How to Install, Maintain and Repair your Leather Flooring
WHY USE LEATHER FOR FLOORING Leather has many practical benefits that derive from its natural qualities – it is durable, hardwearing, supple and when coloured and distressed (enhanced patination) it can look incredible in most interior settings. It is the perfect material for flooring and is extremely comfortable underfoot. Leather also provides acoustic and heat insulation benefits whether used as leather flooring or wall panels. Leather is lustrous, elegant and has a seductive aroma and is inviting to touch.
NEW SYSTEM Leather floors / Leather Tiles are inherently hard to install. They can bubble up, they can get the telescope effect (eg. a small bit of grit on the floor will look a lot larger on the surface of the installed tile), they often need to be rolled flat (which can result in tiles being moved in the process, glues gets everywhere, etc. Having experienced these sorts of installations for several years, we decided to adhere our Leather to a wooden base. Technically you are no longer installing leather but installing wood. Provided the finished substrate is flat you should have no problems installing these floors. It is dead easy.
The concept behind our patinated leather floor tiles originates from old Cotto Floors (cotto meaning terracotta) – not all joints will be tight, some tiles are more irregular than others. The joints, if desired, can be later filled in with wax. We also stain the wood substrate to ensure that no wood colour shows through the joints.
INSTALLATION Leather tiles should be allowed to acclimatize to the new environment for at least a week before they are installed. Effective tile installation requires a clean, dust-free environment and should occur after all other site construction has been completed (especially overhead works). Tiles are affected by humidity and we advise you not to install tiles in areas with uncontrolled humidity. The tiles should not be used in excessively dry less than 20% humidity on average.
Prior to Installation, we suggest that the installer lays the tiles out on the floor to be viewed by the designer or end user. This will allow for the possibility that they may want some of the tiles repositioned before gluing to the wall or floor.
The tiles are to be adhered directly to a FLAT surface. When applying the tiles be sure that the entire site has been thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned of dust and dirt. Once the surface has been cleaned, apply the adhesive (we recommend SIKA T52 or another reputable trowled-on adhesive). Firstly, apply the adhesive to both the substrate and to the back of the tile with a brush or serrated trowel and stick to the substrate.
Once the tile has been applied and has time to dry, it is virtually impossible to move the tiles.
ADHESIVE We strongly recommend you use SikaBond – T52 fully bonded system (Troweled Adhesive). Allow 25mm for finished floor (possibly less)
Suggest you use either a Tiler or a reputable wood floor installer to install our Leather Floors and Walls.
Do not use a contact adhesive as you will be unable to adjust tiles if there are variances in the floor (ie. if floor is not totally flat). You must use a Trowel applied adhesive. There is also a discrepancy in tile thickness which can easily be adjusted.
The smell of the adhesive is only temporary and will go very soon after being laid leaving a lovely leathery aroma. Once the glue has fully set it will give heat resistance and water resistance, which will help if there is an accident.
CLEANING & MAINTENANCE Leather tiles are easy to care for. To properly protect your new leather tiles you should wax upon completion of installation and before the floor is walked on for the very first time.
To keep your tile looking as regal as when you first purchased them, they will need a coat of wax about once a year. This is not compulsory but is recommended. Hand wax the tiles and leave them overnight to soak into the surface. This is best applied with a clean cotton cloth. Saturate the cloth and apply in a circular motion (do not over soak the cloth in Wax). When the wax is dry, buff lightly with a horse brush for example (without using a machine) to create a semi-gloss finish. For large areas we suggest you use a small handheld buffer to polish the tile, the kind one would use to polish a car – make sure you change the bonnet of the buffer as soon as it starts to get clogged up with wax.
The wax gives the tiles protection against damage from liquid for up to 72 hours.
You can wax again anytime the tile looks dull or scuffed. Or apply wax just to keep the leather well conditioned. You can also wax just the traffic lanes if they start to look very scuffed. Some people like the scuffing as part of the look they want from the leather.
Leather floors can fade if in direct sunlight. These areas may require a little more care when it comes to maintenance.
To clean the tiles just vacuum or sweep them and use a damp cloth to clear up any spillages.
Your floor will, like an old leather bag or an old pair of shoes, improve with time. Don’t fret with every scratch or knock. Should your tiles develop scratches we suggest you use either a clear or coloured wax (similar to the colour of the tile). Wax over the damaged surface, allow to dry then buff with a brush. This usually repairs the damage. The more you wax the more the scratches blend in. When I first installed my leather floor I was paranoid about every mark. Do Not Worry. Your tiles will take the nicks, scratches and spills of daily wear-and-tear and incorporate them into a rich and unique patina.
In summary – leather floors are easy… choose your tile, prepare your subfloor, lay tiles out to check prior to installing, stick tiles down in the desired pattern with a trowled on adhesive, wax periodically and enjoy ! Simple !
Visit www.deferranti.com or our very own www.leather-floors.com to see our full range of leather floors and walls. Our leather tiles can be supplied plain, patinated, embossed and assembled into combinations such as Parquet de Versailles.
With over 10 years in the Tile and stone business, Alvaro de Ferranti (Chairman of DE FERRANTI a registered trademark) is an authority on Mosaics, rare limestone and marbles, pietre dure inlay, handmade and handpainted ceramics, wood fire terracotta, repoussage, verre eglomisee, shell and mother of pearl, leather floors and metal floors and any exquisite surfaces you can imagine. His knowledge stretches from material origins and uses, right through to installation and maintenance. You are most welcome to contact him through the website with any questions.
Recommended adhesive supplier – http://www.sika.com/
Glossary “Patina is everything that happens to an object over the course of time. The nick in the leg of a table, a scratch on a table top, the loss of moisture in the paint, the crackling of a finish or a glaze in ceramics, the gentle wear patterns on the edge of a plate. All these things add up to create a softer look, subtle color changes, a character. Patina is built from all the effects, natural and man-made, that create a true antique…” courtesy of Wikipedia®
Copyright © Alvaro Ziani de Ferranti 2007
About the Author
Alvaro de Ferranti is an world renowned expert on exquisite surfaces for interiors and architecture. Having worked closely with craftsmen from all over the world, experts in their own specialist fields, Alvaro shares his knowledge with a series of articles which he will publish throughout the year. He can be contacted via the company website at www.deferranti.com
Southwest Reno Home near downtown Reno