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How Architects Can Avoid the Huge Costs of Flooring Moisture Problems

Posted on Jan 25, 2017, by Michael Eckert

Not all moisture mitigation products work. In some cases, this is a clear-cut case of a product not living up to its own marketing hype, but more commonly, products fall foul of their own complex usage instructions. Today, we're looking at a simple, effective strategy for solving the root cause of moisture problems - and removing the risk that threatens every project.

1) Find a Solution That (Really) Works

It's hard to find moisture solutions that really work.

Some manufacturers tout special adhesive dots as the ultimate solution to high-moisture environments, but we've talked to architects who have seen those adhesive dots fail because the construction site was dusty.

In another case, a project architect chose a concrete admixture designed to eliminate moisture problems. Unfortunately, buried deep in the terms and conditions was a stipulation that this particular admixture was incompatible with most types of flooring adhesive. That meant the architect had to pay out for an additional two-part epoxy, spending $10 per square foot for the privilege of just installing flooring - and making the original admixture completely redundant.

These types of solution failures and incompatibilities quickly lead to finger pointing, as architects grow frustrated that installation instructions weren't followed to the letter, and contractors argue that those instructions were unrealistic in the first place. The only clear-cut solution to avoid this waste of time and money is to choose a product that just works - without a ton of caveats and get-out clauses.

2) Save Money from Day Zero

The hidden costs of moisture management are scattered throughout a project, from concrete additives right at the start of the process, to volatile floor sealants at the end. But thanks to developing technology, it's now possible to solve moisture problems through your choice of carpet and adhesive alone.

In many cases, moisture problems are caused by water vapor from drying concrete becoming trapped beneath the floor's surface. Once trapped, the vapor becomes liquid water, altering the pH and moisture levels of the floor. Instead of using complex and unreliable Band-Aid tactics to tackle this problem, the simplest, most effective solution is to let the water vapor do as nature intended: evaporate out of the floor.

By using a combination of cushion-backed, vapor-wicking carpet tiles and standard adhesive, it becomes possible to cut-out all of the moisture management costs normally associated with this type of project: right back to the concrete admixture.

3) Don't Get Held-Up by Curing Concrete

Under ideal conditions, a newly-poured four-inch concrete slab takes four to five months to be fully ready to accept flooring. With ever-shortening construction schedules, waiting for concrete to cure and dry is rarely an option. Worse still, many of the aforementioned moisture mitigation solutions (and many flooring options themselves) can only be installed on a fully dried-out sub-floor. Install them too soon, and you'll end up with ruined flooring, and a real headache, a few months down the line.

If you're tired of missing deadlines and frustrating your clients, it's time to take control of your project timeline. In addition to the design and ergonomic benefits of cushion-backed carpet tiles, Milliken's modular carpet can be installed as soon as 90 days after a new pour, using simple Non-Reactive Standard adhesive. For even tighter deadlines, you can literally halve the waiting period - by using Moisture Extreme adhesive, those same carpet tiles can be ready to lay as quickly as 45 days from a new pour.

Drying concrete is one of the biggest hold-ups in any new construction project, and simply changing out the type of modular carpet you specify can have huge benefits to the entire project timeline.

Making the Right Choice

Moisture is a huge problem, but it's incredibly hard to know how to solve it. Which solutions work, and which don't? Is it better to opt for the latest and greatest product, and risk it falling apart in the field? Or is the tried-and-true method better, despite higher costs?

Few projects will use carpet throughout, but by making a simple switch in the type of modular carpet you specify, you can dramatically reduce the moisture risk wherever you lay carpet. Instead of negotiating a confusing world of complex and potentially incompatible solutions, you can solve the root cause of moisture problems in the simplest way possible - through the carpet itself.

how to prevent the 11 root causes of flooring failure

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert