FLOOR PREPARATION (prep)– What is it?

FLOOR PREPARATION (prep)– What is it?

Is the preparation work minor, major, complete substrate resurfacing, flash patch application to substrate or is it just using a broom to sweep the floor? How is it determined, when is it determined and is it part of the original job work scope?

Does floor prep include a moisture barrier/retarder application, self-leveling compound, moisture vapor emission testing, scraping, grinding, or bead blasting the substrate? Is removal of the existing floor covering an act of floor preparation? What about any residues from the existing floor covering product or adhesives, is that part of the removal or is it floor prep?

The result of proper and correct floor preparation is a substrate surface to which; a floor-covering product can be successfully installed upon and a firm acceptable bond is created between the substrate and product via the installation material used, (i.e. adhesive). It is a separate line item pre-requisite for a successful floor covering installation; that will perform under foot traffic, wheel traffic, and maintenance procedures. (Proper maintenance procedure compliance is an important component of any floor covering installation’s performance).

The words minor and major floor prep, have very different meanings and connotations. What the Consumer or general contractor may consider minor, the Installer may consider major. Clarification is imperative prior to the start of any job.

Minor floor prep can be as fundamental as using a broom to sweep clean the floor or scraping some paint or dry wall compound residue off the substrate. This may also include the limited use of a patching compound, (flash patch, skim coat, floating, feather finish), to fill narrow cracks, plywood seams, nail/screw cavity, or slight depressions. Furnishing’s or contents movement can be in this minor category as well.

Major floor prep can be mechanical scraping, grinding, and bead blasting the substrate to remove paint, drywall compound, high spots (ridge), adhesive, and other type of products that will affect the bond for the floor-covering product. This category may also include use of a floor patch compound that covers the entire area and self-leveling products as well. After the results of a moisture test, major floor prep is a consideration, as is the quality of the moisture barrier/retarder that may be required.

In reference to a flat substrate versus a level substrate, a floor covering Installer requires a flat substrate; level is not a normal consideration. Flat substrates are required for all vinyl products, sheet, tile, or plank. Wood plank floors also require a flat floor, the slope measure is different for the various materials to be installed, and each product manufacturer spec sheet should be reviewed prior to installation start up. If a substrate has numerous depressions, a self-leveling compound may be used to correct the issue or a grinding action to remove the high ridge.

Transition height build up is also a floor prep consideration. What is the height from the substrate to the next floor covering, (marble, stone, ceramic, wood planks, etc.…)? How thick is the cement compound to be, is there any filler items to maintain the slope, how far out from the transition line, 6”, 12”, 18” 36”, at what angle, width?

Moisture vapor emission testing is also part of floor prep, for any moisture sensitive floor covering and any product installation that will use adhesive for bonding. After the test result is determined, a major floor prep action may be required, as bead blasting, moisture barrier/retarder application, self-leveling compound applied, and then the floor covering can be installed.

Floor preparation is very important consideration that must be identified, discussed and negotiated prior to any installation start. This one issue alone can either make the job outstanding and perform or make it a complete failure.

Job site readiness review and staging is a topic of discussion, to be continued…

Submitted by;

Robert Blochinger
Phone: 954-830- 4426
IICRC certified inspector
INSTALL Contractor
FCITS & IICRC certified MVER testor

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