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Making Sense Of Surface Membranes

Neil Sanders on solutions for supressing moisture
THIS month I will advise on the importance of dealing with damp and moisture, and how to specify the right products for the job. While installing a waterproof surface membrane is often key, knowing which one to use is also crucial.
Product development has led to the introduction of new, time saving moisture management systems, allowing numerous approaches to moisture control.
From healthcare facilities and heritage properties, to social housing refurbishments and new-build projects, moisture management is essential to the lasting performance of a new floor.
As we all know, failure to conduct a thorough moisture measurement test, and taking the appropriate action, can lead to serious issues with a new floorcovering. It is therefore essential to know how different products can suit specific settings and criteria.
n Back to basics: Typically, where relative humidity (RH) levels read 75% or above, or where a structural damp proof membrane is not present, as is the case in pre 1965 buildings, a waterproof surface membrane should be installed.
Furthermore, when working with wooden floorcoverings, F Ball recommends a maximum RH level of 65% due to it being particularly sensitive to moisture. If wood is installed over a damp subfloor, it is likely to warp. If left untreated.
And moisture can prove costly and time consuming to repair, and can cause trip and fall hazards due to floorcoverings lifting. As such, it is crucial that the time is taken to thoroughly investigate and manage subfloor moisture.
n Maximum protection: When dealing with serious cases of moisture or working in environments where damp is likely to manifest, such as bathrooms and kitchen areas, a specialist, maximum protection waterproof surface membrane should be specified.
A new one-coat product available on the market is effective up to relative humidity levels of 98% and is suitable for use directly over underfloor heating systems (in areas with up to 90% RH).
The solvent-free, two-part epoxy resin system offers maximum protection and performance for installations where a waterproof surface membrane is required, and creates an impenetrable barrier against moisture in just one coat.
Pigmented metallic black to aid coverage uniformity, the new epoxy resin product cures in approximately three hours, without the need for additional accelerants, allowing for flooring installations to continue with minimal delay or disruption.
n The water-based alternative: Alternatively, when working on flooring installations where residual construction moisture needs to be suppressed, a new water-based, ready to use waterproof surface membrane can offer the ideal solution.
This two-coat moisture management system impedes the passage of construction moisture up to relative humidity levels of 95% in almost any flooring installation. This is recommended when working on new build projects where residual construction moisture will be present, enabling it to be managed straight away.
Furthermore, the ready-mixed formula, which is pigmented blue to aid coverage uniformity, is packaged in an easy-to-accommodate bottle, and is an efficient way to carry the product from site-to-site, as it can be resealed and stored for future use, resulting in less product wastage.
Water-based moisture management systems also offer very quick drying properties. Once applied, the first coat takes approximately 15-20 minutes to cure, and then a further 30 minutes for the second coat to cure, resulting in an impenetrable barrier against damp and moisture, achieved in less than two hours.
Thanks to its fast drying, ready-mixed formulation, this waterproof surface membrane is suitable for fast track flooring installation projects. Furthermore, contractors can apply smoothing underlayments directly onto its cured surface, without the need for priming.
Overlooking moisture can have serious consequences for any new floor. As previously mentioned, untreated damp can compromise the overall aesthetics of the floorcovering, as well as proving costly to repair.
To guarantee the lasting performance of a floor, the most suitable products for the installation in hand must be specified.
Thanks to developments in product technology, as well as heightened awareness as to the risks of overlooking issues with moisture, there are numerous solutions to suppressing moisture, no matter the specifics of the installation.
Neil Sanders is technical manager at F Ball and Co n T: 01538 361633

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