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Moisture Control Systems

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Moisture: a billion-dollar problem.

Here’s a staggering statistic: moisture-related floor covering failures are responsible for more than $1 billion in damages every year. Moisture mitigation is a conversation that needs to happen early.

The problems range from cupping, buckling, blistering and adhesive failure to discoloration and mold growth. They can occur soon after the installation—or in some cases, years down the road.

How does moisture happen?

Put simply, concrete is porous—which means moisture can move through it and destroy your floor.

But where does moisture come from in the first place? Major culprits include too much water in the concrete mix, too little curing and/or drying time, rainfall that gets into the building because of an incomplete or faulty roofing system, a lack of HVAC climate control, or poor landscaping that fails to drain water away from building foundations.

Buffing the concrete smooth can also cause problems because it inhibits drying time even more by sealing the concrete’s pores.

A related problem—high alkalinity that occurs when too much moisture moves through the slab—destroys the bond between the adhesive and floor covering. Today’s fast-track construction schedules, in combination with new technologies to reduce VOCs in adhesives and floor covering products, can exacerbate the problem.

Testing for too much moisture is the smart thing to do.

No single test should determine if a concrete slab is ready for floor covering, which means a combination of tests is the smarter choice. Test timing is as important as the method because moisture emissions change as a result of natural and manmade forces. That’s why Corporate Floors recommends conducting testing on the slab after the building and finish materials have been acclimated to final operating conditions.

Typically, a benchmark reading is taken one week after the HVAC systems are turned on. If moisture readings are low, we can proceed with installing the floor covering. If moisture readings are high, it’s a good idea to review your options—which include waiting and testing again at a later date, or discussing the moisture remediation measures that were included in the initial planning and budgeting.

Keep in mind that floor covering manufacturers may stipulate which test, or combination of tests, should be conducted for warranty protection.

We would be happy to recommend a certified independent testing company to consult on your project.

Moisture: how to fix it.

The best way to “fix” moisture problems is to prevent them from happening—by educating all parties on a project about the downside of installing the floor covering on concrete that’s simply too wet. The pluses of waiting until concrete conditions are acceptable far outweigh the minuses, especially when you think about the cost of floor failures and the ensuing liability, the effect on indoor air quality and health, and the added costs of downtime for corrective action and floor replacement.

However, we understand that construction schedules drive many projects, and waiting until the concrete is dry enough may not be an option.

In these situations, Corporate Floors can install any number of remediation products to limit the impact that moisture will have on your floor. As a best practice, cost for tests and potential moisture remediation should be included in the initial planning process and budget.

Contact us for more details on how to keep moisture from ruining your floors.
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