Last month, we took a look at several high-profile projects that required moisture mitigation, including a new hospital in California, a Las Vegas steakhouse and a Pennsylvania dance studio. This month, we chatted with contractors across the country about their go-to moisture mitigation systems, how they broach the subject of mitigation with their clients and what types of projects they use these systems on.
Jon Bockelman of Bockelman’s Floor Service, based in Denver, recently worked with GCP Applied Technologies’ Kovara moisture mitigation sheet membrane system during an 85,000 sq. ft. rubber tile installation in the aerospace industry. “It was a new building that didn’t have permanent HVAC on during the job. General contractors always tell us the jobsite is going to be dry and ready, but with fast-track construction it just never happens.”
He said it took about a day to learn how to work with the membrane efficiently, and after that it became second nature. “The adhesive on the back of the membrane sticks to the floor like no tomorrow—if we wanted to demo it off the floor we’d need a machine. The building we worked in has a big one-third model of the space shuttle in there, and when they roll it across the floor the Kovara doesn’t move one bit.”
Bockelman added, “The Kovara was really a great alternative both time- and cost-wise to shot blasting and an epoxy system. We didn’t have to prime the floor to use it either, which was another huge time and money savings for us.”
Jason Cantin, owner of the Flooring Guru inspection service in Tampa, Fla., said he uses a range of different projects for moisture mitigation. “Since we’re in Florida where you’ll get 90% or more RH on-grade, every job I install gets some sort of mitigation.”
One of the products he’s used for many years is Titebond 531 Plus from Franklin International, a two-part epoxy sealer “that in most cases you can install on top of within two hours. So you don’t lose a day like you can with some of the other epoxy products,” he noted.
“What I love about the Franklin product is even when I was running into installers who were sloppy with mixing it, we’d end up with some minor incidences but I never once had a failure. The system comes with a roller and a wet film thickness gauge so you can make sure the film forming on top of the concrete is the right thickness.”
Cantin stated that no matter how familiar he thinks he is with a product, he’ll stop and read the instructions. “The trick with moisture barriers is often whether you patch on top of it or patch below it. Each product has a specific method. If you’re going to patch, read the fine print. Each one has its quirks for each application.”
Mike Somodean, owner of MSCS Inc. in Roswell, Ga., said he includes moisture mitigation in every installation he performs. “When we’re doing a new install we always use the Wakol PU 280 moisture barrier—it’s such a great product and gives us such peace of mind, I don’t want to take a chance by not using it.”
He added, “I have a separate charge for it, but I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t want to pay that little extra once I explain what it does. We’re educating our customers as we go. I have a folder on my phone of failures due to moisture, and once they see that, they understand the value. The way we approach every project is to provide long-term value.
“With a professional installation, every floor is going to look good once it’s done. But what customers need to think about is how that floor may be affected long-term by outside factors. A successful installation is not just about putting down a good-quality product and finish—it’s also about eliminating the moisture underneath so that the floor will remain looking beautiful.”
According to Everett Shumaker, vice president of sales and marketing for Floor-Tex Commercial Flooring in Conroe, Texas, his company has been having great success with TEC’s LiquiDam moisture mitigation system. “We’ve done several big schools with it. This year, one of the schools was having a moisture problem related to their gym floor. We demoed the existed floor, shot blasted the substrate, put the LiquiDam moisture control in, primed it, prepped it and then installed new rubber flooring.”
He said that he is always battling moisture issues in nearby Katy, Texas. “Katy is built on rice paddies, so we’re just always fighting moisture. For some reason, it’s hard to get these guys to put moisture mitigation in their budgets on the front-end. But it almost always comes up later. Yes, it’s an added cost, but in the long run it would save more of their floors.”
Shumaker noted that LiquiDam is an epoxy system “comparable to the other main epoxy systems out there. It’s a bulletproof application once it’s down. One great feature is that it turns dark blue when it’s ready. With other manufacturers the mixture might stay clear so you’re not really sure when it’s ready to use.”
Anthony Petracca, owner of Rock Solid Resurfacing in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., swears by FloorEverDri, a one-component system from UniSeal Solutions. “One of the installs we did probably two years was over St. Johns River. During Hurricane Irma that floor had sat underwater for four months. We ground the floor, cleaned it really well, applied the FloorEverDri and put an epoxy chip floor over it. We never got a callback. That’s what sold me.”
He said that he always budgets for moisture mitigation up front. “I always push it because in Florida the moisture is always fluctuating. You might get 98% RH from the slab today, and in six months you’ll get 70% or 80%.”
Petracca also appreciates how quickly the system gets absorbed into the concrete. “With epoxy systems you might have to wait a day or two to start installing. With FloorEverDri you just roll it on and it’s ready for floor covering in about an hour. I look at the moisture mitigation as an effective, low-cost insurance against flooring failures.”