Moisture causes millions of dollars of damage in the construction industry, and a lot of the time it's flooring that gets hit hardest. As a result, many flooring installers are building moisture mitigation products and processes into their installation quotes as standard.
However, many of the most commonly-used moisture mitigation products don't actually solve or prevent moisture problems from occurring - they simply isolate the moisture issues from the flooring, covering it up so it's out of sight and out of mind.
What Causes Moisture Problems?
The majority of moisture on a construction site or in a building exists in vapor form; in this state it's harmless and doesn't cause any damage. In fact, you're unlikely to experience any moisture problems at all, unless the vapor condenses into liquid water.
The concrete subfloor releases a lot of moisture vapor - either from drying concrete on a new construction site, or due to fluctuations in the water table if the building is on- or below-grade. However, many flooring products are impermeable, or have an impermeable backing, meaning that the moisture vapor rises up through the concrete slab, and gets trapped beneath the flooring.
With the slightest change in temperature, this water vapor condenses into liquid water, and causes a wealth of problems including mold growth, adhesive breakdown, or total flooring failure.
Do Common Moisture Mitigation Products Solve the Problem?
There are a whole range of moisture mitigation products available to help manage high-moisture situations: two-part epoxies, floor sealants and adhesive-free installations are just a few of the most common options available.
However, these products all have one thing in common: they don't prevent liquid water from forming. This means they don't deal with the root cause of the moisture problem, but rather manage and minimize the problems it causes.
Fortunately, there is an alternative option - one that deals with the root cause of moisture problems, rather than simply acting as a bandage to cover-up the issue.
The Simplest - and Most Effective - Moisture Mitigation Solution
Instead of investing hours into meticulous floor preparation, and thousands of dollars in moisture mitigation products, there's a much simpler way to protect your building against moisture problems. The simplest (and most cost-effective) way to mitigate the risk of moisture problems on your next project is through your choice of flooring.
The majority of commercial flooring types are impermeable, and trap moisture vapor underneath, until it condenses into liquid water which causes adhesive breakdown, mold growth, or simply ruins your carefully-selected flooring product. But if moisture vapor was simply able to evaporate away from the concrete subfloor, instead of being trapped, there would be no risk of liquid water forming - and therefore no risk of moisture problems.
Instead of selecting impermeable flooring, you can prevent moisture problems by simply selecting a different type of flooring - one that is breathable and allows moisture vapor to pass through. Milliken's unique open-cell cushion backing does just that. The open-cell cushion "wicks" moisture vapor out of the subfloor, preventing it from condensing into liquid water.
So when you're comparing moisture mitigation solutions on your next project, remember to consider whether the simplest solution will be the best for you and your clients: mitigating moisture problems could be as easy as selecting the right type of flooring.