and Inspection for Moisture
are many knowledgeable individuals and organizations
that specialize in field, laboratory, and forensic
floor testing and inspection. Unfortunately, most projects
forego a standard test protocol on projects prior to
installation citing budget constraints. However, when
a floor failure occurs, the certified testing experts
are called in to assess why. This is often more costly,
as a deeper analysis is required in addition to the
cost of remediation. Many times failures can be avoided
by performing the proper testing and/or evaluation
prior to floor installation.
Testing is conducted both in the lab and the field. Product manufacturers perform
a multitude of tests to determine anticipated lifecycle, product duty rating,
performance values, and compatibility characteristics. Field testing is employed
to evaluate moisture and pH conditions, tolerances, application problems, contaminants,
perform failure analysis, and many other installation related inspections.
This field test can be performed with a moistures meter.
Testing and inspection can be implemented in the field in one of two ways.
Testing is often performed prior to flooring installations to verify the suitability
of the substrate for product installation. Tests commonly performed would include
moisture and alkalinity testing, flatness tolerance, mineralogy analysis of
cores for contaminants, and property analysis of concrete. Pre-installation
testing can prevent the need for forensic analysis and reduce the risk of floor
Forensic analysis is the most common form of post installation testing and
is usually commissioned in the event of a floor failure. In the event of a
floor failure such as blistering, surface delamination, cracking, or any form
of surface degradation, forensic analysis is employed. Failure analysis testing
may likely include most of the pre-installation tests outlined above. Failure
to evaluate the surface condition is a common occurrence in floor failures.
Additionally, forensic inspectors may also employ adhesion testing, core analysis,
and laboratory testing procedures from the constituent components of failed
floor covering materials/system to determine the mode and means of the failure.
Each test has its own unique equipment, procedures, and requirements. Most
testing procedures are established by an independent organization and are accepted
throughout the industry as recognized testing guidelines. The American Society
of Testing and Materials (ASTM) has established many of the guidelines which
govern the testing procedures most commonly used in the industry. In addition,
individual industry associations that work in a specific field generally have
established guidelines that identify the Best Practice Standards for that trade.
Some of the more common tests that are employed within the flooring industry
ASTM F1869-04 Standard Test Method for Measuring Moisture
Vapor Emission Rate of Concrete Subfloors Using Anhydrous Calcium Chloride
is used to determine concrete moisture vapor emission rate (MVER)
ASTM F2170-02 Test Method for Determining
Relative Humidity in Concrete Floor Slabs Using In-Situ Probes
is used to measure the relative humidity in concrete floor
ASTM F2420-05 Standard Test Method for Determining
Relative Humidity on the Surface of Concrete Floor Slabs
Using Relative Humidity Probe Measurement and Insulated Hood
is used to measure the relative humidity on the surface of
concrete floor slabs
ASTM F710-03 Standard Practice for Preparing
Concrete Floors to Receive Resilient Flooring specifies that
the surface of concrete slabs be tested for alkalinity before
installing a floor covering and is used to measure the alkalinity/pH
level on the surface of concrete floor slabs
ASTM D4541-02 Standard Test Method for Pull-Off
Strength of Coatings Using Portable Adhesion Testers is used
to determine the bond strength of coatings on the surface
Refer to product manufacturer’s requirements, governing industry installation
and testing standards, and approved testing and material methods to insure
the proper evaluation of projects. Pre-installation and post-installation testing
can be a valuable means to prevent, limit, and mitigate flooring related problems.
Benefits and Limitations
All floor systems have specific requirements for successful installation. It
is important to verify that the product manufacturer’s written guidelines
govern the installation process. Adherence to instructions is critical for
maintaining the manufacturer’s warranty; neglecting them will almost
certainly void the warranty. Proper product selection based on end use, appropriate
scheduling with other trades, testing and compliance to product moisture requirements,
and installation per industry Best Practice methods are the keys to a quality
Testing that is performed should be in accordance with the product guidelines,
manufacturers recommendations, and recognized industry standards.
Regular maintenance is vital to the long term welfare of all floors. There
is not a surface available that can be used without cleaning and maintenance
and remain in optimum condition. The floor is subjected to the most abuse in
any normal business. Keeping the floor in good condition takes a little forethought
and a consistent effort. The first key to maintaining floors is preventing
as much soil, debris, and potential damaging agents from being introduced to
the environment in the first place. Interior and exterior walk-off mats can
minimize the amount of sand, water, and foreign matter that are tracked onto
the floor. Limiting contaminants will simplify the maintenance process.
There are tests that can be performed as part of an annual evaluation of a
floor’s safety and maintenance records, such as slip co-efficient tests
which determine compliance with ADA slip resistance requirements.