Resilient Floors: Full Spread, Modified Full-Spread or Loose-Lay

By Ray Thompson, Jr.

Tips to help with the installation in a loose lay or modified loose-lay configuration.
Tips to help with the installation in a loose lay or modified loose-lay configuration.

In order to make that decision as to whether to full-spread, modify or loose lay a new resilient job, consider the following questions.

Is the substrate wood or concrete? Each move and move differently. Wood moves to humidity and concrete moves to temperature. While the movement is minor, it is enough to raise a bubble in the material. Installation Method Recommendation: Full Spread.

Is the jobsite located, in a highly humid climate or an arid desert climate? Each will present different problems as will the time of year the installation takes place.

The combination of a high humidity area and wood subfloors can be a problem. The larger problem is to install in high humidity when the substrate has expanded and a contraction will come when the dry condition returns. Installation Method Recommendation: Full Spread.

An arid, low humidity desert installation can pose a problem over concrete floors. With hot, dry conditions, the concrete is at its maximum. Conversely, with the return of cooler temperatures, the concrete shrinks.

Is the installation locking in as to expansion and contraction? If the answer is yes, then you’re likely to have problems. Installation Method Recommendation: Full Spread. Does the room have an island, doorways, or anything that will lock the installation and keep the material from expanding or contracting? Where there is no room for expansion the best method is to full-spread the material rather than have problems later.

Here are some tips to help with the installation in a loose lay or modified loose-lay configuration.

Room Conditions

  • Make sure there is room for expansion of the material.
  • There should be no seams which will stop the material from moving.
  • If there is a doorway, make sure not to fasten it down. Use a trim molding that does not lock the material down and allows for expansion.
  • Undercut all moldings and door jams that will impede any expansion of the material.
  • All vertical surfaces walls and pipes the material should be gapped 1/8” (3.2 mm) to 3/16” (4.8 mm).
  • Avoid stairs, landings, or rooms with a floor drain.

Material Conditioning

  • Temperature recommendations are extremely important to the modified full-spread method.
  • Make sure the material is rolled face-out wrapped tightly around a cardboard core. This ensures the material will lay flat and installs wrinkle free; care must be taken to prevent the roll from bending or sagging.
  • Keep rolls on a flat surface while transporting so no distortion occurs.
  • Prevent distortions from occurring during installation by not folding or creasing the material. When laying the material into the adhesive after being lapped back, you may notice some fullness in the middle of the sheet. Roll or push any fullness out to the edges.
  • Pre-cut the pieces accurately. It’s much easier to cut pieces close to size in an area where you can lay them out flat. Generally, allow 1-1/2” (31.8 mm) for each end wall. With two or more pieces, make sure you cut them long enough for pattern matching purposes. Use special care when handling material wider than 6’ (1.8 m).
  • After the material is brought into the room, make safety cuts so it will lay flat on the floor. This will make final fitting easier and prevent from tearing the material.
  • All fitting should be complete before spreading adhesive.
  • Cut material slightly loose and away from walls wherever moldings or wall base are used to cover the edge.
  • Install material with a net fit against walls when not using molding or against other stationary objects. Tight or compression fitting can cause buckles in unadhered areas.
  • Apply the adhesive to the subfloor one-half of the sheet at a time. Lap or tube back one- half of the sheet to expose the subfloor. Do not roll the product face in while spreading adhesive.
  • Apply a band of adhesive 10 to 12” (25.4-30.5 cm) wide around the perimeter of the room and around any fixtures, floor vents, etc. Also apply a band of adhesive centered under any seams.
  • All bonded areas should be thoroughly rolled with a roller.

Following the above precautions will lead to installation success – adhere to the rules and don’t take chances. Subsequently, failure to do so will lead to repairs for bubbles.

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