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Commercial Flooring News

Being Dent-Free

Mark Brigginshaw on avoiding unwanted impressions

I AM regularly asked ‘How well will my vinyl floorcovering stand up to heavy loads?’

In areas where this is a real concern, such as where pallet trucks and forklifts are used, retractable seating systems or more general storage shelving and racking, carrying out some basic calculations before choosing your flooring can make a real difference. To avoid making a permanent, unwanted impression in the newly installed floor, it is important to consider and determine the potential loading.

With details of the maximum load as well as the number, size and material of the wheels or feet, both the static and dynamic loads can be calculated and compared to the individualperformancelimitsof the floor

covering options.

However, it is impor tant to point out that maximum loading figures calculated for a vinyl floorcovering
will refer to deformation and not its strength.

This means the maximum loading figure gives the point at which any deformation and damage to the flooring caused by the load will be permanent.

A figure below this is still likely to cause some deformation but is unlikely to be permanent; recovering once the load is removed.

Remember too that figures calculated will refer to flat surfaces, as clearly where sharp edges and objects
are present, or where the application of the load is uneven, the likelihood of damage will increase. The quality of the subfloor also plays an important role in the effects a load has on the floorcovering. This must be installed to the required standard, as experience has shown that if the subfloor is incorrectlyinstalled,failurecan occur in this area and be highlighted through the floor covering.

The degree of residual indentation can also depend on the time and temperature under constant load, increasing as both of these factors increase.

Coming back to potential causes of indentation and point loading damage, it would be fair to say that in many cases, particularly with storage, the load will be static and unlikely to be moved during the lifespan of the flooring, and therefore may be considered less of a concern.

However, there are many scenarios where loads will be dynamic as they are moved and transported around, an example being hand pallet trucks.

In general these will not be an issue providing the following points are considered along with good practice procedures when operating:

• Any truck type should have a minimum of four wheels/suppor t rollers, freely rotating with no sharp tread patterns.

• Steering must never be carriedoutwhilstthetruckis heavily loaded and stationar y as this can result in sur face damage to the floor.

Powered forklift trucks are a slightly different beast and would not normally be recommended on vinyl flooring – the exception being a 4mm safety flooring with stricter guidelines to be followed, but due to the risks involved these should really be assessed on a case by case basis to determine suitability.
Retractable seating systems are also becoming more common in multi-purpose spor ts halls at schools and leisure facilities.

Again, these would not generally be considered an issue mainly due to the multiple points of transfer when under ‘live’ load, but load calculations are still necessar y and advisable.

And if practical, the use of temporary floor protection are recommended, par ticularly when in use and during extending/retracting as an added measure.

For a heavy duty job, choose a heavy duty flooring, and always take the time to make some basic calculations to make sure the productisrightforthejob.

Mark Brigginshaw is a member of Altro’s technical team

T: 01462 489405

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at