Laminate and decorative flooring (finishes)

This technical article provides additional guidance on laminate and decorative flooring (finishes). It is important that all workmanship carried out during construction is completed in accordance with the relevant tolerances.

Laminate and decorative flooring - finishes

Introduction

Cover under a New Homes Policy will be applicable to a hard decorative floor covering such as laminate flooring, parquet panels, flexible sheet or tiles if they are installed prior to or at the warranty completion sign off.

If this type of decorative flooring covering is to be installed prior to completion, its installation should be carefully managed to minimise the risk of a claim occurring post completion.

Please note:

Installation

Careful attention should be made to the following:

Substrate:

  • Must be clear of debris prior to the installation of the decorative floor covering
  • If the decorative flooring is to be laid over an in-situ concrete floor or screeded floor, sufficient time must elapse before the decorative flooring is installed. This is because the concrete/screed needs to dry out sufficiently. A floor which hasn’t dried out sufficiently could damage the finishes/affect the fixings. Typically, a 50mm concrete screed could potentially take two months to cure
  • Will a suitable DPM/VCL/slip membrane be necessary to protect the finished flooring?
  • Check for potential leaks from badly fitted waste pipes or incorrectly detailed thresholds which could result in dampness under the finish, resulting in damage/expansion of the floor finish
  • In the case of a concrete screed:
    • Is it of sufficient thickness and mix to correctly distribute loads, especially if the screed is over an insulation board?
    • Sufficiently level and free from high spots. Note that the floor finish must meet our tolerances requirements if in place at completion, so the substrate must also be constructed to meet the tolerance requirements
  • If sound insulation is required to be installed to meet the Building Regulation requirement this should not be tampered with and in the case of floating floor insulation, the manufacturer’s details must be checked for requirements of acceptable finishes above the insulation layer
  • If supporting construction is required, this must be installed to the manufacturer’s recommendations and appropriate for the floor finish
  • Timber battens must be preservative treated including any cut ends
  • Supports must be fixed and at suitable centres to avoid excessive movement
  • Provision for heavy loads, e.g. kitchen units, cookers, washing machine, cast iron baths, boilers or other heavy items should be allowed for in the support construction. The floor finish must also be suitable for such loads and not result in the floor finish locally deflecting
  • Support must not be compromised by waste pipes, plumbing or under floor heating systems

Floor finish product:

  • Should be suitably protected from damage and extreme temperatures or/dampness prior to installation
  • Should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. This includes using the recommended fixings appropriate for the substrate
  • Must be appropriate for the environment location (e.g. bathrooms, kitchens with high moisture potential)
  • Be laid to a level finish without using excess means of additional thickness of adhesive or packing
  • Ensure sufficient movement joints and provision for expansion is allowed for at the perimeters, door openings and around fittings, pipes, etc.
  • Intermediate expansion joints may be required to large floor or open plan areas. The manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed
  • Be laid to meet the warranty tolerances requirements (see below)
  • Allowance for adjustment may be necessary after initial contraction or expansion has occurred

General points:

  • If underfloor heating is proposed, the developer must ensure that the chosen floor finish is suitable for use with under floor heating. The flooring manufacturer’s details must be checked to confirm this and, where proven suitable, their installation recommendations carefully followed including guidance to follow when underfloor heating systems are used for the first time (to avoid damage to floor finishes)
  • The completed floor finish must be clean and free from surplus adhesive or raised fixings.

Warranty tolerance requirements for floors

Level

Floors up to 6m across can be a maximum of 4mm out of level per metre and a maximum of 25mm overall for larger spans. Shrinkage of timber floors and staircases is a natural occurrence when drying out, which could result in the squeaking of materials as they move against each other. This again is a natural occurrence and cannot be eliminated entirely.

Level floor tolerances

Figure 1: Level of floor

Deflection

For ground and intermediate floors, designers and engineers must observe our tolerances requirements for levelness of floors. Although a joist might be designed using British standards or Euro codes to meet permissible deflection limits, our tolerances requirement for levelness of floors must not be exceeded.

Laminate and decorative flooring - finishes

Every care was taken to ensure information in this article was correct at the time of writing (March 2021). Guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant building regulations or applicable technical standards. For the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your risk management surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty Technical Manual.

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