It has been said that there is no experience like on-the-job training. That truism was proven once again on a recently completed project in Chesterfield County, Virginia, to remove 27,000 square feet of outdated flooring from a former elementary school and to remediate the substrate in preparation for new flooring.

The school building, located just outside Richmond, Virginia, was built in 1959. It had undergone numerous additions and renovations over the past 60 years, the latest occurring during the summer of 2006, creating an array of different substrates and possible remediation challenges. In April 2019, the Chesterfield County School Board designated the building for replacement, with the original structure to be upgraded for non-academic uses. An important element of the upgrade would be the installation of new flooring throughout the building, including in the old classrooms and office areas.

Experienced Team

The three-member team involved in the flooring removal and substrate remediation consisted of highly-experienced industry veterans, who had worked together on countless flooring installations over the years. Roscoe McGhee, owner and president of Superior Floor Covering in Richmond, was responsible for all aspects of the job as the contractor. Lee Haywood of Haywood Floor Covering in Gloucester, Virginia, was the subcontractor charged with removing the old flooring and addressing any issues with the concrete substrate. Finally, John Hoover, territory business manager for Fishman Flooring Solutions’ Mid-Atlantic Region, would help determine the products that would be necessary to rectify any substrate problems.  

First Step: On-Site Inspection

The first step in preparing the building for its new flooring was an on-site inspection by McGhee, Haywood and Hoover in late October 2020. “It was important for us to understand the condition of the substrate early on so that we could determine any issues that needed to be addressed and the best products to address them,” said Hoover. “On close inspection, it was clear that there was moisture in the slab, which would require mitigation. There were also residues from old adhesives and what appeared to be a chemical abatement, probably to deal with an asbestos problem at some point, which would require leveling and smoothing the substrate.”  

Selecting the Right Products

Based on information gleaned from the site inspection, the trio soon selected the products to be used to remediate the substrate. The Ardex MC Rapid moisture control system was picked to address the high moisture levels in the substrate. “[Ardex MC Rapid is] a one-coat system, so it saves time, which is an important consideration with an unusually large job like this,” said McGhee. “It’s excellent at suppressing moisture vapor emissions levels up to 100 percent; and it’s also fast-setting, so work on the substrate can start in about four hours. Most importantly, Chesterfield County was comfortable with the system, because we have used it successfully many times on jobs for them.” 

Ardex V 1200, a blend of Portland cement, other hydraulic cements and polymers that is used to level and smooth interior concrete and other substrates, was the leveling product of choice.  

Experienced Crew

Haywood Floor Covering began the removal of the existing vinyl composition tile (VCT) flooring in mid-December 2020. A National 5700 All Day Battery Ride-On Scraper was used for the task. “The machine has the ability to operate for eight to 12 hours a day without requiring a battery charge, which is really important for a large job like this,” said Haywood. “It’s easy to handle, comfortable to drive and is compact enough to fit through standard doors and there were plenty of those on this job.” 

As the removal of the existing flooring progressed, the moisture mitigation work began the first week in January 2021 and concluded three weeks later. The leveling process began the second week in January and was completed in about two weeks. From start to finish, Haywood Floor Covering removed the 27,000 square feet of old flooring and prepped the substrate for new flooring in approximately five weeks.  

Project Completed on Time and on Budget

Thanks to the experience of McGhee, Haywood and Hoover in selecting the right equipment and remediation products, the removal of the old VCT flooring and the substrate remediation were completed on time and on budget. Hoover, however, brings another element of success into the equation.  

“For a large project like this, success is predicated on good communication and coordination from the contractor,” he said. “Roscoe McGhee is one of the best at that. He was in constant communication with everyone involved in the flooring removal and substrate remediation. He coordinated with the county on the scheduling. He made the subcontractors and the trades involved well aware of what was going on and when. He also stayed on top of every delivery of both equipment and materials to make certain that they were on site when they were needed. In today’s flooring installation world, time is money and Roscoe’s communications and coordination skills made all the difference in the world for those involved in this project.”