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Richard Harris on more efficient moisture measurement
AS WE are now well into the winter, seeing wet days and dark nights, we at F Ball seem to be receiving the inevitable increase in enquiries about the various difficulties when dealing with moisture.
As a result, I cannot help but wonder whether enough is being done by manufacturers, and the wider flooring industry, to inform frontline contractors about the various moisture measurement and management systems that are available, and more specifically, the ‘behind the scenes’ product development and advancements in technology, that are paving the way for modern methods when tackling this tricky subject. It is this topic I would like to raise with CFJ readers, and indeed flooring contractors, this month.
Long gone are the days when testing for, and managing moisture should be deemed as the great burden to flooring contractors as it once was, particularly when there are a whole host of products and technologies, offering simply, efficient, not to mention time-saving solutions.
n Measuring moisture levels: We all know what we’re looking for: When relative humidity (RH) levels are 75% or above (65% when working with some woods), a waterproof surface membrane MUST be installed. But what can be used to measure it?
The advancements in moisture measurement systems, such as the Protimeter MMS2, are hugely impressive and offer the very latest in technological flooring equipment. The product’s speed, versatility and accuracy are only a handful reasons why it should be present in every flooring contractor’s tool kit.
The latest hand-held moisture measurement systems are more intuitive than previous versions, are easy to use and offer a quick and convenient way to check if excess moisture might be present in the subfloor. If the instant reading comes back low, then a contractor is safe to continue with an installation, without the need for using a digital hygrometer, which can take in excess of 24 hours to give a stable accurate reading.
Contractors can be faced with anything from new build social housing complexes, to heritage churches and listed buildings all in a day’s work, and so having such technology in the palm of your hand should be seen as just as vital to a contractor’s business as the smart phones they use to take job calls on.
Quite simply, a contractor is closer to knowing whether there may be excess moisture present in the subfloor, and the decision can be made then and there, as to what action to take. This will ultimately save time and keep costs down, negating fears of running into difficulties with moisture when a job is already underway.
Where contractors may be put off by the initial purchase cost, my advice would be to think of it as an investment, and a trusted part of your team to take on each and every job.
n Managing moisture: Gone are the days of waiting for long periods of time for several coats of waterproof surface membranes to cure and dry, thus holding up a job and wasting valuable time on a job when a contractor could be onto the next.
Managing moisture should be seen as no more a difficult job than installing a fast-setting smoothing underlayment, and when it’s needed, installing a waterproof surface membrane is just as imperative.
I feel that more should be done to educate flooring contactors that installing a modern waterproof surface membrane can often take less time than they expect and should be viewed in the same light as using a smoothing underlayment.
We wouldn’t dream of leaving an uneven, cracked subfloor before adhering a decorative floorcovering, so why should we leave the question of moisture to chance?
Simple, effective products can be applied to a subfloor, including new water based waterproof surface membranes, which dry within three hours and offer protection up to 95% RH, allowing contractors to proceed with the next stage of an installation with minimal delay or disruption.
The feature of new water based moisture management systems is that they are packaged in a screw top bottle. Unlike epoxy resin systems, which must be used on the same job before the product starts to cure, a water-based product can be used on one job and the bottle can be resealed and kept on the van for whenever it’s needed (on the next flooring installation) – contributing to less waste and greater cost savings.
Developments in epoxy resin systems have also brought us the rapid setting waterproof surface membranes that cure in three hours.
Maximum protection of 98% RH be achieved in just one coat, without the need for costly accelerants, and the latest products can even be used over underfloor heating systems, which are becoming increasingly common in both commercial and domestic properties. This is another no-fuss solution that simply and effectively suppresses any moisture.
While moisture will inevitably always be an issue that flooring contractors must face, I hope that the notion of how to deal with it changes in the near future, and that this letter goes some way to start the conversation.
The industry needs to regularly highlight and educate on the ever developing and advancing technologies and products that are here to offer easy, efficient, time saving solutions.
Richard Harris is marketing manager at F Ball and Co n
T: 01538 361633
The actual line was: ‘Out damn spot, out!’

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at