Over the years, contractors have found some odd things when taking up flooring, from gigantic bee’s nests to the remains of royalty. Though this rarely happens, contractors can learn a lot about a floor covering from what’s underneath. Here, Oscar Peralta, West Coast territory sales manager at surface preparation equipment expert, National Flooring Equipment, explains when to repair and when to replace a floor covering.
It’s not always easy to tell when a floor needs replacing. It’s important for building managers to stay on top of the issue, as if left for too long, a poorly maintained floor can cause health and safety hazards. To do this, building managers can keep track of whether their floor requires attention by assessing visible changes on the surface, as these can indicate that there is something problematic going on underneath.
Most issues with floor coverings are caused by excess moisture in the substrate underneath. Too much moisture can impact the covering in many ways, causing issues including discolouring, bubbling and cracking.
Excess moisture in the substrate can have hazardous consequences, as floors can become slippery or workers can become ill from exposure to mould. Facility managers must work with contractors to address the issue as soon as it is found to avoid incidents.
What went wrong?
Water will follow the path of least resistance, so it easily soaks through floor coverings. One way it can reach the substrate is for water to enter the building from outdoor sources, such as sprinklers and drains directed towards the building.
Insufficiently preparing the substrate for a covering can also allow moisture into the surface. By choosing the correct adhesive and removing contaminants, contractors can reduce the risk of moisture soaking into the covering and substrate.
Before determining whether to repair or replace the floor, contractors should peel back a section of the covering to understand what is happening underneath. Contractors can then address the cause of the damage, such as redirecting drains, before attempting to start repairs. This will ensure that the same problem will not happen again once maintenance has taken place.
Repair or replace
The size of the affected area will ultimately determine if the covering must be repaired or replaced. If the issue is isolated, it may be easier to repair that section individually. In this situation, facility managers may prefer to repair the floor, as it will only require the closure of certain sections of the facility at each point, not downtime of the entire site at once.
However, if the problem impacts a large area, it can be best to close the entire facility to replace the covering. Closing the site may be costly, but it is extremely important that the surface is correctly prepared and laid to avoid further damage.
Some coverings are easier to replace than others. Anything sold as tiles, such as modular carpet, is easy to repair, as the tiles in the affected area can simply be removed and replaced with new ones.
Soft coverings, such as vinyl, can be far more difficult to repair as they are bought in rolls. There is no way to cut out a section and blend a new covering into the existing floor, which can make the repair work obvious. In this circumstance, it is best to replace the whole covering.
Whatever the covering needed, contractors must consider the appearance of the new area compared with the existing surface. Contractors should be particularly careful when choosing the dye lot. There is nothing more conspicuous than a replacement carpet tile that is the wrong shade of blue.
Preparation is key
Downtime and repairs can be expensive for both facility managers and contractors. Both parties must prioritise preparing the substrate to avoid moisture and other issues that cause costly downtime from facility closure.
Contractors are unlikely to find royal remains under a floor covering during surface preparation work. However, they may find the issue to problems on the surface itself. Taking the measures to protect the substrate when replacing the covering can also prevent larger issues in the future.
For more information on how to correctly prepare a surface, visit www.nationalequipment.com.