Coronavirus response: Adapting spaces for short-term use

Roger Moore, EU technical services manager at Altro, advises on how to select flooring and wall solutions for field hospitals and wards being set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Modern flooring and wall surface products are being utilised in field hospitals being set up to deal with the rise in patients with coronavirus

With unprecedented demand on health and care services, robust solutions for adapting spaces quickly for high-intensity use have become vitally important.

Around the world we’re seeing exhibition centres, hotels, churches, schools, ice rinks and other facilities being transformed into temporary hospitals and care centres.

While each project is different, they are common in requiring quick-to-install, smart solutions that are durable and hygienic and won’t leave lasting damage once the space returns to its original use.

Adhesive-free solutions

Adhesive-free products come into their own in these projects, and are tried and tested in the healthcare sector.

Developed specifically for commercial applications, adhesive-free vinyl floors are designed to be loose laid over a wide range of new and existing surfaces, including painted floors, existing sheet resilient flooring, vinyl tiles, and even damp subfloors.

Adhesive-free floors combine well with hygienic PVCU wall sheet, which in these emergency temporary facilities can also be installed using adhesive-free techniques for speed and ease.

Adhesive-free flooring solutions are particularly well suited to quick deployment

Installation technique

The concept is simple - the material is specifically designed to be installed without the use of wet adhesives.

Altro’s adhesive-free floors, for example, use double-sided tape that is supplied with the material as part of the system. The tape is used around the perimeter of the installed area as well as under the joints to be welded.

The rest of the installation technique is much the same as traditional adhered floors, so is familiar to any installer – a really-important consideration given that teams working on these projects may well be mixed with military and trade personnel of varying experience.

The benefits to this lack of adhesive are many, but one particular key advantage is time saving.

Installation time is typically halved, there are no glues to cure before welding or getting back onto the floor, and this means a job that may have taken two days now takes only one and the floor can be walked on straight away.

Substrate preparation

Another huge advantage of adhesive-free flooring is that, in many cases, no special preparation is needed, even in the case of damp subfloors.

However, if there are holes in the floor these would need to be filled and in some cases where the existing surfaces is very uneven a temporary floor may be required.

Altro has recently been asked about installing resilient floors over carpet in hotels that are being temporarily repurposed and need more-hygienic and robust solutions.

Adhesive-free flooring will work for this and can be installed as above.

We want to play our part in helping the country get through this difficult time and use our experience working in partnership with the healthcare sector to provide remote technical support, whatever the challenge

If the carpet is particularly thick, installing over plywood is best. But, either way, this can be uplifted after without leaving lasting damage, though care must be taken when welding joints – it works well to slide a sheet of ply, or similarly-robust material, underneath just while the joint is welded.

Hygienic walls

Hygienic PVCU wall sheet can be an ideal partner to adhesive-free flooring in these adapted spaces.

Although we would ordinarily recommend it is always fully bonded to the substrate; it can be installed using foam tape or hook-and-loop tape for speed and ease when applied to a partition wall in these temporary-but-demanding areas.

PVCU wall sheet can deliver much-needed hygiene and cleanability in these temporary facilities and be sealed at the base of the sheet with Altro silicone to resilient flooring to provide an integrated, impervious solution.

We recommend using a simpler two-part joint strip, which makes the process quicker, easier and possible without specialist installation tools.

Hygienic wall sheet is an ideal partner to adhesive-free flooring

Modular building

Adhesive-free options are also well suited to modular buildings, which are being employed to good effect to provide toilets, wash areas, sluice rooms and more during the pandemic.

Speed and ease of installation are important, as is the ability to reuse or repurpose as needs change.

Uplift and recycling

It’s not yet clear how long these temporary facilities will be in use for, or how they may need to be changed over time. But adhesive-free products are flexible – they are uplifted once the original area use needs to be re-established, with no damage done – something we’ve seen in practice many times. The product can either be re-used elsewhere or fully recycled.

Ongoing expert support

The construction of temporary hospitals and care facilities across the country is well underway.

And our floors and hygienic wall solutions are being installed in many of these much-needed NHS facilities.

We want to play our part in helping the country get through this difficult time and use our experience working in partnership with the healthcare sector to provide remote technical support, whatever the challenge.

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