Choices; it's good to have them. There are times I wish I had more of them. There are also times I wish I did not have so many of them. Color choices are always best left to the lady of the house or the end user. Every time we go to a job site we are presented with a number of choices. Sometimes we are not given enough choices, like when there is just enough carpet, the fill piece is two shades off and the largest cut left is three feet short with a pattern repeat of 18-by-36 inches. But just like all job sites are not the same, so too are the number of choices at any given site. The following two examples are of choices made.
Photo 1 is of a residential felt backed vinyl job one month after the floor covering was installed. Photo 2 is a closer look at the seam's opening. Photos A and B are of a commercial vinyl job 18 months after installation. The complaints for both jobs are different but both very visible. What they both have in common is someone in the chain was given choices, but did they make the right ones?
You Make the Call!
In Photos 1 and 2, it's easy to see that someone did not use seam sealer, but is that the reason the seams opened? I don't think so. Who made the choice to use luaun as an underlayment? Who made the choice to use a gypsum-based patch?
Photo 3 shows a total lack of transfer (of adhesive). Photo 4 shows the trowel notch size to be less than a 1/16th. Photo C is a close-up of what appears to be adhesive ridges that were not rolled out, but is this the case? Looking even closer in Photos D and E shows the type of topical abuse the surface of the floor covering is exposed to.
Further examination reveals that the ridges are not adhesive but the finish left from the concrete finishers. But who made the choice to not level the concrete prior to the installation of the floor covering? Vinyl sheet goods will always mirror or telegraph the sub floor beneath them. Add a super shiny application of finish and the lack of subfloor prep just got a whole lot more attention.
On commercial work sites you are usually under very tight timetables with more people to make happy than just a homeowner. Even if it means getting the architect involved, then by all means do it! If you choose to not pay attention to the details on any given job, then the finished flooring will certainly reflect the choices you have made. If it is not your choice to make, then at least give your opinion to the powers that be. They may have overlooked the potential problem and you can help them make a more informed decision or choice.
Avoiding many of the common repeating problems we see in our industry today will save both time and money for everyone. Not making a choice is the same as making a good (or bad) one.
Many of the choices I made as a younger man I wish I could make again, but see that's the kicker here. As long as we learn from our mistakes we'll be all right. See, you've already made a good choice today! You're reading about someone else's problems, which will help you tomorrow. Again thanks for reading and have a great day!
Bill Baxley has been a floor covering inspector, specializing in resilient, wood, and carpet products, for the past decade. He is certified by the Floor Covering Institute of Technical Services, and is CFI certified for residential and commercial installations.