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Installments: Proper subfloor prep requires the right tools

May 14/21, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 24

By David Stowell

When it comes to a challenging subfloor, you don’t just need the right team for the job; you also need the right materials and tools. Incorporating the right tools and equipment can make a monumental difference in job productivity, application ease and, ultimately, subfloor quality.

Choosing the best tools can be tricky. Luckily, there are some tried-and-true recommendations from flooring industry experts.

Stainless steel smoother. The Smoother’s 24-inch blade allows for clean, even coverage of material. This stainless-steel blade smooths underlayments for a seamless, flush finish. A sturdy laminated wood mounting can also be used to apply and spread material, ideally self-leveling material. An aluminum bracket can be easily attached to the Smoother using the included hardware. This bracket fits onto any standard broom handle making it an extremely practical tool.

Gauge rake. The 24-inch gauge rake allows for an even distribution of materials, such as self-levelers. This rake is designed to be durable yet lightweight. It’s the ideal instrument for long hours of spreading. The two adjustable steel T-Skates attach directly to the rake and can be moved according to the desired depth of underlayment. This easy-to-assemble rake includes all of the necessary hardware upon purchasing. Its aluminum bracket is also designed to fit a standard broom handle.

Standard spike roller. The spike roller is used to easily achieve even surfaces in the self-leveling underlayment process. This particular rolling method breaks the tension in the material, allowing the smoothing agents to self-level. Each spike pierces the surface underlayment with a depth of 1¼ inches.

Gunite shoes. Wearing a flexible spiked shoe allows you to work on gunite, epoxy and sealers with ease of movement. The shoe protects the fresh surface from footprints and gaps while forcing air bubbles out of the application. Thirteen firmly attached ¾-inch (overall length) steel spikes cover the bottom of the shoe. Two adjustable nylon straps hold the gunite shoe in place. These shoes are multipurpose as they can also be used for aerating lawns.

Foam tape. This is essentially the ultimate barrier to stop product overflow. It acts as a dam in transition areas such as doorways. When working with Portland self-leveling underlayments (SLUs) or synthetic gypsums, contact to vertical structures can be avoided by installing a foam tape. It is important to prevent direct contact with metallic constructions, such as heating pipes, which can lead to corrosion.

Self-leveling kit. This all-inclusive kit holds every necessary element for a self-leveling installation: measuring and mixing utensils, gunite spiked shoes, a gauge rake, a stainless steel smoother and a standard broom thread handle. A self-leveling kit is an excellent asset when first establishing your tool assembly.

As you can see, many of these tools are practical and yet essential to the overall project plan. Incorporating the right tools and materials can directly affect the extent of physical labor and project timeline. Many of these items are available for purchase through distributors, manufacturers and supply outlets. For the best advice and tool recommendation for specific substrate material, contact your local company rep. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be for a seamless job well done.

David Stowell is the technical director at Schönox, HPS North America. He has 30 years of industry experience, beginning as an installer in 1988. Over the course of his career, he has worked for several manufacturers, including Pergo. For more information, contact Stowell via e-mail: dstowell@hpsubfloors.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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Underlayment: Education is the key to sales success

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Arming retail salespeople with the knowledge to prescribe and sell the right underlayment for the job is the key to success, supplier say. Once a retail sales associate is properly trained on the latest products he or she must make it a point to educate the consumer.
Following are a few key points to remember when selling underlayments:

Look for trade-up opportunities. Underlayments offered on a good, better, best platform that provides retailers with twice the opportunity to upsell—once, when the consumer decides whether or not to purchase underlayment along with her floor; and again when she has the option to choose between underlayments of different qualities.

As Jeff Bonkiewicz, channel manager, Laticrete, explains, “Underlayment products are valuable accessories that help increase margins and generate higher ticket sales for retailers. Upselling from an entry-level product to a specialty underlayment is achievable through comprehensive product education. This focus on education starts with the retailer outlining the many added benefits of using an underlayment before installing materials.”

Focus on the benefits, not features. Once a consumer learns about the characteristics of underlayment, the product will no longer seem like a simple accessory but rather a necessity. As most underlayment manufacturers point out, qualities such as sound absorption, comfort and protection all sound great to a consumer who is looking to install new flooring.

“Sound absorption is extremely important in multi-story, single-family homes, condos, apartments and multi-story office and hotel buildings,” explained Jim Wink, vice president sales and marketing, Foam Products Corp. “In terms of comfort, for a hard surface flooring a high-quality foam underlayment can soften the feel of walking on the floor, especially with thinner laminates and vinyl plank flooring. The underlayments Foam Product Corp. produces also act as a protector and offers a high degree of moisture vapor protection. This moisture vapor can pass up through concrete and wood joist floor and can severely damage laminates and wood flooring.”

Underlayments complete the installation. When a consumer enters a store looking for flooring she is typically only interested in the style and color of her new floors. Suppliers believe it is crucial for the retailer to slow her down and force her to think through the function of her entire application, including hidden problems that can occur within the life of the flooring materials.

“For example, when it comes to floating floors, most consumers and contractors know they need an underlayment,” said Deanna Summers, marketing coordinator, MP Global. “Problem solved, right? The trick is to understand the full installation and match the right performing underlayment that will be best suited for the entire makeup of the floor, not just the floor covering materials.”

1In addition to its other characteristics, underlayment also serves to reduce the amount of floor preparation required for a successful installation. As Wade Verble, vice president of underlayment, DriTac Flooring Products, noted, “The associated labor savings will typically offset the cost of the underlayment and labor needed to install the pad.”

Padding extends the life of the floor. Since underlayment can protect installations in various ways—ad such as limiting water intrusion, damages and cracking as well as aiding in sound reduction—this accessory helps to present a better overall surface to adhere finished flooring. “The addition of an appropriate underlayment may mean the difference between a three- to five-year installation and a permanent, durable lifetime installation,” Laticrete’s Bonkiewicz explained.

Providing consumers with the proper underlayment can also create consumer trust. As DriTac’s Verble explains, “Peak performance for any flooring system is always optimal and underlayment is a critical component to achieving the highest level of results and customer satisfaction.”

 

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Latest cushion products promote performance enhancements

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Nicole Murray

As consumer flooring trends continue to lean toward hard surfaces—specifically LVT, WPC and SPC—underlayment manufacturers are innovating to stay ahead as well as provide dealers with upsell opportunities. During Surfaces earlier this year, a host of underlayment manufacturers exhibited their latest products made for all types of flooring.

Amorim showcased its underlayment for LVT and WPC applications. “We have tweaked what we are offering to now include other products for WPC constructions,” said Larry Lyons, director of sales and marketing. “For our hard surface underlayment program, we have a lightweight product that’s very specified and everyone is using it because it is easier for laying down WPC.”

Lyons explained the benefits to using the product. “On the LVT side, if you have a connection with a property management client, there is an education opportunity for a retailer. A lot of the property management clients want LVT but don’t know about the potential sound issues. We have tools for retailers to help educate the end user about why they need the underlayment.”

Floor Muffler is also riding the wave of LVT/WPC growth with its new Floor Muffler LVT underlayment. The product is 1mm thick and features acoustical and moisture barrier properties.

“Once we started seeing LVT grow popular in apartment buildings, there grew a need for sound reduction,” said Collen Gormley, national marketing coordinator, Floor Muffler. “LVT is growing in the industry; therefore, it is growing for us. The underlayments that are already attached to LVT products may be more convenient, but then you are not using the best quality product with the best ratings available.”

Pak-Lite showed its one-of-a-kind fan fold underlayment applications made specifically for the vinyl and laminate industry. One of its key selling points is its ease of installation. “It is one of the easiest products to install and we have heard that from flooring experts themselves,” said Kimberly Liemkeo, marketing manager. “It is a doable installation process for those who are not very experienced, and the process itself takes out imperfections that exist within the flooring.”

WE Cork highlighted underlayment made for various floors. New to Surfaces was the company’s Warm and Quiet Plus, a 6mm cork underlayment that offers sound control under carpeting, wood and laminates.

Being that it is made from cork, this underlayment is lighter than other products with similar thicknesses. It also has no off gassing and offers a new level of comfort, especially when applied underneath hardwood flooring.

“Cork consists of 200 million closed air cells per cubic inch,” said Ann Wicander, president. “When you walk on cork, it will take a bit more concussion and will be that much more comfortable. While rubber is being used for a lot of multifamily situations, cork overall has a better performance and is more affordable.”

MP Global’s new addition, Quiet Walk Plus, was promoted throughout the show as a “one-stop-shop” underlayment billed as an upgraded version of its original Quiet Walk. Quiet Walk Plus has greater acoustic performance, compression resistance, moisture protection and longevity due to its fiber composition. It can also be paired with more flooring categories and types of installation.

“Quiet Walk Plus becomes your Swiss army knife that can handle being nailed, floated or glued down,” said Deanna Summers, marketing manager, MP Global. “The material is dense enough to support vinyl planking or WPC products and will not crush over time like we have seen with foam underlayments.”

Among the higher-end releases was Laticrete’s new Strata heat floor warming line, designed to be used under tile flooring. It’s controlled by a thermostat that can be adjusted through a smart phone app.

“A wire is placed throughout a mat that goes underneath the tiles, so the material will heat much faster,” said Maria Oliviera, corporate marketing manager, Laticrete. “This technology is best designed for bathrooms or kitchens and offers yet another level to upsell because of its ease for installation during an already existing project.”

To provide dealers with upsell opportunities is DriTac’s new “all-in-one” Total Sound Reduction System, which includes the 8301 Impact underlayment made for resilient and 8302 Double Impact underlayment for wood and laminates. The package comes with a lifetime warranty, enhanced moisture control of up to 10 pounds calcium chloride and 95% relative humidity. All the products come from one supplier. 

“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, DriTac. “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.”

Similar to a few manufacturers, Centaur Floor Systems not only manufactures a variety of finished products mainly for commercial interiors, but it also provides the underlayment that goes underneath the flooring. Case in point is its Sound Reducer line, which is engineered to provide exceptional impact sound insulation results, even under hard surface flooring for concrete or wood-framed construction.

Also available with a waterproof membrane, Sound Reducer can be installed under most types of grouted, glued and floating floors—including hard tile, hardwood, engineered wood, laminate, LVT and carpet. It’s available in 48-inch-wide rolls in a variety of both standard and custom thicknesses (vapor barrier option available upon request).

Some of Centaur Floor Systems’ products already include the underlayment as a pre-attached backing. This includes the company’s Triple Threat line, which consists of a vinyl wear layer with a 7mm-thick recycled rubber underlayment. According to the company, the product saves time and money because installers only need to put down one material. “We fusion bond the vinyl to the recycled rubber backing so only one material is getting installed as opposed to two different products being laid on top of one another,” said Garnet Sofillas, public relations and communications manager. “Underlayment is always suggested for vinyl, so you can glue down our Triple Threat product directly over the subfloor, saving an installation step.”

Triple Threat’s maximum potential, according to Centaur, is utilized when applying the product to areas designed for exercise and physical activity—gyms or basketball courts, for example. “The material is very forgiving on the hips and joints,” Sofillas added.

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MP Global event celebrates 20th anniversary

August 28/September 4: Volume 32, Issue 6

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 12.03.29 PMNorfolk, Neb.—MP Global recently commemorated 20 years in the business by holding a special “employee appreciation” event to mark the milestone. The event included a golf outing, special recognition of longtime workers as well as food, fun and activities.

Beyond the fun-filled festivities, the event provided an opportunity to reflect on the company’s storied history. When Al Collison, founder and president of MP Global Products, inserted the key for the first time into the large vacant building that is now the headquarters, he stopped before pushing the door open and asked himself out loud, “Well, I wonder how this one will turn out?” Having just sold his shares to his cellulose insulation company he ran for many years, he felt there was more he could be a part of and build.

Fast forward 20 years, MP Global Products has stood the test of time, positioning itself as a leader in the underlayment industry. Starting out, MP Global made carpet padding, which Collison admits now that floating floor underlayments were the farthest product from his mind. “QuietWalk was discovered almost by accident,” he recalled. By his account, a former colleague said he was onto something with this thin, dense pad with a vapor barrier on it that could be installed under laminate, a product category that was soaring in popularity in the late ’90s. Once the new product was tested and developed further, it quickly became the underlayment many installers preferred under floating floors.

“What makes QuietWalk so different than other underlayment products out there is it’s made from 94% recycled textile content,” said Jack Boesch, MP Global’s marketing director. “We like to say we were green long before being green was popular.”

Because of the natural fiber makeup of the product in the patented manufacturing process, MP Global’s fiber-based underlayments inherently have zero off gassing and are third-party certified for clean indoor air quality, passing all California requirements for clean air.

Legacy of innovation
Since the early days, MP Global has evolved products into what flooring trends have demanded. The company recently launched QuietWalk Plus, which—unlike like its older sibling, QuietWalk—can be used under floating applications. QuietWalk Plus also offers one universal underlayment that can be floated, glued or nailed down. The secret is in the vapor barrier, which is engineered to accept glue or a mechanical fastener. “So many things have changed in recent years with flooring innovations, we realize we need to adjust to those changes as well,” Collison said.

Having many new innovative products to offer, MP Global is positioned to be the one-source underlayment provider for all dealers’ or distributor needs. “Because of our vast assortment of underlayments for virtually any type of flooring on the market, we can mix one truck with all the different products,” Boesch added.

More importantly, MP Global cited the teamwork employees exhibit day in and day out as its greatest asset in the last 20 years. “We are all in this together,” Collison said. “It is pretty special that we have enjoyed success, and it could not have happened without every member of our team.”

 

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DriTac launches new line of flooring underlayment

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 12.05.23 PMClifton, N.J.—DriTac Flooring Products is introducing a line of eco-friendly, acoustical abatement underlayment for residential and commercial flooring applications: DriTac 8301 Impact 1mm for resilient flooring installations and DriTac 8302 Double Impact 2mm for wood and laminate flooring installations.

The lightweight flooring underlayments incorporate DriTac’s total sound reduction system (SRS) complete with a lifetime warranty when used in conjunction with approved DriTac flooring adhesives in double-stick applications. DriTac’s SRS was developed with dual force, silent-fuse technology, affording customers an optimized sound abatement system covered by DriTac’s single, all-inclusive warranty.

DriTac 8301 Impact and DriTac 8302 Double Impact are technologically advanced underlayments that grant sound control properties, providing footfall performance with anti-crush technology designed to attain a cushioned, quiet and comfortable flooring system. Both products are available in lip and tape, and non-lip and tape versions. The lip and tape (8301LT and 8302LT) system offers a built-in vapor barrier with safeguard seaming.

DriTac 8301 and 8302 contain negligible VOC content that measures below quantifiable levels, providing the green community the best sound abatement choice for their eco-friendly projects. These underlayments exceed every standard for indoor air quality, are hypoallergenic, mold/mildew/bacteria resistant and devoid of toxic additives.

For more information, visit dritac.com.

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Foam Products underlayment earn GreenGuard Gold

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 4.27.58 PMCalhoun, Ga.—Foam Products Corp. (FPC) has received GreenGuard Gold certification for its following underlayment: Eclipse II, Silencer Superior, Eco Silencer Plus, Eco Silencer HD FOF, Eco Ultimate Silencer and Silencer LVT. GreenGuard Gold certification aims to gives consumers a safer, healthier and more dependable option for indoor air quality.

Eclipse, Silencer LVT and Eco Silencer underlayment were tested for total VOCs, formaldehyde and over 300 VOCs with health-based limits using dynamic environmental chamber testing. The GreenGuard label validates the company’s claims that these underlayments are low emitting and support healthier indoor environments.

GreenGuard certification is just one of FPC’s many sustainability initiatives. Over the last 12 months, the company recycled over 700 tons of post consumer tires into its Eco Silencer line of products.

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FloorFolio receives first Canadian patent for EnviroQuiet

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 10.10.10 AMEdison, N.J.– FloorFolio Industries was issued its first Canadian patent for EnviroQuiet, moving the company’s total number of patents to three.

“As FloorFolio continues to expand its brand and presence throughout the world, we are truly honored to be awarded this patent,” said Michael Freedman, president and CEO of FloorFolio. “It is our goal to increase distribution across Canada and this will be a major step in that direction.”

With EnviroQuiet LVT the 3mm underlayment is permanently attached during the manufacturing process and helps to alleviate installation time and costs. The Canadian patent covers the multi-layer acoustical design and method of manufacture. This includes the unique sound reducing features of the tile/plank, as well as the innovative methods FloorFolio uses to manufacture the product ensuring long-term stability and high performance. Securing its place in the flooring industry, EnviroQuiet is a leading product that has cemented its value in providing one cost, one installation and one solution.

For more information visit floorfolio.com.

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SCI names Caldwell VP of hospitality, commercial sales

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 2.43.03 PMMorris, Ill.—Sponge Cushion, Inc. (SCI), a Leggett & Platt (L&P) company and producer of the Tred-MOR brand floor and acoustic cushioning products, has named Matt Caldwell vice president of hospitality and commercial sales.

Caldwell has been with Leggett & Platt since 2011 and has spent 26 years in the flooring industry. Prior to joining L&P, he spent 10 years in the Western U.S. as vice president of a commercial contracting firm. Caldwell received his undergraduate degree and MBA from University of Arizona.

“Product innovation is our top priority,” Caldwell said. “Sponge Cushion has built a remarkable reputation over the past 56 years by introducing underlayment to provide solutions to installation challenges. We’re sticking to what’s in our DNA and will be introducing a new product later this year called Modular PVI carpet tile cushion. PVI, or passive vibration isolation, is the ability to help minimize vibration, which essentially is noise, by creating an isolation layer between the carpet tile and the substrate, thereby addressing one of the key concerns with specifying carpet tiles.”

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Underlayment: Suppliers serve up solutions for multi-family applications

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

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 11.04.52 AMUnderlayment suppliers are focusing more of their attention on the all-important multi-family sector of the housing market. Specifically, they are developing products that aim to meet or exceed the stringent building code requirements for multi-family dwellings while complementing the vast array of flooring products designed to coordinate with them.

That’s certainly the focus of companies like MP Global Products, maker of the well-known QuietWalk brand of sound-deadening underlayment products designed to quiet noisy floating floors such as laminates. “Our company has concentrated on acoustic underlayment almost since our founding 20 years ago—which incidentally is exactly the same year the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) was formed,” said Jack Boesch, director of marketing. “Together with NALFA, we helped the manufacturers of laminate flooring establish standards for underlayments with regard to several attributes, including sound attenuation.”

QuietWalk, MP Global’s hallmark product, is branded as such for its ability to draw sound in and deaden it. “The original train of thought was to help deaden the ‘clicky’ sound of laminate flooring within the room and make it sound more like solid wood,” Boesch explained. “During that process we also discovered that architects and designers loved our underlayments for use in condominiums and apartment buildings.”

Other major suppliers of underlayment products are busy at work tackling the noise-transfer issue in multi-family applications. For example, Diversified Industries, manufacturer of the popular FloorMuffler line of products, is looking to make sure it has all the bases covered in that respect.

“While flooring suppliers are working to develop products with better sound characteristics, the best solution for noise reduction is a quality underlayment,” said Colleen Gormley, national marketing coordinator. “We are continuously testing our products with the most up-to-date building code requirements to ensure flooring suppliers have a proven underlayment to partner with their flooring.”

Due to the advances in sound-reduction technology, Gormley is seeing the use of hard surface flooring becoming much more prevalent in multi-family construction than ever before—which is guiding much of the new product development within the company. “We have developed an entire line of products to provide superior noise reduction for every type of hard surface flooring installation. This includes our new line of rubber underlayments, FloorMuffler FLEX, which can be used under anything from tile to hardwood flooring.”

Dan Davis, national retail business manager, multi-family sector, HPS Schönox North America, also sees the multi-family market moving away from carpet and toward LVT. For its part, Schönox has developed several underlayments to address this trend. Chief among them is Schönox TS, an impact, sound-deadening underlayment made of cork and recycled urethane granules that not only provides impact and sound attenuation but also comfort underfoot. “This is used underneath LVT floors so the residents living below won’t hear anything,” he explained.

Schönox takes it a step further by focusing on the condition of the substrate prior to the application of a sound-deadening underlayment. To that end, the company offers AP, a dust- reduced synthetic gypsum compound that’s suitable over gypsum-based cement floors common in multi-family applications, and APF, a fiber-reinforced self leveling compound. “These are high-performance products that are proprietary to us and designed to go with these gypsum subfloors,” Davis said. “Our products are specifically designed to bond with gypsum subfloors, not separate or push away from them.”

Future Foam is also keeping a close eye on trends in the multi-family sector and is responding accordingly. “Multi-family is a very interesting sector for carpet cushion companies, including Future Foam,” said Mark Foster, regional manager. “We are often challenged by economic hurdles with carpet cushion, but we have seen an uptick in interest for sound abatement and comfort under LVT flooring.”

Builders, Foster notes, often lose sight of the advantages of providing a cushion under LVT floors. “Acoustical properties play a big role in deciding what is to be used in multi-family dwellings today, so Future Foam provides sound ratings for applications under numerous hard surface products. A cushion that provides comfort and sound absorption are the keys to these projects.”

Soundseal, which offers a range of underlayment products specifically for certain flooring categories, is also keenly focused on the red-hot LVT segment. “As new products become available we endeavor to find suitable products to use under them,” said Dale Asp, business development manager, Impacta Floor Underlayments. “We developed VC300 and Probase Vinyl to be used under LVT products in multi-family dwellings. We also offer our Cerazorb and Probase Rubber underlayments, which can be used under a broad base of flooring products.”

In that same vein, the increasing popularity of LVT has led WE Cork to its latest introduction, Silently-LVT, which provides a low-profile sound solution under floating and glue-down LVT. According to Ann Wicander, president, “Silently-LVT can also be used as a single-stick method over hard-to-glue to substrates—such as lightweight concrete or surfaces that are expensive to remove like asbestos tile—by loose laying the Silenlty-LVT over the floor and gluing directly on it. This method saves time and money during installation, and is the perfect underlayment for apartments offering a high sound insulation rating of Delta IIC 20.”

WE Cork has a long track record of developing products for the multi-family sector. Back in 1978, when condominium development began to take off, WE Cork initially offered sound-control products for ceramic tile applications under the WECU (WE Cork Underlayments) brand. That paved the way for Soundless +, a product Wicander called “the highest performing product under ceramic tile applications in a concrete structure without a suspended ceiling.” WE Cork then went on to introduce the Warm & Quiet product line for use under hardwood and laminates. “This offers an easy-to-install, lightweight yet highly insulating solution that meets all requirements in the U.S.”