When it comes to floor failure, the possibilities are virtually limitless. Today, there are dozens of ways a floor can fail, in one form or another. Builders can deal with adhesive failure, vinyl flooring failures, wood floor warping, coating failures, and more.
While it may not seem like these diverse flooring failures share anything in common, one culprit is underlying most of today’s flooring issues: moisture.
Moisture is the #1 enemy of floors, both new and old. It can cause unseen havoc, creating expensive issues, and time-consuming fixes. Fortunately, you can limit the amount of time you spend resolving flooring failures by being aware of the top causes and consequences of these issues.
Let’s dive in.
5 Common Causes of Floor Failure
There are dozens of ways for flooring to meet moisture and go all wrong. Here, however, are a few of the issues modern builders most commonly run into:
1. Moisture From Underlying Soil
There is no separating moisture and soil: the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. Unfortunately, that presents a significant issue for companies that don’t prepare accordingly.
While there’s no real way to rid underlying soil of moisture, companies who want to avoid issues must install vapor barriers beneath their slabs. It's also essential to plan accordingly for the moisture content of the soil. Moisture testing is a critical aspect of this process and will help prevent future issues.
2. Moisture in Concrete
Concrete, like soil, contains moisture. There’s no way around this. And, when dealt with correctly, the fact doesn’t pose an issue. Things go haywire, though, when companies forget to factor moisture into their flooring plan. Instead, teams must know how to understand, prevent, and correct moisture problems that can arise with concrete.
One of the most common, in this case, is that the moisture barrier installed is either insufficient or that no vapor barrier was installed in the first place. Each of these poses a huge issue. If a vapor retarder is improperly placed or made from low-quality materials, for example, it will deteriorate over time, leading to moisture issues that crop up months or years after the initial build. In many cases, moisture testing will confirm this problem and place builders or property owners in a position where they need to plan for repair.
3. Improper Cleaning and Maintenance
While moisture most commonly impacts flooring as a result of natural processes -moisture in soil or concrete, for example, it can also come in via misguided cleaning and maintenance tactics.
Engineered wood floors, for example, can suffer stains and blotches when exposed to standing water from a wet mop or exterior moisture from an open window during heavy rain. While these issues are unlikely to be as foundationally structural as slab issues, they can still cause warping, separation, and other expensive problems.
4. Application of Flooring to Concrete
Moisture is critical for concrete strength, but it can break down adhesives used to bond flooring to concrete sub-flooring. Over time, this can create separations, decreased shelf life, and other pervasive flooring issues. The only solution to this issue is to invest in adequate concrete moisture testing before applying flooring to the substrate. This allows your team to understand the risks of moisture-related failures, and make a plan to navigate around them.
5. Changing Flooring Regulations
In recent years, the flooring industry has become much more eco-conscious. Today, federal, state, and local agencies regulate flooring materials strictly - requiring the removal of dangerous chemicals and adhesives.
While this is an excellent move for the environment and human health, as a whole, it does create flooring materials that are much more sensitive to concrete moisture. This, in turn, means teams installing modern flooring must increase their focus on concrete moisture testing. This is especially true if you're using a type of flooring that is unfamiliar or unpredictable to you.
Avoid Flooring Failures With Intelligent Concrete Moisture Testing
Moisture is an issue for flooring. There’s no way around that. Fortunately, it also doesn’t mean that teams have to live with warped, discolored, or unstable flooring. While there are many ways to go wrong with flooring or to make simple mistakes that allow it to succumb to moisture, concrete moisture testing is the single easiest way to avoid all these pitfalls. Identifying the moisture content of concrete will enable teams to plan for critical considerations like timing, budget, and product applications.
If you're looking for a reliable partner in concrete moisture testing, look no further than IFTI. Boasting more than 20 years of experience, IFTI is an independent, third-party company that specializes in appraising your concrete slab condition and helping you get all the information you need to help the job run smoothly.
Ready to learn more? Contact us today.