For years, we at Floor Covering Installer received requests from our readers for more information on underlayments and subfloor preparation. Problems related to this issue, such as moisture, deflection and underlayment selection are at the root of many flooring failures.

For years, we at Floor Covering Installer received requests from our readers for more information on underlayments and subfloor preparation. Problems related to this issue, such as moisture, deflection and underlayment selection are at the root of many flooring failures.

To address these issues, we developed a special issue, the Underlayment and Subfloor Preparation Reference Guide, which was launched four years ago. The issue was a resounding success, and we have continued to publish it every year since. This year’s edition is filled with the latest information on all aspects of underlayment and subfloor preparation, from moisture problems and testing to floor covering removal and everything in between. In addition to all of our knowledgeable and respected columnists, we have also enlisted industry experts from several companies that specialize in underlayment and subfloor preparation solutions and technologies.

Despite all the attention dedicated to this area of the flooring trade, many installers still fail to recognize the importance of proper underlayment and subfloor preparation in preventing installation failures - the results can be costly. Perhaps they believe that excessive moisture in the concrete subfloor or deflection problems in a wood subfloor aren’t their problems; they’re only there to install the flooring. However, this is absolutely wrong; it is their problem, whether they like it or not. If they choose to install flooring over unsuitable or improperly prepared subfloors, then they are opening themselves to major liability in the event of a flooring failure. One judgment in a case of this type could easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. In light of this immense risk, it hardly seems worth the gamble.

So, what’s an installer to do?

The first step is education. Find out what types of classes are available in your area and start attending them. Many manufacturers of underlayment and subfloor preparation materials, such as moisture control membranes and waterproofing systems, offer classes on how to use their products - free of charge. Some may charge a small fee; it is well worth it when you consider how much it could potentially save you in the event of a failure.

It is also important to make sure you have the correct tools, such as a good moisture meter and moisture test kits. Test kits are only effective when used correctly, so be sure to read the instructions carefully and ask the manufacturer for guidance if you are unsure how to use it.

We hope that this Underlayment and Subfloor Preparation Reference Guide will give you the knowledge you need to prevent installation failures. If there is a subject we haven’t covered here, chances are it was covered in a previous issue, so be sure to check our web site, www.fcimag.com for archives of past articles.