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Decrease Damage to Floor Finishes Over Concrete with New ASTM Test Method

A new test method from ASTM International helps installers to moisture-test concrete slabs before applying resilient floor coverings like carpet or vinyl, because excessive moisture can cause floor finishes to deteriorate.

Issued in September, F 2170, Standard Test Method for Determining Relative Humidity in Concrete Floor Slabs Using in situ Probes, allows remote monitoring. “A big advantage of the new method is that once in place, the instruments can give continuous, instantaneous moisture readings at any depth in the concrete floor slab,” explains Howard Kanare, senior principal scientist, Construction Technology Laboratories, Skokie, Ill. “Because the new test method uses electronic sensors, data can be output to data loggers and transmitted from remote locations without requiring technicians onsite. Buildings can be monitored while floors are drying over a long period of time and the data can be used to predict when a floor will be ready to receive a moisture-sensitive finish.”

A task group of ASTM Committee F06 on Resilient Floor Coverings developed the standard in two years because existing U.S. test methods only calculate surface moisture, according to Kanare, the task-group chair. Kanare says flooring, adhesive and instrument manufacturers, architects, testers, and trade-association members created the test method to increase floor service-life. “Replacement of deteriorated flooring can be very disruptive to business,” he says, “especially in manufacturing, academic and medical facilities.”

The new standard is based on methodology the Portland Cement Association developed in the 1950s and ’60s, and Scandinavian researchers extended over the last 20 years, Kanare says. Researchers at Lund University, Sweden, and sensor manufacturers in England and Finland shared their findings with the ASTM group.

“More than 400,000 moisture tests are performed annually in the U.S. on concrete floors,” Kanare says. “We expect that the new test method will give general contractors and flooring installers a more accurate method to determine when a floor is ready to receive installation of a new floor covering. We also expect that architects and other specifiers will require this type of testing in the quality control parts of construction contract documents to improve knowledge and confidence in moisture measurements.”

Direct comments to Howard Kanare, Construction Technology Laboratories, Inc., Skokie Ill. (phone: 847/972-3316). ASTM Committee F06 meets March 18-20 in Kansas City, Mo. For meeting or membership details, contact Steve Mawn, manager, Technical Committee Operations, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9726). //

Copyright 2002, ASTM