The importance of protecting wood flooring on site

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Project: The importance of protecting wood flooring on site

The importance of protecting wood flooring on site

When working with multiple trades on a development project, there will always be some issues along the road to completion.  When these issues turn to outright neglect of your work it can be beyond frustrating.  The images below show how one flooring contractor found the Oak flooring they had carefully laid only a few weeks before.  When this happens you need to consider, what could be done differently to avoid this in the future and what can be done to resolve the issue now?

“Proactive action is better than reactive action”

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Proactive – Plan.  Scheduling the flooring fitout

Wherever possible, a wood floor should be one of the final elements installed in a project.  All plastering, painting, plumbing and all other wet trades must be completed prior to bringing the flooring onto site.  This has two major impacts on the wood floor:

1 – Plasterwork, plumbing or any other ‘wet’ trades will significantly increase the moisture content and humidity of a room.  These levels must be suitable and controlled before even storing the wood on site, for more information consult our storage, fitting and maintenance guide or BS 8201:2011.

2 – Dust and debris from plaster is very fine and sharp, it can damage the finish of a wood floor if not cleaned up properly and get caught in the grain of the wood (as shown in the images below).  Paint obviously can cause considerable complications if it comes into contact with the floor.  If this happens never clean the floor with spirits or chemicals, instead stop and contact us for guidance.  

The later in the project timeline that the flooring is installed, the better as there is less opportunity for other trades to damage the floor.  However, with the best will in the world, snagging is always required, so what can be done to protect the floor after it’s installed?

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Proactive – Protect. Protecting the flooring after fitting Once the floor is fitted, if other trades are likely to enter the room then you’ll need to ensure they don’t damage the floor as heavy work boots, tools, fixtures etc… can all cause havoc. If your floor is pre-finished, has not been given any additional coats of oil and the under floor heating is off and cool, then you can cover the wood floor.  Don’t cover your floor with a non-breathable plastic sheeting.  This can cause the boards to ‘sweat’ which can lead to excessive moisture content and further complications with the flooring.  For best practise, first lay a breathable soft membrane over the floor, this will absorb impacts and deform around some debris to limit potential surface damage.  Next, on top of that soft breathable membrane, lay hardboard.  Hardboard is breathable, inexpensive and reusable.  You can tape the joints of the hardboard together which will reduce the amount of debris falling under the protective layers, but be careful to not apply any tape to the wood floor. This kind of protection should remain in place until the room is being cleaned after all other trades and snagging have been completed.

Important note: If your wood floor is unfinished and requires oiling or lacquering on site, you must not cover any newly applied finish until it has fully cured (curing times vary, please check with your chosen finish manufacturer for timings).  Ideally, the finish should only be applied once the other trades/snagging has been completed.  The unfinished floor, in it’s ‘raw’ state can be covered in the meantime (provided the underfloor heating is off and cool) then the finish can be applied once the protection is removed.

Reactive – Restorative cleaning

If, you are in the unfortunate position that the fitter in our example images found themselves in, then all is not lost.  Our wood flooring is finished with commercial grade, heavy duty coatings.  This means that once the dust and debris has been carefully cleared away, the wood floor can usually be cleaned and restored to its original state.  As the method of achieving this can differ depending on the situation, finish-type and colouring, it’s best that you contact us with images of the floor for further information.

It must be highlighted that for the sake of scheduling the works effectively and correctly protecting the wood flooring, you can save yourself significant time and money by not having to do restorative cleaning.  Remember: Plan and Protect.

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