Hot Tips: Floor Maintenance

Preventing Moisture-Related Flooring Issues

Concrete slabs are the most common flooring base used in a range of buildings, including schools. Unfortunately, excessive moisture found in concrete slabs prior to a flooring installation can cause significant floor-covering system failures such as debonding of coatings, microbial growth and flooring expansion.

There are several steps that can be taken to mitigate and potentially prevent moisture issues before a floor covering is installed. These apply to either new or remodel projects.

The first step is to conduct moisture testing. Substrate surfaces must be tested for moisture emission prior to starting the installation. Most manufacturers and flooring installation contractors recommend relative humidity probe moisture testing, as the results of this type of test are typically more accurate, reliable and consistent than other testing methods.

If moisture emission is discovered then proper precautions, such as the use of several topical applications prior to the flooring installation, can be used for moisture mitigation. Some of these topical applications include using reactive penetrants and moisture-retarding coatings.

Finally, consider selecting a floor covering that has a higher tolerance for moisture and can perform on concrete slabs with elevated relative humidity levels. Some flooring options, such as textile composite flooring, perform in areas with elevated moisture. The breathable nature of these flooring products allows moisture to pass through the backing rather than trap it underneath. This method of vapor transmission enables the flooring to be installed with no moisture mitigation as long as the relative humidity test reads 95 percent or below.

Taking these steps prior to installation can save money and mitigate potential flooring system failures.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

David Daughtrey is the director of business development for education with J+J Flooring Group.

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