Temporary flooring protection for your contract flooring project.
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.
When you’re looking for Floor Protection, there are many things to take into consideration before choosing which product you will use. We are frequently asked by our customers for advice on which products will provide the best protection in certain working environments.
Choosing the correct floor protection for your needs
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
It is important that the right form of temporary protection is used, depending on these factors, as an incorrect choice of floor protection may result in poor performance, a need to replace protection more frequently, resulting in higher overall costs as well as adding time to your build, not to mention the possibility of actually damaging the flooring it was originally supposed to protect.
For smooth floors (vinyl, marble, cured timber, laminates, etc.) a certain degree of impact protection is sometimes needed to safeguard any heavy traffic going over it and particularly if tools or equipment are being used as a dropped hammer can easily cause a dent or chip the surface of your floor. There are a various forms of protection that perform well against impact damage and one of the most popular in the construction industry is Proplex/Correx. This is a twin wall/twin fluted polypropylene board that is usually supplied in sheet form, normally 1.2m x 2.4m. The board’s twin wall composition offers a high degree of durability and sturdiness while still being incredibly light in weight meaning it is very easy to handle. This means it is preferable to hardboard alternatives and can also come in recycled form and easily recycled itself therefore being much more environmentally friendly.
Proplex is available in various grades of thickness and grammage usually from 2mm - 5mm and the general idea is that the heavier traffic you expect the thicker Proplex board you would need. We would suggest these guidelines when choosing the thickness of your Proplex.
2mm – For medium foot traffic – also great for large areas that need protecting as can come in roll form which is easily rolled out to cover large areas very quickly
3mm – For medium to high foot traffic
4mm – For high foot traffic, equipment and small vehicles
5mm – For particularly high value flooring with very high foot traffic, heavy equipment and vehicles
Although corrugated 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 timber may become indented with an imprint of the corrugated sheeting. It is advised that on some floor finishes additional protection may be needed to evenly distribute any point loads such as felt or fleece materials or builders cardboard.
If impact protection isn’t a priority, and for protecting against damage such as tyre marks from vehicles, then heavy duty interwoven polypropylene material can be sourced, such as Promesh HD 1207, which is supplied in large format, 4m wide rolls and is designed to perform well when being used in situations with vehicular traffic such as cranes.
All these solutions are for relatively short periods of time however if you need to protect a hard floor for much longer there are other solutions such as PeelGard which can be applied by spray to dry, protect and then subsequently peeled off at the end of the project. Peelgard can generally be left in place for up to 12 months and is often used by TV or Film sets as they can be easily painted over for any desired colour finish without damaging the floor beneath and then peeled off leaving the original floor untouched.
When it comes to soft floors (carpets, etc.) impact protection is not normally an issue. For cut-pile carpets a self-adhesive carpet protector can be used, which is supplied in various sizes. This product is simply rolled out and sticks directly to the carpet without the need for additional fixing to hold it in place. The ‘tacky back’ will hold the product in place during the programme of works. After use the material simply peels clean, leaving no residue. With products such as these the general recommendation is that they aren’t left in place longer than 4 weeks as any longer may risk residue being left on the carpet.
For loop and cut pile carpets or protection for carpets for a much longer period of time, a loose fitting membrane can be used, either a polypropylene or polyethylene sheeting such as Promesh. 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 Flooring and Screed
If you are working with moisture-sensitive flooring such as uncured timber then there can be issues if 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 flooring beforehand as a build-up of moisture between the floor and the protection may cause damage. It is advisable with these types of floors that instead of an impervious material being used for protection that a ‘breathable’ material is used instead. Products, such as Breathershield or Protec Flooring Card, offer great protection to the floor while also allowing air and moisture to escape the flooring beneath and avoid any build up of moisture.
When it comes to Screed there is a particularly helpful section of a paper published by The Contract Flooring Association which offers some good insight.
Levelling 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 levelling screeds have dried sufficiently after curing it can be advantageous for the temporary protection to be relatively impervious. This would minimise 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 vapour if there is a need to protect uncured floors immediately.”
When using temporary protection for flooring it is common that the products you are using will need to be fixed in place, whether it is to the floor and its skirting boards or to each other. If taping sheets of floor protection to each other it is recommended to use a high tack, and durable adhesive tape such as cloth tape as this will hold the floor protection in place under heavy foot traffic. When fixing the protection to the floor or any other fixture then it may be beneficial to use a low tack, ‘peel clean’ adhesive tape. This is due to the likelihood of a higher tack tape leaving residue on, or even damaging the surface it is used on whereas a low tack alternative will avoid this. It is worth noting that it is advisable to test any tape you are planning to use on a very small area of the desired surface to check if it is suitable before applying.
Another consideration for temporary floor protection is flame retardancy. LPS1207 is the Flame Retardant standard for temporary protection materials and was developed by insurers and other stakeholders in the construction industry to remove potentially hazardous, non-flame retardant protection for both health and safety and financial reasons.
Insurers of contractors will require compliance of the Joint Code of Practice on all projects with an original value of £2.5 million or above. For certain higher risk projects application may be required at a lower threshold. This entails that when finished surfaces or fittings incorporated into a building are to be temporarily protected during construction or refurbishment the subsequent protective covering material must always conform to the requirements of Loss Prevention Standard LPS1207 Fire Requirements for Protective Covering Material and manufactured in accordance with a quality assurance and certification programme via a certification body accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. This can be recognised by Site Managers or contractors by the LPS1207 logo and certificate number printed on the material. Failure to comply by the Site Manager could result in uninsured losses and in insurance ceasing to be available or withdrawn not only on the offending site but all sites that fall under that contractor’s group.
To conclude, when the need arises to protect flooring there are a number of factors that need to be addressed when choosing the right material as it certainly isn’t the case that one product fits all circumstances. It is a good idea to contact the manufacturer of the flooring material on the guidelines for what is safe to use or consult a temporary floor protection specialist such as Protec that can recommend a product that suits your specific environment and application.
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