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
The three temperatures you must control prior to delivery of flooring to site: Surface, Ambient and Product. Floor covering products are required to be delivered into eventual living (service) conditions prior to installation so that they acclimate and don’t change shape when occupancy is reached. Living conditions are typically 20c (68f) at 45% Ambient Relative Humidity. Thermostat controlled, main heat and or HVAC should be operating and maintaining these conditions. Test results should be recorded for future reference. Managing this critical pre-installation stage helps avoid the risk of encountering a host of related problems (depending on flooring type) such as splitting/checking of hardwood top veneers, excessive expansion and related squeaking, shrinkage and gaps, buckling and lifting of vinyl plank edges. The installation area is either within manufacturers’ installation guidelines or not. Temporary electric heaters, such as in this image, are limited to the amount of space they can heat and often do not have thermostat controls. Fans are also required to circulate air and keep conditions stable. Propane heat is not recommended as it introduces water vapour into the air that will raise Ambient Relative Humidity. www.nfca.ca
Some flooring products are not recommended for all areas of the home or conditions that may exist within certain rooms. Understand product limitations before committing to purchase or specification. Vinyl products for example, shrink and expand with changing temperatures. Direct sunlight through south facing windows can quickly cause temperatures to increase above a product's limitations. Choice of adhesive may mitigate movement but will not prevent it when extremes occur. Understand the limitations of any product you are considering by reading the installation guidelines and warranty exclusions. Some products for example include statements such as, ‘do not install product in areas of direct sunlight’ or ‘to satisfy warranty requirements window coverings must be installed to protect flooring from direct sun (heat). Homeowners don’t know this. Flooring and design professionals should. Products with ambiguous or inadequate installation guidelines should not be purchased. Choose products based on performance first and aesthetic second. www.nfca.ca
Here's our latest Coverings Magazine article: Specs Matter - Managing the end at the beginning. https://bit.ly/2XMqTLx
Pre-installation site meetings between all parties help set process, budget and a realistic schedule
Pre-installation site meetings between all parties help set process, budget & a realistic schedule to plan for the unique challenges of installing complex floor covering products properly. Flooring systems can involve multiple layers of different products (from various suppliers) and are ultimately as strong as the weakest link. A typical scenario may include the original concrete surface, moisture barrier, primer, Hydraulic Cement Underlayment (HCU), new adhesive & finally... a floor covering. Considering how many layers of product & the dollar investment that sits on top of the parent slab, the risk of short cutting on surface preparation, specifically removal of all pre-existing contaminants such as old adhesive from the original surface, is simply not worth it! 10,000 square foot office space - Original concrete surface covered in old adhesive which was left in place before primer was applied and HCU poured. Soon after a new adhesive and Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT) floor installation went ahead. Result, sporadic lifting where the HCU de-bonded from the old adhesive. Cost to mechanically remove the old adhesive? Insignificant compared to the cost of full floor system removal & relocating a busy office for many weeks. www.nfca.ca
The finished result can exhibit many issues that may seem problematic to the untrained eye but are in fact acceptable to industry standards. Viewing finished installations under extreme lighting conditions, or from a low or particular angle, that highlight irregularities is a recipe for dispute. Imperfections exist in construction, grey areas between acceptable and not acceptable fuel much debate and many unnecessary hold-backs. When resilient flooring (vinyl, rubber, linoleum) for example, with its' reflective surface and telegraphing characteristic, is installed over an acceptable concrete sub-floor, the finished product will still show undulations. NFCA supports construction parties across Canada when such disputes arise by offering inspections through a network of independent certified experts who are experienced and trained to inspect and report from a position of 'what's right, not who's right'. Getting the facts from a third party who has no skin in the game helps those caught up in a dispute to agree and move forward from a position of trust. For more information go to: www.nfca.ca/inspections.html
Avoid the problems! Don’t underestimate the placement of Gypsum Cement Underlayment in construction or, as a floor covering contractor, the installation of glue down flooring (especially resilient flooring) over a Gypsum surface. Gypsum concrete offers many advantages over regular concrete such as fire resistance, acoustical properties and a lighter over all weight. When properly mixed and placed it can offer the same compressive strength (Industry recommendation 4000psi /27mpa for resilient flooring), is easier to place and smooth out due to its runnier consistency and is also less prone to cracking.
Most often used in wood frame construction as an underlayment (thickness of 1 ½” /38mm) and also when hydronic radiant heating systems are present. Issues such as dusting, cracking, de-bonding, and overly soft surfaces leave projects with significant problems, corrective costs and delays and are mostly caused by poor planning, over watering, improper mixing and questionable site conditions. Refer to NFCA Floor Covering Reference Manual Specification Guide - Section AA2 - 03-54-12 – Gypsum Cement Underlayment.
Cutting and pasting old specs into new documents devalues the purpose of the spec, leads to incorrect installation process and can result in perfectly good flooring products under performing or failing altogether. There are generic, Canadian floor covering specifications online at https://lnkd.in/ezn6udg available to design authorities for specifying floor covering installation work. This specification resource guides the process of floor covering installation and advises all parties on product acclimation, correct indoor environmental conditions, testing requirements, sub-floor flatness requirements, surface preparation, installer qualifications and clearly assigns scope of work to the correct party. Include the correct language in your next floor covering spec with the words: 'Perform all work in accordance with the NFCA Floor Covering Reference Manual of Canada and the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of work that applies'. With this done, industry standards and correct procedure can be referenced throughout the installation.
To simultaneously protect budgets, deadlines and product warranties, planning ahead is critical. This means ‘Scope of Work’ (who is responsible for what on site) must be clearly understood in advance so that the Construction Manager and Flooring Contractor have accurately covered their work scope in their initial bid for the work and can subsequently afford (based on original bid) to work together throughout the build. This way deflected, curled slabs can be properly managed before floor coverings are scheduled, correct ASTM moisture testing requirements can be budgeted and factored into the schedule, surface prep reviewed understood and managed properly and indoor ‘service’ conditions provided prior to and during installation. With these four items properly specified, understood by all involved and planned for, installers can do the work they are trained to do and clients will stand a better chance of getting the flooring they expect... on budget, on time and with warranty intact. Specify the NFCA Floor Covering Reference Manual. Call 1.604.371.0137 for details. Or go to www.nfca.ca