By Lew Migliore
Flooring Article Use Policy
Whether it is a new building or an existing one, there are guidelines that should be followed to set the stage for a successful flooring installation, so that you don’t need to be concerned the new flooring will fail in the future. It’s always best to be realistic about the time frames for completion so there’s no rush at the end. You don’t want to and shouldn’t be saying as you approach the finish line, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” That type of attitude will most often get you in trouble. So let’s lay this out so you can see what you should be taking into consideration to ensure you don’t have a flooring failure after the project is completed.
The objective should be to get the right product — with excellent performance capabilities — in the right place, successfully installed, and then to maintain the product to achieve longevity and appearance retention. Certainly you have to make all this fit into the budget you have for the project. This is a major challenge in itself. You have to look at how much you have to spend versus how long you expect the flooring to last and not ugly out on you or otherwise fail to live up to your expectations. And an important aspect of this is how the flooring is to be maintained once you get it installed. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, and all of them are important.
Here’s what you have to budget for: the flooring material itself, installation labor, rip up of any old flooring material, possible asbestos abatement, moisture testing, correction of any moisture issues or compromising substrate conditions, floor prep, and protection of the flooring.
Does your flooring project fit into the new building or existing building category? If it’s a new building you’re anxious to get the project finished on time and on budget and the flooring is and should be one of the last things to get installed. You have to allow enough time in the schedule for this to happen and not rush the installers or take the time they had allotted. On most new construction project schedules, there’s only a sliver of time allotted to the flooring installation. Plan well so the window of installation is large enough and not shortened, which will compromise the installation itself.
It’s essential to understand the condition of the substrate. Is it a new concrete substrate or an existing one? Below, on, or above grade? New concrete should not contain any silicate-based moisture-mitigating products. Silicates may stop water but they do not stop moisture vapor emission and they often raise the pH of the concrete surface, which will compromise any adhesive bonding the flooring to the substrate. The concrete should not be hard finished or slick as glass. It should have a “fuzzy” finish so the adhesive will bond to the substrate. The concrete should be tested by an independent concrete testing specialist certified by the International Concrete Repair Institute. It’s not the general contractor’s or flooring contractor’s job or area of expertise. If there is a high level of moisture in the concrete, it has to be mitigated so as to conform to the flooring manufacturer’s guidelines for the installation of their materials. The concrete should be given time to dry, and if it gets wet at any point you have to start the drying clock back at zero again.
Selecting the right product
When it comes to selection of the flooring material, whether hard or soft surface, you really have to do your homework — more so for hard surface than for soft surface.
For soft surface — i.e., carpet — select a manufacturer that makes commercial carpet broadloom or carpet tile. The price you pay will vary depending on the quality of the product. That’s why it’s important to do your homework and base your purchase decision on the reputation of the manufacturer and the experience you have had; you might also poll others in your industry for their opinions. If you’re installing carpet, make sure you select solution-dyed nylon as it is more colorfast and inherently stain-resistant. Much of the carpet being used today is carpet tile, and these come in varying price ranges and sizes. Select a color that will be easy to keep clean as you don’t want have to break the bank taking care of the material after you’ve installed it.
As for hard surface flooring, the rage today is luxury vinyl tile or plank, and the market is filled with these products. Not every manufacturer that offers these products makes them, and this leads to issues of quality and warranty claims.
In hospitals, sheet goods are common. When you’re considering products, evaluate whether the weight of a heavy hospital bed or furniture will leave an indentation in the flooring material. Remember, you want to make the right selection once and have it work as you expected without any excuses for problems after the project is completed.
You also have to consider traffic load, soiling conditions, and maintenance of the product. Don’t always believe what you hear or read, and remember that warranties aren’t always what they seem. Just because someone says it’s new and improved doesn’t mean it is.
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