Maintaining flawless flooring

Preparation is a particularly important factor in the long-term durability of any flooring system

The importance of surface preparation in the long-term durability of any flooring system cannot be over emphasised, no matter the application.
The importance of surface preparation in the long-term durability of any flooring system cannot be over emphasised, no matter the application.

Preparation is a particularly important factor in the long-term durability of any flooring system.

A successful floor finish rests primarily on surface preparation, from grinding and filling, to polishing, compacting and levelling.

In construction, issues arise around the condition of the subfloor’s appropriateness for floor coverings. At times, the surface of the subfloor is suitable for a covering to be placed directly on top. However, for an imperfect surface that may be rough or have other flaws, an underlay or underlayment is placed in between the sub-floor and the covering to provide a suitable surface on which to place coverings. Different techniques and methods are required for different applications.

Underlays come in all manner of materials that are used to provide a smooth even surface on which the floor covering is laid. The underlay rests top of the subfloor and can be either a soft cushioning material or a board product such as plywood. A softer material such as sponge or rubber is preferred when the floor covering is a carpet or other textile materials, whereas a hard underlay is generally better for vinyl and other resilient floor coverings. Underlays made from hardboard, plywood, MDF or fibre cement are better suited in this case.

A concrete floor comes with its own set of challenges. It can be smooth and clean but not necessarily plane and level as required, or it may be too moist or ‘green’/uncured to accept a covering without invalidating the manufacturer’s warranty. Where an underlay is a specific material, an underlayment performs the same job but consists of an assortment of smoothing compounds or cement-based levelling composites. These are cast over the top of a concrete substrate to provide a regular, even and level surface on which to lay floor coverings.

A variety of technologies, methods, tools and products achieve all of these, with companies vying for a share in the vibrant Qatar market.

One such company is Nehmeh, an industrial solutions provider and sole agent in Qatar for many renowned brands. Included in its portfolio is the German-based Dr. Schulze surface preparation equipment range that comprises single and multi-head grinders, single-head polishers, milling ma-chines, vacuum cleaners, dust collectors and chemicals for concrete.

Instead of the conventional drive belt, all multi-head grinders come complete with an oil bath maintenance free gearbox that ensures reliable smooth operation with low noise generation. The machines feature the magnetic tool clamping system DRS-LOCK that permits users to change tools within seconds. Dr. Schulze’s bestselling model, the four-head grinder DBS-620-4H, has been designed to make it applicable for any surface treatment task, from levelling out large irregularities to fine polishing. The product line also offers an ample choice of metal, resin and PCD-based grinding and polishing tools.

A technique used for concrete flooring is densifying, where reduced dusting, higher gloss readings, increased abrasion resistance, and a longer lifespan of the concrete floor is achieved. A densifier will harden a substrate, making floors much more resistant to staining and easier to maintain and keep clean.

The Dr Schulze range attaches particular importance to lithium based densifiers, believing them to be one of the most crucial elements of every high-quality concrete floor. By reaching deep into the concrete, lithium densifiers create a wear resistant uniform mass that prevents oil, water and various contaminants from penetrating the floor. Reinforcing floors with lithium based densifiers is a viable alternative to using epoxy or corundum as a protective layer, because it does not entail the danger of the layer being peeled off the base later on. Another advantage of lithium reinforced floors, according to the manufacturer, is the possibility to renovate a floor while still using the premises during the operation.

Another manufacturer that prides itself in its flooring technology is Mapei.

In the resin and cementitious-based flooring sector, Mapei has developed a wide range of technologically advanced systems which offer high standards of quality for each specific area of use, including public, private, industrial and civil applications. These standards are a guarantee for the final user of their characteristics of functionality, ease of maintenance and an attractive finish.

Mapei’s research laboratories have developed two main product groups: Mapefloor System, a complete range of epoxy and polyurethane systems, and Ultratop System, a self-levelling, quick-setting and quick-hardening cementitious system which, thanks to its versatility, may be used for installing both industrial and civil floors in a wide range of environments.

With the Mapefloor System, prior to applying the various epoxy solutions (product and application dependent on the end-use of the structure), preparation of the substrate includes a number of methods to repair defective surfaces, from shot-blasting the surface to sanding and grinding it down. All defects present, such as holes, pitting, cracking, etc are repaired beforehand using a variety of compounds from the product range, according to the width and depth of the defects and cracks, before the epoxy layers are applied.

For the formation of polished floors, the Ultratop System is preferred. This effect is achieved by spreading self-levelling, ultra fast-setting cementitious mortar in environments such as showrooms, shops, restaurants, apartments and sho pping centres. The system guarantees perfectly flat, smooth, light-reflecting surfaces. Once again, the surface is prepared through milling and/or shotblasting and defects repaired with products from its range.

So next time you trip inadvertently, look down and see exactly what surface you were walking on and consider the methodology involved in achieving that (almost) perfect surface.

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