Our inspectors have seen and reported on many of the problems associated with LVT - problems ranging from using the wrong adhesive to incorrect acclimation to sunlight overheating the floor to substrates that are not flat to manufacturer's standards.
I've also had numerous conversations with flooring contractors promoting the benefits of both floating and glue down types of installation, saying they would never install LVT 'the other way' again. I suppose once bitten twice shy.
So, here are a few pointers that I hope will help:
- Understand the restrictions for the type of LVT you are installing before delivering the product to site. They are found in the installation guidelines that should come with every carton of material.
- Spend time setting your customers expectations regarding what to expect regarding wear and tear and maintenance. Yes, LVT scratches!
- Discuss subfloor flatness and the likelihood that extra work and dollars will be needed to meet the manufacturer's subfloor flatness guidelines. NFCA standards call for 3/16" +/- over 10' feet, 360 degrees.
- Ambient temperature on site should be 18c to 29c. Acclimate the flooring indoors under acceptable conditions for a minimum of 48 hours. Do not deliver material to site conditions that do not meet the manufacturers standards.
- Concrete sub-floor temperature is important. Understand that a concrete substrate can be 10c cooler than the ambient temperature of a room - more than enough to cause significant problems.
- When glueing LVT to concrete, moisture and alkalinity levels in the concrete must meet the manufacturer's guidelines. If they don't, then delay the installation, change the product or use a moisture barrier that you know works when high moisture and alkalinity are present.
- For south facing windows, sunlight and heat are the enemy of LVT. Here is a direct quote from the installation guidelines of a well known LVT distributor regarding their product and sunlight/heat effecting the floor.
- Know that it is the flooring contractor's responsibility to check that site conditions meet the manufacturer's recommended levels before shipping the flooring to site. Don't install if conditions are not correct. Installers, protect yourselves by recording these readings prior to installation for future reference should there be a problem. Take a photograph showing the date and a picture of the testing equipment used to record temperature, moisture and relative humidity (RH) levels. Once these conditions are proven to exist and recorded move forward with the installation. If the floor fails because of a moisture issue in 6 months, it won't be deemed the floor installer's fault. At the end of the day it's the home or building owner's responsibility to manage their own building's interior living conditions after installation.