Expanding joins in your dance vinyl can become an issue when they are at the point of being abrasive and a potential trip hazard. This article will give you help on managing your vinyl to prevent this from happening.
In the last few weeks we have had a couple of installed floors defected. This was due to the seams or joins between vinyl expanding to the point of being abrasive and a potential trip hazard.
One of these was an installation by us, that had been glued, welded and installed for over 4 years. Another, by others, had been rather badly installed as a semi-permanent installation with a single sided tape.
Obviously semi-permanent and loose lay installations are exactly that, but this particular floor had only been down for a year and a half so what could have happened?
Essentially there are 3 dynamics at play here.
1. The first is in the initial installation. If this was done on a particularly hot day then the vinyl would have been in an expansive mode and would tend to shrink back when it cooled down.
!! Never install on days over 35º C (95ºF) !!
Further, if the vinyl was welded, this may not have been properly completed. The groove might not have been deep enough or the installer was relying on the factory edge which may have a rounded profile.
The sub floor also might have had a high moisture content which can easily affect the tenacity of the mostly water-based adhesives used. With moisture, this can occur later as well, from flooding or poor cleaning techniques being employed.
Large or regular amounts of water can cause your sub floor to delaminate, swell, create soft spots, and ultimately fall apart. It can cause glued vinyl to develop bumps, ridges, peaking, curling, and bubbles.
2. The second is temperature in general. Major fluctuations are not desirable and even when unattended dance floor vinyls should not be allowed to vary much past temperatures between 18º C, 65ºF and 30º C., 85F, particularly when closed up during summer breaks Studios in Australia for example, can exceed 50º C or 120º F, that’s not good for most things! Ideally air flow and temperature controls are maintained on a timer even when the room is not in use.
3. Thirdly and the biggest and most likely offender is sunlight, especially the ultraviolet component of sunlight. Direct sunshine onto your dance floor can affect your vinyl surface with a result similar to throwing a brick into a swimming pool, a mess of wave like ripples. It can equally cause your vinyl to appear to “shrink”.
This UV component as well as the direct heat causes the plasticisers in the vinyl, the phthalates which act as binding agents, and also make the vinyl flexible, to leach as a gas. This can cause the vinyl to become dimensionally unstable. Basic physics dictates if there is less of it, it will take up less room. Hence the gap.
Blinds or curtains should be normally kept closed, otherwise the vinyl can react in a manner such as gapping at the joins. The worst of the gapping can sometimes be viewed in the centre of the room where the sunlight has been most affecting.
In one of the above instances the single sided tape used, with no bonding to the floor below, and no welded join to its neighbor, was able to stretch as the vinyl contracts due to increased tension in the sheet.
Once the damage is done it is irreversible. The upside is though if you re-install a loose layed and gapped vinyl it is unlikely the gaps will expand further than they already have should the causes outlined above be removed or significantly reduced.
The same applies with a welded floor. If the gapping is recognised in time, then it may be as simple as adding another line or double line of weld. Otherwise inserting a 50mm (2”) strip welded on each side may be required.