Case Study

‘Vibration Method' Sanitary Flooring Offers Speedy Installation and Better Performance

Having been successfully commercialized in Europe, the "vibration method" of installing tile floors is now being brought to the U.S. by Jach Fliesen GmbH. The company, headquartered in Boblingen, Germany, has opened an office in Waterbury, CT. But it already has an impressive list of industrial clients in food processing and chemicals, as well as airports, automotive plants and others, including Coca Cola, BMW, Mercedes, BASF, Bayer, Nestle, L'Oreal and National Foods (Abu Dhabi).

Mark Sedgley, a vice president for the firm, explains that the traditional method of installing tile floors is a three-step process. First, workers lay out a mud or "screed" bed of cement, which is allowed to set for several weeks, and next they apply the tiles manually with a thin layer of cement- or epoxy-based adhesive. Finally, they fill the joints between tiles with adhesive grout to level the floor. Joints are typically 6-12 mm (0.25 to 0.5 in.). "This provides many planes of potential failure, such as a poorly compressed mud bed, surface contamination prior to applying adhesive, and uneven depth of the epoxy grout," says Sedgley.

Jach Fliesen's vibration process is a totally different method of installation. The mud bed (applied in the morning of a workday) contains water-reducing and delaying agents to prevent the initial set from taking place for a period of 10-12 hours. Then, a cemetitious or epoxy-based emulsion is applied to the surface, and tiles are applied to this emulsion. A heavy vibrating roller is applied to the tile surface by skilled mechanics; this roller beats the tiles into place, fully compacting the mud bed and also ensuring that the tiles are fully embedded. The tiles chosen are a very tight tolerance tile with a dimensional tolerance not normally found in quarry-type tiles.

This allows the joints between the tiles to be very small (1-2 mm), which means that the floor has a flatter appearance and is easier to keep clean. The traditional clicking noise of wheels rolling over the floor is essentially eliminated. The tight tolerance requires special epoxy grouts that have a high flow characteristic to enable the grout to fully penetrate the full depth of the narrow joint. The epoxy grouts are specially formulated to allow the high temperatures normally associated by steam cleaning, and to have the high chemical resistance normally associated with Furan grouts. The epoxy grouts are applied mechanically by a special grouting machine.

The mechanical method of installation avoids delays associated with mud beds and screeds, removes problems caused by delaminated surfaces, and eliminates problems caused by wide joints. The typical installation including mud bed, slurry and tile is normally 250 m2 (2500ft2) per day per 5-man crew. The typical installation cost is around $12.50 per ft2 in the U.S. The floors have compressive strengths ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 psi, depending on the system chosen. Five- to 10-year warranties are often provided.

Contact: Jach Fliesen USA Inc., 1 Mattoon Rd., Waterbury, CT 06722; tel: 203 597 8266; fax: 203 597 8285

Jach Fliesen GMBH, Albert Schwietzer-Strasse 49, 71034 Boblingen 4, GERMANY Tel: +47 7031 768 10 Fax: +49 7031 768 166

Other offices are in Singapore and Melbourne, Australia