Category Archives: Coating stuff and general advice

Shake shake shake

We’ve heard of some similar stories going around… make sure you shake that thing. Forgive us if it sounds patronising, but we all need reminding..!

From Hardwood Flooring Mag…

They applied one coat of penetrating finish stain and two coats of single-component satin water-based polyurethane. The next morning, some areas of the floor appeared almost gloss, while the hall appeared to be matte flat. The master bedroom area looked like semi-gloss.

The contractor and his foreman had left the finishing to one of their newer crews. New to water-base finishes, this crew rolled out two coats of single-component satin water-based polyurethane as told. Being new to using water-based finishes, the idea of thoroughly shaking a finish seemed foreign to them, and almost reckless. Having used an oil-based polyurethane for years, they knew that if you shake that finish, bubbles and foam would prevent a nice, smooth finish application for hours afterwards.

But most modern water-based finishes contain really effective anti-foaming additives that prevent the foaming and bubbling the crew had feared. When the label directions encourage shaking, it is to ensure that all of the contents become equally dispersed prior to pouring the first puddle and line on the floor. This includes the flattening agents, which may settle while in inventory. Gravity isn’t just a good idea, it’s a law.

Read the article here.

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Timber Moisture Stuff

While it’s a particularly damp time of year, especially here in Victoria, the subject of timber moisture and installation has reared its wet head.

If you don’t already own a moisture meter, you should get one. The most common are “electrical resistance” meters, that is, using two pins which need to be inserted into the timber.

However, moisture meters aren’t the beginning and end of the whole thing, as handy as they are. All they do is give you a starting point from which to make the best possible prediction about the timber’s movement in the future.

The key here is to learn about Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC). That is, the standard moisture content at which the timber will be happy, so to speak, in its given environment (the “expected service conditions”). Some regard EMC as a figure which applies to the timber itself,  while others regard EMC as a theoretical figure, representing the building environment, but which timber will approach from its own moisture condition.

Either way, it’s basic science, and how that information is used produces the same result- namely, whether the timber is ready to lay, and what we can expect it to do once it is.

As we will detail a little further down, it’s not hard to work out the EMC once you know the “expected service conditions”.

The challenge is to determine what the expected service conditions will be, and to what level of regularity these conditions will be maintained throughout the life of the floor. When you turn your heaters off at bedtime, you may have noticed that, in terms of temperature and humidity- what’s outside gets in! Or perhaps your customer is an Eskimo, who will have their house constantly running at a soothing 5 deg C and 80% RH while it’s a billion degrees outside. Our apologies to Eskimos.

Here’s some salient points;

1. Timber is generally released from the Mills at a moisture content of between 9-14% and by the time it arrives to the contractor, it’s generally around 10-12.5%. The key word here is “generally”

2.  Floor boards expand with extra moisture, contract with less, and different density boards will expand at different rates. Therefore, if you install boards with a moisture content of 11%, but the EMC is 13%, they will most probably expand.

Tramex have a good pin resistance meter.

The moisture meter is an essential tool, but it only gets you started. The contractor’s biggest challenge is how to interpret the meter’s findings, and use the information to best advise the customer.

Your first stop should be the Bureau of Meteorology  where you can search the weather data on the property’s region, and calculate a yearly mean temperature and RH (RH is very important!).

You must also take into account the kind of air conditioning the customer’s property will utilize, bearing in mind that this, and the outside weather conditions, will influence each other.

Fortunately, the ATFA have published a very useful paper on this subject, Acclimatisation of solid T&G Flooring . Make sure you real the WHOLE thing, but note that it has a useful EMC chart which will tell you what the timber is most likely to do, once you know the property’s “expected service conditions”. We’ve reproduced it here:

(Note that the timber’s EMC is far more influenced by RH than by temperature). Here you will see that, if the property’s expected service conditions are to be 60% RH and 20 degrees, the timber’s EMC will be 11%. If your tests produce readings of around 9-10%, the timber will most likely expand. The ATFA’s resident guru on timber moisture (and lots of other stuff), David Hayward, advises that the timber may never fully reach the EMC figure. However, it is very important to calculate an average temperature and RH scenario for the building- because it changes all the time, therefore so does the EMC.

The ATFA paper will give you an idea of how much, in terms of mm, the boards are likely to expand (what they can’t tell you is how quickly- that will depend on the species).

So, when you hear talk of “acclimatisation”, know that the devil is in the details. So the timber flooring was stacked, with spacers, in the property itself for a whole four weeks prior to install- does this mean it has been properly acclimatised? Not necessarily! The question is, were those four weeks subject to expected service conditions? Equally, timber only left on site for a few days, but moisture tests to within the calculated EMC, may require no acclimatisation at all.

This is, of course, not taking into account other moisture sources, such as the concrete subfloor-that’s another story.

It’s important to make sure your customer know that their timber floor WILL move, that is as inevitable as death, taxes, and Hollywood cliches. But being armed with this information will ensure that you install timber flooring within an acceptable moisture range, and you can all but eliminate the worst timber movement.

Moisture looming

We at Lagler Australia have long been aware that when it comes to moisture testing concrete slabs to avert flooring failures, the goal posts are being moved.

Although it is not directly pertaining to Timber Flooring, Resilient Flooring Standard AS/NZ 1884 is often used or referenced by Timber Flooring stakeholders (manufacturs of flooring or related products such as adhesives etc) for specifications, including moisture testing parameters and methods. AS/NZ 1884 has been under intense review for the last 18 months and is due for release any minute.

A seminar in April 2012, hosted by the Floorcoverings Association of Victoria (FAV) and the Concrete Institute of Australia (CIA), declared that AS/NZ 1884 will dispense with MOISTURE CONTENT as an acceptable parameter and stipulate RELATIVE HUMIDITY (RH) as the industry-accepted indice for moisture measurement. It was also announced that the standard would reference American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F2170 and F2420, which are the standards on HOW the testing is to be performed.

(Photo courtesty of Peter Craig, Concrete Constructives USA)

The good news is that all of the most comprehensive studies and industry R & D concludes that RH as the best measurement to predict whether a floor will fail or not as a result of moisture migration. So it WILL help reduce failures and resulting remedial nightmares.

The bad news is that moisture testing now becomes more complex and involved.

Over a series of blog posts we will attempt to provide as much detail as possible about the changes. Please note we will not attempt to provide comprehensive advice on how to test- this is up to contractors to examine the applicable standards, which are ultimately the “law” on the issue. However, we will give an overview of the methods AND go back to school on why moisture matters, and what the associated liabilities are.

Coming Events

Take a look at what’s happening in February and March in your state, thanks to the Australian Timber Flooring Association. Closest to home is the forthcoming GOLF DAY at Sandhurst, swingers!

Please note ATFA’s premier training New Techniques Program is being held March 7th – 9th in sunny Queensland. Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity!

NSW

Trade Event
Date:                      16/02/2012
Venue:
                   Sydney Flooring. 21-23 Governor Macquarie Drive, Chipping Norton

Time:                      5.30pm – 8.30pm

ATFA NSW State Standing Committee invites you to come and listen to ATFA’s Technical Manager David Hayward and Sika Australia’s Market Field Manager, Sealing and Bonding and Regional Construction Manager QLD & NT, Denis Gray talk on Acoustics in Timber Flooring, plus get the latest information on adhesives, find out how best to care for your sander, and learn about floating floor finishes for pre-engineered floors and water based timber floor coatings. Download more information here.

3 reasons why you should attend:
1.Informative product presentations
2.Material and machinery information
3. A chance to win 1 of 3 5Litre Intergrain Floating Floor Finish – Water based coating for pre-finished timber floors without the need for sanding valued at $100.

Victoria

Golf Day
Date:
                      24/02/2012
Venue:
                  Sandhurst Club, 75 Sandhurst Blvd. Sandhurst. Victoria
Event:                     4-Player Ambrose
Time:                      Registration commences at Noon. Event concludes at 8pm.

Golf day registrations are filling fast, so start perfecting that swing and download registration here. There are heaps of prizes to be had on the day!

 

Assessing Timber Floors 20/03/2012

Assessing Timber Floors is a two day course designed for those who want to get to the bottom of things. It has been successfully adapted from and replaces the ATFA Floor Inspector Course. This two day workshop will not only provide you with a sound understanding of the behaviour of different flooring products, but importantly the practicalities of taking measurements correctly and then correctly interpreting what they mean. The workshop, includes a series of case studies that will provide practical ‘know how’ on taking measurements, using and understanding measurement equipment (including timber and concrete moisture measurement) and also how to assess the likes of sub-floors, whether this be joists, particleboard or a concrete slab.  Download course details and registration here.

Trade Event          21/03/2012

Queensland

New Techniques Program March 7th  – 9th 2012 Download course details and registration here.

3 reasons to put ATFA New Techniques Program (formerly the US School), on your must-do-list in 2012.

1. Learn alternate techniques – skills to help you to work smarter, not harder
2. Discover specialist methods – get ahead of the game
3. Live demonstrations and considerable hands on participation – practical and real.

Western Australia

Advanced Coatings Workshop 28/03/2012 Download course details and registration here.

The workshop will cover an understanding of the types of coatings and the advantages and disadvantages of all variants. Specifically, it will consider the 18 most common visual concerns and go into detail as to cause, avoidance, and rectification.

Need more information on the courses? Contact Lisa Alexiou at ATFA on 07 5446 5956 or  0488 196 543, or email lisa@atfa.com.au

Summer’s here. Don’t burn your customer’s house down.

After this DIY Floor Sanding project which went horribly wrong  in Geelong, it might be timely to drop a reminder about the inciendiary nature of sawdust and coating residue.

When you’re all quite done having a little snicker at the suffering of a DIY floor sander (and we know you are…), it’s not just DIYers who have this problem…

It’s happened to us. An inexperienced floor sander doing a “love job” for a friend/customer borrowed our buffing machine. After using the machine and filling the dustbag with fine dust and oil modified residue, they decided to give the machine a break by letting it sun itself outside on the nice open decking on a 30+ degree day.

The resulting inferno left a neat hole in the $6,000 Merbau deck. The hole was shaped just like a buffing machine, as in those cartoon scenarios where the cartoon character runs through a wall leaving a hole shaped like them.


The sad part was that our buffer, which plunged two metres to its death, was only a week away from retirement.

Another contractor was brave enough to confess that he once left his finishing machine, in like manner, in his van. Miraculously, the machine and van survived.

Don’t let it happen to you! Empty your bags. If neccessary, soak the contents with water. Summer is meant to be fun…


WIN A TV!

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Not only will you save some coin on HANDLEY’S innovative flooring adhesive and vapour membrane product, but you could be relaxing in front of quality shows like Better Homes and Gardens, The Renovators and NASCAR in full hi-def glory!

There are two tellys to be won, one at each LAGLER branch, and conditions apply. So get into it.

*Entries drawn Dec 19th prior to branch closures. 

Are you charging enough..?

Yet again the Americans, who have done it all before, offer up some good advice. From Hardwood Floors Magazine written by Scott Avery:

 

…Something I want to talk about with my peers: the scare of working for too little money. Everyone reading this post knows two things:

  1. Business goes up sometimes, and other weeks you have a little less business, particularly in wintertime.
  2. Every so often a floor has a callback or problem that could be minor issue to a very big issue.

I know A LOT of contractors who assume that after they pay their materials and employees, the rest is their money and they spend accordingly. So, here’s the golden question: What if you have to pay someone to go back and fix a floor?

Re-work that is not created by a homeowner or another contractor is your liability, and it does cost you money, even if you do the fix yourself as the owner. Fuel, screens, sandpaper, stain, finish, and applicator costs can add up. A secondary cost is that, as an owner, when you’re fixing problems you are not working on filling the pipeline of your business with new work. I have witnessed these two factors working like a cancer to destroy the operating cash flow of businesses in my area and even affect my own business years ago.

Full article at Hardwood Floors Magazines.