Temporary Protection Materials
Protection of interior floor finishes is often required on both new and refurbishment projects. Fast track programmes often include floor coverings installed prior to the completion of work by other trades and, to reduce the risk of damage proper protection materials should be considered.
Leveling screeds and directly finished bases covered by Part 1 of BS8204 are not designed as wearing surfaces, therefore their surfaces should be given adequate protection against damage or wear during subsequent building operations and until the floor is laid. Note that, where cement and sand leveling screeds have dried sufficiently after curing. It can be advantageous for the temporary protection to be relatively impervious. This would minimize the likelihood of differential moisture levels developing between the top and bottom of the screed before the floor is installed, thus minimizing the risk of lipping and curling at joints or cracks in the screed, as described in BRE Current Paper 94/74. Breathable protection is available which avoids trapping in moisture vapor if there is a need to protect uncured floors immediately.
Flame Retardant Protection
Loss Prevention Standard LPS1207 issued by the Loss Prevention Certificate Board, part of BRE Certification, a sister company to the Building Research Establishment, relates to the requirements for protective covering materials on construction sites. Any temporary protection which purports to comply with LPS1207 must be suitably marked and display the name and identification of the supplier.
Choosing the correct product
There are many forms of temporary protection; a product fit for purpose should be selected after considering the following points:
- Surface requiring protection
- Site conditions and site traffic
- Length of time a surface requires protection prior to handover
Advice on selection of the appropriate material is available from suppliers.
For smooth floors (vinyl, resilient, screeds, marble, timber, laminates, etc.) a product providing impact protection is needed. The product that best suits this application is twin wall/twin fluted polypropylene board. A material supplied in sheet form, normally 1.2m x 2.5m, the board’s twin wall composition offers impact protection to hard floors. Available in various grades, twin wall board is ideally suited to hard floors. The product is also a more user friendly alternative to hardboard, as it is lightweight, easy to cut and install and is very durable. Although corrigated plastic protection is fine for use with hardwood floors it has been found on occasions that where high point loads are concerned, for example from access machinery that the timber may become indented with an imprint of the corrigated sheeting. It is advised that on some floor finishes additional protection may be needed to evenly distribute any point loads.
For soft floors (carpets, etc.) impact protection is not an issue. For cut-pile carpets an adhesive backed (‘tacky back’) polythene can be used. This product is simply rolled out and bonds directly to the carpet. The ‘tacky back’ will hold the product in place during the programme of works. After use the material simply peels clean, leaving no residue. For loop and cut pile carpets a loose fitting membrane can be used, either a polypropylene or polyethylene sheeting. This can then be fixed in place using either tapes, or, for a loop pile carpet using a male Velcro dry fix method.
Moisture-sensitive Floor Coverings
There may be some risks if moisture-sensitive floor coverings are protected for prolonged periods with impervious protection material as there is a chance that the floor may ‘sweat’ underneath. This is of particular relevance where there is under floor heating. If impervious protection is to be used long term over a moisture sensitive floor covering it is advisable to contact the manufacturers of the floor covering beforehand. Breathable protection products should be considered.
Fixing methods for protection must be considered. For smooth and finished floors a peel clean adhesive tape must be used. Standard tapes may leave a residue or shadow on the floor. For cut pile carpets a higher tack carpet tape should be used. For loop or twist pile carpets a Velcro dry fix method should be used.