Page 1 - 2018-11-CFR Volume 122 A Smart Guide to PVC Backed Modular Carpet and Vinyl Flooring November 2018
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Sim Crisler – Vice President and Lew Migliore – President  LGMTCS and Associates

       This article is an update from Volume 21 dated September 2009 of the Commercial Flooring Report.  It
       also relates to Luxury Vinyl Tile and Plank and other flooring materials that contain PVC or plasticizers.
       Because plasticizer migration has become a larger issue due to the growth of vinyl tile it is important for
       you to know about this condition and how to recognize it.

       Modular Carpet – also known as carpet tile – is probably the least difficult soft flooring product to actually
       handle and install. That being said, the chemistries involved in most of the modular vinyl carpet backing
       systems that are in general use today can create serious and occasionally catastrophic issues that WILL
       land squarely on the shoulders of the flooring contractor if the correct steps have not been taken. Vari-
       ous aspects of this issue have been dealt with in several articles and publications.

       In this article, I intend to go into detail regarding the chemistry involved in the manufacture of PVC modu-
       lar carpet backings and some of the downstream issues that can be created. The same is true for vinyl
       tile flooring material that is in use today. Knowing and understanding this chemistry will hopefully rein-
       force the need for caution when dealing with products that utilize PVC chemistry and make you

       First and foremost, PVC is a superb backing for modular carpets and vinyl flooring material. This is true
       so long as the component parts of the PVC compound are properly manufactured AND the compound
       itself is correctly handled through the various manufacturing processes involved in creating the carpet
       web from which the modular carpet or vinyl flooring tile will be cut AND the final product is properly han-
       dled during the installation process. Wait a minute – How in the world am I, as a flooring contractor, ar-
       chitect, designer, general contractor, dealer, distributor or specifier supposed to know about any of this

       Polyvinyl chloride abbreviated as “PVC” is a hard brittle white plastic in its pure form. It was discovered
       back in the mid 1800’s but was too brittle and unworkable to be commercially viable. In 1926, B.F.
       Goodrich discovered a way to make the material softer using additives – known as plasticizers. The ad-
       dition of these additives made the plastic extremely useful for a number of applications. When the term
       “PVC” is used in this article, it means a mixture of the hard brittle PVC polymer – usually ground to a
       very fine particle size – with a plasticizer to form what is called a “plastisol”. This plastisol generally has
       the consistency of toothpaste and can be pumped and manipulated through a manufacturing process
       with minimal difficulty. This plastisol also has the unique property that it can sit for long periods of time
       without drying out or becoming unworkable which makes it very friendly to the manufacturing process.
       When heated to high temperature – on the order of 380 degree F – this plastisol undergoes a phase
       change or fusion from liquid to solid and becomes the material we have all seen and handled when PVC
       backed flooring products are installed.
      1                                            Commercial Flooring Report                            November 2018
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