By Robert Varden, CFI
In the last few months, I have been asked by several installers about the process using the Magnetic Building Solutions (MBS) magnetic platform for installing floors and walls.
Let me start by saying I am the biggest skeptic you could probably find when it comes to changing the way I install products on the floor. After all, I’ve been doing it now for more than 40 years. Even after playing with the MBS system for several months, I still wasn’t completely sold.
It really wasn’t until I had installed several jobs in the United States and China that I understood the ease and true benefits of this unique system. For those of you that have not yet seen or had the opportunity to work with products using the magnetic system, let me walk you through it.
First off, the system begins with a 1.0 mm thick magnetic sheet. It comes in 3 ft.-wide rolls that are 33.33 ft. long (100 sq. ft.). This sheet is the base layer. (See Photo 1 above)
Except for some specialty applications such as ramps, etc., this base layer simply rolls out over a clean, flat, smooth subfloor and does not need to be glued down. The seams need to be butted together and trimmed down at the walls. The product cuts very easily with a knife. (Photo 2)
The second component to the system is the flooring product that is manufactured-applied receptive layer that incorporates an iron powder. There are a few ways this is achieved. The most common is for the flooring manufacturer to add/inject the iron powder during the manufacturing process.
An LVP or WPC type product, for instance, with the MBS receptive material applied during manufacturing doesn’t look much different than one without it. (Photo 3)
The second way is for the manufacturer to apply the receptive layer in a sheet form to the back of the flooring material. Either way, I have found both methods work very well. Receptive sheets are also available from MBS to retrofit pretty much any product you would like: stone, ceramic, even glass tile. (Photo 4)
Further, this sheet can be obtained in roll form or in 18″ x 18″ tiles with peel-and-stick adhesive already applied. You simply peel off the paper and apply the receptive material to the back of the product you wish to install. I have used these to retrofit just about every type of product you can think of with ease.
From an installer’s standpoint, the new system offers benefits in just about every category of flooring without adhesives, VOCs or locking systems. An installation can be started virtually anywhere and can go in multiple directions at the same time, which greatly increases productivity. It opens a whole new world to custom inlay work. Suddenly, products can be turned just about any way you want to achieve the requested design. (Photo 5)
I have now installed just about every product you can imagine on both the floors and the walls with this system. With walls, it’s absolutely the only way to go when installing product. The base layer comes in 18″ x 18″ peel-and-stick tiles that easily adhere for wall installations. (Photos 6, 7, 8)
Fortunately, the system is completely waterproof, so it can also be utilized as a vapor barrier when using the MBS tape on the base layer seams. According to MBS, the base layer also serves as a crack isolation membrane.
Regardless of what type of flooring product you are installing with the MBS Magnetic system — carpet tile, LVP, WPC, or any other product — you’ll see benefits from ease of installation leading to more productivity. This system makes just about any type of install a little easier, with fewer steps and a bit quicker.
Most importantly, where the MBS Magnetic platform really shines is on the second or third install as the base layer is permanent and should never need to be replaced. This makes the demolition of old flooring very easy and installation of the new flooring even easier. Getting an occasional magnetic install work order can balance out when a professional, conscientious installer loses money on a job that takes far more time than anticipated.
After you complete a few work orders using the new magnetic system, send me your thoughts and experiences to: RVarden@cfiinstallers.org.