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
Installing Laminate, Cork and Hardwood in Wet Areas
I've always felt installing floating laminate, cork or wood flooring in wet areas is a bit unnerving. You know it is going to get wet. Perhaps have puddles on it for extended periods. And the potential for water leaks are highly probable.
When the client says they want the flooring installed in a wet area my first thought is to talk them out of it, or at least warn them about the potential for damage. Of course the client already has there mind set on it, so what can you do if they decide to have you install it anyway? I say "Not a problem Ma'am, but it is going to cost more for that area!"
The first thing that needs to be done is make certain the flooring they wish to purchase is suitable for wet areas. This will save a lot of time and frustration for all parties. I often run into jobs where the flooring is already purchased - only to find out the manufacturer doesn't recommend their product be installed in wet areas. More often than not most will allow it with proper cautionary measures such as the use of perimeter sealants, gluing the floor together with an appropriate water resistant glue or a joint sealer. Even prefinished hardwood can be effectively sealed in these instances.
Some manufacturers have a sealer already applied to the locking mechanism to help prevent moisture intrusion into the core material. Those may help with brief miniscule amounts of water but not larger amounts of water spilled and left on the surface for extended periods.
Perimeter sealant that is 100% silicone should be used even if not required by the manufacturer. Do not use acrylic/silicone mixtures or acrylic caulking as they set too hard and do not allow for expansion. Caulking should always be used around the toilet flange, bathtubs and pipes. If you're installing on the other side of the wall, I prefer to seal along the bottom of the wall on both sides to keep any escaping water from seeping under the wall plate. Even if you're not installing in the actual wet area this helps to prevent damage should there be a leak on the other side.
Extending the combo underlayment of plastic up the wall may not prevent as much moisture damage as blocking out the water with silicone. I also silicone around the transition strip and along the door casings in either cases. I make sure the wet area is isolated from the rest of the job by a T-cap especially if there is a toilet locked down on your floor. Remember, this floor is not going to move like the rest of the job. More so if you have large areas of flooring next to it and it is a floating floor.
In smaller areas I generally use a joint sealer. There are a few out there to choose from. My favorite is Click-Seal by Cal-floor.com made specifically for click systems. Follow the directions carefully so as not to create hydraulics - which ultimately will prevent the mechanism from locking completely.
In larger wet areas, I like to use an adhesive made specifically for floating floors. To this date the only floating floor adhesive that is certified to meet the European D3 standards is Eurobond D3 T&G adhesive made by... you guessed it, Cal-Flor.com. This cross linking adhesive is the most effective adhesive I have found that helps prevent water damage. Remember the old laminates used an adhesive and it was supposed to prevent T&G damage from mopping. Well it did not always work and many installers were falsely accused of not using enough glue in the joint. Only later did everyone realize that nothing can be 100% effective!
Finally, make certain the client knows this may not be 100% effective but will certainly reduce damage. They still must be vigilant to prevent damage. Have them buy dry off mats along the tub and by the sinks. And don't forget to up-charge for this, it takes more time and costly supplies.
Edited by Admin 12/19/2011
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