F Ball, a leading manufacturer of subfloor preparation products and flooring adhesives, knows that flooring success starts before you’ve even made your flooring selection.

With these tips and tricks, F Ball peel back the secrets for getting your flooring project off to the best start. From levelling for longevity to adhesives for aesthetics, they’ve left no carpet unturned.

What it takes to install flooring that not only looks good, but lasts

Cruise ship passengers usually don’t give a second thought to flooring, apart from perhaps noticing the plush pile of the carpet or the sureness underfoot of safety flooring. They expect it to be luxurious or practical (or even both), and of course, installed to perfection. And this expectation isn’t just there on day one when everything is brand new, guests have the same high expectations every voyage.

Floor covering selection is only one part of getting this right. Real success stems from the unseen work and preparation that dictates if a floor is going to make the grade and continue to impress in service. Taking shortcuts or not properly assessing the essential steps in preparing and installing high end floor coverings will very quickly manifest itself in the way a floor looks and could lead to very costly remedial work to put it right.

Getting it right from the start

The first important step to take before installing a floor covering, whether that is carpet or a resilient covering such as luxury vinyl, safety flooring or rubber, is to assess the subfloor condition and material.

 In a building, this would mean that the subfloor is examined for loose debris, damp and soundness of structure. A ship’s deck will normally be constructed from steel, and therefore will not have inherent damp and should be fairly flat and smooth, albeit not smooth enough for a high quality flooring installation. To achieve the required degree of smoothness and a visually level surface, a floor levelling compound should be used.

Applied as a cementitious, viscous liquid, normally 2-3mm thick, such compounds set to a hard finish and ensure the final appearance of the floor is not compromised by indentations and undulations. They are essential for resilient floor coverings, such as luxury vinyl and safety flooring, but also important to make carpeted floors look their best and feel firm and consistent underfoot.

Levelling compounds are available to suit the location, intended use and type of subfloor. A cruise ship deck made from steel will inherently flex (slightly) and requires a specialist, flexible levelling compound that can absorb small movements in the subfloor without cracking or breaking apart. Typically, these products contain tiny fibres that act in a similar way to steel rods in steel reinforced concrete and hold the material together when it is subjected to stresses and strains.


Importantly, the steel deck should be primed with a purpose-designed primer, before a levelling compound is applied, to promote good adhesion between the levelling compound and the deck. General purpose primers are available for this, although newer primers are also now available that are designed specifically for non-absorbent surfaces. Containing recycled uPVC pulver, they dry to a hard, textured surface to enhance bond performance. Once the levelling compound has dried it is ready to receive a floor covering that needs to be installed using a suitable adhesive.

Adhesive selection

Adhesive development has evolved over many years to create a range of adhesives designed for specific floor covering types (for example carpet, vinyl, rubber), the locations and environmental conditions they are exposed to, and also to aid the speed and precision of the installation.

There are a number of factors that are considered when creating adhesives including material compatibility and performance, which will take into consideration the adhesive’s ‘initial grab’. For example, the immediate adhesion the product has with the subfloor and the floor covering, and also the ongoing ‘bond strength’ that ensures the floor covering is firmly adhered to the subfloor.

Other properties adhesives can have the ability to remove and reposition a floor covering, such as luxury vinyl tiles, if the initial placement isn’t quite right, a resistance to temperature fluctuations – from as low as –20°C up to +60°C, or the ability to withstand surface water.

F Ball: Secrets to Success | Cruise Ship Interiors Expo 2020 | London
F. Ball applying adhesive

Because the selection of an adhesive is so important, manufacturers such as F. Ball, rigorously test all adhesives with product samples provided by floor covering manufacturers around the world. Once tested and approved for a specific floor covering, the company also requires the adhesive recommendation to be endorsed by the floor covering manufacturer.

 As a result of this testing, the company has created an online Recommended Adhesives Guide (RAG), which includes 6,000 approved adhesive recommendations for floor coverings from over 200 international manufacturers.

Following these guidelines will ensure that floor coverings throughout a cruise ship will retain their high-quality aesthetic appearance and maintain their in-use performance from their first day of service and throughout their working life.

F. Ball are exhibiting at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe in London this December and you’ll find them on stand 314!

Save the date: Cruise Ship Interiors Expo London will take place 2-3 December, ExCel Centre London.