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It’s well-documented that the longevity of a flooring installation - particularly when it comes to luxury vinyl flooring like Karndean or Amtico - is dependent on the quality of the subfloor. Sometimes we find ourselves more concerned with the final result, and so may spend less time ensuring the subfloor preparation is perfect.
To ensure your new floor installation looks perfect, here’s a few vital subfloor checks…
Remove and smooth
If you're not laying an LVT over your existing flooring, be sure to check that there are no traces of adhesive residues. It’s important that before you apply an ounce of smoothing compound or begin screeding, there are no obvious lumps and bumps in the subfloor, simply to ensure a smooth as possible finish.
Check the moisture level
LVT products must only be installed on subfloors with moisture levels below 75% relative humidity (RH). If your hydrometer reading is above 75% RH, regardless of whether the floor is old or new, it’s imperative that you install a surface damp proof membrane (DPM).
Wooden subfloors – if you’re installing a plywood underlay, it’s best to use a certified product, one which has received the stamp of approval. Installing a product that has been fully tested and approved to industry standards and requirements simply offers you reassurance. We recommend laying a minimum 6mm flooring grade plywood1. It’s important to remember that plywood joints should be smoothed over using skim coat or a full coat of fibre reinforced smoothing compound.
If you’re installing your new floor on either a new or old concrete subfloor, as mentioned, it’s essential to conduct a moisture test to ensure the levels are no higher than 75%RH. If moisture levels are too high and you don’t have sufficient time to allow the area to dry out naturally, then be sure to install a surface damp-proof membrane. If RH readings are suitable for installation and the surface has been primed, apply a compatible smoothing compound to a minimum of 3mm.
Choosing the right smoothing compound is very much dependent on the kind of project (residential, commercial, retail etc), its size and timescale. If prepared and installed correctly, this thin cementitious top layer will ensure that your floor copes easily with the hardships it's put it through. As such, it's important to consider ambient conditions (ventilation, humidity etc), installation specifications, as well as the curing times.