JJ Haines 3rd Quarter 2017 Installation Newsletter

Skilled Labor Shortage

No matter what town I travel to, one of the first questions I receive is, do you know where I can find installers? My answer right now is no! This is becoming and epidemic not only in the flooring trade, but across the entire Construction industry.

Skilled worker shortages are the most severe in the West, where 75% of contractors are having a tough time filling those positions, followed by 72% in the Midwest, 70% in the South and 63% in the Northeast.

Forty-six percent of firms also report they are doing more in-house training to cope with workforce shortages while 47% report they are increasing overtime hours and 41% are increasing their use of subcontractors. Adding in-house training with your suppliers is a true value added and keeps your work force up to date with the newest product benefits and installation procedures.

The ongoing labor drought continues to put pressure on the already high-risk, low-margin construction industry. As labor challenges continue to grow, newer technology in flooring will play a key role in supporting the declining workforce. Expect to see easier to install to install flooring products evolve as we continue to see the flooring labor force decrease.

Gluing Down Laminate Flooring

When I first heard of this idea, I laughed at the thought. Now, for the past 3 years, I have been showing and demonstrating this technique. To date, Armstrong Laminate Flooring is the only Laminate product that I know of that has had and still has a full spread adhesive installation option. In Raleigh, NC market we have been installing 12mm and 8mm Laminate flooring in a full spread glue application in the new home construction market and have had 1 installation failures in 3 years. This failure was due to high moisture in the concrete slab.

Why should I glue the Laminate Down? I get told by people Laminate Flooring is a floating floor, but yet these same people call me and ask if they can glue down a locking/floating LVT Floor.

The biggest turnoffs with Laminate flooring are #1) transition pieces (t-moldings) in doorways or in large areas where extra expansion is required. By gluing down the Laminate, I can eliminate the moldings in doorways. I can glue down the entire floor level of any house without having to use transition pieces. #2) It takes away the hollow sound of a floating floor. Glue down Laminate sounds just like glue down Hardwood Flooring. By gluing down Laminate in the Builder Market, we have eliminated call backs for Laminate growing and expanding, squeaking and popping because it has taken on excessive humidity or concrete moisture.

Note: The only Laminate locking system I suggest gluing down is a Drop Lock/Lock’n Fold system. With the Drop Lock or otherwise known as the Lock’n Fold system, you angle up the long end of the Laminate, press it down and the short end just drops into place. Gluing down a Uniclic or Angle/Angle system is a true nightmare. Your installer will be covered in adhesive because you must engage the short end of the Laminate and then pull in the long end to get it to lock. I also suggest using a Urethane or Modified Silane Hardwood Adhesive for gluing down the Laminate.

Why Laminate Flooring? Laminate Flooring with an AC3 or 4 wearlayer has a great wear surface, much better than Hardwood Flooring will ever have. All Laminate flooring has a wear rating denoted by an AC, “Abrasion Class,” followed by a number. There are five AC ratings for laminate floors, ranging from AC1 for low-traffic areas to AC5, meant for commercial use. For active families with pets and children, Laminate Flooring is an excellent choice. The durability of Laminate offers much better scratch and indent resistance than Engineered or Solid Hardwood Flooring ever will.

Marketing BS

The two biggest Marketing terms in flooring right now are;

  • Waterproof
  • Hides subfloor irregularitiesIf these are truly “waterproof” floors, why do we continue to see subfloor moisture requirements that are no better than what glue down floors require? I pulled the below information from one of the original WPC products that promotes water proof installation instructions;

    Installing a moisture barrier now may be viewed as an insurance policy against concrete becoming wet in the future. Not responsible for site related moisture issues. For additional protection, you may want to consider applying a moisture barrier compound system.

    Most flooring companies are really hyping up “hides subfloor irregularities”, but again when you dive into the instructions they say this;
    All Subfloors must be:

    • Dry
    • Structurally sound
    • Clean: Thoroughly swept and free of all debris • Level: Flat to 3/16” per 10-foot radius

    These requirements for this “waterproof” floor that hides subfloor irregularities is no different than a glue down LVT floor.

    Bottom line, be careful how you sell these “waterproof” floor that hides subfloor irregularities products. You are only as good as what you go over. Don’t over sell these marketing traits or it will come back to bite you per the manufacturer’s warranty.