Flooring Failures

Concrete Moisture and Flooring Failures

Commercial flooring failures related to excessive concrete moisture cost more than $1 billion dollars per year in the United States alone.

IFTI’s forensic consulting team is able to diagnose any flooring failure in North America. Solving flooring issues and conducting concrete moisture tests is what we do.

What causes a floor to fail?

The #1 cause of flooring failures is moisture. Although improper flooring maintenance procedures are often blamed for a flooring failure, in truth, the moisture from the concrete below the flooring is more likely the root cause of the issue. Concrete is highly alkaline in nature, and as moisture naturally moves upward through the concrete, it carries the alkalinity with it, eventually collecting at the bond line between the concrete and flooring. This causes a breakdown of the adhesives, and consequently, the flooring.

IFTI has over 20 years’ experience solving flooring failures

We’ve seen it all: debonded sheet flooring, bubbles, blisters, adhesive degradation or oozing, cupping, dents or indentations, gaps between tiles, mold growth ... you name it. If left untreated, the implications to the building and its occupants can be significant, including the entire floor lifting off the slab, or a host of health and safety problems that result from uneven flooring or the presence of mold and mildew.

Our concrete moisture tests are the most important step in the process of preventing or repairing flooring failures. Here are some of the main factors causing flooring failure:

#1: Site Conditions: the temperature, humidity, and soil conditions can affect the moisture level of the concrete, and therefore affect the flooring.

#2: Acclimation: Different types of flooring require differing numbers of hours to acclimate, depending on the product. Concrete slabs take a different amount of time to dry, depending on the conditions. Even for concrete slabs that are protected from rain and other sources of water, drying to a condition suitable for the application of resilient flooring may take many months. Rushed jobs can result in flooring failures.

#3: Adhesives: Whether it’s a matter of not enough adhesive used, the wrong adhesive, or the inappropriate application of the adhesive, adhesives are a key ingredient in flooring failures.

#4: Lack of moisture barrier: Concrete with high moisture vapor emission and therefore high alkalinity can cause the adhesives to fail, which means the flooring fails.

#5: Lack of proper installation, or wrong materials: If flooring installers are not aware of the exact specifications for a flooring product, the product can be installed incorrectly, or possibly never should have been installed in the first place.

Whatever the cause of your flooring failure, a concrete moisture test conducted by an independent concrete moisture testing company can offer an analysis that is critical to ensuring the same mistakes don’t happen again. We accomplish this through a proprietary process that can determine the most cost-effective solution for your flooring problems.

IFTI offers:

  • IFTI Certified Concrete Moisture Testing Technicians
  • State-of-the-art testing methods and documentation
  • Over 20 years’ experience performing tests and interpreting results
  • Independent, third-party recommendations


Our flooring failure experts support our clients throughout the process of determining the reasons for a flooring failure, which leads to informed decisions, achievable timelines, and successful flooring repairs. Our inspection services and concrete moisture tests can eliminate expensive concrete floor problems and the use of unnecessary, costly moisture mitigation systems.

Liability Issues in Floor Failure

When a product fails, the reason for the failure may be apparent (e.g. moisture), but the responsibility might not be. Sometimes a battle can erupt over whether the failure arose from a product defect, which would be a breach of the implied or expressed warranties, or an improper installation. Ultimately, determining liability will depend upon the answers to a whole host of questions. Our concrete moisture tests can assist you in answering these questions, and if necessary, our principal consultant can be hired as an expert witness in litigation.

Our IFTI team members and technicians are backed by twenty years of leadership and innovation in concrete slab moisture testing and inspections. We are passionate about what we do, and welcome any questions you might have for us. Contact us at 800-490-3657 for a free consultation.