SAFETY M Jason Spangler, Wagner Meters’ Sales Manager, provides expert advice on

Because freshly poured concrete contains a surprising amount of water, always test for moisture before installing safety flooring.

Without question, the floor is one of the most important and extensively used elements in any building. Subject to almost constant use, flooring is often a contributing factor to accidents that lead to injury, slips, and trips.

One way to help promote safety and prevent injury is to install safety flooring, sometimes referred to as non-slip flooring. Safety flooring is specially designed to minimise risk and provide safe movement in any high or low-traffic areas that may be exposed to contaminants.

IS SAFETY FLOORING ALWAYS SAFE? While safety flooring—by design—does a good job of addressing slipping hazards, do not assume that it is always safe. The fact is, it can easily succumb to significant safety issues such as blistering, cracking, buckling, and warping. All these conditions constitute significant tripping hazards. And these hazards may occur if insufficient attention is given to the moisture condition of the subfloor at the time the finished floor is installed.


CONCRETE SUBFLOORS Concrete slabs are commonly used for subfloors, and all slabs contain substantial amounts of water—roughly 16% by volume. Indeed, without water it is physically impossible for concrete to achieve its characteristic strength, hardness, and durability.

Even though a concrete slab may appear to have dried sufficiently for the finished floor to be installed, do not be


fooled. Deep inside that supposedly dry slab, surprising amounts of moisture can still be found. If too little time is allowed for the concrete to dry to the level specified for the particular flooring product being installed, catastrophic damage could occur to the finished floor later on. Problems could show up days, months, or even years after installation. Conditions such as cracking, buckling, or warping may render ‘safety flooring’ no longer safe or risk-free for use.

Remember the general rule of thumb for drying concrete: allow one month of drying for every inch of thickness.


RELATED PROBLEMS Fortunately, such problems are almost always preventable. The best means of ensuring successful flooring outcomes when working with concrete subfloors is to gain a good understanding of the moisture condition of the slab prior to the installation of the finished floor product.

The way to do this is to conduct an accurate test of slab moisture. Different methods of testing for moisture are available, however, not all test methods are equally accurate and reliable. Choosing the best test method depends on a proper understanding of how concrete dries.

Excess water evaporates from the slab’s surface, and as this occurs, the moisture deeper in the slab moves toward the surface. This creates a moisture gradient with higher levels of water deeper in the slab than on the surface.

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