It's easy to assume that floor preparation and moisture mitigation are necessary parts of every renovation project. However, thanks to improvements in flooring design, it's now possible to save thousands of dollars on what were once unavoidable costs.
Today, we're looking at three simple ways to significantly reduce the costs - and risks - of floor preparation and moisture mitigation.
1) Understand the Unique Floor Prep for Every Product
It's easy to assume that floor preparation is the same for every project and every product. A standard install cost is budgeted, and the same extensive floor prep is carried out - because it's always been that way.
However, the first step in saving money is to challenge this assumption. Increasingly, different products have various floor preparation requirements. In some cases, the most costly, complex and time-consuming aspects of floor preparation aren't necessary. So before you begin the installation, ask your manufacturer: "What floor prep is actually required for this product?"
2) Move Past PVC and Thermoplastic
Similar to floor preparation requirements, not all flooring products are created equal. Often, it's the products with the lowest purchase price that result in the highest install costs.
Case in point: PVC-backed and thermoplastic products both have the potential to require additional time and costs.
Plasticizer migration - a chemical reaction between residual adhesive left on the subfloor and PVC backing - is one of the biggest causes of flooring failure. As such, PVC-backed products require extensive floor preparation: all traces of residual adhesive need to be removed, usually by grinding off the adhesive, leveling out the subfloor, and encapsulating everything with a smoothing product. If you skip the floor prep, it will only be a short time until floor tiles loosen and unsightly gunk appears underneath the carpet.
Thermoplastics are a common alternative to PVC, but their poor dimensional stability renders them extremely prone to telegraphing, where lumps and bumps from the subfloor show through the carpet. While this can be solved by physically leveling the subfloor, doing so results in the same time and costs you tried to avoid by not specifying PVC.
3) Look for Big Picture Savings
The best way to spend less on floor preparation is to specify a product that eliminates it.
It's common practice to treat purchase price, flooring installation and moisture mitigation as three separate budget areas. Specifiers look to minimize costs on the type of flooring they specify, and entirely separately, moisture problems are identified and tackled with expensive sealants and two-part epoxies.
However, the most efficient way to avoid floor preparation and moisture mitigation costs is to treat them as a single problem - solved with a single solution: the very choice of carpet. Both floor preparation and moisture mitigation can be practically eliminated by choosing a carpet tile that has open-cell cushion backing:
- The non-reactive chemistry in cushion backing eliminates adverse reactions with residual adhesive, so there's no need to grind or encapsulate the floor.
- Open-cell cushion "wicks" moisture vapor out of the subfloor, preventing it from condensing into liquid water. Instead of covering up moisture problems with expensive, labor-intensive moisture mitigation products, you can actually solve the root cause.
- Cushion backing absorbs lumps and bumps, minimizing time spent leveling an uneven subfloor.
Question the Status Quo to Recoup Costs
Questioning the assumption that floor prep and moisture mitigation are necessary parts of installing flooring can save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a renovation.
Making smart flooring choices will have wide-reaching impacts - and far more than project aesthetics. As well as saving a fortune on unnecessary floor prep and moisture mitigation, you're also reducing the substantial risks of flooring failure that come with many flooring projects.