Concrete slab moisture testing is required on most projects where flooring will be installed or reinstalled, whether your concrete is brand new, or several decades old.
To ensure that a concrete slab is adequately prepared for flooring, the leveling and adhesive products must be applied in conditions that adhere to the manufacturer’s warranty limits for moisture content of the concrete. Since these products can be negatively affected by excess moisture, a concrete slab moisture test should be conducted to determine the moisture content of the concrete prior to the flooring installation.
Ground-Up Construction (new slab)
Innovations within the construction industry have significantly accelerated the speed at which a building can be built. Projects that used to take years to complete can now be built in a few months. With these accelerated fast-track projects comes the increase in a common construction issue, concrete slab moisture.
There are many variables that will determine how quickly a slab will dry and floor coverings all have different tolerances to moisture, but generally speaking, most fast-track construction today does not allow enough time for the concrete slabs to adequately dry for its intended use. This is why having your concrete slab tested for moisture is a crucial step with any construction project.
Timing is everything.
In construction, flooring is typically installed towards the end of the project, and in many cases the project may already be behind schedule or over budget. In these situations, it might be tempting to skip the concrete moisture test to avoid the possibility that the test results will show a high moisture content and cause more delays, adding to the budget. This is why the concrete slab moisture test needs to be a requirement from the start, and it needs to be built into the construction schedule.
Several test requirements must be met in order for the moisture test to be valid. IFTI’s certified technicians are experienced professionals who will make sure the tests are performed per these requirements; however, there are also added site conditions that must also be met.
The most commonly overlooked ASTM requirement for moisture testing is the building acclimation requirement. In order for testing to be valid, the tests must be performed during normal operating conditions. For most buildings, this would require that the building be fully enclosed, with an operating HVAC system in place.
Whether you’re the architect, owner, general contractor, or flooring installer, it’s in your best interest to have a concrete slab moisture test performed within the appropriate testing requirements on every construction project.
Tenant-Occupied Building Improvements (existing slab)
When a tenant-occupied building is going through a remodel and the flooring will be replaced, concrete moisture testing must be performed to assess the moisture content within the concrete slab prior to a new flooring installation. The requirements for moisture testing do not change based on the age of the slab.
In many cases, concrete slabs over 50 years old have been found to have moisture levels far exceeding the warranty limits of the flooring products to be installed. One might ask, how could a slab that’s been sitting for 50 years still not be dry enough for a proper flooring installation? The top reason for this condition is that the slab has not been properly protected from sub-slab moisture. While the use of a high-grade vapor retarder is considered common practice in today’s construction world, this wasn’t always the standard. In many cases, the vapor retarder was not properly installed, the retarder itself was not of high enough quality to properly protect the slab, or the vapor retarder was not placed to begin with. In any of these scenarios, it’s likely that the slab could have excess moisture that will need to be addressed prior to the installation of flooring.
Because we can’t lift the concrete slab to see what’s going on underneath, moisture testing is a requirement from every major manufacturer of flooring material, regardless of slab age. In addition to concrete moisture testing, IFTI can also pull cores from an existing slab to help identify whether or not a vapor retarder is present under the slab (take a look at our services page).
Remodels (floor replacement)
Similar to ground-up and tenant improvements, moisture testing is also required when a floor needs to be replaced during a remodel. It may be tempting to skip moisture testing if the existing floor does not appear to be affected by concrete moisture, but this scenario has lead to many costly flooring failures that could have been avoided with moisture testing. That moisture issues aren’t apparent doesn’t mean they aren’t present.
When testing for moisture in a remodel environment, IFTI will work with you to determine the best schedule that allows testing to be performed with little to no impact to the business operations. We can coordinate testing before or after operating hours and strategically place test kits out of sight to customers and store associates.
When scheduling concrete slab moisture testing for a remodel initiative, IFTI will conduct the testing well in advance, allowing you to understand the moisture conditions, budget, and potential costs before the start of the remodel, eliminating last minute change orders.
Whether it’s a single project, or several hundred, IFTI has the capabilities to plan and execute a moisture testing program of any size.
Pre-lease agreement (due diligence testing)
It’s common practice to perform some level of due diligence testing prior to signing any lease contract. Given the cost impact of a concrete slab with excessive moisture, it only makes sense to understand the moisture content of the slab during lease negotiations.
Typical lease language requires that the landlord be responsible for the building shell, which includes the concrete slab. Wouldn’t you want to know if that slab is in the appropriate condition to receive your intended floor covering, without any added costs?
IFTI’s floor assessment to identify the moisture condition of the concrete slab will avoid additional unforeseen costs during Tenant Improvement. When problematic conditions are identified, both the tenant and landlord are in a better position to properly plan a solution prior to signing the lease.
Risk assessment and product recommendations
For any of the pre-installation services we provide, our reports can go far beyond just the concrete moisture test results themselves. As experts in our field, we are able to provide risk assessments and product recommendations for just about any project.
Tell us more about your project and we can help determine what concrete slab moisture tests should be performed to ensure you have a successful flooring installation with a warranty in place. Contact us at 800-490-3657 for a free consultation.