US & Canada

US & Canada


Skip's tips: The importance of acclimating materials and meeting job site temperature requirements

Have you ever had the joints in tile open up or peak? Seen a heat-weld in an Altro Whiterock panel seam split open and/or a floor seam split and open up? It’s all expansion and contraction!

It’s best to install flooring and wall cladding with the entire environment and all building materials at, or as near to as possible, to the temperature the area will see once in use. 

The lack of acclimation in installation materials, concrete substrate, sheetrock/plaster wall substrate and the building itself, plus the naturally occurring expansion and contraction of all materials when undergoing temperature changes, can cause problems like seams splitting. 

Floor tile cannot hold the concrete together and keep it from expanding (or contracting. Ever seen a concrete joint telegraph through a finished floor?). Also keep in mind that Altro Whiterock panels alone cannot prevent a wall substrate from expanding or contracting – only proper acclimation can prevent it. 

Many installers will install materials without permanent HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) up and running, and at temperatures during cold times at and even sometimes below 65° F. Obviously, inconsistent temperatures can cause issues with adhesives and the settling of flooring.

Why can’t you use water based adhesives at temperatures below 65° F?
  • the water cannot dry and evaporate out
  • the adhesive stays wet and does not dry
  • the adhesive cannot get sticky like it is supposed to
  • it never fully sets or cures
If you run clothes through a washing machine, and after it finishes you take the wet clothes and hang them up on a clothes line and the temperature is 65° F or less, do they dry? I think not! (And if they do it is very slow.)

In regards to the stick of an adhesive when things are cold, think of this – have you ever stepped on a piece of chewing gum that is stuck to the sidewalk on a hot sunny summer day? It sticks to the bottom of your shoe like there is no tomorrow and you can’t get it off! It sticks, well, like chewing gum! Now step on that very same piece of gum when the temperature is 65° F or below – wow, it doesn’t stick –l how can this be, it must be magic – nope just too cold for it to be soft and sticky.

Common sense: Follow the manufacturer’s temperature recommendations – and this is uncommon!

Technical tips brought to you by Skip Johnson, Altro's Technical Services Manager, with over 30 years' experience in the industry.