Anyone who’s been through the construction process has heard the words “moisture mitigation.” While it’s not new, concern over the issue has grown over the last 10 years.
One reason is condensed construction timelines, which mean most projects are fast-tracked, leaving less time for concrete slabs to dry. This leaves slab moisture levels (relative humidity or RH levels) at unsuitable levels for flooring installations to perform. However, these levels must be met in order to maintain a manufacturer’s warranty.
Another issue is the shift to more sustainable materials and building practices. Josh DiGloria, senior project manager, Suffolk Construction (Boston) says in an effort to go green, flooring manufacturers have replaced some of the toxic chemicals in their glues with more water-based ingredients. “The concrete mixtures originate from limestone and have calcium silicate components within the final slab product, and when you put the flooring adhesives on the concrete slab and then put rubber flooring directly on top, the water vapors will move thru the slab and interact with the glue,” he says. “So a lot of hospitals and health care projects that use rubber have seen failures in the rubber adhesion bonding to the floor, which create bubbling or floor section peeling up.”
Finally, the composition of the concrete itself can be an issue. Jennifer Mango, interior designer, at TSOI/Kobus & Associates (Cambridge, Mass.), says concrete is specified in an array of mixes that are customized to the application, and when ingredients are added, that alters the concrete’s dry time as well as its physical characteristic, which impacts the adhesive’s ability to bond.
The key to addressing these problems is planning. “Before you actually put the concrete slab into the project, you have to have a plan for how you’re going to solve the moisture mitigation,” DiGloria says, “and the cost of the plan has to be included in the budget.”
Mango says some project choose to “wait it out” with a budgeted moisture mitigation contingency. Then when the flooring is ready for install, a moisture test is conducted to get a relative humidity (RH) reading on the slab. If the level is low enough, the installation can move forward. If not, a moisture mitigation system is required, which means premium costs and schedule delays. “The reality is that moisture mitigation is almost always required,” she adds.
In the end, project partners needs to have a discussion early on to weigh scheduling, impacts, and cost options. “The only rule is you have to plan something,” DiGloria says.
How Can We Solve this?
Moisture Remediation Systems are highly specialized epoxy coating systems formulated to isolate moisture sensitive flooring from all levels of concrete moisture. Topcial systems are used when concrete has a known moisture problem, when concrete dries too slowly to meet the construction schedule, and as a preventative measure when concrete doesn’t have a vapor retarder in place and future moisture issues cannot be predicted.
Moisture induced problems with flooring materials installed on concrete slabs on grond continue to plague the construction industry. The result is a waste in materials, damaged relationships, voided warranties and lawsuits.
What is happening?
Problems involving water and water-vapor migration through a concrete slab on ground can affect a variety of flooring materials which can cause them to cup, warp, buckle, bubble, loose adhesion and produce mold growth. Regents Flooring always performs moisture test before installing our products. We make sure that the RH (relative humidity ) levels meet the material specification and if not, we apply a topical treatment to seal the concrete so that moisture cannot escape. Give us a call and let us help you with your moisture issues.