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Who's Really Responsible for Failed Flooring?

Posted on Feb 7, 2017, by Michael Eckert

When a flooring project you’ve managed fails – whether that’s because of a mold infestation, adhesive breakdown or flooring compatibility issues – it can feel as though other project players are looking to you for answers. Whenever projects go wrong, everyone – from contractors to the end user – is aiming to protect their investments, and so it’s expected that finger-pointing takes place.

However, apportioning blame does nothing to solve flooring failure for clients, and the longer it's not addressed, the more damage you’ll cause to client relationships that you’ve spent years building. To help you find a solution for your clients at the time when they most need your help, we’re looking at who’s responsible, and how to avoid project failure altogether.


With so many parties involved in renovation and new construction projects alike, it’s virtually impossible to pinpoint whose fault it is that a project failed. The majority of the time, all parties involved will have followed manufacturer and industry recommendations. However, there are factors outside of their control which can also cause the flooring to fail.


High moisture levels can wreak havoc on flooring projects, and problems will manifest in many different ways:

  • Mold and mildew – Moisture vapor – released by a concrete subfloor as it dries, or drawn into the subfloor from the surrounding earth in an on- or below-grade project – is trapped underneath flooring and condenses into liquid water, creating the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to grow.
  • Adhesive breakdown – The flooring industry has stopped using solvent-based adhesives, and now uses a more sustainable option: water-based adhesives. Unfortunately, in high moisture environments, these can break down a cause flooring to loosen and slide around.
  • Failed moisture mitigation – Ironically, sometimes your best-intentioned attempts to prevent moisture issues can inadvertently contribute to project failure. For example, the industry-standard moisture tests are complex to carry out, difficult to interpret, and worse – don’t give the complete picture. So you could install a product in line with manufacturer guidelines, only for subfloor moisture levels to increase and the flooring to fail.


We know that your true priority is solving issues for your clients.

Most moisture-related flooring problems come from the complexity of the different solutions; projects become over-complicated with too many variables, and with every new process or product introduced into a project, it presents an additional potential for failure.

Instead of complicating projects, there's a simpler solution. Moisture causes flooring failures when liquid water forms, so the simplest way to prevent these problems from ever taking hold is to stop moisture from forming from the beginning.

While some flooring products have an impermeable backing, which essentially seals the top of the subfloor, trapping moisture vapor underneath, it's possible to select flooring with a permeable backing. Carpet tiles with open cell cushion backing allow moisture vapor to travel from the subfloor, through the carpet backing and wick away naturally at the tile seams.

This means you don't need to worry about mold growth or interpreting complicated moisture test results: your choice of flooring addresses the root cause of moisture-related flooring failures, so you don't have to shoulder the liability.

how to prevent the 11 root causes of flooring failure

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert