Protecting a finished floor needs to form part of any planned project delivery. Making sure your new floor is in the best possible condition when you finally move into your home is important, but the need to have the floor in before some of the other works are completed can also be important. So how do we manage it?
If we look at how a new floor gets damaged, we start to get an idea of how to protect it.
Install happens too early
By far the most common cause of floors being damaged before clients get to live on their floor is when they are installed too early in a build or renovation program. As mentioned, it can be important to get a floor in under the benches, skirtings, or other finish trades and that does often lead to a nice neat finish. But it also exposes the floor to many trades who could potentially damage it. It is important to make sure the potential damage to a floor is discussed when deciding the best time for the install to take place. Whilst it is often not possible to be last, being as late into the build program as possible is the best way to mitigate risk. With site finished floors, often the timber can be installed and protected earlier on in the project, with the on-site sanding & polishing taking place towards the end of a project. This is one of the reasons solid timber is often more suitable for renovations or builds that are more extensive – it allows for your floor finish to run under joinery without the risk of damage to the finished surface.
Protection comes prematurely
Removing floor protection and giving the floor a quick can help make the job feel more complete and help visualise the finished space. As nice as this reveal is, far too often the floor survives protected for all that time only to be damaged by trades finishing after the protection is off.
The wrong protection is used
The most heart-breaking type of damage we see to a new floor is when a floor has been damaged by incorrectly installed protection or the use of the wrong protection materials. The floor in this picture was covered with a plastic backed, non-breathable foam underlay and corflute sheeting. A minor leak in one area of the floor caused high levels of humidity to be trapped under the plastic. What would have been a small 2 board repair to fix the leak became a 130m² replacement of a direct adhesive fix Engineered Floor – a very costly error to say the least!
Things to remember when installing floor protection
It is important to make protecting your finished floor part of the planned works.
Some key requirements of floor protection are:
- It must be breathable – plastic type floor protection (including corflute and most foam type underlays) will not allow the timber to breath. This often leads to shrinking or expansion damage in the floor.
- Robust – the protection needs to be sturdy enough for the likely damage it will sustain prior to hand over. This is something that needs to be gauged on a case by cases basis. For instance, a large commercial building site will require more robust floor protection than a small private residence.
- It should not be fixed to the floor – taping the protection to the floor can often cause damage to the finish. Any sort of film with an adhesive backing should also be avoided.
- Safe – this means it should not be too slippery or have any lifting edges that could cause a trip hazard. Taping together any joints is necessary with most types of floor protection.
- Cost effective – both in terms of materials and labour.
- The floor needs to be cleaned carefully before putting protection down. Any grit under the protection can cause scratches and dents to the surface when pressure is applied.
Protecting your finished floor comes down to planning and execution. Our team of experienced Project Managers are experts when it comes to ensuring the floor you dreamed of is the floor we deliver. We will always recommend floor protection be used on your projects and hopefully you can see it as the wise investments we know it to be!