When you’re dealing with floor coverings like tiles, laminate, wood or resinous coatings, it might seem like the floor covering is more important than what goes underneath it. In fact, there are so many choices for different floor coverings out there that there has to be multiple choices for underlayment, too. The success of any floor covering installation starts with the underlayment. When the underlayment is solid, the whole installation is more likely to succeed because the underlayment is the foundation it is all based upon.
If you’re building a house from the ground up, you would not cut corners on building a cheap, flimsy or hastily done foundation, would you? When thinking about a floor that is meant to be durable and good looking for potentially decades, you want the same type of thinking with your floor covering underlayment.
The first step is to correct any flaws in the flooring substrate. The substrate should be clean, flat and smooth. Achieve this by putting down a skim coat and leveling it off, if necessary. This is the point to address any moisture or waterproofing concerns.
Before you install the underlayment and the floor covering on top of it, think about whether any special considerations such as sound proofing. How fast does the floor need to be back in service? Will the floor have heavy equipment or a lot of other types of traffic on it? Does it matter how heavy the underlayment and floor coating is? The underlayment is in contact with both the substrate and the floor covering, so it is key that the chosen underlayment be compatible with both of those systems. If the underlayment is not right, the final floor can show cracks, lack of adhesion, efflorescence (the migration of salts to the surface, where it deposits in a white film) or moisture moving through the flooring.
Not all substrates can be prepped for any underlayment. A self-leveling underlay can be used where the substrate is in sound condition and you need a fast return to service. Self-leveling underlayment such as Duraamen’s Param 4500 cures quick and gains strength fast. Self-leveling underlays will go on a little thicker than a trowel-on underlays. Self-leveling underlayments are a good choice because they can go over any substrate, are applied more thickly, are ready faster and can be covered more quickly.
To avoid these potential problems, always work with a qualified company who is able to assess the technicalities of your particular situation. Unless you have prior construction background, it could be challenging to “do it yourself” this type of flooring installation because there are so many variables. User error, or using the wrong materials, is what causes most underlayment and floor coating projects to fail.
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