LVT/P, ceramic and carpet, to name a few. But the supplier is looking to remind dealers that it also provides a vast array of accessories.

Among Mohawk’s line of complementary installation products are: transitions and moldings, flooring adhesives, underlayments and care/maintenance items such as cleaning products and tools. “We sell these items for all our products; it’s a full program,” said David Moore, senior director of accessories.

But these are not me-too products, according to Mohawk. Rather, the accessories program is built on the idea of innovative products that differentiate the company from others in the market. An example of that innovation is a new technology utilized across its moldings/transition programs. This entails a multi-functional molding whereby the installer is able to handle multiple types of transition needs with one piece of inventory.

“For example, in a typical installation you’ll need a T-molding when you’re bridging floors of equal heights; a reducer when you’re going down to a thinner floor; or an end molding when you’re going up to a sliding glass door,” Moore explained. “We offer a product called a ‘5-in-1’ molding that we have in our laminate, hardwood and vinyl assortment. In essence, it’s one item that needs to be inventoried, one item that needs to be ordered or sold; and the installer can convert it to any configuration he needs.”

Being a full-service, vertically integrated supplier also brings other advantages compared to the host of standalone accessory suppliers in the field, according to Moore. By managing the accessories programs holistically, he said, the company is able to leverage best practices from all the different groups and provide focus and consolidation. “As our sales force goes out to sell those products holistically, having that single point of contact and consistency throughout all the different flooring types is something we thought was very important to our customers.”

This strategy applies to other accessory products, not just moldings. Take Mohawk’s V 1 glue, which is engineered to address different scenarios. “This adhesive, depending on the way it’s installed, acts as a pressure-sensitive, but it can also be a permanent bond adhesive,” Moore explained. “It’s an innovative product that will accomplish everything you need it to do, but at the end of the day it’s still just one item.”

Technological bells and whistles aside, Mohawk’s accessory products and add-ons also provide an opportunity for retailers to make more money. “Dealers can improve their profitability in a variety of ways—from the multi-functional standpoint, they are able to order less SKUs and keep a lower inventory, which translates into fewer items they need to send out to the job site,” Moore explained. “That means less risk to the dealer in terms of inventory that might go out of style. In addition, from a pure revenue standpoint, accessories provide retailers with an opportunity to really look at their margins and charge a premium for products that offer more innovation and that consumers are going to value.”

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MagneBuild seeks to address installation issues

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Ken Ryan

 

While it might not solve the installation crisis entirely, there is hope that MagneBuild by Magnetic Building Solutions (MBS), a new magnetic flooring system, may be the breakthrough technology the industry needs.

Winner of a Best of Surfaces Award for Technology (see page 10 in this issue), this underlayment system from MBS uses magnetic technology as the foundation for all types of floors. To install users merely have to roll it out over any smooth, clean and dry subfloor surface.

“MagneBuild is a game changer for our industry,” said Scott Humphrey, CEO of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), which partially owns MBS.

Humphrey explained that the MBS technology is deployed in one of two ways, depending on the application and circumstances. In the first process, ferrite powder can be injected into products with a quasi-soft back during the manufacturing phase. This process, he said, works best for LVT, LVP, WPC and even wall coverings. The second method is to adhere a roll of receptive material, which is cold-pressed onto the product at the end of the manufacturing process. This is the easiest application for all flooring categories including carpet tile, broadloom, ceramic, porcelain and stone, according to MBS. Both processes result in a tight magnetic bond between the subfloor and finished floor that is virtually waterproof.

The magnetic subfloor also acts as a sound barrier, providing crack isolation protection for ceramic floors. Once the subfloor is installed users can change from an LVT to a ceramic tile to a carpet tile and back again with no floor prep time needed. Humphrey added that MBS products are ideally suited for commercial settings where timing is critical.

Flooring retailers who watched demonstrations at Surfaces and at the NFA Vendor Showcase the day prior were enthusiastic, with some calling it a difference maker for the industry. “I thought this was the most revolutionary product at Surfaces,” said Brian Witkin, executive vice president of sales, Avalon Flooring, Cherry Hill, N.J. “Long term, I believe the product will do very well in the market.”

Carpet tile and WPC/SPC will be the first surfaces available with this platform, which is expected to be available in the latter half of the second quarter. The MBS platform will be sold through WFCA retailers, and WFCA members will enjoy exclusive benefits by carrying the MBS line, according to Humphrey.

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Installation: Flooring dealers grapple with tight labor market

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Ken Ryan

 

A strengthening economy coupled with an increasingly tight labor market—with unemployment at 4.1% nationally—has exacerbated the installation crisis for many dealers, observers say. The issue has forced some to turn work away because of a scarcity of crews, while others are having to pay substandard mechanics more just to retain them.

While flooring dealers say business is still up in 2018, they believe the installation challenge is stunting this growth. “Our business is being affected in three ways,” John Taylor, president of Taylor Carpet One, Fort Myers, Fla., told FCNews. “First, the shortage of labor is affecting our growth. Second, because of the shortage, our labor prices are going up because [installers] know there is a shortage. Lastly, the quality of the installers out there has gone down drastically, and the workmanship is not where it should be. This will continue unless we all somehow pull together and figure out a way to recruit and train people for our trade. Not everyone is meant for college and there is a great opportunity installing if it is done the right way.”

Such a tough labor market makes finding skilled workers more difficult in sectors like flooring installation. As such, some dealers are forced to pass on certain jobs, unable to fulfill their customers’ needs. In other cases, wages appear to be rising even for mediocre installers. “Unfortunately, I only see this problem getting worse as our labor force is aging—unless we can get the next generation interested in the trades,” said Josh Elder, owner of Gainesville CarpetsPlus Color Tile, Florida.

For Carlton Billingsley, owner of Floors and More, Benton, Ark., the labor market is challenging his business to be more strategic, particularly on the commercial side as he picks and chooses which partners to work with. However, as the backlog grows, his business suffers. Rather than bemoan his situation, Billingsley has a solution he believes will pay off. “We are creatively working with other skilled/non-skilled laborers to learn flooring skills to grow with our business. We continue to invest in training at manufacturer facilities, our facility and in our regional area, too, to diversify the mechanics’ skill set so they can do different types of flooring. This way we can accelerate our growth together.”

Due to the shortage of qualified installers, Tim Schoolfield, owner of CountrySide Flooring America, O’Fallon, Mo., said he is “less confident” these days in spite of an improving economy. “I am less confident we can get flooring installed in a timely fashion or in the ability of new hires to exceed the expectations of an increasingly demanding customer,” he explained.

That sentiment was shared by other flooring dealers such as Cathy Buchanan, owner of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland, Mich. “It is an uneasy feeling to sell high-quality woven products, hardwood, LVT, laminate, etc., not knowing if you’re going to overwhelm your existing installation crews,” she said. “And then once their knees give way—who do you have? Having a back-up plan just isn’t the case today. No offense to millennials, they just aren’t driven to the challenge of such a difficult job. And when talking about the sales floor, office/support staff, [they] seem to get bored quickly and look for a better position.”

What’s regrettable, Buchanan added, is the flooring retail industry should be primed for growth. “There is so much opportunity in our field of retail—not so much with the shopping centers—because Amazon can’t quite get the touchy-feely experience of buying carpet. People have an opportunity to make a lot of money selling and even more so by installing, and also taking pride in the field of installation. It’s a scary thought.”

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Adhesives designed to ease the task at hand

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Nicole Murray

 

The latest batch of adhesive products unveiled at TISE 2018 aim to simplify installation challenges while addressing specific issues floor layers face on the job site.

Case in point is H.B. Fuller, which showed its Ultimate Six Plus adhesive designed for the trending large, thin panels but can be applied to any size tile. Ultimate Six Plus allows the floor to be walkable within six hours, giving the installer an opportunity to correct minor imperfections. “This type of adhesive is strong but easy to apply to material that must be handled delicately,” said Michael Bobak, product manager. “Installers are under less pressure to apply the material before it hardens, and the six-hour window is very useful when other [trades] are on the project site with you. There are times you cannot control when other construction teams walk on the floor too soon, for example. This product is the solution to that problem.”

H.B. Fuller also showcased an innovative spray adhesive that changes color to indicate the exact moment when it is appropriate to place the flooring. It is particularly useful in resilient flooring applications, the company said. “When the adhesive is clear, it is ready to receive flooring,” Sonny Callaham, technical product manager, explained. “The product can always be placed with confidence because the adhesive times it out for them.”

Ardex debuted a new roll-applied adhesive designed specifically for LVT and LVP that also caters to installers with little to no experience because the product is painted on for application. The adhesive is a bright plum color, which helps installers keep track of where adhesive has already been applied. This not only avoids waste but also saves money in terms of time spent on the site. “Wasting adhesive to make sure all areas are sufficiently covered was one of the major complaints circulating,” said Ed Masilunas, business manager of adhesives, Ardex. “We chose a bright color so less time is wasted ensuring every area has been applied with the needed amount of product for it to do its job.”

In addition, Ardex’s adhesive is pressure-sensitive in 10 minutes, allowing for a quicker tack. “This factor makes it perfect for places that can’t shut down for long periods of time,” Masilunas added. “For example, this product is perfect for schools or hospitals where projects are very time sensitive and always have people roaming.”

Bostik Set unveiled a single-component adhesive designed for thin porcelain tile wall panels. The product features recycled pieces of black rubber mixed in for a uniform film thickness between the wall and the panel. “The rubber makes the adhesive less prone to crack, offers a sound-dampening component and does not let the material compress past a certain point,” Scott Banda, director of marketing and business development, explained. “This product is also environment friendly because the rubber pieces are recycled.”

DriTac rolled out its Total Sound Reduction System, which includes DriTac 7900 Super Grab, a urethane wood flooring adhesive meant for installing long and wide planks, and DriTac 5900 MegaBond, designed for installing resilient flooring and helps control vinyl plank shrinkage.

“We are marrying our underlayments with our adhesives to offer an enhanced system package that we can get fully behind,” said John Lio, vice president of marketing.

The major advantage of this package, according to Lio, is a lifetime warranty is offered because all the products needed are coming from one supplier, leaving only one source to go to for any issues that may arise. “It avoids any finger pointing because we know this package inside and out. It gives us all the more reason to stand behind these products because we make it a point to only release premium-level options.”

 

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Smell Zapper zaps odors, cuts down on installation

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Necessity is the mother of invention. That is how Scott Brown, founder and co-owner of Smell Away Solutions, described the inspiration for the company’s flagship product, Smell Zapper BioEnzymatic—an odor eliminating, enzyme-based solution.

Brown spent more than 12 years as a mill and distributor rep and another 10 years at Absolute Interior, his retail flooring store in Kansas City. While running the flooring store, Brown was constantly faced with answering the question: “How do I get the smell of pet urine out of my floor or at least trap it in the subfloor?” While oil-based solutions were widely used at the time, they often slowed down installation and gave installers more work in the long run, Brown said.

It wasn’t until a couple of years later when Brown was faced asking the same question about his own floors that he looked into developing a pet-friendly, environmentally safe, enzyme-based product that is easy for installers to apply and can be used on subfloors as well as other waterproof surfaces.

“Smell Zapper is completely biodegradable,” Brown said. “You could be applying it to a subfloor and a pet could come in and lick it and it would not hurt it at all.”

What’s more, Smell Zapper helps users eliminate the need for dry time and addresses the subfloor odor faster than its competition, Brown claims. “It takes two or three hours to paint an entire subfloor with [competitor products] and it’s almost impossible to get on the tack strip and under a base board. In lieu of two or three hours of painting subfloors you can take our product, put it in a pump-out sprayer and spray the subfloor within 10 to 15 minutes. Smell Zapper is completely safe to be sprayed on all finished, water-safe surfaces—including behind the tack strip and base boards.”

What also makes Smell Zapper unique is its zero dry time and composition of live bacteria and enzymes. According to Brown, Smell Zapper contains about 300% more active ingredients than other products on the market. What’s more, the product contains re-emulsifiers which allow it to break down years of dried urine. Unlike some competing products, which trap odors in a subfloor, Smell Zapper’s enzymes actually break down odors to eliminate it from the flooring or subfloor.

New solutions
Smell Zapper has added Smoke Odor Eliminator to its branded family of products. “You can actually put this product through an HVAC system and we can take out smoke odors, urine and ammonia smells,” Brown said. “By spraying it through the duct work, you can actually take [odors] out of the HVAC system completely.”

Brown is not the only one excited about the product. In January, WF Taylor and Smell Away Solutions formed a strategic partnership allowing the distributor to deliver Smell Zapper products throughout the U.S. According to Dan Pelton, president and CEO, WF Taylor, the overall response to Smell Zapper has been positive. “Carrying the Smell Zapper products in our line of floor covering sundries enables our customers to streamline their purchasing, build truckload quantities and prioritize Taylor for their requirements. We are excited to see the positive response from the market with the strong alliance between our two companies.”

One key selling factor for distributors such as E.J. Welch is the product’s ability to eliminate, not simply mask, odors. “We’ve been selling Smell Zapper for about a year and a half now,” said Keith Throm, vice president sales and installation. “Our company always tries to provide solutions to the market and in this industry getting rid of smoke and pet odors has been a serious problem. There are products on the market that mask it, but Smell Zapper is the only product we have ever found that truly eliminates it. Once customers have used this product they continue to buy it.”

For Southland Flooring Supplies, in St. Louis, Smell Zapper’s zero dry time and easy application is a winning combination. “Smell Away Solutions created a product where you can go into a room, spray it on the floor and you can cover it up almost instantaneously,” said Michael Savage, branch manager. “The dry time is shorter compared to [other products]. It cuts your installation basically in half, and it comes out in a clear product so it’s safe for baseboards.”