Neil Sanders on exterior flooring solutions
IN this, my first technical advice column of this new series, I will tackle the topic of difficult and challenging substrates, focusing on the importance of product specification when working on outdoor flooring projects.
Like most installations, external floors have specialist criteria that must be considered if the new floor is to be a success. When working on exterior flooring installations, a contractor must be mindful of extreme weather conditions and the anticipated traffic demands a floor will be subjected to. In order to withstand such pressures, installers must select specialist, durable products that will maintain performance and promote longevity over a floor’s lifetime.
Open to the elements: As exterior floors are constantly exposed to the elements, and face sustained rainfall, damp and cold, the products installed onto the surface must be able to resist high levels of moisture and remain dimensionally stable. They must also be able to tolerate temperatures throughout harsh winter frosts to summer heat and sunshine.
These conditions can cause a traditional smoothing underlayment to crack, therefore, contractors need to select specialist outdoor products that can accommodate the everyday challenges an outdoor floor faces. Exterior repair mortars and smoothing compounds are designed to limit the amount of shrinkage and expansion that can occur when exposed to such conditions, ensuring the integrity of the compound is maintained.
Safe, smooth surface: Exterior flooring areas, such as balconies, patios or walkways are likely to be access routes, and subject to damage from the impact of frequent pedestrian traffic, heavy equipment and general wear and tear that develops over time. To ensure that a safe, durable and even surface is achieved, it is recommended that an exterior smoothing compound and repair mortar are used so that a surface remains smooth and level.
When working on surfaces that are heavily worn or damaged with holes or depressions of up to 50mm in depth, use a specialist exterior repair compound before applying a specialist exterior smoothing compound .
Specifying specialist products: Products are available to help with outdoor flooring installations.
An exterior repair mortar can be used for the non-structural repair of lower strength concrete elements such as floor screeds, concrete paving slabs, as well as being suitable for producing gradient ramps. The product, designed for use in damp condition, needs to have excellent freeze/thaw resistance and be designed for use under special exterior smoothing compounds.
In addition, if the floor surface needs completely resurfacing, a hardwearing, specialist smoothing compound should be used. This can be used to create a preparatory surface, ready to receive rubber or artificial grass floorcoverings, or can be given a scratch coat effect, which is then brushed into a textured surface, ideal for producing a stand-alone surface.
External coverings can be installed over exterior smoothing compounds for additional safety or aesthetic reasons. In these circumstances, an appropriate adhesive formulated for outdoor use, should be selected to complete the installation. Polyurethane adhesives are an ideal choice, as once cured they are resistant to water, grease and oil.
Early preparation and specialist product selection is key to the lasting success of an external flooring installation.
In specifying the correct products, contractors can complete outdoor flooring projects with ease and efficiency, confident in the knowledge that new floors can withstand weather demands and heavy traffic.
Neil Sanders is technical manager at F Ball and Co
T: 01538 361633
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.