New Softile Compression Installation Method
This process was developed in conjunction with installers and a team from softile. We discovered too many sites that had been installed in an expanded state or had no fixed or properly fixed perimeter and many tiles were not glued properly. Seam separation has become a big issue.
The tiles we ship are 23-7/8 inches square and in the heat are prone to expansion and then followed by contraction. The new installation process requires that all tiles be compressed into place to a dimension of 23-3/4 inches. Softile compression is required to counter the effects of heat related expansion in the field and any potential for shrinkage of the tile over time, if there is any.
The method involves adhering keystone tiles to the sub-surface. The key stone softile are utilized as a point of compression (something fixed to compress to) and the entire outer perimeter of tiles is fastened to the sub-surface. The outside 12 inches of any site have always been fastened to the outer edge sub surface. If there is a fixed edge like a wall or a curb then the outside edge does not need to be glued first unless cutting is required. Strategic rows of softile are fastened to the sub-surfaces (every 32 feet or less)
Once the perimeter and strategic rows of tiles are secure, the field tiles are installed from the outer perimeter (softile glued to the surface or the curb) of the site inwards. Every 16 feet or less a compression row of tiles is left open. A compression row is an empty space where the final tile is compressed. Based on 16 feet in each direction the compression space would be approx 22 inches wide. A 24 inch tile would then be compressed into this space which translates into 1/8th inch compression on each tile. Application of the adhesive would take place after compression of all tiles into place.
The initial feedback is that this process is more time consuming because of chalk lining the site and setting “keystone”, or perimeter tiles and working the softiles into a compression. We have found that returning to a site to complete repairs will typically take much longer so the offsite is a little more work up front pays dividends.
We have always preferred a concrete site over any site as it provides the best surface to install on. The critical component for a good installation is going to be a fixed curb and a good sub surface. The past couple of years we have also discovered problems with adhering to asphalt based on feedback from installers and are currently researching adhesives and site preparation to ensure this works.
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