I mean, how exciting can spec writing be? Well, when we can clear up confusing issues, it is a great help to the people in our industry. Instead of relying on one manufacturer's instructions which may not be consistent, the industry can refer to the ASTM Standard, a single document everyone from dealers to architects to installers can refer to. This one "by the book" standard makes it a whole lot easier for everyone in the industry rather than conflicting documents from other sources. This can be very helpful to architects as they write the specs for a new project, for manufacturers, who can quote an independent industry standard instead of their own language, for dealers, flooring contractors, and installers who want to do things "by the book".
A prime example is ASTM F 710 Standard Practice for Preparing Concrete Floors to Receive Resilient Flooring. I am chair of the task group that has jurisdiction over this document, and have been honored to work with some of the best minds from all areas of the floor covering business. The process has been an amazing learning experience for me as F 710 has become "The Book" for everything from how and when to test for moisture, what type of patching compound to use and how long concrete should dry. F 710 is referenced in a number of manufacturers' installation guides, is often quoted by architects and engineers, and has been cited in a variety of publications. In F 710, the "Industry Standard," there is specific language that is key to a successful flooring installation, and answers to several questions that may come up when working on any given job.
Q: How clean does a concrete floor have to be before I can install?
A: Floors should be permanently dry, clean, smooth, and structurally sound. This means free of dust, solvent, paint, wax, oil, grease, residual adhesive, adhesive removers, curing, sealing, hardening, or parting compounds, alkaline salts, excessive carbonation or laitence, mold, mildew, and other foreign materials that might prevent adhesive bond.
Q: What kind of patching compound or underlayment should I use?
A: Surface cracks, grooves, depressions, control joints or other non-moving joints, and other irregularities should be filled or smoothed with latex patching or underlayment compound recommended by the manufacturer for filling or smoothing, or both. Patching or underlayment compound should be moisture-, mildew-, and alkali-resistant, and, for commercial installations, provide a minimum of 3500 psi compressive strength after 28 days.
Q: Can I go over expansion joints?
A: No. Expansion joints, isolation joints, or other moving joints in concrete slabs should not be filled with patching compound or covered with resilient flooring. Consult the manufacturer regarding the use of an expansion joint covering system.
Q: How smooth and flat does the floor have to be?
A: Concrete floors should be smooth to prevent irregularities, roughness, or other defects from telegraphing through the new resilient flooring. The surface of concrete floors should be flat to within the equivalent of 3/16 inch in 10 feet.
Q: When is the concrete dry?
A: Drying time before slabs are ready for moisture testing will vary depending on atmospheric conditions and mix design but all new concrete slabs must be properly cured and dried before installation. A 4 inch thick slab, allowed to dry from only one side, batched at a water-cement ratio of 0.45, typically requires approximately 90 to 120 days to achieve a moisture vapor emission rate (MVER) of 3 lb/1000 ft 2 per 24 h (the resilient flooring industry standard MVER).
Q: How about radiant heat?
Most resilient flooring can be installed on radiant heated slabs providing the maximum temperature of the surface of the slab does not exceed 85°F (29°C) under any condition. Consult the resilient flooring manufacturer for specific recommendations.
Q: Are adhesive removers okay to use?
A: Yes and no. There are a number of commercial adhesive removers that will properly remove adhesive residue from a subfloor. However, there are concerns that these products may adversely affect the new adhesive and new floor covering. The Resilient Floor Covering Institute's (RFCI's) recommended work practices for removal of existing resilient floor coverings and the resilient flooring manufacturer's written instructions should be consulted for a defined set of instructions which should be followed if existing adhesives must be removed.
These are several examples of how this document brings clarity to some difficult questions. That is how ASTM documents work and why they are so important to the industry.
For more information about ASTM standards, contact ASTM International at www.astm.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 610-832-9500.