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Floor coverings

Whatever your floor covering, a little maintenance will enhance its beauty and longevity.

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Parquet flooring

Bowing or lifting of parquet flooring: This can happen if the floor was too dry when it was laid, if not enough space was left around the edge of the room to allow for movement or if one side is getting wetter than the other, for example due to wet mopping.

While modern parquet floors laid with polyurethane adhesive are generally moisture-resistant, older parquet floors shouldn’t be wet mopped.

If the problem isn’t wet mopping, check the perimeter of the parquet to ensure there is sufficient gap to allow for movement. If the floor is newly laid, ask the installer to come back and check it. Otherwise, movement joints need to be installed every 4m.

If the parquet was too dry when it was laid, it will need to be lifted, allowed to acclimatise for 2 or 3 weeks in the room before being relaid.

Because of issues with floor surface preparation and sealant-adhesive compatibility, laying parquet flooring is a job for the professionals.

Floor finishes that can be slippery even when dry are:

  • Smooth or glazed ceramic tiles.
  • Polished stone.
  • Polished timber.
  • Steel trowelled and polished concrete.
  • Gloss finished cork or polyurethane.

Floor finishes that provide reasonable grip include:

  • Carpet.
  • Satin finished cork and timber.
  • Split slate.
  • Honed marble and sandstone.

Vinyl

Vinyl sheet lifting: This can be caused by incorrect installation or scuffing. Deal with it by re-fixing the vinyl. Contact the floor layer to come back and relay the vinyl if you are unsure if the correct adhesive was used.

Worn vinyl, tile or carpet: This could become a hazard. If the wear is on a high-use area only, cut out the worn area and insert a new piece. If the wear is extensive, consider replacing the floor covering.

Floorboard joint lines showing through the vinyl: This is due to the vinyl being laid directly over the floorboards. To fix it, you’ll need to remove the vinyl, you may need to sand the boards, then put down an overlay of particleboard or hardboard, and lay new vinyl.

Vinyl joint edges opening up: This is due to loss of plasticiser – the substance added to vinyl to make it pliable and easy to handle. This could be from general ageing, inappropriate cleaning materials, such as solvent-based products or sunlight exposure.

To prevent this problem, always use the recommended cleaning materials, and improve the shading in the room if possible.

This type of deterioration is accelerated by darker colours, so replacing darker vinyl with something lighter-coloured will help.

Bubbles appearing under vinyl: This can be caused by moisture rising from under the floor, or by the wrong adhesive being used when the floor was laid.

See Moisture in the home to find out how to prevent damp air from building up under the floor, or being drawn into your home through the floor. If moisture isn’t the problem, discuss the adhesive with the floor layer.

Tiles or slate

Cracked tiles or slate: can be caused by:

  • Uneven substrate (the surface the tiles rest on).
  • Tiles not properly bedded to the floor.
  • Movement of the substrate.
  • Using unsuitable tiles on the floor, such as wall tiles.
  • Moisture being absorbed by quarry tiles.
  • Thermal expansion of tiles due to heat.

The solution depends on the cause:

  • Check the substrate to make sure it is even and that the tiles are properly bedded. You may need to replace damaged tiles.
  • If the substrate is moving, you may need to strengthen the floor.
  • To find out if your tiles are suitable for the type of floor, ask your tiling retailer for advice. You may need to replace them with a more suitable product.
  • If moisture is getting into the tiles, allow them to thoroughly dry out before sealing them with clear silicon sealer.
  • If the tiles are in an area that gets a lot of direct sunlight, you may need to provide shading. Darker tiles will be more prone to this problem. You can also insert movement joints to allow the tiles to expand and contract.

Tip: Extreme care needs to be taken when replacing tiles in showers and some bathrooms as there is a waterproof membrane beneath the tiles. If the membrane gets damaged it could lead to serious damage to framing and other building materials.

Seek advice from a tiling professional before carrying out this type of work.

Cracked grout: Grout cracks as it ages or if moisture get into it. It can also crack if there is movement where the floor meets the walls or at wall junctions.

Scrape out the grout and replace it with waterproof grout if it is in a wet area. Pack it firmly into the joints. If the cracking is due to movement where the floor meets the walls or at corners, after scraping out the grout, replace it with a flexible silicon sealant. Grout is not suitable for the junction between the wall and floor.

If moisture is the problem, address the cause. See Moisture in the home.

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