Guest column: Bridging the gap

June 09, 2017

June 5/12, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 26

By Laurie Baatz

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 11.08.31 AMOne of the most common issues plaguing the installation of flooring today is moisture in concrete. Yet, the chronic headache has not helped to change the behavior of the teams involved. Sound familiar?

The architect or interior designer writes the project’s flooring specifications. The construction documents state that moisture testing be conducted following ASTM F2170. Specifications also state the contractor follow the manufacturer’s installation methods for the flooring specified. This should be enough information for the contractor to bid the job for a successful installation, right?

Fast forward to the contractor preparing his bid. He knows to bid the cost of conducting the moisture testing; this has been included in the specifications. However, he cannot accurately predict what those readings will be. How will he bid a moisture mitigation system that may be needed and still compete with the other flooring service providers?

Keep in mind that neither party has control of:

  • When the concrete is poured.
  • When the building is “buttoned up.”
  • If the HVAC is running and maintaining a consistent ambient building temperature of 68-72 degrees for a minimum of 28 days.

Industry standard flooring adhesives are now water based and will not perform well in high moisture environments. These circumstances will not change, and most of the new build projects are on a fast track schedule. Isn’t it time to bridge the gap between the specification community and the flooring experts during the planning stages for a project, create a plan together and execute based on the collective expertise of the teams?

It is imperative that flooring be designed as a system from the substrate up just as the building is designed as a system. Architects and engineers collaborate to design the architectural, mechanical, electrical and control systems in an effort to create one cohesive building. Each person has a particular building expertise and, as a result, brings value to the design and function of the building. The interior finishes are dependent on the proper construction and system operations of that structure. The same can be said for the flooring “system.” The substrate, its design and condition, dictate the necessary system specification to provide for the finished floor covering. Without this system design, many problems can (and do) occur regularly. What preventative measures can be taken to eliminate these challenges?

Consulting with the flooring contractor and manufacturer experts early on in the design process is a must. These consultants must understand the flooring goals of the project including budget, functional and aesthetic desires. Working together to create a solution that can be specified and competitively bid to support those goals is ideal. The design team’s vision becomes reality, the contractor doesn’t have to guess at what to quote or how to compete and, more importantly, the owner gets the end result he invested in.

Engaging with your flooring experts early on in the design process will help to establish a clear and concise plan in creating your desired solution and minimize problems down the road. Working together provides the opportunity to enhance and improve the overall experience of what the finished floor should look like without compromise.

Raise the bar of expectation by working together. It will do wonders for the industry brand along with satisfied customers. Satisfied customers become repeat customers which brings more business opportunities for everyone.

 

Laurie Baatz is the director of market development for HPS Schönox  North America.

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