Rotting fruit smell with leveling cement on slab?

Discussion in 'Floor Preparation' started by Jean J., Nov 4, 2019.

  1. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    Our new engineered hardwood floors are about halfway installed and look great, but my focus unfortunately is on the odd smell, something like overly ripe fruit--a cloyingly sweet smell that I can't stomach. I'm fairly sure it is from the leveling cement that our installer has used (the floor boards themselves have no detectable order). I asked him and he said it'll be fine once the floor covers it (ummm?).

    I didn't note the brand of the leveling material--I will check today--but our installer was aware that we have two chemically sensitive people in the household (we went through several days of choosing the safest glue--we chose Bostik GreenForce). I realize some people don't worry much about this stuff, but if that smell doesn't go away, I can't imagine living there. We do keep our windows open a lot, but still.

    The installer has 10+ years experience and came with high reccos from several neighbors, fwiw. Any thoughts on how long this smell will linger or if there's anything that can be done? Thanks.
     
  2. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    If its from the leveller.... then the leveler is not cured and should not be installed on. If it is from your wood, then well... that's a whole other can of worms. Go open a box of hardwood and take a wiff...
     
  3. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    As I mentioned, it's not from the boards. He's been working in stages since Friday, putting down a patch of leveler, letting it dry, using the swirly grinding machine thing...then gluing down some planks.
    How long should it cure before applying the floor? p.s. if it matters, we're in SoCal and the weather has been warm and dry.
     
  4. epoxyman

    epoxyman Pro Member

    Have used tons of different floor patch and self leveling to me it’s a sweet smell for a few days then it’s gone......
     

    Attached Files:

    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    THANK YOU!!! Lost a few hours of sleep about this last night imagining we might be stuck with the smell. Really appreciate the reassurance! :)
     
  6. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    I still can't help but think if it smells it still has moisture in it. Typically with wood I like a 72 hour turn around over leveler. Leave a piece of wood on "dry" leveler and in the morning you got yourself one dark rectangle of moisture
     
  7. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    Good grief. Will i ever sleep again?? What should I do now? Bring in a flooring inspector or ??
     
  8. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    Best bet would be to not panic??
    If your installer is doing it in sections it is on logical that the smell would be persistent. That's the whole premises of sections, each process is always present

    Most leveler has a 72 hour turn around for wood product however
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  9. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    Thanks. Trying my best to breathe deeply and recite my mantra: "First World problems...First world problems..." :-D
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  10. Commercial Floor Rep

    Commercial Floor Rep I Support TFP Published

    Most likely it's the latex modifier (a dry powder additive) that allows the floor patch to have some flexibility and be less prone to cracking. If you've ever smelled a freshly opened box of latex gloves, it kind of has this same smell you're describing (at least to me it does). It usually dissipates fairly soon after the patch becomes reasonably cured.

    Depending on the product and whether or not it's self-drying (a chemical drying process vs. needing exposure to air) it can be perfectly acceptable for the product to not be 100% "cured" and install over it. Self-drying patch will finish setting up without exposure to air.

    Many floor patches cure to about 90% of their cure strength between 2-16 hours (depending on the type of product) It can take another 20-30 days for the remaining 10% of the cure strength to develop. Usually the smell only lasts during that initial 2-16 hours of set time. That's because that's when the majority of the chemical reaction is occurring. People with a sensitivity to the smell might notice it a bit longer, say 2-3 days, but it should be pretty well gone by then. Since your installer is adding new areas as he installs it's probably going to take a couple of days after he's completely done for the smell to go away.

    Hope that helps a little to ease your mind Jean. Sorry you're having the issue. I know what my wife goes through and it's not fun for her. Hope it clears up quickly and you enjoy your new floor!
     
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • Appreciation Appreciation x 1
  11. Steve Olson

    Steve Olson Hardwood/Laminate Guru Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Even the floor patch products, like Ardex feather Finish, have an off smell. Seems like they react with what ever the subfloor has been exposed to, and it affects the smell. But I did notice a similar smell with the self leveler I used a week ago, Nova was the brand. It was gone in a few days, as stated.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    No big update, but thankfully today it didn't smell quite as bad. And it was more of an orange smell (like orange hand cleaner? not that I see any on site), which is a lot better than sickly sweet rotting fruit smell! Also, I didn't see the actual product used, but when I asked if it was American made, my installer looked at me in alarm and said, "YES, OF COURSE!"
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    Also, a friend who's somewhat trained in chemistry reminded me that 1) some people are genetically predisposed to smell certain things that others cannot (lucky me) and, 2) that odor does not necessarily indicate danger. I'll drink (OK, sleep) to that!
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  14. Commercial Floor Rep

    Commercial Floor Rep I Support TFP Published

    I had to have a severely deviated septum (too much street football as a kid) corrected about 12 years ago and as a result I have a diminished sense of smell. When they do the surgery it damages some of the sensory nerves in there. My wife and I make quite a pair. She smells everything and can't understand why I don't smell certain things.

    Hey wait, maybe that's the answer for you...get a nose job and with your extra sensitive schnozz it might reset you to "normal".

    There ya go...my million dollar idea of the day!
     
    • Winner Winner x 1
  15. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    Hey, whatever works!
    BTW, I just spoke to the General Manager of the flooring supply store where my installer is buying more of the SLC, which turns out to be Mapei Novoplan 2 Plus. He laughed and said the company adds a grape smell to the product to cover the smell of calcium or whatever chemical is in it, and some people like it, others don't, and that he would pass along my feelings about the stuff.
    So Mapei rep, if you're out there, please hear my cries! FWIW, I don't smell grape at all. It's more like cheap orange air freshener you'd get at the 99 Cent Store. Ugh. I can still taste it 24 hours later.
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  16. Commercial Floor Rep

    Commercial Floor Rep I Support TFP Published

    We used to handle Bostik's (DuraBond) adhesives several years ago and when they started focusing on low VOC adhesives they essentially got the adhesive to the point that the installers couldn't smell it anymore and they started returning the adhesive thinking it went bad because it had no odor. As a result they started adding a "fresh pine scent" to the adhesives...the result was pretty much the scene from Tommy Boy where he's rubbing the pine tree air freshner on himself. We got calls daily. Eventually they finally stopped and went back to "no smell".

    We also handle Orcon seam tapes for carpet and for years whenever you'd put a seam together it smelled just like coconut. I'm pretty sure they put coconut or palm oil in it to smell that way. Smelled like somebody rubbed sun-tan lotion on in the room.

    Too funny!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  17. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    Now that’s funny. As soon as you said that the floor patch (self leveler) stink, I immediately thought of Mapei. To me it has a pungent earthy smell.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  18. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    Hey I'd take pungent-earthy over sickly-sweet any day! (Maybe I should start growing peat moss in my living room..?)
    Actually, when our installer ripped out the old hardwood and its felt underlayment, there was a whole lotta roots (fern?) growing under there. Maybe my nose got so used to that scent after 20 years, anything else smells fruity in comparison!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. epoxyman

    epoxyman Pro Member

    I thought they stopped selling the Mapei Novoplan 2 Plus ... and it’s now just called Mapei self leveling plus

    Also if they are using old primer it will smell to the last job we did we use a little over 20 gallons and needed a little more so I had a older gallon on the van wow smelled like old eggs....
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  20. Jean J.

    Jean J. Member

    Eeek. Of course my brain immediately thinks maybe they had to take it off the market for a health reason? I hope it was just a matter of relabeling for better marketing.
     
Loading...

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.