Stephen Perrera, Owner Of Top Floor Installation Co. and native Tucsonan since 1955 has been in the flooring trade for over thirty-two years. He is licensed, bonded and an insured state of Arizona Flooring Contractor and detailed troubleshooter who performs moisture testing and floor failure analysis, installing a variety of floor coverings. Top
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Good morning installers, there happens to be a manufacturer of a combo underlayment for floating floors whose assertion is that it incorporates the best of everything imaginable. The product muffles sound and they say it is the highest rated most effective acoustic barrier on the market. This is a highly secret proprietary engineered cross linked polypropylene foam with a superb self sealing lip and tape system. It is also mold and mildew resistant much like many others out on the market today. The manufacturer also claims it "Provides superior moisture protection which exceeds industry standards by over 700%. (.3lbs./1000ft²/24hours)."
Your mission should you accept it, is to determine why they want you to test the concrete using a Anhydrous Calcium Chloride Test, ASTM F-1869 since their assertion is that the product exceeds the test by 700%. Also, confirm that the document/s are valid that the .3lbs is correct on their literature.
If you and your crew are caught and the floor fails due to moisture issues the industry will disavow any knowledge of your existence. This message will self destruct in 5 seconds.
Sound familiar? I feel like I am on an impossible mission when I go out to do any moisture sensitive floor over concrete these days. Being that I am on my third 1,100 sf job in the last six weeks I am tired and cranky. The most recent was a Mohawk laminate job with this top shelf underlayment which I do like. When I do floors I always check the installation requirements. My biggest concern is moisture since I am almost always going over concrete slabs. Since I am an independent licensed contractor and not working for your average retailer I have more control over what I can do as far as moisture control than other installers out there. As long as the consumer agrees to pay for it that is.
Is this just another article on moisture emissions and concrete? You betcha it is. I think there is always room for more dialog. Moisture control is such a misunderstood issue in the industry and has been for years. Combo underlayments come in every color, rating, mil thickness you can imagine. They promise moisture control yet most if not all the ones I have read about require moisture testing of some sort and many still call on the F-1869 test. If your test is high, you have options. One option is to use 6 mil under the combo pad. Extreme options could be any variety of trowel-on moisture membranes or a one or two-part epoxy system. The latter of which is mostly used in commercial applications. But what average consumer is going to pay for that?
Take the combo underlayment I spoke about at the beginning. I have questions. Anyone who knows me knows I question everything. First off is the .3 lbs correct? Unless the standard has changed recently ASTM F-1869's limit for moisture sensitive floors is 3 lbs not point 3lbs. Is that a trick? Is that a typo? I think 700% more than the .3lbs/1000ft²/24hrs on a slab that I would be looking at a swimming pool, not a slab in a house! Would that still make it that great of a product?
If that product is that superior then why do I have to use the Anhydrous Calcium Chloride Test in the first place? Just about every concrete expert I have ever read says that test is out-dated. In fact they say if I use that test I most certainly would get poor results and most likely have a failure on my hands. Does that make any sense? Why not let us use a relative humidity test instead? When I do floors I follow the manufacturers requirements to a T. But, will other installers when they read the literature on that product? I say probably not. And why would you if it so great? There's the catch. Is that their out?
The experts say there is no correlation between a F-1869 test and the F-2170 test. Well there's no doubt here if you do the CaCl test the way they want you to. Ever see anyone do a CaCl test on a slab that has had a flooring failure? They pull up some of the old non-permeable flooring, throw down a CaCl test or I have even seen some inspectors use a concrete meter... and voila... it reads high, over the limit and you're on the hook for a new floor. What would you expect since the moisture in the slab has equilibrated? Of course you're going to get a high reading. But then, that's another topic for another time.
So, next time you go to install a floating floor and you're reading those installation requirements, ask yourself questions. Call the manufacturer's quality control number or technical dept. I called this one's QC number since there was no option for a Tech dept and when I pressed number 6 like they said for the quality control department I got a recording that said "That number is not an option."
Be extra cautious and good luck out there, you are going to need it.
Edited by Admin 12/1/2011
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