Professional salespeople ensure that their clients’ expectations are accurately set with good sampling. The alternative… the client will set their own often unrealistic expectations. Result… client dissatisfaction, holdbacks, restocking fees and wasted time (literally months with today’s supply chain challenges) stuck getting the project back on track. Wood flooring products, in particular, can have a wide range of color across the spectrum from ‘clear’ (clean) grades to ‘character’ (strong colour variation). Contrasting dark / light planks sometimes don’t appear on a typical 18” x 18” factory supplied sample board. Show the full range as much as is reasonably possible and have the client sign off on the approved sample (signing makes people pay attention). Photograph the sample for future reference (the true color may not represent well in a photo but the grade and natural characteristics such as knots and mineral streaks will). For larger projects, open a full pack of material. For products replicating a wood look such as LVP, SPC or laminate, know the number of boards for a full pattern repeat. Deal head on with the tough questions and stand out from those who sample ineffectively, oversell and under deliver.
Expansion gaps matter but are so often overlooked when installing moisture or temperature sensitive floor covering products. Wood, laminate & LVT floating floors expand and contract as site conditions (relative humidity and temperature) change through the four-season cycle. T-Caps, overlap nosings and transition strips are designed as a finishing detail (for doorways, stair landings etc.) to cover necessary expansion spaces that enable seasonal movement. T-Caps and other overlap transitions are often installed using too much adhesive which bonds the floor covering to the substrate and or adjacent rigid floor coverings such as ceramic tile. This prevents inevitable natural movement which leads to tension in the floor system causing buckling, squeaking, lifting edges, stress fractures, broken locking joints and unnecessary claims.
It’s not just mix, pour and go! Prior to pouring Hydraulic Cement Underlayment (HCU), test the slab for correct surface temperature, water absorbency and contaminants. Conduct ASTM moisture tests, confirm a concrete surface profile (CSP) of 3, remove all dust, apply primer, mix HCU product with correct water ratio, paddle revolutions per minute and for the correct length of time.
Once poured, if in doubt, perform a Mat Bond (Pull) test using a 3’x3’ piece of the scheduled floor covering and adhesive... and last but not least, hire some who has a proven track record of getting it right and check references because mistakes are costly.
Are you wondering how to finish resilient (vinyl, rubber, linoleum) flooring over construction joints on your project? No one wants the ugly cover plate solution that sits proud (high) of the flooring, adds a trip hazard, maintenance issues and interferes with rolling loads. Yet concrete construction joints are a necessary part of slab placement and must be honoured through the floor covering system (including any cementitious underlayment) due to independent slab movement which stresses the flooring system causing failure over time.
Some facilities install VC Tile over top for example (as seen in the right side image) and factor in the cost of periodic replacement of broken Tiles rather than use cover plates!
What are the best solutions when installing over construction joints with resilient floor coverings? Feel free to comment with your experiences, successes, recommendations.
Aligning Resilient Flooring specification sections in the Canadian National Master Construction Specification (NMS) with NFCA standards
Successful construction requires everyone to be on the same page. Getting on that page starts early and must be supported with correct specifications. To this end National Floor Covering Association (NFCA) is pleased to have worked with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to align the Resilient Flooring specification sections in the Canadian National Master Construction Specification (NMS) with NFCA standards for general use. This important update makes the latest information available to design authorities for inclusion in their project documents. This will benefit all involved in a resilient (linoleum, rubber, vinyl, VCT) flooring installation. Updates include substrate flatness, porosity, profile and testing requirements, indoor environmental conditions, scope of work and third party inspections (QAP). All critical factors to guiding success when working with modern day, low VOC, moisture and temperature sensitive flooring products in an increasingly fast paced construction environment. We look forward to working with the NRC on more flooring related updates. For more information go to: https://lnkd.in/ggdSBFv
Drains, including clean outs, trench drains and grease traps must be specified correctly to ensure long term flooring performance.
So much of what effects the floor covering installation at the end of a build happens in the early stages when slabs are poured. One example that leads to a common problem is the installation of drains in wet areas such as shower stalls and kitchens. Drains, including clean outs, trench drains and grease traps must be specified correctly to ensure long term flooring performance. Once installed, these mechanical components are not easy to replace as they are set into concrete. Therefore, specifying the right drain detail is critical to avoid delays and expensive replacement costs. Too often this is overlooked and not discussed until the floor covering installer arrives on site…too late. Correct drain design allows proper termination of flooring at finished edges so that water, soaps, detergents and dirt do not penetrate beneath (i.e., when non-clamping drains are installed, cutting the flooring around the collar and using silicone to seal is often the band aid solution). The problem - silicone won’t stand the test of time, prevent adhesive bond failure, lifting and curling, trip hazards, dirt and germ traps, voided warranties and ongoing expensive. repairs. www.nfca.ca
Avoid the problems, start the conversation early. Concrete slab flatness and preparation are critical to avoid delays when delivering a quality product. Minor discrepancies in new or existing subfloor surfaces can be adjusted by using patching compounds. This is considered, within reason, part of the flooring contractor's work. Where discrepancies do not meet NFCA or floor covering manufacturers tolerances (Straight Edge Method, 3/16” over 10’), floor levels must be corrected by grinding and or using Hydraulic Cement Underlayment (HCU), the application of which shall be done by others (General Contractor or Owner) or may be undertaken by the flooring contractor as a billable extra. Correct specification of work responsibilities helps all parties budget and plan accordingly. Leaving the discussion for when the flooring installer starts work can result in delays and rejection of finished product. NFCA Floor Covering Reference Manual. www.nfca.ca
Are you managing the risk or rolling the dice? Just because a concrete slab is 20 years old doesn’t mean it's dry. Sure, it’s likely to be dry, but anyone who says it IS without proper testing, will do so until they are told to put it in writing and accept full responsibility for any floor covering issues that may develop later. Floor coverings and related materials such as leveling cements and adhesives can be negatively affected by moisture present in a slab. Bond failure, bubbles, discoloration and mold growth are a few of the possible issues that can develop after installation. Old and new concrete absorbs and holds water. Water can come from multiple sources on site, such as slow leaking embedded pipes, broken vapor barriers, warm humid air condensing on cold slab surfaces (dew point), spills, and broken window seals. Testing is inexpensive and easy to perform if you plan ahead, budget and schedule accordingly. Floor failures are the opposite! www.nfca.ca
Installers beware! SPC flooring is simultaneously strong, fragile and not as forgiving as LVT or Laminate when installing.
While SPC flooring comes with durability benefits, it also presents challenges that installers should consider when planning an installation.
Extra care when engaging the locking joint, understanding its weaknesses & how to tap it together will make the difference between a satisfied client and just another claim.
The tell-tale ski jump (in this photo) at the butt end of multiple installed boards, indicates broken joints usually associated with incorrect handling or excessive mallet impact. SPC joints are thin and brittle. If they’re installed without the necessary care and attention (i.e. use of a tapping block to spread the load of mallet impacts; correct disengagement of planks - remove and re-install), then micro-fracturing of the end joint can easily occur. Once this happens, the visual result may be obvious at the time of installation, or it may take months to develop as the fracture worsens with use.
For this reason, installers switching between LVT or laminate and SPC installation work should take time to understand the locking joint, modify installation techniques & always review manufacturer installation guidelines to avoid the problems.
Being clear about who is responsible for what when it comes to sub-floor preparation is not easy considering the endless scenarios that can present on site involving surface flatness, porosity, contaminants removal, profile, etc. When specified, NFCA minimum industry standards help to remove the confusion. The following is an excerpt from ‘PART A12 Substrate Preparation’ of the Floor Covering Reference Manual, which helps to clarify related trade scope of work for the floor covering installer:
‘The flooring contractor shall be responsible only for minor substrate preparation that includes filling of small chips and dents, removal of minor protrusions and vacuuming of an otherwise acceptable surface in accordance with NFCA requirements and as defined by local trade jurisdiction requirements. General Contractor or Owner shall include for the additional substrate preparation work (shot-blasting, grinding, levelling, skim coating, crack filling, etc.) as required to meet NFCA and manufacturer requirements. Source https://lnkd.in/ezn6udg
Right trowel notch size, right coverage. To ensure a long term successful bond of the floor covering product (in this case sheet resilient) to the subfloor surface, it is important to use the recommended adhesive in strict accordance with the floor covering and adhesive manufacturers installation guidelines.
For example, trowel notches that are too large will place too much adhesive which can lead to trowel-marks showing through the material and/or excessive indentations (as seen in this image). This can cause swelling and buckling throughout the material.
If the trowel notches are too small the adhesive will not hold the flooring down. Spread the adhesive covering 100% of the exposed subfloor, leaving no gaps or puddles. The trowel notch must be large enough to apply a continuous film (i.e. full coverage) of the adhesive to the substrate to ensure a minimum 90% transfer of the adhesive to the resilient floor backing. The adhesive is not to be used as a filler or leveller.
'Minimal Prep'...part of the problem! Resilient (vinyl, rubber, linoleum) flooring tends to follow every contour of a substrate, essentially forming a skin. Joints, cracks, depressions, protrusions, and seemingly insignificant imperfections on a substrate surface may telegraph through and become very obvious after the product is installed. 'Minimal prep' is an overused term in flooring that creates ambiguity in the process of preparing a subfloor. A preferred alternative is to reference available standards that direct testing, preparation and work responsibility for this critical stage of an installation. Most manufacturers of resilient flooring reference 'ASTM F-710 Standard Practice for Preparing Concrete Floors to Receive Resilient Flooring'. The Floor Covering Reference Manual of Canada also notes this standard but goes further (in PART A12 Substrate Preparation) to explain who is responsible for what to get the work done. Clearly assigning this work responsibility is critical to avoid conflict and delays. Together, these documents go a long way to solving the long-standing issue of 'what is minimal preparation for the floor covering installer'.
In-floor, hot water (hydronic) radiant heat systems work well with hardwood floors when site conditions are managed according to manufacturers' recommendations - but when they're not...
In-floor, hot water (hydronic) radiant heat systems work well with hardwood floors when site conditions are managed according to manufacturers' recommendations. The opposite is true when conditions are not managed properly. Ambient relative humidity; air, surface and product temperature; subfloor and product moisture content, all must be maintained within specific ranges. Thermostat temperature controls for rooms must be connected to regulate heat 24/7. Without proper management and site control, thousands of dollars or perfectly good product and installation work can be quickly ruined. Surface temperature, as in this image, is most commonly overlooked. An overly hot surface can cause splits, checks, delamination, gaps and buckling in hardwood flooring . Many manufacturers, for example, advise a max surface temperature of 28c (82f). Always check the installation guidelines that (should) accompany the product. Avoid products that do not provide detailed installation guides. www.nfca.ca
Flooring systems can be complex, involving concrete slabs, moisture barriers, primers, leveling cements, adhesive and finally a floor covering product. Multiple products are often used to complete one flooring system and so the risk of being caught up in a question of failure between two unrelated manufacturers is likely. With fewer manufacturers involved in a system, there's less chance of finger pointing and dispute if an issue arises. For example, switching products like adhesives from the original specification to save money is a common cause of problems in the floor covering industry. Technical support offered by product manufacturers should be consulted to ensure approval of their products when used in combination with other unrelated manufacturers. Manufacturers who do not have accessible and comprehensive technical support should be avoided.
Floors installed in poor lighting get inspected after installation in good lighting. This increases the likelihood of deficiencies, complaints and hold backs. Quality of workmanship depends on a number of factors, one of them being adequate lighting on site. Work Safe regulations separate different tasks/trades and designate onsite lighting requirements accordingly. All flooring installation work, for example, is in the same lighting category as ‘finish carpentry’ and therefore requires a minimum LUX (light measurement) of 500 be maintained in the area of work (easily achieved with halogen lighting). The Construction Manager is responsible to provide adequate lighting when the NFCA installation standards manual is specified. The floor covering installer is responsible to ensure acceptable conditions exist before proceeding and issue written advice to the Contractor and or Building owner if they do not. www.nfca.ca
NFCA in Print: Here's our latest Coverings Magazine article - NFCA reflects on a year of success. https://bit.ly/2sMN6hd
Hospitals and mold DON'T mix, which underlines the importance of ensuring correct site conditions exist prior to floor covering installation. The NFCA commercial floor inspection service (Quality Assurance Program) protects building owners from the process of fast track construction which so often overlooks critically important details such as slab dryness, flatness, temperature, porosity, surface profile, approved testing to ASTM standards, and who should take those tests under contract, correctly. The result is an increased likelihood that site conditions will be ready for trained installers, ‘accepted’ instead of ‘rejected’ slabs, quality flooring systems and products installed correctly, on time and with warranties intact lasting for decades as the manufacturer intended. www.nfca.ca
National Floor Covering Association (NFCA) of Canada welcomes Armstrong Flooring as a new member supporting quality assurance and best practices in Canada’s floor covering industry. www.armstrongflooring.com
For the most part, building owners have no idea who is going to show up on site to install their flooring. This is not the case when NFCA is specified along with the Quality Assurance Program third party inspection service. As part of NFCA's membership requirement, all NFCA member contractors must be able to provide Trade or Product qualified installers in accordance with PART A05 TRADE QUALIFICATIONS of the Floor Covering Reference Manual of Canada. They must also be able to provide their own Bond for projects where the NFCA Quality Assurance Program is specified. For building owners concerned about quality of workmanship, this goes along way to ensure skilled and trained installers are on the job. This also raises the value of a trained and certified installer. PART A05 outlines the details and is downloadable for free at: www.nfca.ca/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
The gap between Division 3 Concrete and Division 9 Finishes (flooring) is a terrible place to be for the General Contractor, Flooring Contractor, Consultant and Developer when connecting the divisions isn’t properly planned. For years, the construction industry has dealt with this issue by avoiding it until the flooring contractor arrives on site to reject (quite rightly) an unacceptable surface. Now what? Short cuts, arguments and threats of litigation for non-performance! For this reason, we created the HCU (Hydraulic Cement Underlayment) Committee to review 1. Why the problem exists 2. Specification solutions that ensure early planning and budgeting, and 3. How to best share solutions with the construction industry. Thank you to the following industry professionals for participating on the committee to shed light on this very important & contentious issue: Monica Baillie (Landmark Architecture), Matt Dalkie (Lafarge), Don Styka (Tarkett), Kathleen Kompauer (KDR Engineering), David Sherley (Custom Building Products), Rob Visscher (Atmosphere Floors), Michael Pereira (EllisDon), Kelvin Klapak (Yellowridge Const.), David Randall (Mapei), Diana Klingner (Canadian National Trades). We look forward to sharing our progress over the coming months.
Seam sealer (adhesive) prevents cut carpet seams from unravelling after installation and it's required according National Floor Covering Association specification
Seam sealer (adhesive) prevents cut carpet seams from unravelling after installation and is required according National Floor Covering Association (NFCA) specification, The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) 104/105 standards and Manufacturer installation guidelines for warranty purposes. To save installation time, seam sealer is often not applied by the installer which leads to the problems such as shown in this image. Seams will quickly unravel in exposed areas as they are constantly tested by vacuuming, dragged furniture legs and foot traffic. It's easy for an inspector to check for the presence of seam sealer after installation using an inspection light, however, it's not easy for the installer to correct the issue afterwards and yet this is one of the most common problems we experience when inspecting carpet installations. www.nfca.ca
Correcting concrete slab surfaces prior to floor covering installation requires time, money - and is outside the scope of work for the trade of 'Floor Covering installer'
Correcting concrete slab surfaces prior to floor covering installation requires time and money and is outside the scope of work for the trade of 'Floor Covering installer'. This work can however, be taken on as a billable extra. The following is an excerpt from the NFCA Floor Covering Reference Manual regarding this... 2. The General Contractor (GC) shall provide a substrate surface acceptable for the installation of specified flooring materials. Unless otherwise defined by local trade jurisdiction, or agreed to between the GC and the flooring contractor prior to commencement of the Work, the GC will be responsible for: .a Filling and levelling all substrate surfaces including control and construction joints, structural cracks, grooves, gaps, and other irregularities. .b Grinding smooth all ridges, undulations, projections and areas of carbonation and scaling. .c Correcting low density or powdery concrete surfaces in order to provide substrate surfaces that are acceptable for the installation of flooring materials. .d Major patching or installation of an underlayment using products that are suitable for substrate surfaces, and compatible with flooring materials. For full details go to www.nfca.ca
National Floor Covering Association (NFCA) specifications for each flooring category (Carpet, Resilient, Hardwood, Laminate) include a pre-installation site meeting, and a review of the following; product acclimation requirements, indoor environmental conditions, moisture and alkalinity testing, sub-floor flatness requirements, bond testing, mock-up, installer certification and contractor bonding. All this takes place months before the floor installation starts allowing the General Contractor time to plan for the difficult process of installing flooring properly. For more information on the Quality Assurance Program go to www.nfca.ca/inspections.html
Done once, done right. No ambiguity, no disputes on site - 30 storey tower, concrete construction, all suspended slabs left 3/8" shy of finished height with a rough Concrete Surface Profile (CSP) of 5 or 6 (note: an open rough surface profile also facilitates slab drying). Hydraulic Cement Underlayment (3/8" topping) planned and budgeted for well in advance, primed and poured 4 months later to build the slab up to finished height. 10' Straight Edge tests measured 1/16" over 10' (2mm over 3m) everywhere, even the most challenging test spots, such as up to support columns where slabs typically slop away, exceeded floor covering industry standards of 1/8" over 10' for a suspended slab. www.nfca.ca
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