Every day, I read about flooring installations gone wrong: cracking tiles, telegraphing in resilient floors, seam peaking in carpet; the list seems endless. One thing that many of these failures have in common is the lack of proper subfloor preparation work. From excessive moisture in concrete slabs to use of the wrong substrate prep materials, mistakes made prior to installation are dooming many otherwise correctly installed floors to costly failures; in most cases, it is a question of when, not if, they will fail. Installers who fail to take the time to determine whether the surface in question is truly ready for installation of flooring before starting the job are quite simply playing Russian roulette, hoping that the installation will turn out OK. Too many fall into the trap of thinking, “I didn’t moisture test before, and the floor didn’t fail.” With competition more intense than ever before, can you afford to keep doing business that way?

If you answered no to this question, then we have an answer for you: Floor Covering Installer’s annual Underlayment and Subfloor Preparation Reference Guide. In this special issue, you will find a variety of informative articles on all aspects of subfloor preparation. First up, columnist Mickey Moore gives installers an inside look at subfloor preparation for wood floors and explains in detail the two main types of subfloor systems for wood floors. Bruce Newbrough, director of application development for Ardex Engineered Cements, discusses the limitations of subfloor preparation products and stresses the need for subfloor prep work on all types of installations. Columnist Dave Gobis looks at the various causes of failure for crack isolation systems in tile installations. Ron Smith, sales manager for Wagner Electronics, offers tips for installers to get the most accurate test results when using probe-based moisture measurement systems. These are just some of the highlights of this special issue, which also includes a handy underlayment reference guide to help installers find the underlayment and subfloor products they need in one easy-to-use listing.

We hope that you will enjoy this special issue of Floor Covering Installer, and that you will learn something new in every issue, regardless of your level of experience. If there is an underlayment or subfloor-related issue that we have not covered in this issue, chances are that we have already addressed it in one of the five previous underlayment guides. These and other past articles are available online at www.fcimag.com, so be sure to check the archives for a wealth of installation-related knowledge. Of course, there are always new subjects to cover, so if you have a question or an idea for an article, please e-mail me your comments and suggestions.