Eleven common decorative flooring defects to watch out for - Part 2
By Jack Josephsen
Today’s post is the second of a two-part look at eleven very common defects that have a habit of driving contractors mad on decorative flooring applications.
While the list I’ve put together is a long and potentially off-putting one for any epoxy user, the bright side is that all of these defects are very preventable. By being aware of the key risk factors and adopting a few good habits, you’ll be able to do some great-looking floors and enjoy what I find is a very exciting epoxy field.
Here are the final five decorative flooring defects to watch out for (read the first six here).
Filling joints to create a fully seamless finish is a popular choice for floor owners and finding a way to do it well will save contractors plenty of headaches. The biggest threat with these is failing to level them completely, which is usually a result of the patching compound slumping and making the joint visible in subsequent coats. Some types of decorative flooring, such as flake floors, are more forgiving with this type of defect, however with metallic floors there’s nowhere to hide as the pigments tend to settle in the shallow channel and create a vivid “ghosting” effect. To avoid joints showing through in the floors, the obvious goal is to make sure the patch is flat and stays flat. If the material you use is prone to slumping, this may mean you’ll have to patch more than once, or over-fill the joint and grind flat before the first coat goes down.
Most metallic floors are applied at 1mm /40 mils or over, which makes you think holidays - areas with no or very little resin - would be easy to avoid. Unfortunately it can and does happen. The logical danger zones are along the edges of the floor, around protrusions and in other hard-to-reach spots. With these types of defects, there’s really nothing to say apart from the fact you have to slow down and be careful. The best tip I can give is to cut in on all your floors. Many skip this step for the sake of a little extra speed and end up with bare spots that are very tricky to fix. You’re much better off mixing up a smaller quantity of resin first, using a smaller tool and taking your time to get these areas right! Also, keep film thickness and application techniques consistent with the rest of the floor otherwise you risk creating a different pattern that stands out for the wrong reasons.
Humps, valleys and concrete flatness
You can get an idea of how flat a slab is by lying a straight edge tool down and seeing if there are any gaps between it and the concrete underneath. In my experience, not many contractors do this before quoting a job and they’re taking a massive risk because the flatness will have a big impact on the end result. Unlike coloured rollcoats that hug the contours of the slab, a metallic coat will flow and that can create havoc in all sorts of ways - the high points allow the colour beneath to show through more and can look patchy, the low points can look flooded/messy, and, to top it off, the gloss has a knack of showing an owner how uneven their floor actually is (which is often mistaken for contractor or product error). You’d be surprised how many slabs don’t meet official standards, so I’d strongly advise you get into the habit of testing every slab you work on. If it is up and down, explain to the client why it needs to be levelled first and put it in the quote.
I’ve raised this point plenty of times over the course of my blog so I won’t go into too much detail again here. It’s common sense when you’re trying to deliver a beautiful, glossy floor that you want to minimise the chances of anything getting stuck in the film and appearing as a defect. Stray fibres from roller covers are a constant source of hair-pulling frustration in this sense, so if you’re rolling at any point you’ve got to find ones that are genuinely lint free. Covers with a woven weave and phenolic core I believe are your best bet.
Resin where it shouldn’t be
The odd splash of resin on a skirting board is probably what first comes to mind here, however that can be addressed by cutting in so I want to focus instead on a less familiar example of resin ending up where it shouldn’t. Specifically, I’m talking about the overflow that can happen on taped boundaries at entrances, exits and transitions. As I’ve alluded to a number of times already, metallic floors can flow a lot more than other systems and this can be disastrous if it involves crossing a tape line. The easy solution here is to simply hang around for 30 minutes or so after application so that you can respond to any undesirable resin migration. A lot of contractors hurriedly clean up and head off to the next job or to go home, but if you stay that little bit longer and watch what the resin is doing you can stop this kind of thing before it turns into a big rectification drama.
So there you have it: eleven very common defects that cause major decorative flooring hassles, yet thankfully come with some pretty simple preventative measures. Overall, the underlying message is that decorative resin flooring is not a one-size-fits-all, get-in-get-out operation. It’s a highly customised flooring service and to do it well you need to slow down and pay attention to the details - prepare thoroughly, assess the floor beforehand, understand the client and their needs, apply carefully, observe and respond to what the resin is doing, and, ultimately, leave behind a stunning floor.
Take care and keep smiling,
Real World Epoxies
In 2010, Jack started Epoxy School and a couple of years ago he published his first book “Finally, real answers for real contractors – Industrial Flooring”, which is available through NACE and Amazon.
Jack has spent over 15 years formulating, manufacturing and helping epoxy users learn about epoxies. His company prides itself on epoxy products that perform in the field and is passionate about linking industry know how.