What I am seeing
We are closing in on the end of the year. In all my travels, the biggest topic of concern is “where do we find new and younger installers”? In 10 years, this will be a huge problem not only for the flooring industry, but with any construction trade. The younger generation is not enrolling in trade schools like they did years ago. The focus for students graduating high school today is not just getting as college degree, but now advancing that degree. We have a generation of college graduates with massive debts with degrees they can’t find jobs in, but we have a field of construction trades hungry for workers but few people to fill the needs. Very few shops I go to say they have more installers than they need. Even though the flooring products have become easier to handle and install, there is still a need for skilled installers.
Issues I see today with installers are that they have not changed their installation practices to the changes with the products today. I have installers still installing products today the same way they installed products 20 years ago. Flooring products today are continually changing and we need to keep up with the changes.
On the positive side of flooring, wearlayers of flooring are much better than they used to be and they are constantly changing. Products are much more flexible than they were 20 years ago. Locking systems are more user friendly and faster to install. We are at a time when products are more user friendly than they ever were. Just asking for people to keep up with the changes!
This is an area where construction schedules have become faster and faster. Buildings are soaked with moisture and what are you Mr. Flooring Contractor, going to do? We have flooring adhesives up to 90 and 95% Relative Humidity and they are still not high enough for the new construction market. In the residential housing new construction market, it is all about cost. We are putting the lowest cost products in the absolute worst conditions. Every day I am asked by a flooring dealer on how the builder can save money on the flooring side. Usually they want to take out plywood underlayment and install on directly to the sheet of OSB that has no holding power today. Vinyl flooring and hardwood require temperature conditions for them to perform the way they should. Unfortunately we don’t always get that in residential new home construction. I had a dealer ask me about crack suppression under hardwood for his one builder who is having issues with the hardwood gapping in a straight line after the home is occupied.
We discussed some products, but it just raised the install cost and it was actually cheaper to do the tear out and replacements than to figure in a crack isolation membrane. This just comes down to a time factor. Give the house time to dry out and we could eliminate so many call back issues.
Commercial new construction is generally the same issue, no temperature control and high moisture issues. Concrete slabs are not given time to even start to dry out. There are adhesives out there today they go very high in moisture resistance, but when that concrete slab starts to dry out and move, we can’t control that. See below;
This is a phone call I love to get and be asked why ‘my” tile decided to move like this? Mr. GC, my tile is just following the movement of your wonderful concrete slab. When things finally have the chance to dry out, they move. For the right price we can control a high moisture situation, but we can’t control the slab movement under the vinyl flooring when the concrete slab does have the chance to start drying out. At this time putting crack isolation beneath vinyl flooring products is like putting a speed bump in the middle of a highway.
Water Proof Core Products
Water Proof Core products are the biggest marketing craze right now. These products tout going over everything and anything, but if you read the installation instructions the subfloor requirements for these products is the same as a glue down sheet, tile, laminate, or hardwood flooring product and if they are so water proof, why do they have subfloor moisture limits generally of 5-lbs. or less…. just asking, does not make much sense to me!
3 Season Rooms
I am often asked what vinyl flooring product can I install in a 3 season room that has no heat or air conditioning. The first thing I ask is do you want a warranty or not? Vinyl flooring, sheet, tile, LVT or LVP is not designed for temperature change. When warm, vinyl expands. When cold, vinyl contracts. After several cycles of this, the products lose adhesion, locking systems begin to fail. Vinyl flooring products in this scenario are not warranted. Ceramic Tile is your better option here. Remember the floating Ceramic Tile product Avaire? This is a very good option in these types of areas? http://www.avairefloors.com/