It can show up from the most unlikely sources—a refrigerator ice-maker, a window left open, a leaking planter, a spilled drink. The enemy is moisture, and the casualties are hard surface flooring materials.
Fortunately, flooring underlayment companies have fought back with technological advancements and new processes to eliminate or minimize the damage. In some cases, the technology is not new: Quiet Walk from MP Global Products has been on the market since 1999 and has stood the test of time.
“Since our product came out we know there has been 1 billion square feet of it installed,” said Jack Boesch, director of marketing at MP Global. “And we know that 99.989% of installations have had no complaints. We just ran the claims numbers a couple of months ago.”
The following is a look at some of the latest advancements in moisture protection: Healthier Choice has two signature products: MoistureBloc, which is a feature of its carpet cushion, and VaporBloc, a feature of its underlayment.
“MoistureBloc has been an integral part of our cushion from the start. It has been on the market for over 15 years,” said marketing manager Drew Holland. “Currently, we sell to approximately 30 distributors nationwide.”
MoistureBloc provides a “breathable moisture barrier” that prevents liquids from penetrating through carpet cushions. The spill-proof barrier is impervious to liquid spills, Holland said, while allowing vapor from beneath to escape and evaporate. Healthier Choice’s hospitality cushions and underlayments are GreenGuard Indoor Air Quality Certified.
Healthier Choice markets a polyurethane carpet pad in keeping with its commitment to the environment. “This is an excellent carpet padding choice for those with children, pets or who entertain on a regular basis,” Holland said. The company’s carpet pad features an antimicrobial treatment to prevent mold, mildew and bacteria from forming.
Starline Associates, a national supplier of floating floor underlayments and floors, introduced major enhancements to its Silent Blue products last year. The company added two layers of Mylar film to an already moisture-proof pad. The Mylar provides added protection in case of rips or tears during installation, according to Ray Rodriguez, president and CEO, who noted that flooring dealers could now also install below grade with little or no worries.
“Silent Blue is the most moisture-resistant pad available,” said Chuck McGivern, vice president of operations at Starline. “It was originally made only with closed cell moisture-proof foam. The addition of two layers of Mylar film may have been overdoing it, but that was how we wanted to develop this pad. It is also easier to handle and cut now.”
Starline tests its Silent Blue product by seeing if its 4 x 4 samples can hold a gallon of water for a period of three weeks without leaking. The company said tests show neither water nor moisture will penetrate closed cell membranes unless ripped, torn or punctured.
MP Global has added new features to its QuietWalk product, namely SAP, or super absorbent polymer, which increases absorbency and dissipates moisture. “QuietWalk will capture any water that works its way down around the perimeter of the floor,” Boesch said. When properly installed it will wick water and disperse it throughout the pad while the attached vapor barrier on the top will protect the flooring. “We call it a moisture management system.”
Diversified Foam’s FloorMuffler is a patent-pending underlayment that virtually eliminates the harsh reflective noise of laminate and engineered floors. The result is a quieter, more subdued sound similar to traditional hardwood floors, said Craig Keane, COO of Diversified Industries.
Pregis’ patented line of Absolute flooring products includes the flagship Absolute EZ- Seam, which relies on the company’s patented lip and tape system to create a moisture-resistant seal. The EZ-Seam line provides a layer of PE foam laminated to a layer of PE film. The film enhances the underlayment’s ability to resist moisture, making it ideal for laminated flooring installations, which may be subjected to higher humidity.
Similarly, Pregis’ Absolute Laminated Foam provides moisture resistance over concrete installations. It is available with or without a lip.