We have come along way in solving concrete and moisture problems. We now have the floor covering and concrete industries joining forces to seek solutions - faster than many of us hoped. In the June 2000 issue of NFT, this column carried the headline, "Why Are Flooring Contractors Responsible for Moisture Emission Testing? The Time for Change is Long Overdue." It was credited as the catalyst for the WFCA in August of that year to form an industry task force to address how to relieve the floor covering contractor/installer/dealer of the responsibility to test for concrete moisture and vapor emissions. In October 2001, the Industry "White Paper Position Statement on Moisture Emission Testing" and accompanying document, "Moisture Emission Testing - Responsibility and Qualifications for Testing" were adopted by the majority of industry associations/organizations. The gist of it: Concrete moisture vapor testing must be performed by qualified independent agencies.
Yes, it was a beginning, but much remained to be done. Last October, the Greater New York Floor Coverers Association/Industry sponsored a "Moisture in Concrete Seminar" for floor covering dealers/contractors/manufacturers/distributors and architects/specifiers. It featured a panel of two floor covering experts and a concrete contractor active in the Concrete Contractors Association. I was privileged to serve as the moderator. The panel began by focusing on identifying, avoiding and solving problems. And then came a truly exciting moment - a call for more communication among floor covering and concrete people and architects/specifiers. The concrete panelist got everyone's attention when he said, "Today's seminar is the first opportunity I've ever had to sit down with a group of floor covering contractors." With that, he, the panelists and attendees issued a strong appeal for increased industrywide dialogue. The headline on my column following that meeting read, "New York Floor Coverers Take Significant Step to Reduce Moisture Problems."
A pleasant dream, but could it become a reality? Skeptics thought not. While others of us considered it possible, we feared it would take forever to be implemented. The answer came when representatives of the construction and floor covering industries, specification bodies and technical societies met in Chicago this past April 17-18 as the Inter-Industry Working Group on Floor Concrete Floor Issues. The event was organized and hosted by Construction Technology Laboratories and co-sponsored by several organizations. The group's purpose is to seek ways to reduce the high costs of callbacks, claims and litigation by developing methods to produce better floors and to work together to solve the problems.
Representatives include floor covering trade associations, construction-related technical societies, and floor covering and installation products manufacturers. Workshop subjects included specifications; construction practices; testing for moisture, pH, flatness and levelness; and concrete and floor system product performance.
This dramatic breakthrough shows that, with commitment and communication, nothing is impossible.