Flooring is an essential element of any interior space, and the technology behind its installation has evolved over the years. Bjelin’s sister company Välinge Innovation developed the first mechanical floor locking system, so we sat down with Laetitia Kimblad, Director of Floor Locking at Välinge Innovation, to delve into the history, development, and future of this innovative technology.
"The revolution in flooring installation began in the 90s with the invention of the first mechanical locking system, developed by Välinge Innovation’s founder, Darko Pervan, and his son Tony," Laetitia explains. "This initial generation, known as 1G, featured an aluminium strip on the long and short sides of panels. It was introduced by Alloc in their laminate products and presented at the Domotex Hannover fair in 1996."
Laetitia highlights the significant milestones along the way. "Välinge introduced a 2G locking system in 2000 that was fully integrated into the flooring panel, simplifying the production process and enhancing the installation experience. Over the years, our team has continuously refined and patented new locking systems to improve the customer experience, accommodate different flooring products, and meet specific requirements."
Mechanical locking technology offers fast, easy and robust installations. "The design ensures panels are securely interlocked, preventing gaps and height differences between the panels. This quality is built into the product, promising a lasting and reliable installation," says Laetitia.
Välinge Innovation has optimised the locking systems to suit different materials. “We have developed a range of different locking systems, even within our 5G portfolio, to suit different kinds of products, depending on the thickness of the flooring and the product build-up.”
Versatility is another area that’s been explored. "You can use different patterns and install on different surfaces," Laetitia reveals. "For instance, Bjelin's products featuring the 5G Climb technology enable flooring to climb walls, showcasing the limitless possibilities."
Laetitia offers valuable advice for installers and DIY enthusiasts. "First and foremost, carefully follow the installation instructions and watch videos," she advises. "Especially for 5G Fold Down or 5G Dry, where the installation doesn’t require a hammer. You install with the pressure of your hand or thumb, so it's important to follow the instructions to prevent damage to the flooring.”
When it comes to subfloor preparation, this is significant. "Proper subfloor preparation is crucial. Uneven subfloors can compromise the locking system's integrity and performance. Additionally, choosing the correct underlay is essential to maintaining the flooring's quality."
If anyone wishes to uninstall the floor panels, there are a couple of different ways to do this. “You can either disengage a whole row and then angle up or slide the panels apart, or use our dismantling pin,” advises Laetitia. “This is convenient if you have a large room where it’s difficult to lift the completed row. You insert the dismantling pin on the short side, just below the 5G insert, pushing back the plastic inserts and moving the panels into an open position.” There are different models of dismantling pins depending on the type of flooring.
What’s next for floor locking? "We're committed to pushing boundaries even further," Laetitia says. "Sustainability and versatility are key driving forces, and we’re excited to keep developing and shaping the future of flooring."
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