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Marine Flooring Installations

Neil Sanders with tips on marine flooring installations

THIS month I discuss the unique challenges associated with marine flooring installations. Many flooring contractors may never work in marine or offshore settings, but those who do should be aware that there are a range of products on the market that deliver maximum convenience to contractors, alongside proven high levels of performance, all guaranteed for use in marine settings.
The first consideration when planning a new floor or refurbishment, for example, in a cruise liner or other marine interior, is that all products used must carry International Maritime Organisation (IMO) certification.
Flooring products approved by the IMO carry the IMO ‘Wheelmark’ logo to show that they have met the fire safety standards for products used in seagoing vessels, including low flame spread standards and low smoke toxicity.
l Flexibility: Steel decking is one of the most common subfloors in the crew and passenger areas of marine and offshore accommodation facilities. Conventional smoothing underlayments are prone to cracking when applied over semi-flexible substrates such as steel decking, due to movement in the subfloor caused by traffic levels or fluctuations in temperature.
Cracked smoothing underlayments can compromise the aesthetic appeal and long-term performance of a finished floor, leading to expensive, time-consuming remedial work. The best way to safeguard the future of a floorcovering to be installed over a semi-flexible subfloor is to select a flexible smoothing underlayment that has been designed to accommodate potential movement. A strong and stable base can be provided by using a product with a high polymer-to-cement ratio, reinforced by acrylic fibres.
l Weight: Another key consideration for marine and offshore settings is weight. Weight restrictions are common on-board ships and cruise liners. F Ball recommends that particular attention be given to the type and density of smoothing underlayments used on weight-restricted projects. Smoothing underlayments are now available that incorporate lightweight properties, typically weighing only half as much as conventional smoothing underlayments.
As well as ensuring that flooring contractors meet specified weight limits for marine flooring jobs, lightweight smoothing underlayments are easier for contractors to handle, which is a benefit in tight spaces for smaller marine jobs where access can be limited.
l Adhesives: A wide range of specialist adhesives are also available with IMO certification for marine use. Typically within a luxury cruise liner a variety of floorcoverings will be used for different areas of the ship. Public areas, such as corridors and restaurants, will be subjected to high levels of traffic, and can benefit from the use of a tackifier adhesive so that any carpet tiles laid can be easily lifted and replaced in future.
For installations that can be subjected to surface water, an epoxy flooring adhesive is recommended. Once cured, an epoxy adhesive is resistant to water, oil and grease. Adhering a vinyl floorcovering, using an epoxy adhesive, is ideal for areas of a ship were guests or crew will be travelling between the open deck and more sheltered quarters.
IMO approved rubber adhesives are recommended for use with rubber floorcoverings, which are a popular choice for use in ships. Rubber floorcoverings are durable, easy to maintain and often offer passengers better grip during difficult weather conditions.
Marine and offshore flooring installations require the same level of preparation as conventional projects, but specialist products are required to deliver the necessary durability and professional finish. Many of the everyday products used by contractors are suitable for marine installations, but IMO certification is essential. Look for the IMO ‘Wheelmark’ to find a product that is guaranteed for the marine environment. CFJ Neil Sanders is technical director for F Ball and Co
T: 01538 361633 www.f-ball.co.uk

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.