Traxx Corp. of Pomona, Calif., has been instrumental in the development of many installation mainstays, including carpet tack strip, birch underlayment and carpet seam tape. It was only logical for Traxx to turn its attention to a growing problem in commercial and residential construction: Concrete Moisture Vapor Emissions.

Flooring contractors all admit that moisture vapor can damage their installations. Slabs that are on-grade or below-grade are fed with a cycle of vapor that rises from the water table and soil. This vapor emission happens naturally; it’s the basic physics of gas rising into the air above it. Heavy rains and snow melt feed the water table, and the resulting vapor emission will cause floorcovering damage including cupping, curling, glue emulsification, alkalinity and eventually mold.  

How does the flooring contractor protect floor integrity, and more importantly, their warranty and reputation? Well, it’s important for the contractor to understand that moisture vapor emissions are prevalent in most concrete foundations. Even if a vapor retarder is used below the slab, these retarders are called “Type 2” and have perm rates of 0.15 to 0.20, which is hardly enough perm to protect against rapidly filled water tables after a spring rain.

So the contractor must take steps to understand the vapor conditions within the top half of the slab. The most accurate measurement of moisture vapor is the in-situ probe (ASTM F2170), which will calculate the relative humidity at a depth of 40% of the slab thickness. For a 6-in. slab, the math would be 6 multiplied by 0.40—or 2.4 in. below the surface. 

RH (Relative Humidity) readings above 80% will cause flooring adhesive emulsification over time, and this emulsification will reduce the bond integrity of the floorcovering. Any reading of 80% to 100% RH must be addressed with a moisture mitigation system on the surface of the concrete.

In the past, this mitigation was mostly addressed by the “bead & blast” epoxy system. Most contractors understand that time, money, and workplace dust/VOCs can be challenging with such a system. Now that OSHA has passed new regulations setting limits on airborne silica dust, there is a growing need for other moisture mitigation options.  

Enter the world of Rolled Moisture Barriers. This product installs in hours and does not create dust, fumes or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Traxx has performed hundreds of installations of its TraxxShield100 Rolled Moisture Barrier, and what makes it distinctive is that it suppresses vapor up to a fully saturated concrete slab of 100% RH.

When pouring a new concrete slab, the contractor must wait 28 days for the liquid water to evaporate from the slab. At that time, RH in the slab will measure 100%. Normally the contractor would have to wait weeks until RH readings “gas off” to the low 80s. With TraxxShield100, the contractor can install immediately at the 28-day mark and know that the surface is protected from vapor emissions.

Rolled Moisture Barriers have set a new bar, and should be a part of every specifiers’ decision-making. For more information, visit traxxcorp.com.