photo 1
Three years after Mr. and Mrs. Fogger had a brick-style vinyl floor installed in their residence, they called their retailer complaining of a cloudy appearance and a loss of gloss on the floor. After coming to their home and inspecting the floor, the retailer could not ascertain the proximate cause of the problem, so he contacted the manufacturer and requested that a representative come out and look at the problem.

A short time thereafter, an independent inspector was called in. Photo 1 is a close up of the floor covering in any given area of the installation. This is a below-grade concrete slab in a residential home. Obviously, the floor covering’s appearance did not change overnight. It took three years to get to a point where the homeowner wants some answers. Take special note of the top step in photo 2. It does not show the loss of gloss, nor does it have a cloudy appearance.

photo 2
Any ideas as to what the cause is? Here are a couple of observations: The loss of gloss and cloudy appearance is everywhere in the floor, and all attempts to remove it with a stripping agent failed. What is the proximate cause of this problem, and who is responsible for it?

You make the call!

photo 3
Take a close look at photos 3 and 4. See anything out of the ordinary? Photo 5 shows a close up of a utility sink drain in the floor. The caulking used to seal the edge of the floor covering at the drain is no longer doing its job. So where is the drain escutcheon? Perhaps a drain assembly should have been used.

photo 4
There may be some who feel this floor does not look too bad. They should look at photo 6; there is a definite change in the appearance. A qualitative moisture meter is used to check the moisture levels below the vinyl floor covering, and shows that they are much higher than they should be, and register even higher near the area around the drain.

photo 5
How to write this one up? “The cause of loss of gloss, and the cloudy appearance of the vinyl floor covering, is a site-related condition resulting from excessive moisture, some by way of lateral intrusion from a less-than-watertight drain assembly.”

Now, how to fix the problem. The floor covering is still well-adhered to the concrete subfloor. If the drain were fixed, and the floor covering embossed, would you install a new vinyl floor? If you pull up the brick and fix the drain, would you feel good about going down on the below-grade slab again?

photo 6
I suggest going over the existing flooring. Use the old, brick-style vinyl as a moisture barrier for something new. As always, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for embossing the old vinyl flooring. Stripping the old vinyl, even if wax was never applied, as well as roughing up the area with a block sander (use 80 grit or so), is a good idea, just to make sure a good bond is achieved.