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WFCA Moisture Vapor Testing White Paper

MOISTURE VAPOR TESTING POSITION STATEMENT ADOPTED

Reprinted with permission, D. Christopher Davis, President and CEO, WFCA, July 30, 2006

After taking more than a year to build a coalition of virtually every key organization in floor covering, the Ad Hoc Industry Task Force on Moisture Emission Testing can now officially take the word “Draft” off the Floor Covering Industry Draft White Paper on Moisture Emission Testing.

The Board of Directors of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) voted unanimously on October 25, 2001 to formally adopt the White Paper “Position Statement on Moisture Emission Testing” and its accompanying document, “Moisture Emission Testing – Responsibility and Qualifications for Testing.” The WFCA directors had previously passed the measure in draft form on September 23, 2000 in order to begin the process of soliciting industry-wide support for the measure.

The gist of the position statement is that concrete moisture vapor testing needs to be performed by qualified independent agencies, and not by floor covering personnel.

This recommendation, if adopted, will require that architects move such testing away from division 9 of construction specifications and place them with other construction related test requirements.

Building industry practice historically has been that floor covering installers, dealers and contractors have been held accountable for testing of moisture emissions in concrete and the satisfactory installation of floor covering on this material. Horror stories abound about floor covering professionals being held liable for non-performance, often in extenuating circumstances beyond their control.

Compounding the complexity of this situation are technological advancements in concrete formulations, as well as new, “fast track” construction techniques. It was in this environment that the Ad Hoc Task Force of interested professionals was brought together last year by Gary Wasmund, immediate past Chairman of the Board of the World Floor Covering Association and Chairman of the Ad Hoc Industry Task Force, to attempt to rectify what has proven to be a serious problem. That led to the development of the Position Statement on Moisture Emission Testing that has now been finalized.

The endorsing organizations behind this effort now include Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI), Floor Covering Installation Contractors Association (FCICA), Floor Installation Association of North America (FIANA), International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI), International Society of Cleaning Technicians (ISCT), National Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD), Professional Flooring Installers Association (PFIA), Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI), StarNet Commercial Flooring Cooperative (StarNet), and the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA).

The WFCA, the industry’s largest advocacy organization, is serving as the coordinating body for this industry-wide initiative.

In order to encourage floor covering personnel to be proactive in working with architects, building owners and specification writers, the complete document is available from the WFCA at 2211 E. Howell Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92806, or by calling 800-624-6880 or faxing 714-978-6066 and requesting a copy. [The WFCA has also granted TheFloorPro.com permission to reprint the document here in full.] Wasmund urges floor covering dealers, contractors and installers to share these documents with architects and contractors before initiating a commercial job.


Floor Covering Industry
White Paper Position Statement on
Moisture Emission Testing

This white paper is designed to provide general contractors, owners and architects with reliable assessments of substrate conditions. In light of the many changes in floor coverings and substrates in recent years, we recognize that flooring contractors or installers may not be the ones most qualified to determine the suitability of substrates for floor covering materials.

Because there is broad accepted precedent in the construction industry for independent testing, it is recommended using qualified independent testing agencies to test for vapor emissions and alkalinity.

In the increasingly complex world of construction – with increasing environmental requirements, technological changes in formulations and advances in measuring and testing concrete – to provide general contractors, owners and architects with optimum substrate conditions/solutions requires greater knowledge and more stringent attention than ever before. Too, new innovative products, installation methods/materials and environmental regulations have created a more complex environment in which floor covering products are installed.

By and large flooring contractors have neither the expertise to determine such critical points as the chemical composition of concrete nor the ability to test for compatibility with floor covering products. Concrete is a specialized trade that requires a very special expertise and in-depth knowledge in order to determine its suitability for floor covering installation.

Testing by an independent specialist to determine the suitability for installation under current complex conditions is a prudent and necessary safeguard for general contractors, owners and architects.

Approved 25 October 2001
Judy Marsh
Assistant to the CEO
Assistant Secretary to the Board of Directors
WORLD FLOOR COVERING ASSOCIATION


Moisture Emission Testing
RESPONSIBILITY AND QUALIFICATIONS
FOR TESTING

FOREWORD: With the advent of rapid changes within the construction industry, including but not limited to:

  1.  The loss of asbestos as an ingredient in resilient flooring
  2.  The loss of solvents from adhesive and coating systems
  3.  Increased use of water to allow easier placement of concrete
  4.  Absorptive aggregate in lightweight concrete
  5.  Fast track construction schedules

Many unforeseen problems have surfaced that have lead to unnecessary disputes, increasing confusion and lawsuits. As an effort to reverse this trend, a more science-based approach was needed to clearly identify contributory problems associated with moisture-related flooring failures, with reasonable expectations for those responsible for moisture testing.

To identify those capable of moisture testing and the ancillary tests that may be appropriate for identification and diagnoses, the following contributing factors are to be considered within the evaluation and selection process of an appropriate inspector and/or testing agency.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

Site Conditions:
It is important that the selected testing personnel at least be familiar with site conditions with a given building project.

Soil Conditions:

  • Wet
  • Dry
  • Expansive
  • Non-expansive
  • Free Draining
  • Non free draining
  • Water table
    • Water table location (seasonality to its level and/or volume)
  • Inert
  • Contaminated

Underslab Conditions:

  • Vapor retarder – yes or no. Also note: type, location, properly installed, properly protected during placement and subsequent construction.
  • Sub-base
    • Cut
    • Fill
  • Blotter layer – note if included or omitted. If included note if it is a compactable or non-compactable type.
  • Screeding – Note whether screed stakes or form screeding was used.

Concrete:

  • Water to cement ratio of the mix design
  • Type and grade of aggregate
  • Time of transit from plant to site. Also note any delays, for any reason.
  • Rotations used in each load.
  • Temperature of the concrete mix at time of delivery.
  • Slump at time of placement.
  • How much, if any, add water was used for delivery and placement of the concrete mixture?
  • Water added to the aggregate (lightweight concrete). Was it factored into the water to cement calculations?
  • Curing method: Curing agent, impermeable sheet, curing compounds, none used. How long was the concrete cured?
  • Concrete finishing: hard troweled, power troweled, etc.
  • Admixtures: If used, what type (i.e. CaCl, fly ash, plasticizer, water reducers, etc.)?

Building Envelope Condition/Environment:

  • Temperature of room
  • Relative humidity of room
  • Concrete surface temperature
  • Air movement

SUMMARY

With all the above referenced factors listed, it is unreasonable to expect a general contractor, concrete contractor or a flooring installer to have sufficient expertise to anticipate and ask the proper questions for evaluation of potential concrete/flooring problems. Another complicating factor is that each has a vested interest on the testing and/or performance outcome of the installation.

Flooring contractors should be made aware of test results, as all flooring manufacturers have placed upward tolerable limits of moisture vapor emission for the installation of their products, most have also recognized that adhesives will cure within a moderate range of pH. However, flooring contractors’ expertise should, by requirement, be limited to flooring materials and their installation. Changes in construction materials and practices should not lead to a mandatory in depth expertise of all the disciplines mentioned above.

It is therefore our recommendation that concrete moisture vapor emission testing be performed by qualified independent agencies.
DATED: 10/25/2001


Endorsing Industry Associations and Organizations


Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)
Lee R. Zimmerman, President
2715 E. Mill Plain Blvd.
Vancouver, WA 98661
Tel: 360/693-5675 Fax: 360/693-4858
e-mail: iicrc@e-z.net
www.iicrc.org

International Society of Cleaning Technicians (ISCT)
Linda Kanouse, Executive Director
4965 West 14th Street
Speedway, IN 46224
Tel: 800/949-4728 Fax: 317/241-5931

National Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD)
Mariann Gregory, Executive Director
401 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel: 312/321-6836 Fax: 312/245-1085
e-mail: info@nafcd.org
www.nafcd.org

Professional Flooring Installers Association (PFIA)
Mike O’Connell, VP
PO Box 411955
Chicago, IL 60641-1955
Voice Mail/Fax: 773/283-2885
www.PFIA.org

Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI)
Douglas Wiegand, Managing Director
401 E. Jefferson St., Suite 102
Rockville, MD 20850-2617
Tel: 301/340-8580 Fax: 301/340-7283

StarNet Commercial Flooring Cooperative
Lori Dowling, Executive Director
44 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield, CT 06877
Tel: 800/787-6381 Fax: 203/431-6610

World Floor Covering Association (WFCA)
D. Christopher Davis, CEO
2211 E. Howell Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92806
Tel: 714/978-6440
Tel: 800/624-6880 Fax: 714/978-6066
e-mail: cdavis@wfca.org
www.wfca.org

ASCR International
Larry Jacobson, Executive Director
8229 Cloverleaf Drive, Suite 460
Millersville, MD 21108-1592
Tel: 410-729-9900 / Fax: 410-729-3603
Tel: 800-272-7012
www.ascr.org

The Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI)
Werner Braun, President
PO Box 2048
Dalton, GA 30722
Tel: 706/278-3176
Tel: 800/822-8846 Fax: 706/278-8835
www.carpet-rug.com

Floor Covering Installation Contractors Association (FCICA)
Kimberly E. Oderkirk, Executive VP
7439 Millwood Drive
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: 248/661-5015 Fax: 248/661-5018
e-mail: info@fcica.com

Floor Installation Association of North America (FIANA)
Jim Lee, President
PO Box 5505
Granbury, TX 76049
Tel: 817/326-2615 Fax: 817/326-4097
e-mail: info@fiana.org
www.fiana.org

Greater New York Floor Coverers Association, Inc.
David Meberg, President
James Dipelesi, Executive Director
55 Mineola Blvd.
Mineola, NY 11501
Tel: 516/746-5515 Fax: 516/746-7691
www.nyfloorcoverers.com

International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI)
Jim Walker, CEO
2400 East Truman Road
Kansas City, MO 64127-2038
Tel: 816/231-4646 Fax: 816/231-4343
e-mail: cfiguy@earthlink.com
www.cfiinstallers.com


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