Though concrete moisture generally poses a threat in any construction context, it is especially problematic when a construction timeline is compressed. Fast track construction inherently has its fair share of advantages, speed to market and potentially lower overhead costs, to name a few, but does magnify the risk of flooring damage if concrete slab moisture precautions aren’t taken seriously. There is less tolerance for time delays between concrete and flooring installation, but designers, contractors and owners that are aware of the problem from the beginning are in a better position to execute a problem-free project.
The Devastating Effect of Concrete Slab Moisture
Concrete slab moisture and its damaging effects on flooring are still far too often ignored by architects, contractors, managers and project owners. In many cases, the gravity of concrete moisture’s potential to ruin flooring isn’t altogether well known. Concrete pours with a high water-to-cement ratio, poor quality ventilation, unreliable or nonexistent vapor barriers, and rushed drying times will leave excess moisture in the slab. When the moisture is trapped by flooring installations, the pressure from the moisture creates warping, curling, erosion and mold development. This leaves owners with thousands, sometimes millions of dollars, of unnecessary flooring damage costs to rectify. Sometimes, replacing flooring that could withstand high concrete moisture levels in the past is not an indication that the new flooring materials will do the same. Fortunately, relative humidity (RH) tests, which have replaced the calcium chloride tests as the industry standard, can give contractors a more accurate understanding of the moisture status of concrete slabs.
Be Wary of Selecting Just Any Moisture Mitigation Solution
Architects and contractors that proactively seek solutions to stymie concrete moisture while accelerating a project naturally research moisture mitigation for concrete slabs. Unfortunately, not all moisture mitigation solutions are created equal. Slab moisture barriers, topical epoxies and certain concrete ad mixtures can not only fail to work properly, but can even exacerbate the problem further. The choice and permeability of the flooring materials can also affect whether or not a specific moisture mitigation solution can be used in a given situation. When the goal of fast track construction is speed above all, ineffective choices of moisture mitigation are more likely. While precautions appear to be taken, it can be easy to dismiss the potential for future flooring failures.
Rapid-drying Concrete as an Alternative
Rapid-drying concrete is the only viable concrete-only moisture mitigation solution on the market. Though many attempt to create concrete admixtures to expedite the management of moisture in fast track construction, few succeed. Rapid-drying concrete is scientifically engineered to reach target RH levels within 45 days, giving flooring contractors the ability to start their installations sooner and without risk. Rapid-drying concrete also dries uniformly (rather than from top-to-bottom), giving third-party moisture testers an accurate read of the status of concrete slabs.