KUALA LUMPUR—Natural rubber production increased 4.7 percent in 2013 among the 11 member countries of the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries, the ANRPC said.
Total 2013 NR production was 11.15 million metric tons, according to the February issue of Natural Rubber Trends & Statistics, the ANRPC monthly report.
Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines all revised their 2013 production reports since the January issue of Natural Rubber Trends, which caused the ANRPC to change its 2013 numbers, the association said. In January, the ANRPC said 2013 NR production was 10.95 million tons, up 3.2 percent from 2012.
Volatility in world markets caused NR prices to fall precipitously between December 2013 and February 2014, according to the report.
Standard Malaysian Rubber 20 (tire grade) stood at $231.76 for 100 kilograms in December, but fell 6.9 percent to $215.72 in January and another 10.5 percent to $192.98 in February, the report said.
Standard Thai Rubber 20, which started at $233.04 per 100 kilos in December, dropped 7.3 percent in January to $216.58 and another 10.5 percent to $192.83 in February. Rubber Smoked Sheets 3 in Bangkok started at $256.95 per 100 kilos in December, then decreased 8.6 percent to $234.85 in January and 8 percent to $215.95 in February.
Recent irrational fluctuations in NR prices may end soon, thanks to production shutdowns during the wintering season and encouraging growth forecasts from consumer countries, said ANRPC Secretary General Kamarul Baharain Basir in his opening letter to the February report. This can’t happen soon enough for NR growers, he said.
“Low prices have been depressing the livelihood of rubber growers, especially smallholders, whereby the affected group has increasingly showed its discontent,” Kamarul said.
A latex is a colloidal suspension of very small polymer particles in water and is used to make rubber.
Dipped goods (medical and surgical items, household and industrial gloves, boots, and balloons) utilize more than half of all natural latex consumed in the United States. The adhesives industry is the second largest user of natural latex in products such as shoes, envelopes, labels, and pressure sensitive tape.
Natural latex with a high solids content is also used for making molds for casting plaster, cement, wax, low temperature metals, and limited run polyester articles. Natural latex has the ability to shrink around the object to be reproduced, so that the smallest detail will be reproduced in the cast. Latex is even being used to help stabilize desert soils to make them suitable for agricultural uses.
Natural latex is produced from the Hevea brasilienesis rubber tree and is the protective fluid contained beneath the bark. It is a cloudy white liquid, similar in appearance to cow milk. It is collected by cutting a thin strip of bark from the tree and allowing the latex to exude into a collecting vessel over a period of hours.
Hevea trees mature at five to seven years of age and can be tapped for up to 30 years. Rubber yields range around a ton per acre (2.5 tons per ha) on the larger plantations, but yields four times as much are theoretically possible. Trees often are rested for a period after heavy tapping.
Natural latex was once commercially produced in the Amazon in great quantities. In recent times, production of natural latex has moved to Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Far Eastern regions. More than 90% of the total world production of natural rubber now comes from Asia, with well over half of that total originating in these countries. Other leading Asian producers include Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka. China and the Philippines both have substantially increased their rubber production as well.
Most synthetic rubber is created from two materials, styrene and butadiene. Both are currently obtained from petroleum. Over a billion pounds (454,000,000 kg)of this type of rubber was manufactured in the United States in 1992. Other synthetic rubbers are made from specialty materials for chemical and temperature resistant applications.
Tires account for 60-70% of all natural and synthetic rubber used. Other products containing rubber include footwear, industrial conveyor belts, car fan belts, hoses, flooring, and cables. Products such as gloves or contraceptives are made directly from rubber latex. Latex paints are essentially a solution of colored pigment and rubber latex. Latex foam is made by beating air into the latex before coagulating it.
The Indians of Central and South America used rubber as early as the eleventh century to coat fabric or to make into balls, but it was not until the French scientist Charles de la Condamine visited South America during
the 1700s that the first samples were sent back to Europe. Rubber was given its present English name by the British chemist Joseph Priestley in about 1770. The first modern use for rubber was discovered in 1818 by a British medical student named James Syme. He used it to waterproof cloth in order to make the first raincoats, a process patented in 1823 by Charles Macintosh. Thomas Hancock devised methods for mechanically working rubber so it could be shaped, and he built England’s first rubber factory in 1820. Also during this period, Michael Faraday discovered that natural rubber is composed of units of a chemical compound called isoprene.
During the mid-nineteenth century, Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanization, a process that retains the rubber’s elasticity under temperature changes. This process heats rubber with sulfur, which causes cross linking, decreasing rubber’s tackiness and sensitivity to heat and cold.
In 1882, John Boyd Dunlop of Ireland was granted a patent for his pneumatic tire. As the demand for tires began to deplete natural rubber supplies, the British cultivated huge rubber plantations in Singapore, Malaysia, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Seeds were taken from Brazil and first germinated in England and then shipped to these countries. Today, all natural rubber produced in Asia comes from trees that are descendants of the Brazilian seeds.
By the early 1900s, various countries sought ways to improve rubber compounds and to develop synthetic materials. In 1910, sodium was found to catalyze polymerization. When the Germans were cut off from natural rubber supplies during World War I, they used this discovery to make about 2,500 tons (2,540 metric tons) of rubber made from dimethylbutadiene.
During World War II, the Japanese gained control of the major sources of natural rubber in Asia. In response, the United States’ synthetic rubber industry increased its production by an astonishing 10,000%, from 7,967 tons (8,130 metric tons) in 1941 to more than 984,000 tons (1 million metric tons) in 1944. Following the war, other countries developed their own synthetic rubber factories to avoid having to rely on overseas rubber supplies.
Improvements in synthetic rubber have continued, and in addition, higher yielding hybrid trees have been developed that yield twice as much natural latex as the conventional ones. In 1971, a tree stimulant was developed that resulted in an average increase of 30% in latex production with no apparent harm to the trees.
The composition of latex sap consists of 30-40% rubber particles, 55-65% water, and small amounts of protein, sterol glycosides, resins, ash, and sugars. Rubber has high elasticity and a polymer molecular structure. This structure consists of a long chain made up of tens of thousands of smaller units, called monomers, strung together. Each monomer unit has a molecular size comparable with that of a simple substance such as sugar. Other special chemicals are used as preservatives or stimulants during the harvesting process.
Both synthetic and natural rubber production require the use of vulcanizing chemicals, primarily sulfur. Fillers such as carbon black are also added to provide extra strength and stiffness. Oil is often used to help processing and reduce cost.
Growing and processing natural rubber is one of the most complex agricultural industries and requires several years. It combines botany, chemistry, and sophisticated machinery with dexterous skills of the people who harvest the trees. Contrast this with synthetic rubber production, which involves chemical reactions and sophisticated chemical processing machinery that is automatically controlled by computers. The production of natural latex is described below.
1 Seeds from high-grade trees are planted and allowed to grow for about 12 to 18 months in the nursery before a new bud is grafted to the seedling. After bud grafting, the year-old seedling tree is cut back and is ready for transplanting. The bud sprouts shortly after transplanting, resulting in a new tree with better properties. Approximately 150 trees are planted per acre (375 per ha), which are cultivated and cared for until they are ready for tapping in about six to seven years.
2 To harvest latex, a worker shaves off a slanted strip of bark halfway around the tree and about one third in (0.84 cm) deep. Precise skill is required for if the tree is cut too deeply, the tree will be irreparably damaged. If the cut is too shallow, the maximum amount of latex will not flow. The latex then bleeds out of the severed vessels, flows down along the cut until it reaches a spout, and finally drops into a collection cup that will later be drained.
3 Tapping is repeated every other day by making thin shavings just below the previous cut. When the last scar created by the cuts is about 1 ft (0.3 m) above the ground, the other side of the tree is tapped in similar fashion, while the first side renews itself. Each tapping takes about three hours and produces less than a cup of latex.
4 A tapper first collects the cut lump, which is coagulated latex in the cup, and tree lace, which is latex coagulated along the old cut. Next, the tapper makes a new cut. The latex first flows rapidly, then declines to a steady rate for a few hours, after which it slows again. By the next day, the flow has nearly stopped as the severed vessel becomes plugged by coagulated latex.
5 To prevent most of the liquid latex from coagulating before it can be conveniently pooled and transported, the tapper adds a preservative such as ammonia or formaldehyde to the collection cup. Both the liquid and coagulated latex is sent to factories for processing.
6 To increase tree yields and reduce tapping times, chemical stimulants are used. Puncture tapping, in which the bark is quickly pierced with sharp needles, is another method that can improve productivity, since it enables the same worker to tap more trees per day.
Producing liquid concentrate
7 About 10% of the latex is processed into a liquid concentrate by removing some of the water and increasing the rubber content to 60%. This is achieved either by spinning the water out of the latex through centrifugal force, by evaporation, or by a method known as creaming. In this method, a chemical agent is added to the latex that causes the rubber particles to swell and rise to the liquid’s surface. The concentrate is shipped in liquid form to factories, where it is used for coatings, adhesives, and other applications.
Producing dry stock
8 Other rubber and field latex is coagulated with acid. A giant extrusion dryer that can produce up to 4,000 lbs (1,816 kg) per hour removes the water, creating a crumb-like material. The dried rubber is then compacted into bales and crated for shipment.
9 Ribbed smoked sheets are made by first diluting the latex and adding acid. The acid makes rubber particles bunch together above the watery serum in which they are suspended. After several hours, roughly one pound (0.45 kg) of soft, gelatinous rubber coagulates for every three pounds (1.35 kg) of latex.
10 The rubber is allowed to stand for one to 18 hours, then the slabs are pressed into thin sheets through a system of rollers that wrings out excess liquid. The final set of rollers leaves a ribbed pattern on the sheets that increases the surface area and hastens drying. The sheets are dried for up to a week in smoke houses before being packed and shipped.
Producing other products
11 To make rubber products, the mix is shaped by placing it in a heated mold, which helps shape and vulcanize the material. For more complex products, such as tires, a number of components are made, some with fiber or steel-cord reinforcement, which are then joined together. Surgical gloves are made by dipping a ceramic form into latex, withdrawing the form, and then drying the latex shape.
A number of quality checks are made after the latex is harvested. After tapping, the latex is checked for purity and other properties. After each step of the production process, technicians check physical properties and chemical composition, using a variety of analytical equipment.
The production of natural rubber has failed to meet the growing demand for rubber, and hence, today two-thirds of the world’s rubber is synthetic. However, developments, such as the invention of epoxidized natural rubber which is produced by chemically treating natural rubber, may reverse this trend. The synthetic rubber industry is also continuing to make processes more efficient, less costly, and less polluting, as well as developing new additives, compounds, and applications.
Though there are as many as 2,500 other plants that produce rubber, it is not made fast enough to be profitable. United States Department of Agriculture researchers are looking at ways to speed up the process by genetically engineering a plant to make larger initiator molecules. These molecules start the rubber-making process, and if such molecules were larger, rubber could be produced up to six times faster.
Natural Rubber / Latex – Production of Natural Rubber
Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are the largest producers of natural rubber in the world. Figures from the World Trade organisation posted on www.thailand.com indicate the following worldwide natural rubber production in 1998.
Natural rubber comes from the Havea brasiliensis tree, which grows in tropical regions. They typically reach 20-30 metres in height on rubber plantations, and are able to produce commercial quantities of latex at about 7 years of age, depending on climate and location. Economical life span of a rubber tree is between 10 to 20 years, but may extend past 25 years in the hands of a skilled tapper and bark consumption.
It should be noted that latex is different to tree sap.
Dry Rubber Production
Tapping Rubber Trees
Havea trees are not tapped any more often than once per day, with 2 or 3 days being the norm. In countries such as Thailand, tapping usually takes place in the early hours of the morning, prior to dawn due to the high day time temperatures and the protective clothing worn to protect against snakes etc. Also flow rates are increased due to higher turgor pressures at these times.
A tapper uses a sharp hook shaped knife to shave a thin layer of fresh bark from the tree. This exposes the latex vesicles. The cut is typically done at 25-30° to the horizontal, as this exposes the maximum number of vesicles. The same incision is re-opened the next time (typically the next day) by shaving off a small amount of bark. Virgin bark is exposed first working around in panels. The same area may be exploited again after about 7 years.
The thickness of the layer is important as too thick a slice will damage the tree and reduce its productivity and life, while too thin a slice will not produce sufficient latex. Bark is removed in a localised area for a period of time, and then a new area is tapped allowing the tree to repair itself.
The latex runs down and is collected in a cup. Each tree usually produces about half a cup of latex per day and is collected later in the day. Latex will flow for approximately 1 to 3 hours after which time the vesicles become plugged with coagulum.
Processing of natural rubber involves the addition of a dilute acid such as formic acid. The coagulated rubber is then rolled to remove excess water.
Then a final rolling is performed using a textured roller and the resultant rubber sheet is dried. Following this, the rubber is ready for export of further processing. This type of natural rubber accounts for about 90% of natural rubber production.
Natural Rubber Production
Natural rubber is used in a pure form in some applications. In this case, the latex tapped from trees is concentrated using centriguges, removing water and proteinaceous materials. It is then preserved using a chemical such as ammonia.
Applications of Natural Rubber
The natural rubber is used for making products such as:
The Economist Intelligence Unit expects natural rubber (NR) consumption growth to continue expanding in 2014-15 at an average of 3.9% as demand recovers in several major consuming countries. This follows growth of 2.7% in 2013, according to the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG). Despite the quickening pace of consumption growth, it will not be enough to eliminate the substantial market surplus in 2014-15 and we expect that prices will favour consumers, especially in 2014. That said, heavy stockpiles in China and Japan will weigh against apparent demand as consumers there will be able to displace imports by drawing down on reserves. China will remain by far the world’s largest consumer in 2014-15, but other emerging regions, such as Other Europe, North America and Latin America, will also help to support consumption growth.
We have revised downwards our forecast for global rubber production in 2014 for a second consecutive month, as a combination of dry weather conditions across South-east Asia (where three-quarters of global rubber production is located) and low prices will result in lower output and production rationalisation. We now expect output to grow by just 0.1% in 2014, largely owing to a downward revision to our Thailand forecast, before bouncing back by 3.3% in 2015. Despite the weak growth in 2014, global rubber output will still reach a record 12.1m tonnes and will mean another year of sizeable market surplus. A notable further downside risk for 2014 is the deteriorating political situation in Thailand, given the potential for rubber farmers’ participation in recent social unrest to affect supply and for exchange-rate weakness to disrupt exports.
The net result of our increases in Japanese and North American consumption, and changes to the balance of production in South-East Asia is a slightly smaller market surplus in 2014, of 268,000 tonnes, compared with 294,000 tonnes previously, and 714,000 tonnes in 2013, according to according to IRSG data. The surplus will shrink again in 2015, as growth in global consumption will outpace that in production. (Producers will generally be wary of ramping up output following a period of good supply and falling global prices.) Even with these lower surplus levels, rubber will be amply available in 2014-15 and we expect the stocks/consumption ratio to stabilise above 14 weeks, its highest level since the early 2000s. Much of the excess rubber will be held in China by the State Reserve Bureau and will therefore be unavailable to the market, helping to temper somewhat the impact of the surplus on prices. There has also been stockbuilding at the producer end, as exporters are unwilling to flood the market at a time of low prices.
Despite a small reduction in the expected surplus in 2014 as a result of dry conditions in major producers and production rationalisation, recent bearish market conditions mean we have cut our forecasts for price for RSS3, a Thai benchmark grade used in automobile tyres. We now expect prices to average US$2,455/tonne, from US$2,498/tonne previously. Given the risks to the Thai economy posed by political unrest, it is possible that the price could fall further in US dollar terms on exchange-rate effects. Prices for SMR20, a Malaysian benchmark, are expected to average M$6,560/tonne in 2014 as a whole, down by nearly 16% on 2013 (when prices already fell by 18%). We tentatively expect prices to recover in 2015, but they will still be well off their high levels of 2011.
Choosing a rug isn’t really that complicated, but there are several mistakes people tend to make when it comes to home décor and rugs. One of the biggest, and sometimes costliest, mistakes people do when choosing a rug is getting the wrong rug pad, either because they want to save money or don’t want to waste time on researching which rug pad is the right one for them. Using the free rug pad offered by your manufacturer instead of, say, a quality rubber rug pad, can have catastrophic effects on your carpet. In order for you to avoid these mistakes, read this article we have prepared for you and also make sure to keep them in mind when decorating your home.
When choosing the rug, you should know the appropriate size of it. A large rug needs a large rug pad which can, especially if it’s thick or made by quality natural rubber like many felt rubber pads are, often cost almost or even as much as the carpet itself. Moving on, look at the furniture in the room, and then make a decision of where you want to place the carpet. Furniture causes indentations so if your rug is underneath furniture, you need to protect your carpet with some dense rubber rug pads. The furniture should sit comfortably on the carpet, or at least with front legs of the furniture. This way, you can’t miss. Some of you may like area rugs, but if you are looking for smaller carpets, a rule of thumb you should stick to is to choose a carpet that is two feet smaller than the smallest wall of the room the carpet should go into. The thing a lot of people don’t keep in mind is just how much smaller carpets can slide, often potentially endangering the people walking over them, so you want to get a rug pad that offers great sliding protection, so you might want to stay away from fiber.
Before you choose the wall color, you should choose the color of the rug and the furniture; otherwise, you will end up running around and searching for rugs and furniture with a paint color sample in your hand. So, the best option would be to choose the furniture, then find the rug, and after you are done with this, you should decide what color the walls should be.
The basic rule of thumb when choosing a rug is usually good for a living room. As for other rooms, there are several more tips you should read before choosing a rug and, consequently, the rug pads. Do your footsteps make a lot of noise, especially for the people in the room below? If the answer is yes, then you need a rug manufactured with sound insulation in mind. Rubber rug pads with a good deal of thickness usually get the job done. Kitchen rug pads shouldn’t be fiber to prevent water pouring through the carpet and making the rug pad rot. As for the bedroom, the bed is a very heavy piece of furniture, so as previously mentioned, you will probably want to get a rug pad as dense as possible. Rubber rug pads are some of the most dense rug pads available should you pick a type with a lot of density. The most common size of bedroom rugs is 8’x10’, but if you have a smaller bedroom, a 4’x6’ will also be good. If choosing the smaller rug, you should know it doesn’t go under the bed, of course, but in front of or next to it. Remember, a cohesive space begins with good proportions, so always make sure to pick a rug of a good size.
When people think about decorating a room, they usually visualize various accessories and small details that will make a room look better. However, when focusing just on furniture people tend to forget that the room will look plain, empty and cold no matter how much furniture and details you put in it if there is no rug on the floor. That’s why it is also important to carefully select something that will fit with the rest of the decorations and furniture. In my private house I use to own several carpets which were more for the wall then for the floor, several smaller gifts from other countries, mostly handmade. I enjoyed collecting small carpets and usually that was the only thing which I knew about them, as I said, their purpose was mainly for display. Several years back I got married, and my wife and I decided to move to a bigger establishment and spend couple thousand dollars more on the interior, which would combine my hobby with her ideas, so we ended up with five beautiful carpets. To my surprise, we found out that the padding below them plays a big role in the whole furnishing process.
When it comes to choosing bedroom carpets and rubber rug pads for them, the rule which has to be followed is this: the carpet together with the rugged pads must be large enough to outspread further than the sides of the bed at least twelve inches when it comes to twin bed and at least eighteen inches for king-sized bed. As these numbers are the absolute minimum, you can choose to go bigger, but one should know that there is such a thing as a “too big carpet” for the bedroom, meaning the carpet mustn’t cover the whole room, and that there should be sufficient area which isn’t covered with floor carpeting. If you like to inject fun and playfulness into the walls of your home, choose carpets that have unusual forms, colors and patterns.
If you would like to have your carpet as long as you can, then besides inesting in to a rubber rug pad, it would also be smart to check out from what the carpet is made of. Wool is considered to be the most durable material and most quality rugs and carpets are made from this natural fiber. In Tibet and New Zealand sheep tend to produce more lanolin, which is why most high quality woolen yarns come from those areas. Silk is often the material used to mix the design of a quality rug, because this fabric tends to reflect sunrays thus giving it a shimmering look. Cotton, grass fibers and synthetic fibers are also used to endure the lifespan of the carpet and most customers buy them for high traffic rooms, like hallways or living rooms.
The ecological impact of rubber flooring is directly related to the type of rubber that is used. Understanding where it comes from, how it was manufactured, and how it got to your location is the only way you can truly know how green the material is.
Types Of Rubber Flooring
Synthetic Rubber Floors
This is the least Eco-friendly choice when it comes to rubber materials. Synthetic rubber is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Despite this the process used to manufacture this material is actually quite energy efficient and low impact.
The draw of synthetic rubber is that these floors are more durable and longer lasting than natural rubber alternatives. While finite resources are consumed in their production this is balanced to some extent by the long life of the resulting product. In some cases this effect can be boosted by recycling the rubber floor at the end of its life cycle.
Natural Rubber Floors
This material is manufactured from latex, which is a sap found in para rubber trees, also known as Hevea brasiliensis. This same material is also found naturally in lettuce, dandelions, and in fig trees. Unfortunately some people are allergic to latex, and the installation of such a floor can be harmful to their health.
Transportation: Para rubber trees can be replanted each season making natural rubber an easily renewable resource. These trees are mainly grown in Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Amazon rainforest. Depending on where you live you may want to consider the environmental impact of transportation from the location of growth to your own.
Recycled Rubber Floors
These are the most environmentally friendly rubber floors. Made from recycled rubber such as that found in old car tires, this material helps to eliminate the build up of waste making it a low impact floor covering choice. The process of manufacturing is low cost, and requires less energy than is used in the creation of most other resilient floors. In many cases it is also the least expensive rubber flooring option available.
Recycled rubber is generally stronger and more durable than natural rubber flooring however it does come with a few caveats. Many manufacturers will not recommend its use in kitchens, laundry rooms, or garages, as it may be subject to staining from grease, petroleum, fats, and detergents. You should check with your retailer before deciding to use recycled rubber in a specific location.
Rubber Flooring’s Odor
One of the biggest drawbacks to installing a rubber floor is that there is going to be a slight smell. Because of this many manufacturers do not recommend installing this material in an enclosed space without proper ventilation. In most cases this smell is not harmful but it can make a poorly ventilated interior uncomfortable. You may also have to worry about those with latex allergies in the case of natural rubber, or the release of VOC’s if adhesive was used in the installation.
This doesn’t necessarily have an impact on the world environment, but the sound insulation qualities of rubber flooring can make the personal environment of an interior more pleasant.
Flammable Rubber Flooring
This material is flammable and if there is a fire it will burn. This is another place where it is important to understand the chemical composition of the material. It’s flammability will depend on the elements used in its manufacture. A rubber floor that contains chlorine or other toxic ingredients is going to release them into the air if it catches on fire. That is why an Ethylene propylene diene based material is recommended as a viable alternative to PVC based rubber products.
Rubber Flooring Adhesives
By choosing loose lay or interlocking rubber floors that do not require adhesive you are eliminating the production and waste elimination of an extra chemical from the flooring process. If adhesive is used to install a floor it also makes those materials unsuitable for recycling at the end of their life cycle.
Some flooring adhesives contain chemicals that can offgas Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s), causing a negative impact on the interior environment of a room when used. It is important to question your retailer, and understand the properties of any adhesive which is used in the installation.
The Lifecycle Of Rubber Floors
Rubber flooring is a long lasting resilient flooring material that can often last for twenty years or more. This can significantly cut down on the cost of waste and replacement needed for less durable flooring materials. Tiles have a longer life span than sheet rubber flooring. This is because individual tiles can be replaced if damaged with less waste cost than removing and reinstalling an entire sheet floor.
If adhesive was not used in its installation then most rubber flooring can be recycled and re purposed to other flooring when it is no longer needed in a single installation. This allows it to last far beyond its own natural life cycle keeping it from the landfill for years beyond its initial use.
Long gone are the days when black and gray were the only choices you had for rubber flooring. Now there are countless options available to you, giving you the ability to evoke a wide variety of floor styles and designs using rubber . This has caused it to become a popular material in numerous residential and commercial, as well as interior and exterior environments.
Rubber Tile: Much easier to install than sheet flooring, rubber tiles come standard in 12”X12”, 18”X”18”, and 36”X36” squares. Supple and easy to cut and shape, these tiles can be cut down into rectangles or triangles of varying sizes in order to create unique patterns within the surface of your floor. One of the advantages of tiles is that if a single piece is damaged, it can be removed and replaced relatively easily.
Rubber Sheet Rolls: These materials generally come in sheets that are four feet or more in width, and can be twenty to thirty feet in length, allowing you to completely cover most rooms with just one or two rolls. Far more difficult to self install than rubber tiles, rolls are especially difficult to size properly, and even small mistakes can ruin large sheets of material. The advantage is that there are fewer seams in the floor, which can make for a more resistant, water tight installation.
There are also smaller rubber flooring sizes that are specially made to use as runners and stair tiles.
Rubber Floor Surface Options
Textures: One of the great things about rubber tiles and sheets is that they can be textured during the manufacturing process, allowing you to add depth and dimension to your flooring design project. Available textures include rivets, dimples, or studs. You can also get more complex textured patterns such as waffles or mottled surface features.
You can also purchase rubber materials which are perfectly flat and smooth. The problem is that flat polished rubber floors can become extremely slippery when water is present. That is why in wet environments such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, a textured material is generally used.
Finishes: Generally rubber flooring is going to come with a flat matte finish that will be subtle and subdued. However you can deepen the colors found in the material by polishing it with a water soluble wax emulsion. This will not only make the surface more durable and stain resistant, but it will also give it a shimmering glistening sheen.
The matte finish is a good choice for bedroom and social living areas, as the soft hues won’t overwhelm the other colors in the space. A polished finish is better if you want your flooring to stand out, with a strong, perfect, almost corporate presence that will tend to dominate the space where it is installed.
Thickness and Backing
The thicker your material is, the more expensive it is going to be. However thicker materials will also be softer underfoot, and can provide greater insulation against heat loss, as well as noise.
Interior rubber flooring will usually range from 1/4” to 1/2” in thickness. There are also economy style extra thin sheets and tiles that can be as little as 5-8 millimeters in thickness. Exterior pieces need to be thicker in order to withstand the elements, and are usually at least one inch. For playgrounds used by small children 2” and 3” pieces may be used to create extra cushioning which can protect against falls.
In some cases the material will be mixed with cork during its manufacturing process to make it even softer while still retaining the durability of rubber. Tiles can also have cork, fabric, or foam backing.
The fact that it is now so easy for manufacturers to print colors and patterns onto rubber flooring means that you have more style options than ever when using this versatile material. There are so many different colors and multi-colors available that you are free to get really creative with your designs, envisioning new surfaces of color and texture that will express your innermost artistic spirit.
When choosing a material it is important to match the colors used to the type of textures found in the material. If you have a very busy pattern of wild hues in the surface of a tile, you want to avoid complex textures that may clash chaotically with them. On the other hand solid colored tiles and sheets can be enhanced by dimensional effects, that can add subtle interest to what would otherwise be a quiet, unnoticed floor.
Rubber tile will allow you to create repeating patterns of color across the surface of your floor. Rubber sheets will create a more consistent appearance, with fewer seams and a single running pattern traveling along each roll.