By Leigh Smith | August 25, 2020
In many applications, sheet vinyl is chosen for its durability, waterproof properties, and large format to minimizes seams. And, unlike tile and planks, sheet vinyl is flexible and can be coved! Coving creates a seamless transition from floor to wall without the use of a traditional rubber baseboard. The sheet vinyl is extended up the wall and lays on a cove strip that makes a small curve instead of a harsh line between baseboard and floor. Using the cove stick instead of a traditional rubber base makes sweeping and cleaning away dirt and harmful bacteria easier. The edge of the sheet vinyl that is extended up the wall can be covered with a cover cap, which helps protect the floor and create a finished look. An exposed edge can curl, which looks terrible and can affect your floor’s longevity. This cap also helps ensure nothing gets trapped between the wall and sheet vinyl. It’s one more step to prevent moisture from seeping into your walls and subfloor!
Let me paint a picture. Traditionally, you would see sheet vinyl laid flat on the floor, and where the wall and floor meet, you would see a rubber or vinyl base. In a perfect world, the trim would be sealed to the floor, and nothing would get stuck between the two. However, buildings tend to settle unevenly, and small gaps appear at the bottom of the base. Should there be excess water on the floor, moisture and bacteria can find their way into these small gaps. With enough water and the right temperature, mold can start to grow. In a healthcare facility, this is very dangerous. Now imagine there is no gapping at all. The only area where moisture could infiltrate is up off the ground and covered by a cove cap that creates a tight seal against the wall.
Since sheet vinyl cannot cover a whole room without any seams, heat welding is a fundamental installation method to consider. Heat welding uses thermo-fusing to seal pieces of resilient flooring together at a seam or joint. Commonly, a “thread” of PVC is laid between the sheets and can be a solid color or coordinate with the floor’s design. Before the thread is placed, installers cut the edges of the adjacent floor to make a groove for the thread. Then, a hot air gun is used to melt the PVC. As the PVC thread melts, it bonds the two pieces of flooring together. As the PVC starts to cool, installers take a knife and skim the top of the PVC to create a flush look between the floors. Improper heat welding can cause this thread to peel up, scorch your floor causing cracks and bubbling, or gaps between the floors that will trap moisture, dust, and bacteria. Pulling the heat gun at a steady pace and using a special nozzle can prevent this from happening. This heat welding process prevents moisture and bacteria from getting under the vinyl floors.
While sheet vinyl in hospitals and doctors’ offices may not have the most eye-catching designs or dazzling colors, it was specified for a reason. With minimal crevices for diseases to hide and the durability to hold up against heavy traffic from patients and healthcare professionals alike, it was specified with you in mind. The next time you are sitting in an exam room, take a moment to appreciate the sheet vinyl floor.
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