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3 Startling Consequences of Everyday Interior Design Decisions

Posted on Jan 25, 2017, by Michael Eckert

Your interior design decisions play an important role in the success of new construction and renovation projects alike, and your choices can have surprising long-term consequences for your clients.

One of the most problematic areas of any interior design project is flooring. While it may seem like a simple choice between different design options, in reality it’s much more complex than that: Your choice of flooring has a significant impact on employee health and wellness, and even determines the likelihood of total project success - or failure.

Today we’re looking at three startling consequences of your flooring decisions, to help you make the best decisions on your forthcoming projects.

1) Health Problems

One of the most severe consequences of your flooring decisions is the impact it can have on the health and wellness of your clients.

It’s not uncommon for mold and mildew infestations to begin underneath flooring, before it spreads to the rest of the building. This means it can go undetected for a long time, which can cause significant health problems for your clients in the meantime. By the time clients notice a musty smell, or spots of mold appearing on the surface of their carpet, the problem will be extensive.

Removing potentially harmful mold and mildew is an expensive, time-consuming process: In September 2016, all schools were closed in the Sun Prairie schools district of Wisconsin after mold was discovered at an elementary school. This initial disruption to students was just the starting point: mold treatment and removal took several weeks, and the school in question remained closed for the duration.

2) Flooring Failure

Even after you've finished-up your latest project, your hard work can still be for nothing.

Floor compatibility problems and adhesive breakdown can both lead to complete flooring installation failures, destroying your design and leaving your clients out-of-pocket when they have to pay for replacement and reinstallation.

Adhesive breakdown never used to be a problem: old-fashioned, solvent-based adhesives weren't affected by increased moisture levels. However, safer water-based adhesives get broken down by sub-floor moisture: The glue used to stick down your flooring essentially turns to jelly, and your newly-laid carpet comes loose.

Floor compatibility problems can also cause your flooring to fall apart, resulting in discoloration and deformation of your beautiful new floor. These issues are usually caused by traces of old adhesives on the sub-floor reacting with your new flooring.

3) Compromised Design

Most of these major flooring problems have one root cause: moisture. In renovation projects, many clients simply don’t realize that their site has a moisture problem. In new construction projects, ever-tightening schedules mean that the focus is on completing the build, rather than mitigating the long-term risk of moisture problems.

Architects who look to anticipate moisture problems are usually faced with expensive and time consuming solutions, and in many cases, their choices can seriously impact the final outcome of your design.

Many of the most common moisture mitigation solutions, like sealants and 2-part epoxies, are extremely costly. Though they'll solve moisture problems, they'll eat into your design budget, forcing you to compromise on the aesthetic and feel of the space.

Other solutions, like concrete admixtures and adhesive dots or tabs, are notoriously difficult to install, and sometimes prone to failure. We've heard countless stories from designers that have seen their budgets eroded as poor moisture management choices forced their clients to pay out twice: once for the initial moisture mitigation procedure, and a second time to replace damaged flooring when their moisture prevention fails.

Thankfully, you, the designer, have an important role to play in helping specify products that mitigate the risk of moisture problems. Increasingly, the simplest, most effective moisture mitigation solutions fall well within your remit.

Avoid Design Disaster by Making Better Flooring Choices

It’s possible to remove sub-floor moisture altogether – before it turns to damaging liquid water - through your choice of flooring alone.

Carpet with a breathable backing, such as Milliken's open cell cushion backing, allows water vapor to travel through the carpet backing, and evaporate away at the seams of the carpet tiles. Combined with Milliken's standard adhesive, you cut the risk of floor compatibility problems and moisture problems – all in one go.

Few projects will use carpet throughout, but where you do, you can dramatically reduce the risk of moisture-related problems. Simply making a switch in the type of modular carpet you’re specifying can avoid these startling consequences for your clients - and ensure your design stands the test of time.

how to prevent the 11 root causes of flooring failure

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert