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Installation: How some retailers are facing the challenge

January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15

By Ken Ryan

 

To no one’s surprise, the No. 1 issue facing the floor covering industry today is installation—specifically how to replace an aging workforce while recruiting those new to the trade.

On the residential side, the International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI) has made recruiting, training and deploying new installers a major priority. In fact, in the past year alone CFI has graduated nearly a dozen classes of fresh recruits. Some of these student installers were novices when they enrolled in the classes; however, after five weeks of rigorous course work, they graduated and started working in the field.

However, CFI is but one entity. Flooring retailers who are concerned about the installation crisis need to take matters into their own hands, observers say. In many cases, they are doing something about it.

The following dealers were cited by the World Floor Covering Association’s (WFCA) Tom Jennings as exemplary examples of dealing with the installation crisis.

Gary Touchton, GM
Venetian Blind Carpet One, Houston
Located in one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the Houston market (77005, West University Place), where the median price of a home is $1.32 million, Venetian naturally focuses on high-end goods such as woven wools and hand-tufted products. “As you can imagine,” Touchton said, “there is a shortage of people who can install [these kinds of products]. For that reason, we home grow our installers.”

To make matters more challenging, Touchton decided to upgrade all of the store’s installation equipment, including steaming technology to achieve a cleaner look appreciated by customers. This meant buying new tools and training the new installers on how to use the new machinery. He enlisted the help of Robert Varden, vice president of CFI, and WFCA’s Jennings to work with apprentices. Through this commitment to excellence, Venetian Blind has managed to grow its installation crews organically, primarily by word of mouth. “Many of the kids in the inner city of Houston … want an opportunity,” Touchton said. “We talked about going into the schools so we can get them when they are young and train them in-house. We’re constantly looking for talent.”

He looks for “clean-cut people” he views as good citizens who can pass a drug test and background check and who are coachable. Installer candidates who make the cut can do very well—some earn six-figure salaries. “I have a special spot in my heart for installers,” Touchton stated. “I know how important they are; they can make or break your business.”

Matt Andrews, Project Manager/VP
Allwein Carpet One, Annville, Pa.
Recruiting new installers to the flooring trade means overcoming several hurdles, and few understand this better than Matt Andrews. “No. 1, the money is not there right away,” he said. “It’s tough as an employer to pay a helper who is brand new and knows nothing. But on the flip side, if you don’t start them at a decent wage, why would they choose you when they can go load trucks for FedEx for $14 to $16 an hour to start?

No. 2, it’s hard work. Some of them have no interest in working hard. It’s very difficult to teach someone to be self-motivated. No. 3, installing floors is not glamorous. I feel like some of the pride has been taken out of the industry. A lot of these young guys don’t see being a master installer as something to strive for when, in fact, it should be something to take a great deal of pride in.”

To counter these obstacles, Andrews pays newcomers at least $20 an hour to start. He has instituted what he calls a “piece rate” pay plan that incentivizes those who are fully engaged in the work and get the jobs done correctly and efficiently. Essentially, the harder you work, the more you make. To get his installers up to speed, the newer workers are paired with those who are more experienced. Rookies also attend formal training sessions throughout the year. And that’s just the technical side of things.

Personalities are also important to a retailer’s business. “[Installers] need to be personable and know how to carry themselves in a customer’s home,” Andrews said. “There are flooring installers out there but are they the ones you want? We go through an interview, review previous jobs they’ve done and if everything checks out we will try them on a small, easily manageable—fixable, if necessary—project. Through that we have found some great subcontractors who we use to supplement our hourly crews. But we have also weeded out a lot of guys who I would never send to a customer’s house.”

Allwein’s doesn’t have any magical formula for attracting new installers; word of mouth is a time-tested method that still works best. Andrews also uses Indeed.com. Once hired, the goal is to take care of installers monetarily and emotionally. “We make them feel as though they are part of the team because they are,” he said. “Without them, we lose what makes us different.”

Jim Walters, President
Macco’s Flooring, Green Bay, Wis.
As a business, Macco’s approach is to upsell to higher-end goods and stay away from the proverbial race to the bottom. That ties in with installation, according to Walters. “With limited installation time, we need to install better quality goods but also work hard to give our customers the best value possible,” he explained. “Our unemployment rate is below the national average and when we run help-wanted advertising we find a lot of people who are not employable. So the old, traditional methods do not work. We’ve found our best success to be referrals from our existing workforce. However, it is a lot of trial and error.”

Macco’s installers are thoroughly trained, and the retailer takes advantage of installation training certification programs offered by manufacturers to ensure expertise and the most up-to-date information. The company even touts its installation services in the “About Us” section of its website.

Tim Jacobi, Owner
Jacobi Carpet One, Hastings, Neb.
Finding installers in central Nebraska, where the unemployment rate (2.8%) is among the lowest in the country, is akin to finding a needle in a cornfield. Tim Jacobi, who operates stores in the towns of Kearney and Hastings, can attest to this challenge. “There is nobody here to hire. We turn over every rock we can and look for people who want to work and want to learn.”

During times like these, it is important to have a reputation like Jacobi’s: He is known for a structured apprenticeship program that rewards good installers. “We have subs and employees—six in all to cover Kearney and Hastings. One of our journeymen, who is salaried and on staff, works as a trainer. He goes out in the field working with an apprentice or two and gets them up to a certain level. We work with the WFCA and CFI on ongoing training, and we are working with Central Community College.”

Central Community College, with branch campuses in the same locations as Jacobi Carpet One, does not offer flooring installation as part of its curriculum. However, Jacobi has forged a relationship with the dean of students, allowing him to visit the school and talk to students about the installation trade. “We just have to find the students,” he noted. “It’s important to find new blood because the good independent installers are busy all the time and are making good incomes.”

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For Accu-Cut, service is king

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Accu-Cut was created in 1990 with the intention of offering customers quality cutting and rolling machines. Since then Scott Brockie, president and CEO, and his son Trevor Brockie, vice president sales, have developed lasting relationships with flooring retailers from all over the U.S. With a focus on customer service, Accu-Cut aims to provide customers with the highest quality products available.

“Service is a very high priority for us,” Trevor Brockie said. “Whether a customer bought a machine this year or purchased it 20 years ago, we want to make sure every single customer has the same great experience after the sale. We also have a team of four traveling technicians to make sure we can back up that claim.”

According to Brockie, it is not uncommon for the company to speak with customers who purchased machines 15 or more years ago and report that it is still going strong. “There aren’t a whole lot of things that can go wrong with our machinery, but if something does we want to make sure it gets resolved quickly and cost effectively.”

Gary Klotzko, president, Fenway Floor Covering, New Rochelle, N.Y., happens to be one of those long-time customers. Klotzko bought his first machine over 20 year ago and has had his current machine for over 10 years. “Accu-Cut is a wonderful company to do business with. The machine is a godsend. I have a small space in the back which makes it hard to roll out and cut carpet. It saves a lot of time and effort. It also gives us time to inspect the carpets.”

Accu-Cut machines provide flooring dealers with solutions ranging from decreasing the amount of time spent cutting materials to more accurate cutting, and the ability to quickly roll product. “Before Accu-Cut, it would take an installer approximately 30 minutes to cut his carpet and because of using the warehouse floor to lay it out, other installers couldn’t load up,” said Rita Parker, owner of Parkers Carpet One, Spartanburg, S.C., who has the Accu-Cut J-5 model. “After Accu-Cut, it takes five minutes for our warehouse to cut the carpet runs. Our installers can get in and out in the mornings in record time. They are not late to the customers’ houses and everyone is happy.”

Parker isn’t the only one seeing positive change. Todd Burrows, owner of Wyanet Carpet, Princeton, Ill., has seen multiple benefits to using his machine.

“That machine saves an incredible amount of time, just in the time it takes to cut. Accu-Cut provides a great experience starting at the time of purchase.”

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Installation: Today’s adhesives in lockstep with ‘green’ flooring trends

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

By Lindsay Baillie

 

As more floor covering manufacturers embrace environmentally friendly practices in the development of their products, producers of adhesives and installation materials are following suit. Many of today’s green glues tout key attributes such as low-to-zero VOCs, are solvent free and are indoor air quality certified to high standards, thereby contributing to LEED. These qualities are beneficial to not only the end user and the environment but also the installers who handle the products on a daily basis.

Following is a sampling of some of the latest green adhesives.

Bonstone
Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.36.35 AM
Touchstone T-2000 is one of Bonstone’s top adhesives for floor and wall tile installations. In addition to exceeding ANSI-A-118.3 requirement, Touchstone T-2000 is chemical resistant, has low VOCs and offers a long open time.

“Our products are designed for permanent installations,” said Mike Beckmann, president. “They are structural products designed to last as long as the lifetime of the substrate. So, if you are installing a countertop, a floor or wall tile, or restoring a building or monument, the adhesive will last as long as the lifetime of the structure.”

Touchstone T-2000, a 100% epoxy, has exceptional strength, durability, adhesion, temperature resistance and chemical resistance. These properties make them suitable for aggressive installations, such as breweries, dairies, wineries, etc., where frequent steam-cleaning is necessary to maintain hygienic conditions.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.36.42 AMDriTac
DriTac 7800 Supreme Green is DriTac’s latest multi-functional adhesive solution for the wood flooring industry. It is a single-component, premium green sound and moisture control hybrid polymer wood flooring adhesive that can serve to isolate old cutback adhesive residue and suppress concrete subfloor cracks. Supreme Green provides unlimited subfloor moisture control with no testing required and a lifetime warranty.

DriTac 7800 contains zero isocyanates, zero VOCs, zero solvents and has been independently tested and certified by CRI for indoor air quality. Supreme Green is manufactured in the USA and can be used to install multi-ply engineered plank, solid wood plank, bamboo flooring and more.

“This is the very first wood flooring adhesive that boasts five installation solutions in one pail, allowing retailers to now stock one SKU in place of the several required in the past,” said John Lio, vice president of marketing. “Requiring effortless cleaning—wet or dry—off the surface of hardwood flooring, this flooring installation solution provides value for installers, retailers and their customers.”

DriTac offers a full-line of wood and resilient flooring adhesives certified by CRI’s Green Label Plus program. The company manufactures all of its adhesives in compliance with all mandated regulations and requirements at the federal, state and local levels.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.36.48 AMSchönox
Schönox Emiclassic can be used with interior floor and wall products including vinyl, linoleum, rubber, impact sound insulation underlayment, carpet, needle felt and PVC. It is resistant to moisture as high as 90% RH or 9 lbs., covers up to 850 square feet with one 4-gallon pail and is easily applied with a notch trowel or roller.

Emiclassic can be installed over absorbent and non-absorbent substrates. What’s more, it allows the installer to control the tack of the glue changing from wet, tacky and pressure-sensitive installation with short waiting times between 10-60 minutes. Its alkaline-resistant technology also makes the adhesive “Ph irrelevant,” the company stated.

Due to its very low emissions (EC 1PLUS, EPD and FloorScore certified), low odor and solvent free characteristics, Schönox Emiclassic is safer for the health of the labor force, the end user and the environment.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.36.55 AMHenry
New to Henry, an Ardex Americas brand, is Henry 622 vinyl bond premium high strength vinyl flooring adhesive is a certified bio-based product. It’s an ideal adhesive for environmentally conscious installers who are working with LVT-type products. Henry 622, which features the company’s GreenLine logo, boasts environmentally friendly technology designed to meet or exceed industry and governmental regulations. All Henry adhesives with the GreenLine logo have ultra-low VOC emissions, low or no odor and contributions to LEED.

“At Henry being green isn’t just a slogan, it’s part of our culture,” said Ed Masilunas, Henry business manager. “We’re committed to minimalizing our environmental footprint throughout the manufacturing process, including the use of sustainable materials, recyclable packaging and less residual waste.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.37.07 AMUzin
Uzin, a UFloor brand, now offers KE 66, a premium, fiber-reinforced, wet set adhesive, designed for the installation of vinyl and rubber flooring on porous substrates. This hard-setting, high shear strength adhesive has excellent resistance to indentations and shrinkage and is effective in areas where rolling loads and furniture are in use.

Uzin KE 66 meets the strict GEV-Emicode EC 1 Plus criteria for indoor emissions testing. GEV is the European testing agency Association for the Control of Emissions in Products for Flooring Installation, Adhesives and Building Materials. GEV’s stringent standards are recognized internationally as the highest level of indoor air quality protection. KE 66, a LEED v4 contributing product, meets the rigorous California Sect. 01350 standard as well as meets the SCAQMD rule 1168 with less than 30g/l VOC.

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Installation: Subfloor prep tips from the trade

September 11/18, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 7

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 4.22.32 PMThe success of any flooring project begins with the proper substrate preparation. That’s according to expert installers and manufacturers who say any mistakes during the earlier stages of installation can cause trouble for all involved—consumer, retailer and contractor—years down the road.

FCNews rounded up several installation experts who provided helpful guidelines to consider when preparing a subfloor.

Clean the area prior to installation. With hardwood subfloors in particular, the area must be cleaned and flattened before underlayment can be installed. “This includes removing all dust, dirt and debris by scraping or sanding the entire area,” Tony Buckhardt, senior certifier, CFI, explained. “Concrete floors should also be flattened and cleaned. However, concrete usually requires mechanically removing old adhesives, dirt or debris.”

The use of a bead blaster, sandpaper or concrete grinder is required by most manufacturers over the use of chemical removers, which can soak down into the concrete and cause bond issues.

Don’t skip proper priming. Proper priming is typically required by manufacturers in order to maintain a product’s warranty. As Mark Olson, INSTALL instructor, explains: “If a primer is improperly applied or, even worse, not applied at all, this increases chances of flooring failure and will void the product’s warranty. In addition, the replacement of the flooring will be disruptive to occupants, time consuming and can cost up to 10 times the amount of the original installation.”

When choosing the proper primer, installers should find out whether or not the floor is porous. “There are different primers for porous and nonporous floors, and the primer is important for the proper bond for the self leveler,” CFI’s Buckhardt added.

Furthermore, according to David Stowell, technical director, Schönox, HPS North America, installers should always prime when using cement compounds over gypsum-based materials—and vice versa.

Follow company mixing requirements. Manufacturers often test products in different time increments to ensure proper performance. They also have specific directions for mixing. To ensure optimal product performance, installation experts recommend users stick to the script.

“If it is not mixed correctly, or by the manufacturer’s recommended time, it will increase the chance of installation failure,” Olson explained. “It might also tarnish a contractor’s reputation and cost future business.”

Adhere to moisture test standards. More subfloor solutions depend on moisture test results. To avoid a potential issue, according to Schönox’s Stowell, installers should perform moisture tests per ASTM F2170 and ASTM F1869 standards.

Use the right product for the job. According to Greg Hunsicker, category business manager – flooring & finishing segments, Ardex Americas, it is vital for an installer to select the best moisture remediation, leveling and patch system for the job. “In addition, the proper preparation of the substrate is important to be certain you obtain a clean, sound, solid base for your prep materials.”

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 4.22.26 PMRepair moving joints and cracks. When an installer uses a self-leveling product for subfloor prep, he should also address moving joints and cracks in the substrate. “If not addressed and repaired, moving joints and cracks can transfer up and cause cracks in the finish,” said Dean Cunningham, technical service manager, Laticrete. “To allow for natural building movement against restraining surfaces, Laticrete also recommends that installers evaluate and isolate the area around walls, columns, penetrations and other building elements where movement may be anticipated.”

Contact manufacturers with application questions. All installation experts agree an installer should speak with the manufacturer if there are any questions regarding mixing or using the product. In addition, the installer should allow the technical services team to walk him through the installation.

It’s important to note that requirements and methods vary depending on the type of floor covering specified. “For example, some floor coverings require a light grind or shot blast to a specific concrete surface profile, while others require a more aggressive mechanical surface prep in order to achieve a tenacious bond,” Laticrete’s Cunningham explained. “In addition, slab moisture conditions such as relative humidity, moisture vapor emission rates and pH must be taken into consideration and measured in order to properly prepare a concrete floor for further treatment and ensure a successful flooring installation.”

Dress for success. Beyond the technical aspects of subfloor preparation, experts suggest installers wear proper cleats for each job. “Every flooring installer who works with self-leveling product will need to work directly with the product—blending pours as well as distribution,” INSTALL’s Olson explained. “Wearing cleats also ensures the primer that was installed beforehand will not be disturbed.”

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Installation: Subfloor prep tips from the trade

September 11/18, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 7

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 4.22.32 PM The success of any flooring project begins with the proper substrate preparation. That’s according to expert installers and manufacturers who say any mistakes during the earlier stages of installation can cause trouble for all involved—consumer, retailer and contractor—years down the road.

FCNews rounded up several installation experts who provided helpful guidelines to consider when preparing a subfloor.

Clean the area prior to installation. With hardwood subfloors in particular, the area must be cleaned and flattened before underlayment can be installed. “This includes removing all dust, dirt and debris by scraping or sanding the entire area,” Tony Buckhardt, senior certifier, CFI, explained. “Concrete floors should also be flattened and cleaned. However, concrete usually requires mechanically removing old adhesives, dirt or debris.”

The use of a bead blaster, sandpaper or concrete grinder is required by most manufacturers over the use of chemical removers, which can soak down into the concrete and cause bond issues.

Don’t skip proper priming. Proper priming is typically required by manufacturers in order to maintain a product’s warranty. As Mark Olson, INSTALL instructor, explains: “If a primer is improperly applied or, even worse, not applied at all, this increases chances of flooring failure and will void the product’s warranty. In addition, the replacement of the flooring will be disruptive to occupants, time consuming and can cost up to 10 times the amount of the original installation.”

When choosing the proper primer, installers should find out whether or not the floor is porous. “There are different primers for porous and nonporous floors, and the primer is important for the proper bond for the self leveler,” CFI’s Buckhardt added.

Furthermore, according to David Stowell, technical director, Schönox, HPS North America, installers should always prime when using cement compounds over gypsum-based materials—and vice versa.

Follow company mixing requirements. Manufacturers often test products in different time increments to ensure proper performance. They also have specific directions for mixing. To ensure optimal product performance, installation experts recommend users stick to the script.

“If it is not mixed correctly, or by the manufacturer’s recommended time, it will increase the chance of installation failure,” Olson explained. “It might also tarnish a contractor’s reputation and cost future business.”

Adhere to moisture test standards. More subfloor solutions depend on moisture test results. To avoid a potential issue, according to Schönox’s Stowell, installers should perform moisture tests per ASTM F2170 and ASTM F1869 standards.

Use the right product for the job. According to Greg Hunsicker, category business manager – flooring & finishing segments, Ardex Americas, it is vital for an installer to select the best moisture remediation, leveling and patch system for the job. “In addition, the proper preparation of the substrate is important to be certain you obtain a clean, sound, solid base for your prep materials.”

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 4.22.26 PMRepair moving joints and cracks. When an installer uses a self-leveling product for subfloor prep, he should also address moving joints and cracks in the substrate. “If not addressed and repaired, moving joints and cracks can transfer up and cause cracks in the finish,” said Dean Cunningham, technical service manager, Laticrete. “To allow for natural building movement against restraining surfaces, Laticrete also recommends that installers evaluate and isolate the area around walls, columns, penetrations and other building elements where movement may be anticipated.”

Contact manufacturers with application questions. All installation experts agree an installer should speak with the manufacturer if there are any questions regarding mixing or using the product. In addition, the installer should allow the technical services team to walk him through the installation.

It’s important to note that requirements and methods vary depending on the type of floor covering specified. “For example, some floor coverings require a light grind or shot blast to a specific concrete surface profile, while others require a more aggressive mechanical surface prep in order to achieve a tenacious bond,” Laticrete’s Cunningham explained. “In addition, slab moisture conditions such as relative humidity, moisture vapor emission rates and pH must be taken into consideration and measured in order to properly prepare a concrete floor for further treatment and ensure a successful flooring installation.”

Dress for success. Beyond the technical aspects of subfloor preparation, experts suggest installers wear proper cleats for each job. “Every flooring installer who works with self-leveling product will need to work directly with the product—blending pours as well as distribution,” INSTALL’s Olson explained. “Wearing cleats also ensures the primer that was installed beforehand will not be disturbed.”

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Schönox ‘Worst Subfloor Contest’ focuses on fixing what lies beneath

August 28/September 4: Volume 32, Issue 6

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Schönox on June 1 formally opened this year’s annual Worst Subfloor Contest with the theme, “What lies beneath?” It’s a question that, according to Schönox, reflects a common worry flooring professionals often have when tackling a challenging flooring project.

“With Schönox, our approach is to develop subfloor products that can address even the most challenging conditions, knowing that success in extreme circumstances bodes well for all subfloor projects where Schönox is used,” said Thomas Trissl, principal, HPS Schönox. “The contest allows us to see the worst subfloors out there so we are staying ahead with the best subfloor answers.”

The Worst Subfloor Contest asks participants to submit entries featuring their most challenging subfloor projects and how they renovated those tough subfloor conditions using Schönox products. The worst subfloor challenges paired with the best renovation performances win. The entries, which are reviewed and scored by three independent judges, are ranked based on the severity of the original subfloor’s condition, the skill and attention to detail taken in executing the project and the quality of the finished subfloor.

Prizes are divided into two categories: the winning company and installation team members. Last year’s first-prize company received $7,000 in Schönox dollars, while three installation team members were awarded a weekend in Las Vegas, which included a three-night hotel stay, airfare and a $500 hotel gift card. The second-place winner received $4,000 in Schönox dollars, and its three installation team members were awarded a DeWalt 20V Max XR lithium ion brushless 3-speed drill/driver kit and a DeWalt ToughSystem music radio and charger. The third-place winner was awarded $1,000 in Schönox dollars, while three members from its installation team received a Yeti Roadie 20 cooler and engraved Yeti Rambler 36-ounce bottle.

“Each year the number of entries increases along with national attention on the contest which points to the strong desire to do exceptional work in the flooring industry,” said Doug Young, executive vice president, HPS Schönox.

Those entering the contest are asked to photograph the subfloor conditions before and after the subfloor renovation project and submit the photos along with some project information at hpsubfloors.com/worstsubfloor. Entries can also be submitted using the Schönox app.

Projects completed from Dec. 23, 2016, through Dec. 22, 2017, are eligible for entry. The winners will be announced at the 2018 International Surfaces Event in Las Vegas.

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 12.12.22 PM

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Department of Veteran Affairs adopts INSTALL certification standards

By John T. McGrath Jr.

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 10.32.25 AMThe International Standards and Training Alliance (INSTALL) has strengthened its partnership with the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The goal is to ensure floor covering is specified and installed in a way that minimizes product failures in VA facilities across the U.S.

The VA actively strives for the highest level of construction and installation standards across its thousands of facilities. From the foundation to the roof, its facility managers, employees and patients can’t afford costly mistakes.

“Like any other industry that owns and operates institutional buildings, we have a long history of flooring failure,” said Orest Burdiak, principal interior designer at the VA. “From poor floor prep to improper testing for moisture to inadequate moisture mitigation, there has been a laundry list of issues across hundreds of facilities.”

While some of these issues were a result of faulty products, the vast majority of failures were the direct result of improper or substandard installation, research shows. Some of this is also a direct result of cost saving measures. As a government entity, the VA has a fiduciary duty to the American public when it comes to spending.

“The VA was often stuck working with a contractor that satisfied the product and materials specification standards but wasn’t able to do the job right,” said Andy Silins, co-chairman of INSTALL, and a U.S. Marine. “One way the VA has changed this is through a strategic partnership with INSTALL. This beneficial partnership has changed the way floor covering products are specified and installed at many facilities around the country.”

As an association that includes major flooring manufacturers, contractors and professional installers across the U.S. and Canada, INSTALL’s curriculum consists of a comprehensive training and certification program for floor covering installers. It also provides the only additional, extended, free, non-proprietary and third-party installation warranty on labor in the industry.

The quality of INSTALL’s programming and warranty are such that the Department of Veteran Affairs adopted INSTALL certification standards into its Section 09 68 00 Carpeting, Section 09 65 19 Resilient Tile Flooring and Section 09 68 21 Athletic Carpeting. This effectively directs that every VA carpet, resilient tile and athletic carpeting job specified must be completed by a flooring installer that meets/exceeds the INSTALL specifications.

“We might be a non-proprietary organization that doesn’t endorse specific products or manufacturers, but what we do support is specification and performance,” Burdiak said. “From our first meeting with INSTALL at NeoCon to now, we are extremely impressed with the guarantee, training and requirements that members of INSTALL have to meet. This directly impacted our certification standards and specification language.”

The revised VA master specifications language regarding flooring installation underscores the organization’s determination that only a flooring contractor who employs an INSTALL-certified workforce is qualified enough to perform work for the VA. “The fact that INSTALL contractors can show proof of training and certification and, in some cases, offer the INSTALL warranty on labor proves up front that they are working with dependable and professional contractors,” Silins said.

The adopted language for carpet, resilient tile and athletic carpeting requires floor covering contractors to specialize in installation, have a minimum of three years experience and employ flooring installers who have retained and currently hold an INSTALL certification or a certification from a comparable certification program. Additionally, installers working on the project must have completed a Department of Labor approved four-year apprenticeship program and have career-long training, manufacturer-endorsed training and a fundamental journeyman skills certification.

INSTALL contractors are already benefitting from the partnership with the VA. INSTALL Warranty Contractor Master Craft Flooring, for example, has completed multiple projects over the course of several years. The company was recently awarded a bid through a local contractor joint venture to handle a sizable flooring installation in the Veterans Rehabilitation Clinic in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“At the end of the day, we want to get what we pay for,” Burdiak said. “I haven’t heard of any flooring failures on large projects since our relationship started, and while it’s tough to oversee and monitor small projects across thousands of facilities, the benefit to our employees, patients and bottom line has been immediate and profound.”

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system. The sprawling organization includes 1,700 hospitals, clinics, community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers and other facilities throughout the U.S.

With more than 300 master construction specifications for new projects, it is also one of the largest sources of construction spending and job creation in the country. Total major and minor project spending reached $1.855 billion in 2016, according to the 2017 VA Budget in Brief, and there were more than 1,930 jobs available for bid as of spring 2016.

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Installation: DustRam targets messy job sites

June 5/12, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 26

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 11.25.54 AMDustRam was created to give the flooring industry and remodeling sector a dust-free tile removal system that could actually claim “dust-free” capabilities, according to Jack King, inventor of DustRam and owner of Arizona Home Floors in Tempe, Ariz. King developed the system in 2008 and then spent roughly five years making equipment, finding flaws and making adjustments before offering the system to customers. Today, the company supplies systems to 17 contractors in seven states and has five issued patents and about four patents pending.

“Prior to the development of DustRam, I removed tile [using virtually all the] variations you’ve seen out there,” King said. “I’ve put fans in the window. I’ve drug in water hoses and soaked the floor with water. I even hired someone to follow my chipping hammer around while they were holding a vacuum cleaner wand. Then I realized there were much more efficient ways to do it. I realized that vacuums are very critical, and the type of vacuum you use and its ability to self-clean while you use it are all important.”

With a main filter that is 99.97% dust free, DustRam is suited for both retail and commercial projects, and is ideal for situations where controlled, surgical demolition is needed (i.e., hospitals, schools, malls, etc.). Each system is customizable and consists of an array of parts depending on the user’s workload—a one-man system has over 100 components.

What sets DustRam apart from other tile removal systems, according to King, is its ability to provide dust-free tile removal. Other companies offering similar services often put plastic up and explain their systems as “virtually dust free,” which means they are leaving dust behind. As King explained, “We can go into a home with our DustRam system and remove tile and thinset without the use of plastic. In fact, Arizona Home Floors guarantees in writing that the home or business will be cleaner when we leave than when we start the job.”

In addition to promising dust-free removal, DustRam does it with speed. To put it into perspective King explained that getting rid of thinset for 1,000 square feet of tile generates 700-800 lbs. of dust and small debris. DustRam is able to capture those particles before they become airborne and contaminate the home, he stated.

This feature also allows the DustRam system to assist in remodeling the homes of people suffering from illnesses such as COPD and asthma, many of whom are unable to handle the dust left behind by traditional tile removal.

Overall, the DustRam system provides solutions to help stores and contractors generate more money and provide quality service. “This is an opportunity to offer something that is much needed by the consumers—to start the installation off right so the consumer is happy and feels confident about the removal of the floor,” King said.

For more information, visit: dustram.com or call 844-387-8373.

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Installation: M-D PRO clients applaud rebranding focus

June 5/12, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 26

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 11.23.56 AMLoxcreen Flooring Group and M-D Building Products recently consolidated its Professional Distribution Channel operations under the new name, M-D PRO. Encompassing all of its professional accessory product lines except PROVA, M-D PRO has developed a new logo to replace Loxcreen Flooring Group for all future product labels, social media and marketing materials.

Since the start of its rebranding, M-D PRO has received positive feedback from customers and end users. “They are glad that we simplified things for them,” said Julia Vozza, marketing manager professional distribution. “We had several customers who were buying under multiple brand names, which caused confusion in the marketplace as to who we were as a supplier and where the products were coming from.”

The company hopes the rebranding helps customers see M-D PRO as one supplier that can provide an array of flooring and building accessory products. “We want our customers and end users to know that they are in possession of an M-D product no matter what the product category,” Vozza explained.

As part of the merger and rebranding, M-D PRO has strengthened its marketing efforts. It’s now promoting M-D PRO as a whole instead of individual product lines to specific customers or channels. “This has not only simplified our marketing messages and collateral but has also brought synergies to everything we produce and communicate,” Vozza said.

The company is also working with distributors, such as Durox Flooring Accessories, to ensure cohesive branding and eliminate potential marketplace confusion. Michael VanVugt, Ontario sales manager, explained marketplace confusion was initially a concern; however, “Loxcreen did a good job of incorporating the M-D logo on all of [its] materials from the beginning so our customers got used to seeing it there. Since the re-brand announcement, we at Durox/Prosol are working closely with M-D PRO to ensure our catalogs and the samples we distribute are consistent with their branding.”

Al Ross, product manager for commercial products, Carpet Cushions and Supplies, also sees the M-D PRO’s rebranding as a positive move. “We continue to have brand differentiation between what we are selling to the professional installer and what is being sold via the big box stores, but at the same time [we’re] raising brand awareness to the homeowner and end user when they see the product on their job site.”

Establishing brand awareness was one of the factors involved in the decision to keep PROVA—the company’s water proofing system—on its own. Others factors include PROVA’s established brand equity, its potential for growth in the marketplace and its proven success for M-D. While PROVA is maintaining its name, M-D will be used as a sub-brand on all packaging and marketing collateral, “so that synergies are maintained that PROVA is still indeed an M-D brand,” Vozza said. “It is ‘PROVA by M-D.’”

In addition to a new logo and marketing strategy, M-D PRO is in the process of developing new, dedicated websites for PROVA and M-D PRO. According to Vozza, the company hopes to launch the PROVA site in fall of this year and have the second site (M-D PRO) follow shortly after. “We are working diligently to ensure we provide our users with a great experience in functionality, tools and search [capability] for products and where to buy them.”

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Installation: Adhesive tips, tricks of the trade

May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24

By Lindsay Baillie

 

When it comes to working with today’s advanced, high-performance, user-friendly adhesives, it’s critical that installers avoid the temptation of taking shortcuts. That’s according to expert floor layers and instructors who say improper installations due to misapplication of adhesives can cause a host of problems, including voided warranties, bad company reviews and even safety risks.

FCNews rounded up several experts who provided valuable tips to apply when working with adhesives.

Practice safety
Steve Zizek, an INSTALL floor covering instructor and member, College of Carpenters & Allied Trades, Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, is a second-generation installer with 33 years of experience. When training new installers, he always stresses the importance of having a material safety data sheet (MSDS) on site. Sounds rudimentary, but the MSDS provides health and safety information about products, substances or chemicals, as well as information on manufacturers or importing suppliers.

“The MSDS needs to be provided upon delivery to the job site,” Zizek explained. “This not only protects the users but also all workers on the job site. They should actually have [the MSDS] before they bring the adhesive to the job. It’s mainly a safety issue for everyone at the site.”

Read the label
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 9.39.37 AMOne key component to maintaining safety on the installation site is to fully understand how a particular flooring glue is designed to work. According to Zizek, when a new adhesive comes out older installers tend to make assumptions about what it can do. “Read the whole label of the adhesive being used. The label will give you the adhesive’s uses, full information, descriptions, industry standards, etc. Make no assumptions.”

Once the label is read and understood, then it’s a matter of following the instructions to the letter. So says Mark Bevacqua, INSTALL floor covering instructor, Floorlayers Union Local 1541, Delta, British Columbia, Canada. “There are no shortcuts when it comes to adhesives. Always follow the specifications from the manufacturers as closely as possible. Many manufacturers even have apps or online sites where you can get a lot of information about the adhesive. A lot of suppliers have tip lines where you can talk to representatives and ask questions.”

Apply correct trowel techniques
Dave Gross, INSTALL floor covering instructor, Local 251 UBC Floorlayers, Hammonton, N.J., suggests using the teeth of a hand trowel as a metering device for applying adhesive to the substrate. “However, it is important to note that the angle at which the trowel blade is held and the hand pressure applied is just as important as the tooth configuration.”

For example, Gross said an angle of 50 to 65 degrees is typically correct. However, the installer should check if the manufacturer offers a recommended angle. In terms of hand pressure, he said too much force causes compression of the teeth and scraping of the glue causing a deficiency. Conversely, insufficient pressure causes the teeth to ride over the glue leaving excess material. “The best verification for proper teeth, trowel angle and hand pressure is to actually measure and grid out a sample area and see if you are meeting the manufacturers spread rate coverage. If not, adjust these elements one at a time by spreading additional grid areas until you align with the manufacturer’s recommendations.”

When covering large areas, experts like Robert Varden, CEO, International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI), suggest flipping the trowel around. “We turn our trowel backwards so when we’re spreading thousands of yards of adhesive we have less fatigue on our forearms.”

In terms of the trowel’s teeth, Mark Olsen, INSTALL floor covering instructor and member of North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Pewaukee, Wis., warns installers to throw away old devices. “When you’re using your trowel or metering device don’t re-notch your device—just throw it away.”

Keep it clean
When applying adhesives, pro installers say it is important to be as neat as possible. It’s also important to be prepared for any spills or mishaps that could happen. “[Installers] should keep a damp white rag close to them, but not on the substrate as it could cause contamination,” Zizek explained. “Keep the rag just in case there are any emergencies—it is easier to clean the adhesive when it’s wet.”

Check the room’s conditions
Before applying the adhesive, be aware of the amount of air circulation and atmospheric conditions in the work area. As Gross explains: “I always recommend against placing a fan directly on the adhesive to increase drying time for the following reasons: It will not uniformly cover the whole area; it will tend to dry the top creating a skim and preventing moisture trapped in the lower area from properly drying. There is a potential for dirt and debris to blow into the glue.”