Top 10 Flooring Pet Peeves

Below are my top 10 Flooring questions that when I hear them it drives me crazy.

#10. Can Install VCT with an Epoxy Adhesive?

This is one installation I would love to pull a chair up to and watch. I actually had to do this once and it became a miserable mess. The issue is not adhesive bond; it is trying to lay the VCT into a wet adhesive. The tiles shift, epoxy oozes up through the tiles, and you can get ledging of the VCT because all the tiles seat differently in the wet adhesive until the epoxy cures, which takes several hours.

#9. My Customer wants their loose lay floor installed first, and then install the cabinets on the flooring.

Does your customer want a warranty with the product? Since 1994, we have had floating floors, which did not allow cabinets or any other heavy item installed on top of the floating flooring. Why now do people want to do this? The rules have not changed. If the flooring is a floating installation, you must have room around any vertical object (cabinets/pipes/walls) for the flooring to accommodate subfloor movement.

#8. Can I glue a floor over painted concrete?

No, no, no. You can’t skim coat or glue down over a painted concrete. This is what is known as a bond breaker. Your only has good as what you go over. If the paint releases, you lose the entire installation. Even if you install a floating floor over painted concrete you could have a mess. If the concrete is damp enough and the floating floor seals off the concrete, the moisture in the concrete could break down the paint and create a mess under the floating floor. The paint must go!

#7. Can I install over a Gypsum Underlayment (Gypcrete)?

The answer is usually yes, but there are generally two standards that must be met. #1, the gypsum underlayment should have a psi rating of 3500. Any lower than 3500, you could have indentation or the gypsum could break up over heavy loads. #2, after the gypsum is poured, it should have a top coat/sealer applied to it. This step is generally not done. If this step is not done, we have 3 products in our line that can solve this issue; Armstrong S-185, DriTac Eco DriSeal, and Mapei Primer L. Even if installing a floating floor over gypsum, I would seal the Gypsum to keep the dust down.

#6. My customer wants me to glue down 3⁄4′′ solid hardwood to concrete

Folks, this is why engineered hardwood was created. Again, does your customer want a product warranty? All the 3⁄4′′ solid hardwoods we sell, not one recommends the product be glued down. It’s not because the adhesive adhere to it. The adhesive cannot hold the natural tendencies of the solid hardwood to curl, bow, and twist into place until the adhesive cures. I know, I know adhesive manufactures say it can be done. They also say if recommended by the hardwood manufacturer and also say for solid shorts. Also, solid hardwood is not recommended on below grade concrete.

#5. My customer wants a resilient floor in his summer home or 3 seasons room

This question gets asked a lot, and not by the people in Florida where it could probably get done, but by the people in our northern territory where temperatures hit zero in the winter time. Glue down Vinyl, Laminate, and hardwood all have a minimum temperature requirement usually 550 to 600 degrees. Floating floors usually have a 650 degree minimum temperature requirement. The Avaire floating ceramic tile system and urethane grout performs well in applications, such as 3-season porches or summer homes, as long as they are indoor applications and not subjected to rain, snow, standing water, or any other environment where moisture would get under the system.

#4. My customer has a particleboard subfloor, what can I do?

Not sure what the subfloor industry was smoking in the 1970’s when they started using particleboard as a subfloor in houses. Particle board, also known as particleboard and chipboard, is an engineered wood subfloor product manufactured from wood chips, sawmill shavings, or even sawdust, and a synthetic resin or other suitable binder, which is pressed and extruded. A major disadvantage of particleboard is that it is very prone to expansion and discoloration due to moisture. Particle board underlayment panels must be underlayment grade as specified and warranted by the manufacturer.

Armstrong Memories, Starstep, and Station Square may be installed as a perimeter bond over particleboard. Congoleum Perimeter bonded felt products and AirStep Perimeter bonded and loose lay may go over particleboard. IVC products may be installed over particleboard, but the particle board must be primed using IVC FLEX-PRIM Acrylic Latex Primer.

IVC LVT and Metroflor Aspire, Engage and Konecto can be installed over particleboard.

Most manufacturers of engineered hardwood require the hardwood to be floated over particleboard. Armstrong/Bruce does allow stapling down (if the product allows you to) of its 5/16″ solid hard- wood, and engineered products (excluding 3⁄4′′) over particleboard.

#3. What to do with a crawl space?

Crawl spaces are like a time bomb waiting to go off. They create so many hardwood issues as the en- vironment in the crawl space is constantly changing. The requirements for any flooring over a crawl space are:

Crawl spaces must be a minimum of 18″ from the ground to underside of joists. A ground cover of 6- 20 mil black polyethylene film is essential as a vapor barrier with joints lapped 6″ and sealed with moisture-resistant tape. The crawl space should have perimeter venting equal to a minimum of 1.5% of the crawl space square footage. These vents should be properly located to foster cross ventilation.

It is your job to check the crawl space to ensure that it meets these requirements. If the requirements are not met, the wood subfloor will be going through constant growing and shrinking as the seasons change causing flooring failures.

#2. My customer wants to use their Steam Cleaner on their new flooring

I couldn’t sleep last night and I watched the lady on the info commercial clean everything but her kids with that damn Steam Cleaner. Steam Cleaners are not recommended for resilient flooring. If damage occurs it is not covered by the product warranty. Steam Cleaners are not recommended by Vinyl, Hardwood, Laminate, Vinyl Groutable Tile, and I have even heard of issues with Ceramic Tile grout and Steam Cleaners.

      Drum roll please…………

#1. Curing Compounds and Concrete Additives

On a weekly basis, I am constantly asked if “xyz” concrete additive or curing compounds are compatible with your flooring. If not, we will use someone else’s product. Good luck with that. The patching, adhesive, and flooring industry does not condone the use of these products per ASTM F710. These products can be bond breakers causing flooring failures. I actually have a prepared statement written up so that I can send it out immediately.

Barrier One is out in the market promoting their concrete additive that requires no moisture testing and creating tension with the GC and the flooring contractors because the flooring contractor is being required to perform moisture testing per the flooring manufactures and ASTM F710. Flexco/Roppe has done a great job in addressing this issue:

There are products on the market that make specific statements regarding moisture testing not being required when these products are used as an ad- mixture or topical treatment. Failure to preform moisture testing voids the adhesive and adhesion performance warranties of the Flexco/Roppe product and Flexco/Roppe provided adhesives. Product defects not related to moisture issues will be covered under the warranty after cause of defect is determined by Flexco/Roppe to not be moisture related.

I wish more patching, adhesive, and flooring manufactures would take the same stance. It could make the flooring contractors life a little easier with a statement backing them like that from the manufactures.