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Initial Space and Concrete Evaluation

July 7, 2021

The following is a synopsis from a recent webinar with Dur-A-Flex Territory Sales Manager, Web Stokes. Web shared excellent advice on the topic of evaluating a potential jobsite for resinous flooring. For full details, you can watch a recording of the webinar.

Evaluating the Space

Most specifications, data sheets, and application instructions for resinous flooring systems call for a conditioned environment. However, this is not always encountered on jobsites. It is important that all involved parties understand, that for best possible outcomes, temperature, humidity and dew point need to be taken into consideration. If the seamless flooring system is being installed in a non-climate controlled space, and the conditions are outside of the specified parameters, the project may need to be delayed until environmental conditions improve.

A hygrometer device is recommended to measure the environment, both on initial inspection and when installing the floor. Some of the key items to look for include:

  • Temperature Temperature will impact the curing time. Is the space within the recommended temperature range for your materials? Can it be kept there?
  • Humidity If the humidity is too low, it will impact curing time and may require a different formula such as Accelera® LH, if it is too high, the installation should be delayed.
  • Dew point If the concrete slab and the dew point are too close in range, there is a high probability that moisture will settle on the coating which can lead to amine blush and other issues. The installation should be delayed until this is regulated.
  • Ventilation Is there adequate air flow? Can it be accommodated for? For chemistries such as MMA, air flow is required as part of the cure process and will be needed.
  • Natural lighting Installing the floor in the same lighting that the end users will see the floor in is optimal. Is there sufficient natural lighting or ambient lighting for the installation? Can this be accommodated for?

Layout of the Space

layout of jobsite

When looking at the potential jobsite, you want to account for anything that could cause a delay or require additional preparations. Items like material storage, proper voltage for equipment, access for your equipment, etc. are all pertinent considerations for a successful installation. Most scenarios can be accommodated for, and knowing upfront will allow you to properly address them and reduce any surprises on the day of install. Some recommended questions to ask as you look at the area include:

  • Mix area Is there room indoors for a dedicated mix area? Is it adjacent to the installation area? If you have to set up outdoors, is there an area that can be dedicated or “controlled” for you?
  • Material storage Will there be room to store materials a few days ahead of install so the material can acclimate? If not be sure to make accommodations to store it offsite and have additional time for set up.
  • Accessible power Look for electrical connections and see if there are panel boxes. Does the facility have the right voltage for your equipment? Will you need generators?
  • Access for equipment How will you get your required equipment into the space? This is an important conversation to have. Web Stokes shared a nerve-wracking story of a boom lift, chains, and a $25,000 grinder hanging over a parking lot, because he was told he couldn’t use a freight elevator the day of the job. It worked out, but prior conversations would have avoided this. 
  • Access for material delivery Are there forklifts on site for your use? Are there loading docks? Will you require a lift-gate?  Knowing all of this ahead of time will ensure a successful delivery and avoid unnecessary delays.

Evaluating the Floor

When evaluating the floor, examine the concrete slab for any potential issues including contaminants below the surface.

Concrete Criteria: If the slab is yet to be poured, take a look at the specifications. The criteria for the concrete should include:

  • 3500 psi compressive strength
  • Water / cement ratio of < 0.45
  • Light steel trowel finish
  • Wet cure for minimum of 7 days
  • No cure & seals
  • Vapor retarder – 15 mils (ASTM E1745-09)

For existing slabs, do a visual inspection of the concrete to see if the substrate is sound. Look for signs of spalling, impact damage, cream delamination, or cracking.  If you see anything that raises red flags, you can perform some quick tests such as dragging a chain across the surface. Listen for the noise that it makes, it is a consistent “singing sound” unless you hit a soft spot or voids ─  then the sound changes to a hollow sound.

The golf ball test is another recommended method. Walk around bouncing the golf ball. It will make a consistent sharp sound until it hits a hollow spot. It will also have less of a bounce on hollow spots. If you find hollow areas, you can do rebound testing using a Schimdt rebound hammer to get an idea of the extent of the voids.

Moisture and Contaminants

Slab discoloration could be indicative of potential issues with moisture, contaminants or over troweled concrete. Darkness at the crazing typically indicates a moisture issue. Moisture testing is an often overlooked step, but should be considered for any install, and should be mandatory if you see signs of moisture.

There are several methods available for moisture testing, two common ones are:

  • Slab Moisture Testing (ASTM F2170 – In Situ RH)
  • Calcium Chloride (ASTM F1869)

Another consideration is to take samples and send them to Dur-A-Flex for core testing. Our Core Analysis Program can give you an accurate reading on the level of soluble salts. Soluble Salts in combination with moisture can lead to osmotic blistering and loss of adhesion to the concrete substrate. Our tests do not tell you about contaminants. If contaminants are a concern, there are companies that can test for them and it is highly advisable that these tests are performed.

Identifying Joints, Cracks and Terminations

It is important to take note of cracks, joints and terminations, as each will need to be addressed accordingly and may require additional time, work, and / or materials. For more on this, please refer to our Joint Guidelines or watch this webinar on joints and crack treatment.

Plan for Materials

When walking the potential jobsite, use a laser or wheel for measuring the space. Take your measurements for additional patching materials (identify sq. ft. and volume), and determine if material is needed for cracks, joints, coving etc. (identify linear footage, depth, and width).

Communication

Communicate any findings back to your customer, general contractor, or architect etc. The sooner you can relay any potential problems or concerns the better the outcome will be for everyone.   

  • Communicate possible moisture issues
  • Details (joints, terminations, etc.) that may have been overlooked by designer
  • Unforeseen issues
  • Damage from other trades

Depending on your findings you may realize the chosen or specified flooring system is not a good fit. Be prepared to offer solutions and alternative resinous flooring systems. This enhances your value to your customer.

If you run into any situations or conditions that you are unsure how to handle or what solutions are available, remember you have a team of experts at your side. Dur-A-Flex territory sales managers and technical service managers are always available to support our partners.

Author: Jes Grant
Jes Grant is the content development manager for Dur-A-Flex. She has over 15 years of experience creating content for various technical industries, and has been featured in several publications for her writing and design work
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