In NFT’s June issue, Industry Perspectives carried this headline: “Why are Flooring Contractors Responsible for Moisture Emission Testing? The Time for Change is Long Overdue”. At the time I wrote that column, seeing something positive happen was a key item on my wish list. I had no idea it would happen quickly. What a great surprise.

We’ve all long known about the problems created by floor covering contractors, dealers and installers being held accountable for the testing of moisture emissions in concrete and the satisfactory installation of the floor coverings on it. Horror stories abound. Until now, little or nothing was done about affecting changes. A lot of talk, but little action.

Perhaps the June column was a catalyst, coming at a time when some innocent dealers/contractors got hung out to dry with moisture problems. What a breath of fresh air when the World Floor Covering Association stepped boldly forward in mid-July and assumed the responsibility to coordinate a project and campaign by setting up a Moisture Emission Testing Task Force. This ad hoc committee, consisting of interested industry professionals, met on Aug. 25 to determine how to rectify this long-standing, serious industry problem.

The committee squarely faced the issue by preparing a Draft White Paper and a technical component entitled, “Responsibility and Qualifications for Testing.” The committee is not questioning the necessity of testing. In fact, it calls testing even more important today because of new technologies and construction techniques.

The position statement and technical addendum make it crystal clear that, in the increasingly complex world of construction (with its ever-increasing environmental requirements, technological changes in formulations, and advances in measuring and testing concrete), to provide general contractors, owners and architects with optimum substrate conditions/solutions requires greater knowledge and more stringent attention than ever before.

The committee, and the industry alike, recognizes that, by and large, flooring contractors, dealers, and installers have neither the expertise to determine such critical points as the chemical composition of concrete nor the ability to test for compatibility with floor covering products. Concrete, the committee stresses, is a specialized trade that requires a very special expertise and in-depth knowledge in order to determine its suitability for installing floor coverings.

The bottom line is this: While the committee did not address modifying existing testing protocol, it strongly recommended that testing should be conducted by someone competent to perform it and assigned the responsibility to carry it out. Plainly and simply, the recommendation for testing by independent agencies to determine the suitability for installation under current complex conditions is a prudent and necessary safeguard for general contractors, owners and architects.

The board of directors of the WFCA has endorsed the White Paper in draft form. It has been sent to industry organizations for endorsement. Many of them have already done so at this early date (as this is written, it is the end of October).

The June column calling for change stated that for this to happen, “The real key is for our industry is to stand up and speak out. We have strong, knowledgeable industry associations — with manufacturers, retailers, contractors, installation contractors and distributors as members — which, through a combined effort, could bring about this much needed change.”

As an industry, we have a golden opportunity to make it happen. Let’s not lose this opportunity. It will benefit not only the floor covering industry, but the owners, general connectors and architects as well.

We do indeed control our own destiny.